Experiments in Art and Technology
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Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.) was a non-profit and tax-exempt organization established to develop collaborations between artists and engineers. The group operated by facilitating person-to-person contacts between artists and engineers, rather than defining a formal process for cooperation. E.A.T. initiated and carried out projects that expanded the role of the artist in contemporary society and helped eliminate the separation of the individual from technological change.
History of E.A.T.
E.A.T. was officially launched in 1967 by the engineers Billy Klüver and Fred Waldhauer and the artists Robert Rauschenberg and Robert Whitman. These men had previously collaborated in 1966 when they together organized 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering, a series of performance art presentations that united artists and engineers. 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. Artists involved with 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering include: John Cage, Lucinda Childs, Öyvind Fahlström, Alex Hay, Deborah Hay, Steve Paxton, Yvonne Rainer, Robert Rauschenberg, David Tudor, and Robert Whitman. Notable engineers involved include: Bela Julesz, Billy Klüver, Max Mathews, John Pierce, Manfred Schroeder, and Fred Waldhauer.
Video projection, wireless sound transmission, and Doppler sonar had never been seen in the art of the 1960s. These art performances still resonate today as forerunners of the close and rapidly evolving relationship between artists and technology. The performances were held in New York City's 69th Regiment Armory, on Lexington Avenue between 25th and 26th Streets as an homage to the original and historical 1913 Armory show. Such collaborations broke down barriers between the arts and scientists in the 60s, 70s, and 80s.
The pinnacle of E.A.T. activity is generally considered to be the Pepsi Pavilion at Expo '70 at Osaka Japan where E.A.T. artists and engineers collaborated to design and program an immersive dome that included a fog sculpture by Fujiko Nakaya. Organized by E.A.T. founders Billy Klüver and Robert Whitman, the project was led by a core design team that also included Robert Breer, Frosty Myers, David Tudor, and a group of over 75 artists and engineers from the US and Japan. The original structure consisted of a Buckminster Fuller-style geodesic dome covered by a water vapor cloud sculpture, designed by Fujiko Nakaya. The architect John Pearce devised a way that a Mylar mirror could be fitted inside the structure.
The optical effect in the spherical mirror produced real images resembling that of a hologram. Due to the size of the mirror, a spectator looking at an image could walk around it and see it from all sides. On the terrace surrounding the Pepsi Pavilion were seven of Robert Breer’s "Floats", six-foot high kinetic sculptures that moved around at less than 2 feet per minute, while emitting sounds. When a ""Float"" hit an obstacle or was pushed it would reverse direction. Though the Pavilion is often noted in historical accounts of electronic art, only those who visited the Expo were able to experience firsthand what has come to be known as one of the most monumental immersive art and technology projects of the 20th Century.
Twenty-eight regional E.A.T. chapters were established throughout the U.S. in the late 1960s to promote collaborations between artists and engineers and expand the artist’s role in social developments related to new technologies. In 2002 the University of Washington hosted a reunion to celebrate the history of these regional liaisons and consider the legacy of E.A.T. for artists working with new technologies in the 21st century.
E.A.T. activity has entered the canons of performance art, experimental noise music and theater, bridging the gap from the eras of Dada, Fluxus and the Happenings/Actions of the 1960s, through the current generation of digital artists for whom multimedia and technology are the norm. The lineage from E.A.T. experimentations in the 1960s which led to media-art explorations of the 1990s and beyond, is the same historical pathway that has led to the ArtScience movement of the 2000s -- the latter an amalgamation of E.A.T., the environmental/ecology movements, and the expanding ontological impact scientific practice has on society.
In 2001 Billy Klüver produced an exhibition of photo and text panels entitled "The Story of E.A.T.: Experiments in Art and Technology, 1960 – 2001 by Billy Klüver." It was first shown in Rome and then again at Sonnabend Gallery in 2002. The exhibition went to Lafayette College in the spring 2002, then to the Evolution Festival in Leeds, England, and University of Washington, in Seattle. In 2003 it traveled to San Diego State University in San Diego, California and then to a gallery in Santa Maria, California run by Ardison Phillips – who was the artist who managed the Pepsi Pavilion in 1970. From April to June 2003 a Japanese version was shown at a large exhibition at the NTT Intercommunication Center (ICC) in Tokyo which also included a number of object/artifacts and documents and E.A.T. posters, as well as works of art that Klüver and E.A.T. were involved in. A similar showing took place in Norrköping Museum of Art, Norrköping, Sweden in September 2004 and a small version of the panels were presented in 2008 at Stevens Institute of Technology as part of a celebration of Experiments in Art and Technology.
The 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering DVD Series is an important documentation of the collaborations between the artists and engineers that produced innovative works using these emerging technologies.
- Systems art
- Digital art
- Computer art
- Conceptual art
- Systems thinking
- Algorithmic art
- Moon Museum
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- "9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering : 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering Fonds".
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- John Rockwell, The Man Who Made a Match of Technology and Art. New York Times. (Late Edition (East Coast)). New York, N.Y.:Jan 23, 2004. p. E.3
- Charlie Gere (2005) Art, Time and Technology: Histories of the Disappearing Body, Berg, pp. 134 & 137
- Christiane Paul (2003). Digital Art (World of Art series). London: Thames & Hudson. p. 16
- Nechvatal, Joseph. (2012) Immersion Into Noise. Ann Arbor: Open Humanities Press, 191
- Billy Klüver, "The Great Northeastern Power Failure," Multimedia: From Wagner to Virtual Reality, ed. Randall Packer and Ken Jordan, W.W. Norton, New York, 2002
- Alan Liu (2004). "The Laws of Cool: Knowledge Work and the Culture of Information, University of Chicago Press
- Roy Ascott (2003). Telematic Embrace. (Edward A. Shanken, ed.) Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-21803-5
- Barreto, Ricardo and Perissinotto, Paula “the_culture_of_immanence”, in Internet Art. Ricardo Barreto e Paula Perissinotto (orgs.). São Paulo, IMESP, 2002. ISBN 85-7060-038-0.
- Jack Burnham, (1970) Beyond Modern Sculpture: The Effects of Science and Technology on the Sculpture of this Century (New York: George Braziller Inc.
- Bullivant, Lucy (2006). Responsive Environments: architecture, art and design (V&A Contemporaries). London:Victoria and Albert Museum. ISBN 1-85177-481-5
- Bullivant, Lucy (2005). 4dspace: Interactive Architecture (Architectural Design). London: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 0-470-09092-8
- Oliver Grau, Virtual Art, from Illusion to Immersion, MIT Press 2004, pp. 237–240, ISBN 0-262-57223-0
- Peter Weibel and Shaw, Jeffrey, Future Cinema, MIT Press 2003, pp. 472, 572–581, ISBN 0-262-69286-4
- Wilson, Steve Information Arts: Intersections of Art, Science, and Technology ISBN 0-262-23209-X
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- Jack Burnham, ‘Systems Esthetics,’ Artforum (September, 1968); reprinted in Donna de Salvo (ed.), Open Systems: Rethinking Art C. 1970 (London: Tate, 2005)
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- Marga Bijvoet, (1997) Art as Inquiry: Toward New Collaborations Between Art & Science, Oxford: Peter Lang
- Collection of Documents Published by E.A.T, Daniel Langlois Foundation.
- Screening of Documentary on Robert Rauschenberg's 1966 E.A.T. performance piece "Open Score" @ National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C.
- Experiments in Art and Technology Los Angeles records, 1969-1975. Getty Research Institute, Research Library.
- Experiments in Art and Technology records, 1966-1997, bulk 1966-1973. Getty Research Institute, Research Library.
- The Godfather of Technology and Art: An Interview with Billy Klüver by Garnet Hertz, 1995.