Artists And Engineers: The Example Of E.A.T.


Session Title:

  • Catalogue Papers (edited by musica falsa)

Presentation Title:

  • Artists And Engineers: The Example Of E.A.T.



  • In 1966, Bell Telephone Company gave engineer Billy Kluver access to premises, scientific equipment and a large sum of money to create a festival of Theater and Engineering. Oliver thus found himself in charge of the Experiments in Art and Technology movement, better known as E.A.T. “EA.T.’s objective is to promote cooperation between artists and engineers through practical actions It has been decided that the group will operate as a type of ‘matrimonial agenct’. When an artist encounters a technical difficulty or wants to undertake a project involving sophisticated technology, E.A. I puts that artist in contact with an engineer who has the right skills and is interested in the project. 1.. .1 Why bring artists and engineers or technicians together? Because today’s artists want to work with today’s techniques and turn them into materials for their art. Technology also needs artists. It needs their sensual approach and creative autonomy, which is fully responsible for their works. Artists are vital to technological progress. […] The artist provides a new content for technology, and allows us to redefine our relation to the technological environment […]. The engineer provides knowledge, expertise and access to the contemporary world.” Painters Oyvind Fahlstrom, Robert Rauschenberg and Robert Whitman; musicians John Cage and David Tudor; dancers Steve Paxton, Yvonne Rainer, Lucinda Childs, and Deborah and Alex Hay joined Kluver. Thirty engineers, physicists, electronic engineers and chemists took part in the project. The goal of Experiments in Art and Technology was to raise public awareness of changes in our society. It thus organized the series of 9 Evenings: Theater and Engineering at the Arsenal (the venue of the famous 1913 Armory Show). These evenings had a fundamental impact in every respect. The artists became aware of the potential of new technologies. During these evenings, the following works were performed: Bancloneon by Tudor, Variation VII by Cage, Vehicle by Childs, Grass Field by A. Hay, Kisses Sweeter than Wine by Fahlstrom, Solo by D. Hay, Physical Things by Paxton, Carriage Discreteness by Rainer, Open Score by Rauschenberg and Two Holes of Water by Whitman, using the possibilities of laser technology. Rauschenberg opened the series with a tennis match, Open Score. Franck Stella et Mimi Kanarek started to play, their rackets wired for light and sound. The lights were synchronized with the balls. The game ended in total apparent darkness. The room was bathed in infrared lighting and every time a racket hit a ball, a light would go out, leaving only the infrared lights which are not visible to the naked eye. For Grass Field, Hay used sound recording equipment to amplify the slightest sounds coming from Paxton’s body and the latter’s face was projected and on a large screen. Paxton built an huge inflatable polyethylene structure with spaces connected by tunnels. The audience could move around inside and watch slide shows while listening to a sound track. Upon leaving the structure, members of the audience received a small electronic device containing an amplifier, a speaker and a magnetic system. Twenty emitting antennas were suspended from a fishing net high over people’s heads and connected to a tape recorder. The magnetic fields created in the antennas were taped and transmitted by the transmitters. The different signals included a presentation on non-smokers, whispered words, quotations from the Bible, bird cries, an introduction to hockey and extracts from Mahler’s Song of the Earth. The last evening featured Fahlstrom’s Kisses Sweeter Than Wine which involved an object that changes color, people surrounded in smoke, singing pillows that bounce off the floor and float in the air and an actor chased by remote controlled monstrous object.