Billy Klüver and Experiments in Art and Technology Inc., 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering, Performance Series with Robert Rauschenberg, John Cage, Yvonne Rainer, and others, 14-Page Program with Insert, 25th Street Armory, 1966
Size: 11 x 17 inches
The mix of art and technology so prevalent today has a long and fascinating history. One pioneer was Billy Klüver (1927–2004), an engineer at Bell Laboratories who became infatuated with the art world in the 1960s after helping Jean Tinguely with his self-destructing kinetic sculpture Homage to New York (1960). In 1967 Klüver, Robert Rauschenberg, Julie Martin and others formed the group Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.).
Gallery 98 is offering here the rare catalog for 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering, a 1966 performance series conceived by Klüver and Rauschenberg that included composer John Cage, dancers Yvonne Reiner and Lucinda Childs, artist Robert Whitman and others. Thirty engineers worked with the artists to help integrate a range of groundbreaking technology. Perhaps best remembered today was Rauschenberg’s performance, an actual tennis match with rackets wired to transmit sound that both boomed over the hall’s loudspeakers and controlled the lighting.
E.A.T. was formed following the success of 9 Evenings. Over the next years Klüver and E.A.T. published a newsletter and worked with numerous art groups to facilitate collaborations with engineers. One highlight was the Pepsi pavilion at the 1970 Osaka Expo in Japan, which featured moving sculpture and light effects inside a geodesic dome continually shrouded in a dense fog created by artist Fujiko Nakaya. The history of the Pepsi pavilion was documented in the 1972 book Pavilion.
This work uses “only sounds which are in the air at the moment of the performance, picked up via communication bands, telephone lines, microphones, together with, instead of musical instruments, a variety of household appliances and frequency generators.”
The dance includes “movie fragments, slide projections, light changes, TV-monitored close-ups of details of the dance-proper, tape recorded monologues and dialogues, and various photo-chemical phenomena, several involving ultra-violet light” with the sequencing controlled by TEEM, an electronic environment modular system.
“My piece begins with an authentic tennis game with rackets wired for transmission of sound. The sound of the game will control the lights. The game’s end is the moment the hall is totally dark. The darkness is illusionary. The hall is flooded with infra-red… 300 to 500 people will enter and be observed and projected by infra-red television on large screens for the audience.”