Henry Kaiser, a Werner Herzog Film Producer and Experimental Guitarist, Screens and Plays Along to Crazy Beautiful Shots of Under-the-Ice Antarctica
Even though he's played with the improvised music legends, appeared on more than 250 records, and lived in California all of his life, Henry Kaiser, whose under-the-Antarctic-ice shots can be seen in several Werner Herzog's films, says that he's 80 percent Antarctica research diver and 20 percent American experimental guitarist.
Henry Kaiser's underwater footage of the Antarctic has appeared in more films and TV shows than any other underwater cameraman.
"In a strange way, I consider myself from Antarctica rather than from California, which is silly because nobody is from there," says Kaiser by phone from his place in Santa Cruz, where he's lived for the past two years after spending most of his life in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The 61-year-old first visited Antarctica in 2001 after procuring a National Science Foundation Antarctica Artists and Writers Program grant. Following the initial two-and-a-half month deployment, Kaiser, a former research diving instructor at the University of California, Berkeley, has returned to the South Pole nine additional times to shoot footage for motion pictures, engineers, biologists, and scientists.
"Before I started doing outreach, seal scientists had never dived before," says Kaiser, who will present his underwater video from 10 seasons of diving under the Ross Sea ice at 14 Pews on Thursday and Friday, November 14 and 15. "Underwater, the seals sound like 1950s electronic music. It's kind of like Forbidden Planet."
His gorgeous cinematography can be seen in Herzog's The Wild Blue Yonder as well as Encounters at the End of the World, which Kaiser produced and earned an Academy Award nomination. Kaiser and David Lindley (who has worked with Jackson Browne, Warren Zevon, Dolly Parton, and Curtis Mayfield) co-composed the score for Encounters; the just-released soundtrack will be available at Thursday's and Friday's concerts, which marks Kaiser's Houston debut.
The guitarist, who won a Grammy for the Stephen Foster retrospective compilation album Beautiful Dreamer, also produced the music components for Herzog's Grizzly Man.