|Neil Howe was born in 1951 in Melbourne, Australia. He first studied Biology at the Royal
Melbourne Institute of Technology and was awarded a Bachelor of Applied Science Degree in
1973 with a triple major in Biochemistry, Zoology and Botany. For a number of years he was
employed as a research officer at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research
Organisation, Division of Protein Chemistry and later the Neurochemistry Department of
Monash University working on Influenza and Muscular Dystrophy research projects. In 1977
Neil Howe left the world of science to study visual art and entered Prahran College of
Advanced Education (now Victorian College of the Arts) to study sculpture under John Davis
and David Wilson, photography under Athol Shmith and film under Paul Cox. He was
awarded a Diploma of Art & Design in 1980 and won the Powell Street Gallery sculpture
prize as top sculpture student of that year.
While still a student, Howe first began to exhibit painting and sculpture in various art
competitions like the Corio art prize and the Tina Wentcher Sculpture Prize. Howe is also a
self taught musician and owning several electronic music synthesizers was invited to join an
avant garde music group called The Composers Collective with Ken Guntar, Greg Riddell,
and Ash Wednesday. Bringing to the group a visual art perspective, the Composers
Collective became "The Collective" and soon began to incorporate performance art into its
repertoire with Neil Howe as the artistic director and Greg Riddell as the music director after
Ken Guntar moved to Sydney in 1979.
From 1978 to 1981 The Collective was very actively producing and presenting new music
and performance art events at many academic institutions and art galleries around Victoria.
The performances by the Collective were usually live multimedia events incorporating
elements of new music composition directed by Greg Riddell, performance incorporating the
main members of the Collective and occasional guest performers, experimental film and
early video art created by Neil Howe, with Howe directing the overall performance aesthetic.
After 1982 the main members of the group, Neil Howe, music composer Greg Riddell, and
poet/percussionist Ian McBryde, formed a contemporary music group called The Dance with
Michael Jordan on drums and Chico Henderson on bass and started performing at popular
pub and nightclub venues around Melbourne.
In 1982 Howe was invited to exhibit some early video art pieces, used in these performance
events, at the Rosslyn Oxely 9 Gallery in Sydney and later after buying his first Amiga
computer, began to create video and computer art regularly exhibiting these in video and
fringe arts festivals in Australia. At about this time the Collective ceased performing but the
principle members maintain the core idea of the collective and sometimes come together to
work on a joint project. In the spirit of the Collective, Howe often collaborates with artist
friends Kevin Mortensen and Stelarc adding some element like sound or video to their work.
Through the late 80's and early 90's Neil Howe worked as a video editor in broadcast
television, first in news then drama and finally with a national daily current affairs program.
After working all through the first Gulf War he left television and travelled extensively
throughout Europe and USA. Through the 90's Howe continued to work with computers and
video technology and with the development of high resolution digital cameras was able to
develop the "Bodyscape" series of digital images first exhibited in March 2000.