Institute for Research in Art and Technology

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The Institute for Research in Art and Technology (IRAT) was founded in London in 1969 by arts theorist John Lifton as an offshoot of the London New Arts Lab, itself a breakaway from the original Arts Lab. Its early focus was on video and film, but this was subsequently expanded to include experimental literature, drama, sculpture and multimedia all based on art/technology crossovers.

In October 1969 the New Arts Lab opened on Robert Street, Camden Town, in a former chemical factory, with a screening of David Larcher’s Mare’s Tail (1969). This new arts centre, in addition to housing theatre, gallery and cinema space, also provided a base for the LFMC distribution office, screening and a newly equipped film workshop with a step printer and neg/reversal processor.[1]

This building housed artists workshops which included electronics, screen printing, the video co-op, the London Filmakers Co-op cinema, TVX's video theatre. I remember exhibitions by Stuart Brisley. Pam Zoline and J.G. Ballard's Crashed Cars. The book launch for William Burroughs "The Job" was held there.

The Institute for Research in Art and Technology, meanwhile, was opened in Earlham Street, Covent Garden. It became an exhibition space and attracted writers and artists who used it as a workshop and performance venue. Poet Denis Boyles taught workshops devoted to "plastic" poetry using various media at IRAT's Earlham Street facilities in 1975 and 1976. For nearly ten years, starting in 1969, William David Ormsby-Gore, 5th Baron Harlech, was IRAT's patron.

The Directors in August 1970 included David Curtis, Hugh Davies, John 'Hoppy' Hopkins, John Lifton, Pamela Zoline (USA) with Biddy Peppin as Secretary.[2]

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