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9 evenings: theatre & engineering

Perhaps the most influential event joining art and technology in the 1960s, 9 evenings was held in October 1966 in New York. Spearheaded by artist Robert Rauschenberg and engineer Billy Klüver, a total audience of some 10,000 witnessed performances by ten artists collaborating with thirty engineers. In the technical development of their work, the ten artists, John Cage, Lucinda Childs, Oyvind Fählstrom, Alex Hay, Deborah Hay, Steve Paxton, Yvonne Rainer, Rauschenberg, David Tudor, and Robert Whitman benefited from 8500 engineering hours, worth an estimated $150,000, provided mostly by Klüver and his colleagues at Bell Laboratories. Fahlstrom’s work, Kisses Sweeter than Wine (top), a biting satire on the war in Viet Nam, incorporated a giant spinning head of President Lyndon Johnson, an anti-missile missile, and undulating tentacles made of bubbles. It was during the process of organizing 9 evenings that the foundation, Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.) was initiated. During the late 1960s, twenty-eight E.A.T. chapters were established throughout the US in order to make, in Klüver’s words, ‘materials, technology and engineering available to any contemporary artist.’ [1]


9 evenings collaborators at the Armory

“In 1966 10 New York artists worked with 30 engineers and scientists from the world renowned Bell Telephone Laboratories to create groundbreaking performances that incorporated new technology. Video projection, wireless sound transmission, and Doppler sonar -technologies that are commonplace today – had never been seen in the art of the 60’s. The 9 Evenings DVD Series is an important documentation of the collaborations between the artists and engineers that produced innovative works using these emerging technologies. These performances still resonate today, as forerunners of the close and rapidly-evolving relationship between artists and technology” [2] Fahstrom Kisses Sweeter than Wine


[1] Edward A Shanken, Art and Electronic Media, 2009, p 184