Professor of Cinema and Digital Media
Composer, performer, instrument builder, journalist, activist, historian, kayak instructor—Bob Ostertag’s work cannot easily be summarized or pigeonholed. He has published 21 CDs of music, 2 films, and 3 books, and appeared at music, film, and multimedia festivals around the globe.
As a journalist, his writings on contemporary politics have been published in many languages. Electronic instruments of his own design are at the cutting edge of both music and video performance technology.
Born in Albuquerque in 1957, he dropped out of the Oberlin Conservatory after two years, settled in New York City in 1978 and immersed himself in the “downtown” music scene of the period. He left music in 1980/81 to work in Central America, and became an expert on the region, with writings published in Asia, Africa, Latin America, Europe, and the United States. In 1988 he moved to San Francisco and resumed his musical activity. His radically diverse collaborators have included the Kronos Quartet, avant-garders John Zorn and Fred Frith, heavy metal star Mike Patton, jazz great Anthony Braxton, dyke punk rocker Lynn Breedlove, drag diva Justin Bond, filmmaker Pierre Hébert, and others. He is rumored to have connections to the shadowy media guerrilla group The Yes Men.