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.
The DVDs one on each artists performance -- are being released sequentially over the next two years. The initial publication of the series:
Robert Rauschenberg - Open Score, was released in February of 2007. The second in the series: John Cage - Variations VII, will be released at the end of May 2008. Each DVD will be PAL and NTSC system compatible.
9 Evenings: Theatre & Engineering is recognized as a major artistic event of the 1960s. The performances represented the culmination of a period of extraordinary creative energy in art, dance and music in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and they also pointed to the future, as artists began to use new technology in their work.
9 Evenings was organized by Robert Rauschenberg and Billy Klüver, then a research scientist at Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey. It was held at the 69th Regiment Armory in New York City from October 13-23, 1966. As Billy Klüver has written: "9 Evenings was unique in the incredible richness and imagination of the performances. The Armory space allowed the artists to work on an unprecedented scale, and their involvement with technology and collaborations with the engineers added a dimension of unfamiliarity and challenge. They responded with major works."
9 Evenings was the first large-scale collaboration between artists and engineers and scientists. The two groups worked together for 10 months to develop technical equipment and systems that were used as an integral part of the artists performances. Their collaboration produced many "firsts" in the use of new technology for the theater, both with specially-designed systems and equipment and with innovative use of existing equipment. Closed-circuit television and television projection was used on stage for the first time; a fiber-optics camera picked up objects in a performer's pocket; an infrared television camera captured action in total darkness; a Doppler sonar device translated movement into sound; and portable wireless FM transmitters and amplifiers transmitted speech and body sounds to Armory loudspeakers.
Using archival film footage and original sound recordings, the 9 Evenings films reconstruct each artist's performance as fully as possible; they also contain new interviews with artists, engineers and performers to illuminate the artistic, technical and historical aspects of the works.
Performances are by nature ephemeral events; this DVD series assures that the 9 Evenings will not be lost but will be available to new generations of dance and theater students as well as art scholars, artists and the general public who will have a concrete representation of what 9 Evenings looked like and how it came to play such an important role in American 20th century art.
The films on 9 Evenings are produced for E.A.T. by Julie Martin and directed by Barbro Schultz Lundestam. They are funded in part by generous gifts from Robert Rauschenberg and the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation as well as with support from the Daniel Langlois Foundation for Art Science and Technology.
The 10 disc DVD series, 9 Evenings: Theatre & Engineering, is co-produced by E.A.T. and ARTPIX and will be distributed worldwide by Microcinema International.
This website will continue to provide information on the 9 Evenings Performances as well as the DVD project. If you wish to contribute please contact info[at]9evenings.org.
E.A.T. is a non-profit service organization that promotes the collaboration between artists and engineers to provide artists with access to new technology and to facilitate their participation in projects dealing with areas of social concern.
ARTPIX is a non profit organization that produces DVDs about the arts including: Robert Whitman: Performances from the 60s; Trisha Brown: Early Works 1966-1979; William Wegman: Video Works 1970-1999. artpix.org
Microcinema International - The Art of the Moving Image
Microcinema is a leading international distributor and licensor of the moving image arts.
Microcinema International is exclusive distributor worldwide for the entire series of 9 Evenings: Theatre & Engineering (www.microcinema.com). The series will be available online at www.microcinemadvd.com or for wholesale, institutional or educational purchasing. For info and for theatrical/institutional screening/display information please contact: Joel Bachar, Microcinema International, 1636 Bush St., St. 2, San Francisco CA 94109, +1-415.447.9750 / FAX +1-509.351.1530 / joel[at]microcinema.com