Robert Rauschenberg John Cage Deborah Hayes David Tudor Robert Whitman Oyvind Fhalstrom
Robert Rauschenberg –Theater-Festival, Armory Hall, New York: In the 1960s, what would later lead to the founding of the organization Experiments in Art and Technology, was first put into practice on a large scale by ten New York artists as a unique festival for electronic as well as interactive performances and demonstrations. The idea of collaborating with technicians, not only initiated by Robert Rauschenberg and Billy Klüver but also organized and largely promoted by them, lead to the performances suggested by the festival title: Nine Evenings with performances by John Cage, Lucinda Childs, Merce Cunningham, Öyvind Fahlström, Alex Hay, Deborah Hay, Steve Paxton, Robert Rauschenberg, David Tudor, and Robert Whitman. Billy Klüver was again the driving force. The main technical element of the performances was the electronic modulation system TEEM, composed of portable, electronic units which functioned without cables by remote control. Cage used this system to activate and deactivate loud speakers that consistently reacted to movement by way of photo-cells. For not always being technically and artistically successful, these performances exhausted for the first time the full range of the live-aspect of electronics, taking advantage of its artistic potential in all of its diversity. Seen in that light, the «9 Evenings» rank among the milestones of media art, even though today only a few filmed documents bear witness to the event.
Film Screening with an
Introduction by Julie Martin
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Reception: 5 p.m. — 6 p.m.
Film Screening: 6 p.m. — 7:30 p.m.
National Academy of Sciences
2100 C St NW, Washington, DC
Free! Photo ID Required.
In 1966, 10 New York artists worked with 30 engineers and scientists from the Bell Laboratories to create a series of groundbreaking performances that incorporated new technology. They used video projection, wireless sound transmission, and Doppler sonar — technologies that are commonplace today but that had never been seen in the art of the 1960s. This performance series, titled “9 Evenings: Theater & Engineering,” was organized by Robert Rauschenberg and Billy Klüver, then a research scientist at Bell Labs in Murray Hill, N.J. The series led to the creation of the foundation Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.), whose mission was to promote collaborations between artists, engineers, and scientists.
E.A.T. has begun to produce a series of films documenting each artist’s performance at the “9 Evenings,” and this film on Robert Rauschenberg’s “Open Score” is the first to be released, providing important documentation of Rauschenberg’s work and these innovative collaborations. Julie Martin, producer of the “9 Evenings” DVD series, will discuss the films as well as the 1966 event that was the first large-scale collaboration between artists, engineers, and scientists.
“Open Score” began with a tennis game at the 69th Regiment Armory in New York City on Oct. 14, 1966. Bill Kaminski of Bell Labs designed a miniature FM transmitter that fit in the handle of the tennis racket, and a contact microphone was attached to the handle with the antenna wound around the frame of the head. Each time Frank Stella (a prominent American painter) and his tennis partner Mimi Kanarek hit the ball, the vibrations of the racquet strings were transmitted to the speakers around the Armory, and a loud “bong” was heard. At each bong, one of the 48 lights illuminating the arena went out, and the game ended when the Armory was in complete darkness. Five hundred people descended onto the tennis court in the dark, and their images were recorded using infrared light and infrared television cameras and projected onto three large screens suspended in front of the audience. In the third part of the film, Simone Forti sang an Italian folk song as Rauschenberg picked her up and put her down at several places on the Armory floor.