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Julian B. Backus, 52

OBITUARY -- Julian B. Backus

Monday, December 9, 1996

A memorial will be held in Berkeley on Saturday for Julian B. ``Jules'' Backus, a photographer and pioneer of videography. Mr. Backus died in New York on November 21 of heart failure, aggravated by a severe case of Lyme disease he had been fighting since June. He was 52.

Mr. Backus was born in Detroit. He studied at Hotchkiss School in Lawrenceville, Mass., and other prep schools and went to the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in the mid-'60s. There, he began his career as a painter, which led to an interest in photography.

He developed anti-war views and became a conscientious objectors, performing alternative service in Puerto Rico.

He operated on both coasts, but was very active in the local art and video scenes. He was a founder of the Bay Area Video Coalition, Optic Nerve, which he helped form in 1972, and Project One.

In 1975, he was a member of the Optic Nerve crew that shot the memorable conceptual event, ``Media Burn,'' produced by the Ant Farm. He also worked with the San Francisco Mime Troupe and many anti-war and anti-nuclear projects.

He worked on videotapes including ``Psychological Bull Rider''; ``Artwork,'' about the San Francisco Comprehensive Employment and Training Act; ``Dead Action,'' dealing with medical issues at the San Bruno jail; and ``On the Boulevard,'' a documentary on independent truckers.

Several films on which he worked as a cameraman were produced by Doug Hall, including ``Terrible Uncertainty of the Thing Described,'' ``Songs of the 80s,'' ``Storm Stress'' and ``Almost Like A Dance.''

He is survived by his siblings, Annie Strobel of Vermont, Joe of Michigan and Charles of Washington state.

Saturday's Berkeley memorial will be held at 4 p.m. Call (510) 548- 4049 for more information.

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