<< preface

this blog is nina wenhart's collection of resources on the various histories of new media art. it consists mainly of non or very little edited material i found flaneuring on the net, sometimes with my own annotations and comments, sometimes it's also textparts i retyped from books that are out of print.

it is also meant to be an additional resource of information and recommended reading for my students of the prehystories of new media class that i teach at the school of the art institute of chicago in fall 2008.

the focus is on the time period from the beginning of the 20th century up to today.

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>> Dwight D. Eisenhower's speech on technology and military

>> Grey Walter, "Elmer and Elsie", 1948/49

>> poème electronique, Le Corbusier, Varese, Xenakis, World Fair 1958

>> USCO, Gerd Stern

"Mekas and Durkee agreed that many people were turned off by strobes, that some even felt them to be “evil,” that others feared “something incoming.” This sense of menace was mentioned by the reviewer for Harper’s, to whom USCO “seem fully aware of the potential threat that lies in the sophisticated manipulation of ‘total environment’ ideas.”[15] But if they had recognized that forging such a “digital trip” might harbor a dark underside, this ceding of the self to its environmental machinations was repeatedly cast as a mode of escape from congealed forms of representation and extant forms of power. In Mekas’s words, strobe had the effect of “dissolving all the points of hard resistance, both of matter and mind[.] So that every reality that is here like a rock is being atomized.” Reiterating the transformative effect, he argued: “To me evil is, in art or life, only what keeps us rotating in one place like a record that gets stuck in the same groove. But the intermedia shows, the strobe opens us.”[16]"


"from USCO through Intermedia, 1962-1979" at Thorpe Intermedia Gallery, which opened on September 9, 1979, assembled by Michael Callahan, Gerd Stern, Zalman Stern, Lind Von Helwig (Sparkill, New York)

>> It's important that you attend

The advertising flyer for 9 Evenings presented the event as follows: "You will hear the body broadcast its sounds. You will see without light. You will witness a deaf-mute interview. You will see dancers floating on air. Those of the audience who are willing will become more than spectators. You too can actually float. It's art and engineering and a little theatrics. It's important that you attend." (1) This emphasizes viewer participation, a common enough practice within the context of happenings, and the unusual — or a priori impossible — character of the proposed experiences. The alliance of art and technology would make it possible to upset perceptual codes, as if technology fostered an extension of viewers' ordinary sensory apparatus and enhanced their perception. The performances presented novel situations in the form of experiments in which viewers were invited to take part: infrared cameras revealed the presence of a crowd of 500 people in total darkness (Open Score); the audience heard, amplified, sounds emitted by the muscles and the brain (Grass Field), or sounds considered inaudible (Variations VII); visual and audio sources were simultaneously multiplied (Two Holes of Water — 3); viewers were plunged into a labyrinth of transparent polyethylene (Physical Things), and so on. Speakers placed at selected points throughout the space of the stage and auditorium reinforced the viewer's feeling of immersion, and destabilized the frontal viewpoint instituted by the stage and its equipment. 9 Evenings constituted an example of "environmental theatre," as defined by Michael Kirby, a critic who took part in Rainer's performance: "It is only when the presentational field and/or performance elements move around, over, or under the spectator that we may call the performance 'environmental'." (2) This concept of environment was hardly foreign to 9 Evenings, since the TEEM system was based on it.

Another critic of the time, Richard Kostelanetz, was of the opinion that 9 Evenings belonged to what he called the "theatre of mixed means." This type of theatre does without a script, combines elements like music, dance, film, lighting, sculpture, and painting, and incorporates "new technologies."

On several occasions, Kostelanetz underscored the change in perception implied by this type of theatre: "Each piece demands of the spectator an actively engaged and highly personal perception." Further on, he says, "It employs various media of communication to create a field of activity that appeals to the total sensorium." (3) The importance attributed to perception, then, put the body back at the centre of the debate. Technology did not therefore dispense with the body, but suggested another approach to it, incorporating it into each of the 10 performances. There was, for example, Fahlström's robot body, machine body and marionnette, Alex Hay's enhanced body, Childs' and Rauschenberg's moving body in a dialogue with its environment, Paxton's immersed body, Whitman's deformed and fragmented body, Yvonne Rainer's and Deborah Hay's "remote-controlled" body, and Tudor's and Cage's body grappling with machines.

Whether visible or not, the various interfaces designed for the performers in 9 Evenings made the body into a sort of bridge between the stage and the technological environment. It is in this sense that we can use the expressions "interfaced actor" or "subjectile" to describe the body of the actor confronted with such interfaces. The Latin root of subjectile, subjectus, designates the surface that serves as a support. My line of thinking here derives from a text by Jacques Derrida, "Forcener le subjectile," (4) which deals with drawings by Antonin Artaud and the texts that accompany them. On several occasions, Artaud uses the term "subjectile" to designate the paper on which he draws, pointing out, among other things, that it betrays him. Taking Artaud's use of this term as his point of departure, Derrida wonders about the element of the subject that remains in the subjectile. The bridge that gets constructed between subjectus and subjectum, or subjectile and subject, seems to me to be a good way of designating the interfaced body, ambiguous, grappling with machines, like some operator who is alternately of a piece with and distinct from the object he or she operates.

In short, these concerns with the body and perception converge in a crucial way with those of the engineers and industrialists of the period, who were interested in the kind of changes in the user's perception produced by the new technologies developed in the 1950s and 1960s. Indeed, studies of perception were at the heart of the research then being conducted at the Bell Laboratories, whether it dealt with sound or with analog or digital imagery. 9 Evenings made it possible to indirectly explore certain aspects of these questions.

C.B. © 2006 FDL

>> Robert Rauschenberg, "Open Score", E.A.T., 9 Evenings, 1966

>> E.A.T. - 9 evenings

this article consists of parts copied from the DLF-website and needs to be shortened!

Collection of Documents Published by E.A.T.
Lectures-Demonstration Series (1968-1969)
In conjunction with the Technical Service Program, E.A.T. organized 30 conferences given by scientists from specialized research labs and private companies including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.), Eastman-Kodak (Rochester, New York, U.S.) and Columbia University (New York, U.S.). Intended for artists wishing to exploit new technologies in their work, these conferences revolved around such topics as lasers, holography, and computer-generated images and sounds.

Collection of Documents Published by E.A.T.
This collection features over 500 documents that explore the activities of Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.) from 1965 to 1981. Included are reports, project descriptions, technical drawings, correspondence, invitations, exhibition catalogues, periodicals, reprints of articles, and photocopies of press clippings.

Founded in 1966 by Billy Klüver, Fred Waldhauer, Robert Rauschenberg and Robert Whitman, E.A.T. was a non-profit group active primarily from the 1960s to the 1980s. Its aim: to mobilize the arts, industry and science around projects that involved participants from each field. E.A.T. promoted interdisciplinary collaborations through a program pairing artists and engineers. It also encouraged research into new means of expression at the crossroads of art and such emerging technologies as computer-generated images and sounds, video, synthetic materials and robotics. To complement these projects combining the talents of artists and engineers, E.A.T. organized educational activities to acquaint the public with telecommunication technologies like telewriting and satellite transmission. Other projects emulating international aid programs were devised to give developing countries access to community media. As of the mid-1970s, E.A.T. began opening chapters in the United States, Canada and Japan.

This collection, which Billy Klüver put together in 1981 to preserve E.A.T.'s heritage, is part of a limited edition of similar documentation collections accessible to researchers in documentation centres and specialized libraries in the United States, Canada and Australia. The E.A.T. archives are kept at the Getty Research Institute (Los Angeles, California). (1)

Vincent Bonin © 2002 FDL

(1) To browse through the inventory of E.A.T. archives, see "Inventory of the Experiments in Art and Technology Records, 1966-1993" , The Getty, Los Angeles, Getty Research Institute, 1996, (accessed April 23, 2002): http://www.getty.edu/research/tools/special_collections/eat.html

In 1965, with help from Robert Rauschenberg, Billy Klüver sought the expertise of engineers at Bell Laboratories (Murray Hills, New Jersey, U.S.) to participate in an interdisciplinary project blending avant-garde theatre, dance and new technologies. For the project, 10 artists (John Cage, Lucinda Childs, Öyvind Fahlström, Alex Hay, Deborah Hay, Steve Paxton, Yvonne Rainer, Robert Rauschenberg, David Tudor and Robert Whitman) each created an original performance. They were then paired with the engineers, who helped produce the technical components used on stage by the participants (dancers, actors, musicians). "9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering" was to be presented as part of the Stockholm Festival of Art and Technology in 1966. But when the festival's American program was cancelled, Billy Klüver moved the event to the 69th Regiment Armory (New York), where it ran from October 13 to 23, 1966.

This program, which was founded in 1966, enabled artists to carry out highly technological projects in close collaboration with a scientist or engineer. E.A.T. first enlisted specialists from different scientific fields who could meet the artists' technical needs. Among these specialists: engineers from Bell Laboratories (Murray Hills, New Jersey, U.S.) and IBM Labs (Armonk, New York, U.S.). E.A.T. paired the artists and engineers, who became joint members of the group. Yet E.A.T. didn't intervene in the project's design and development stages. To complement this partnership service, the group published a newsletter, E.A.T. News, that spotlighted ongoing and completed projects. As well, E.A.T. offered rental equipment and organized forums on such emerging technologies as holography, lasers and computer-generated imagery. In the late '70s and '80s, E.A.T paired engineers and artists, however, the Technical Service Program came to an end in 1973.

Collection of Documents Published by E.A.T.
Technical Information (1966)
In conjunction with the Technical Service Program, E.A.T. formed a consulting service for artists. The service included a program for developing documentation resources in science and engineering (Technical Libraries) in New York City. Another feature of the service was a telephone assistance line run by engineers from E.A.T. offices.

In 1966, Billy Klüver — an engineer and organizer of the event — asked Austrian artist Alfons Schilling to film the nine evenings. Schilling used an Arriflex camera and a considerable amount of 16 mm film. In the end, almost five hours of footage (approximately 10 reels) were filmed. In the absence of a synchronized sound track, Thelma Schoonmacher and a number of engineers from Bell Telephone Laboratories (Murray Hills, N.J., U.S.) recorded the sound on magnetic tape. The five sound reels contained in this series are the original recordings of Variations VII by John Cage.

The factual footage was not Schilling's only objective, for above all, he hoped to collect enough material from the performances to produce a documentary on the entire event. At the request of Billy Klüver, who wanted to broadcast the work on television, Schilling was obliged to trim down his initial project. The film, entitled 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering (24 minutes), produced a few months after the event, contained a fraction of the filmed footage as well as excerpts from sound recordings. In addition, footage of the performances by Lucinda Childs, Robert Rauschenberg and David Tudor, shot in 35 mm film by unknown camera operators, can be found in this series. The series also includes a selection of props and technical components used on stage, interviews with the artists and engineers who participated (plus transcripts), recorded by Alfons Schilling in 1966, and notes and technical drawings/sketches by engineer Fred Waldhauer.


Clarisse Bardiot's essay on 9 Evenings: http://www.fondation-langlois.org/html/e/page.php?NumPage=572

9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering fonds

1966-2005. — 24 film reels, 71 videocassettes, 5 sound reels, 8 props/technical components, 3 cm of textual documents.

In 1965, with the help of Robert Rauschenberg, Billy Klüver sought the expertise of some 30 engineers at Bell Laboratories (Murray Hills, N.J., U.S.), requesting that they participate in an interdisciplinary project blending avant-garde theatre, dance and new technologies. For the project, artists John Cage, Lucinda Childs, Öyvind Fahlström, Alex Hay, Deborah Hay, Steve Paxton, Yvonne Rainer, Robert Rauschenberg, David Tudor and Robert Whitman each created an original performance. The artists were paired with the engineers, and together they produced the technical components used on stage by the participants (dancers, actors, musicians). The event was originally intended to be presented as part of the Stockholm Festival of Art and Technology in 1966. But when the festival's American program was cancelled, Billy Klüver moved the event to the 69th Regiment Armory (New York, N.Y., U.S.), where it ran as 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering from October 13 to 23, 1966.

Custodial history:

Following 9 Evenings, Billy Klüver, Simone Forti (then Simone Whitman), Alfons Schilling and many other participants collected the documentary materials associated with the 10 performances: technical diagrams and sketches, choreographic scores, factual footage, sound recordings, props, technical components, etc. While certain artists chose to retain their own materials for their personal archives, Billy Klüver and Julie Martin kept most 9 Evenings materials until being deposited at the Getty Research Institute (Los Angeles, California, U.S.) in 1994 and the Daniel Langlois Foundation in 2001. Intellectual and physical processing of the fonds was conducted between 2002 and 2006.

Scope and content:

The fonds consists mainly of original factual footage (16 mm and 35 mm film) of the nine evenings as well as some audio recordings on magnetic tape. These materials can be found in the series: Documents associated with the performances presented as part of 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering (1966-1967). The fonds also include production materials and master video tapes of documentary films produced beginning in 1996 by Experiments in Art and Technology (Billy Klüver and Julie Martin) under the direction of Barbro Schultz Lundestam. These materials can be found in the series: Documentaries on 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering (1995-).


Title proper. — English documents. — The fonds consists of originals and reproductions. — Certain restrictions with respect to consultation apply. — The reproduction and publication of archival materials are subject to directives adopted by the CR+D with respect to the protection of intellectual property and privacy. — The complete press review for 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering can be found in the Collection of Documents Published by Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.), Daniel Langlois Foundation (Montreal, Canada). Also available in this finding aid: 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering Press Review. — Materials related to the event are also housed by the following institutions: Getty Research Institute, Research Library (Los Angeles, California, U.S.); New York Public Library (New York, N.Y., U.S.); and Archiv Sohm (Stuttgart, Germany). — More instalments are expected.

Vincent Bonin © 2006 FDL

“Information presented at the right time and in the right place can potentially be very powerful. It can affect the general social fabric... The working premise is to think in terms of systems: the production of systems, the interference with and the exposure of existing systems... Systems can be physical, biological or social.” (1)

And one might add... technological!

When engineers Billy Klüver and Fred Waldhauer and artists Robert Rauschenberg and Robert Whitman founded Experiments in Art and Technology (EAT) in 1966, they had just emerged from 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering, a series of performances held at the 69th Regiment Armory in New York City, where, it is said, ten thousand people attended.
(2) Although the performances received mixed reviews, the foursome didn't want the endeavour to end there. Their wish was to pursue the collaboration beyond the “event” to enable artists to make use of devices and advice that would have been beyond their reach without this type of joint venture.

What started all of this, beyond his friendship to countryman, curator and museum director Pontus Hulten, was Billy Klüver's collaboration with Jean Tinguely on his self-destructing machine Homage to New York, presented in the Museum of Modern Art's garden in New York on March 17, 1960. While working on Homage, Tinguely introduced Klüver to Robert Rauschenberg, who had agreed to participate in the edification of this suicidal installation with a work of his own entitled the Money Thrower, a box filled with gunpowder and twelve silver dollars, which exploded at one point in the process, sending the coins haywire into the garden.
(3) Klüver subsequently collaborated with Rauschenberg on many of his works (Oracle, 1965; Soundings, 1968; Solstice, 1968; etc.) as well as with other artists, such as Jasper Johns (Field Painting, 1962; Zone, 1965), dancer Yvonne Rainer (At My Body's House, 1964), Andy Warhol (Silver Clouds, 1965-1966), composer John Cage and choreographer Merce Cunningham (Variations V, 1965), and many others.

While 9 Evenings was judged by many as a forced marriage between artists and engineers, the event became a fertile ground for the invention of a number of technological tools never before used in theatrical or live performance environments or for that matter in the commercial arena. These devices included, for example, sound captors concealed in the tennis racquets' handles, in Rauschenberg's performance Open Score, that eventually led to the invention of the wireless microphone. The TEEM (Theatrical Electronic Environmental Module), a remote and proportional control system designed to control and relay movement, sound and light effects in all of the performances, was another machine created solely for 9 Evenings.

Above all, EAT became a tentacular service organization, whose mission was to facilitate the work of artists in any field or discipline. Klüver's wish was to find “new means of expressions for artists... and to find out where they stood in relation to the society that was sending men to the moon.”
(5) EAT triggered the creation of many “chapters” across the US, Canada, Japan, France, England and India. Each one of these chapters produced an array of events, activities, newsletters and match-ups between artists and industry. And it all happened before globalization had become a buzzword.

So what happened? Why did a pregnant silence prevail around this apparently revolutionary organization that had helped create work for so many artistic icons through thought provoking interactions between artists and scientists?

Although several essays and articles were published about the events produced by EAT at the moment they took place, only a small number of anthologies on art and technology mention EAT, and these amount to a few succinct sentences that largely contain the same information. The most exhaustive works written on EAT were, among others, Pavilion, a book written by Billy Klüver in collaboration with art critic Barbara Rose and other contributors on the trials and tribulations and the making of the Pepsi Pavilion at the 1970 Osaka Universal Exhibition, as well as a descriptive doctoral dissertation by Norma Loewen on EAT's activities in 1975.
(6) And while articles by Billy Klüver from the '60s and '70s have lately been reissued in a small number of publications, (7) and more recent texts by Klüver with Julie Martin have been edited in various books, catalogues or magazines, (8) not one comprehensive and contextual analysis of this phenomenon was ever undertaken, either in assessments dedicated to the art of the '60s and '70s or in a volume of its own. (9)

In the review of literature, I found factual inaccuracies that attribute, for example, links between EAT and the Art & Technology Program created by Maurice Tuchman at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in 1967. Some consider EAT as a branch of LACMA's A&T program, while others assert that 9 Evenings was presented under EAT's umbrella, when to the contrary, the creation of EAT was a direct upshot of 9 Evenings. In fact, pour la petite histoire, the evening EAT was founded was dubbed “the 10th Evening” by Fred Waldhauer. But by far, the most notorious blunder stated: “In 1968 EAT created an exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum of Art and at the MoMA, called Some New Beginnings
(10) (...) And the same year the MoMA presented The Machine as Seen at the End of the Mechanical Age. The most interesting and spectacular machine was without doubt Homage to New York by Jean Tinguely.” (11) This is most disconcerting indeed, bearing in mind that it is known and documented that The MachineSome More Beginnings shown concurrently at the BMA. The latter was a showcase for all of the artist/engineer team projects entered in a contest launched by EAT and whose top ten contestants were exhibited in the Machine. Needless to say, it is unnecessary to comment on Tinguely's supposed participation in any of these exhibitions. was shown at the MoMA, with

(1) Jeanne Siegel, “An Interview with Hans Haacke,” Arts Magazine 45, no. 7 (May 1971); p. 21 as quoted in Six Years: The dematerialization of the art object from 1966 to 1972…/ edited and annotated by Lucy R. Lippard, (Berkeley/Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1997 (1973)) p. xiii.

(2) This event was originally planned for an Art and Technology Festival in Stockholm, Sweden. But as many financial problems arose, the event was cancelled, and Klüver and Rauschenberg decided nevertheless to take this risky enterprise to New York City. Simone Whitman, an artist herself and the wife of Robert Whitman, found the Armory as the site for 9 Evenings through her political connections.

(3) The coins were never found. Mary Lynn Kotz, Rauschenberg/Art and Life – New Edition (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2004) p. 128.

(4) Unfortunately, the control over the lighting system in Open Score did not work as planned, and the lights had to be turned off manually, while the sound control worked perfectly.

(5) 9 Evenings : Theatre and Engineering (manuscript) / Harriet DeLong, Experiments in Art and Technology.-1966-1967 (1972-1973). Box 2. Experiments in Art and Technology. Records, 1966-1993, Research Library, The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, California (940003).

(6) Norma Loewen, Experiments in Art and Technology: A Descriptive History of the Organization (New York: New York University, 1975). Ph. D. dissertation delivered at the School of Education, Health, Nursing and Arts Professions, New York University, 1975.

(7) Among others, Billy Klüver, “Four Selections by Experiments in Art and Technology,” in The New Media Reader, Noah Wardrip-Fruin & Nick Montfort, Ed. (Cambridge/London: The MIT Press, 2003) pp. 211-227; Billy Klüver, Julie Martin, “Four Difficult Pieces,” Art in AmericaNouvelles de danse (2004) Title of issue : “Interagir avec les technologies numériques,” pp. 11-28 and Billy Klüver, “Le théâtre et l'ingénierie – une experience: Notes d'un ingénieur,” Nouvelles de danse (2004) pp. 29-35. Both texts were originally published in English in Artforum V, (February 1967). (July 1991) pp. 80-99, p. 138.; Simone (Whitman) Forti, “Le théâtre et l'ingénierie – une expérience: Notes d'une participante,”

(8) All are mentioned in the bibliography.

(9) On a more positive note, it should be pointed out that exhaustive research has been done recently on various aspects of EAT's activities by a few scholars.

(10) Underlined by the author

(11) Olivier Lussac, Happening & Fluxus – poly expressivité et pratique concrète des arts, Paris, L'Harmattan, 2004, p. 237-238. [Free translation by the author]

>> John Cage, "Variations VII", E.A.T, 9 Evenings, 1966

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... is a Media Art historian and independent researcher. She is currently writing on "speculative archiving && experimental preservation of Media Art" and graduated from Prof. Oliver Grau's Media Art Histories program at the Danube University in Krems, Austria with a Master Thesis on Descriptive Metadata for Media Arts. For many years, she has been working in the field of archiving/documenting Media Art, recently at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Media.Art.Research and before as the head of the Ars Electronica Futurelab's videostudio, where she created their archives and primarily worked with the archival material. She was teaching the Prehystories of New Media Class at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and in the Media Art Histories program at the Danube University Krems.