Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.)

Experiments in Art and Technology was founded in 1966 by engineers Billy Klüver and Fred Waldhauer and artists Robert Rauschenberg and Robert Whitman. The non-profit organization developed from the experience of 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering. This event, which was held in October 1966 at the 69th Regiment Armory in New York City (U.S.), brought together 40 engineers and 10 contemporary artists who worked together on performances that incorporated new technology. It became clear that achieving ongoing artist-engineer relationships would require a concerted effort to develop the necessary physical and social conditions. E.A.T. saw itself as a catalyst for stimulating the involvement of industry and technology with the arts. The organization worked to forge effective collaborations between artists and engineers through industrial cooperation and sponsorship. Membership was opened to all artists and engineers, and an office set up in a loft at 9 East 16th Street in New York.

Artists and the art community responded enthusiastically to E.A.T. By 1969, given early efforts to attract engineers, the group had over 2,000 artist members as well as 2,000 engineer members willing to work with artists. Expressions of interest and requests for technical assistance came from all over the United States and Canada and from Europe, Japan, South America and elsewhere. People were encouraged to start local E.A.T. groups and about 15 to 20 were formed.

An ongoing Technical Services Program provided artists with access to new technology by matching them with engineers or scientists for a one-to-one collaboration on the artists' specific projects. A part of this effort was to acquaint the technical and business communities with the artists' needs. E.A.T. was not committed to any one technology or type of equipment such as computers or holography. The organization tried to have the artist work directly with engineers in the industrial environment where the technology was being developed. Technical Services were open to all artists with no judgment made about the aesthetic value of an artist's project or idea. In addition, efforts were taken to team up every artist with a suitable engineer or scientist.

E.A.T. also initiated interdisciplinary events and projects involving artists and new technology. These projects included: 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering (1966); Some More Beginning (1968), the first international exhibition of art and technology, which was held at the Brooklyn Museum; and artist-engineer collaborations to design and program the Pepsi Pavilion at Expo 70 in Osaka (Japan).

In the seventies, emerging hardware technologies used in communications, data processing, and control and command instrumentation led to a new generation of software systems that were of great interest to artists. Realizing that artists could contribute significantly to the evolution of this software, E.A.T. generated a series of projects in which artists participated in these areas of technological development. E.A.T. undertook interdisciplinary projects that extended the artists' activities into new areas of society.

Projects realized at this time included: The Anand Project (1969), which developed methods to produce instructional programming for India's educational television through a pilot project at Anand Dairy Cooperative in Baroda (India); Telex: Q&A (1971), which linked public spaces in New York (U.S.), Ahmadabad (India), Tokyo (Japan) and Stockholm (Sweden) by telex, allowing people from different countries to question one another about the future; Children and Communication (1972), a pilot project enabling children in different parts of New York City to converse using telephone, telex and fax equipment; a pilot program (1973) to devise methods for recording indigenous culture in El Salvador; and finally a large-screen outdoor television display system (1976-1977) for the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.

In 1980, to detail its activities and projects, E.A.T. put together an archive of more than 300 of its own documents: reports, catalogues, newsletters, information bulletins, proposals, lectures, announcements, and reprints of major articles. A selection of newspaper and magazine articles by others has also been included. Complete sets of this archive were distributed to major libraries in New York (U.S.), Washington (U.S.), Paris (France), Stockholm (Sweden), Moscow (Russia), Ahmadabad (India) and London (England).

the above reproduced from: http://www.fondation-langlois.org/html/e/page.php?NumPage=306

for more information on E.A.T. see:



1 comment:

Dr. Flux said...

E.A.T. - 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering, Billy Kluver (1997)

In the early 1960s I was working as a research scientist at Bell Telephone Laboratories in Murray Hill, NJ, but was also aware of the tremendous explosion in the arts that was taking place in New York City. I had worked with several artists - Bob Rauschenberg, Yvonne Rainer, Jasper Johns and John Cage - making it possible for them to use new technology in their works. I believed increasingly in the importance of artists having the opportunity to work together with engineers and scientists.

At the beginning of 1966 an opportunity arose to make a series of artists' performances using new technology in collaboration with engineers and scientists at Bell Laboratories. Rauschenberg and I made these collaborations the central focus of 9 Evenings: Theatre & Engineering, held October 13 to October 23, 1966, at the 69th Regiment Armory in New York City. We invited artist friends to participate: choreographers Lucinda Childs, Alex Hay, Deborah Hay, Steve Paxton, and Yvonne Rainer; composers John Cage and David Tudor; and artists who made theater pieces, Öyvind Fahlström and Robert Whitman. I recruited fellow engineers from Bell Laboratories to work on the project.

At the first meeting between the artists and the engineers, I told the artists to ask for anything they wanted and the engineers to respond with suggestions on how to accomplish these ideas. Initially, Rauschenberg asked for: "Light-sensitive chemical which changes color; temperature and pressure sensitive colors; live fabrics; nowhere sound; use of time delay in general; printing on tape manually without using tape recorders; infrared TV...forms of rebroadcast, snooperscopes, TV sets, Eidophor." It was the infrared television that became a central element in Rauschenberg's piece.

We needed to find television pickup tubes that operated in the infrared end of the spectrum. Engineer Larry Heilos quickly discovered that any good infrared equipment was held classified by the U.S. government. He solved the problem when he located a supplier in New Jersey who had an infrared videcon that was of Japanese make and could be installed in a Norelco video camera.

We had found the 69th Regiment Armory on Lexington Avenue at 25th Street, which had been the site of the famous Armory show of 1913. Although the acoustics were terrible, it was a very exciting space and the artists liked the idea of its size. It would now be possible to reach a much larger audience than they had at Judson Church or at the downtown theater performance spaces.

We moved into the Armory on October 8th, with only five days to the first performance. During the next five days we installed the electrical system for the stage lights and other equipment, laid miles of cable, installed the sound system and speakers in the balcony surrounding the central space, and set up the bleachers for the audience. There were endless conferences and the artists held rehearsals as best they could.

Open Score was performed on October 14th. It began with a tennis game between Frank Stella and his tennis partner, Mimi Kanarek, on a full-scale court laid out on the Armory floor. Rauschenberg had adopted one of the oldest forms of performance that everyone recognizes, a tennis match, and made it into dance. He also used the game "to control the lights and to perform as an orchestra." Each time Frank or Mimi hit the ball a loud BONG vibrated around the Armory and the sound of each BONG switched off one of the lights illuminating the court.

Bill Kaminski at Bell Laboratories had designed a tiny crystal-controlled FM transmitter that could fit in the handle of the tennis racquet. A contact microphone was placed at the top of the handle and the antenna for the transmitter was wound around the racquet head. When the ball hit the racquet, the vibrations of the strings were picked up by the contact microphone and transmitted to an FM radio receiver, amplified, and fed to the speakers, resulting in a loud BONG, which also turned off one of the lights. The game continued in the increasing darkness until the Armory was completely dark.

Then a crowd of 500 people entered in the darkness. Lights with an infrared filter illuminated the crowd as the infrared sensitive television cameras picked up their movements. The television images were projected onto three large screens hanging in front of the audience. The audience could sense the presence of the crowd, but could only see them through the projected television image.

Rauschenberg used banks of flashlights attached to the balcony railings to signal his cast to perform simple movements he had devised: "touch someone who is not touching you; hug someone quickly; move closer together; move apart; draw a rectangle in the air as high as you can reach; sing one of ten songs being sung loudly or sing one of your own choice, etc."

At the end of this section, the house lights came up slowly and the crowd followed Rauschenberg's instructions to "remain fixed until the lights dim down and go completely out."

Rauschenberg added a third section for his second performance on October 23rd. He had the crowd leave silently in the dark. Then a single spotlight picked up the shape of a girl in a cloth sack - Simone Forti - singing a Tuscan folk song she remembered from her childhood. Rauschenberg picked her up, carried her to another place on the Armory floor and put her down. He repeated this several times as she continued to sing.

for the first of these historica performances see: http://www.microcinemadvd.com/product/DVD/596/openscore.html