9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering Revisited, 1966/2016

Mirror Dome Room at the Pepsi Pavilion, at Expo ’70, Osaka Japan, Photo Shunk-Kender
Mirror Dome Room at the Pepsi Pavilion, at Expo ’70, Osaka Japan, Photo Shunk-Kender
Fog Sculpture, by Fujiko Nakaya engulfing the pavilion. Photo by Fujiko Nakaya, courtesy E.A.T
Fog Sculpture, by Fujiko Nakaya engulfing the pavilion. Photo by Fujiko Nakaya, courtesy E.A.T
Exactly fifty years after the legendary 9 Evenings: Theater and Engineering, Arts Catalyst revisits this hugely influential art event with a new performance commission by Robert Whitman, participating artist in the original 9 Evenings and co-founder of Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T) who produced it. An accompanying exhibition, talks and events programme will be held at Arts Catalyst Centre for Art, Science & Technology and other venues across the city, developed in collaboration with Afterall and students from Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London and Goldsmiths, University of London.

9 Evenings: Theater and Engineering was initiated by artist Robert Rauschenberg and the engineer Billy Kluver. This 1966 event was a pioneering project in large-scale collaboration between artists and engineers. 9 Evenings was a significant moment in art history when many artists became aware for the first time of the implications that advancements in technology had for the development of their own artwork. Artists, including Robert Rauschenberg, John Cage, Robert Whitman and Yvonne Rainier worked with engineers for 10 months to develop technical equipment and systems that were used as an integral part of the artists’ performances, producing a blend of avant-garde theatre, dance and new technologies. The collaboration produced many ‘firsts’ with specially designed systems and with innovative use of existing equipment.

In October 2016, Arts Catalyst presents a contemporary re-imaging of this seminal event, with a programme throughout the month. Robert Whitman’s performance will be held in The Crossing, an ex-industrial warehouse space in the new Kings Cross development. Whitman will present his new performance, Side Effects, commissioned for this event. This spectacular evening will mix pre-recorded and live-streamed moving image from across the city, animated by a live performance unfolding over eight acts.

Within walking distance, the Arts Catalyst Centre for Art, Science & Technology hosts an exhibition of film footage from the 1966 9 Evenings events, alongside an archival presentation of the broader work of E.A.T., making public this rich history of cross-disciplinary collaboration. In addition talks developed, in collaboration with Afterall’s Exhibition Histories series, will reflect on the histories of art and technology in performance, transdisciplinary collaboration, and the influence of the 1960s on contemporary art today.

Finally, since January 2016 a working group of students from MRes Art: Exhibition Studies at Central Saint Martins and MFA Curating, Goldsmiths University of London, have been using 9 Eveningsand the work of E.A.T as a starting point to reflect on: re-staging and re-enactments as a method of doing art history, transdisciplinary practice and exhibiting the archive. The result of the working group will be three texts, compiled in a booklet that will be distributed both online and at the Arts Catalyst’s October events. A working group made up of students from MA Art and Science at Central Saint Martins, as well as other programmes, will collectively develop their own performances, to be held at Arts Catalyst’s Centre throughout October.

This programme is supported by Arts Council England, Cockayne – Grants for the Arts, The London Community Foundation, PACE, Afterall, Central Saint Martins, UAL, King’s Cross and Goldsmiths, University of London, University of Westminster, London: The Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media (CREAM) with the Institute for Modern and Contemporary Culture (IMCC) and The Performance Studio.

Arts Catalyst presents 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering Revisited 1966/2016, including a night of new cross-disciplinary performance art and an archival exhibition.

9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering Revisited 1966/2016 programme listing:

Arts Catalyst presents Experiments in Art and Technology
Private View: Thu 22 September 6pm – 8.30pm please RSVP*
Thu 22 September – Sat 29 October 2016, Thursdays & Fridays, 12 noon – 6pm
Arts Catalyst Centre, 74-76 Cromer Street, London, WC1H 8DR
An exhibition chronicling the history of Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.), the group who were behind the 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering event.

Arts Catalyst Presents Experiments in Art and Technology will include archival presentations and film screenings, making public this rich history of pioneering cross-disciplinary collaboration. It has been developed in close collaboration with Julie Martin, Director of E.A.T. and Barbro Schultz Lundestam the filmmaker responsible for documenting much of their activities.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a talks programme developed in collaboration with Afterall’s Exhibition Histories series, that will reflect on the histories of art and technology in performance, transdisciplinary collaboration, and the influence of the 1960s on contemporary art today.
 
Gallery tour of the Story of E.A.T with Barbro Schultz Lundestam
Sat 24 September 3pm-4pm
Arts Catalyst Centre, 74-76 Cromer Street, London, WC1H 8DR
Joins us for a gallery tour with Swedish journalist and independent documentary director Barbro Schultz Lundestam who was responsible for the re-emergence of documentation of the seminal performances by Experiments in Art and Technology in 1966.

Experiments and Incidents - Julie Martin and Barbra Steveni in conversation
Wed 5 October, 6.45 - 8.30pm
Arts Catalyst Centre, 74-76 Cromer Street, London, WC1H 8DR
Julie Martin (Experiments in Art and Technology) and Barbra Steveni (Artist Placement Group / O+I) in conversation, chaired by artist Neal White, Professor of Art/Science, University of Westminster.

Side Effects by Robert Whitman
Fri 7 October 2016, Entrance 7pm, Performance 7.30pm
The Crossing, Granary Square, Kings Cross, London N1C 4AA
Robert Whitman presents a new Arts Catalyst commissioned performance called Side Effects.

Exhibition Histories - Art and Technology Talk: Jeremy Millar
Thu 13 October, 6.30pm
Arts Catalyst Centre, 74-76 Cromer Street, London, WC1H 8DR
Jeremy Millar will host an evening screening of the film documenting John Cage's performance Variations VII., produced as part of 9 Evenings: Theater and Engineering. Millar will then contextualise the piece in relation to Cage's broader practice and related works.
Jeremy Millar is an artist and senior tutor at the Royal College of Art, London. He has an ongoing interest in John Cage's practice, and curated the current exhibition at Frith Street Gallery, John Cage: Lecture on the Weather (1975) previously, he conceived Every Day is a Good Day for Hayward Touring, the largest exhibition to date of the visual art of John Cage, which opened at Baltic in June 2010.

Exhibition Histories - Art and Technology Talk: Catherine Wood
Thu 20 October, 6.30pm
Arts Catalyst Centre, 74-76 Cromer Street, London, WC1H 8DR
Catherine Wood, Senior Curator, International Art (Performance) at Tate, will host an evening of screenings, showing films of Robert Rauschenberg’s Open Score and Yvonne Rainer’s Carriage Discreteness, both works produced as part of 9 Evenings: Theater and Engineering in 1966. The screenings will be followed by an informal talk from Wood reading both pieces as well as the broader practice of Rauschenberg and Rainer within the context of dance.
This event builds on Wood’s ongoing interest and in-depth knowledge on both artists' practice, having curated the critically acclaimed retrospective Yvonne Rainer: Dance Works at Raven Row in 2014 and as co-curator of the forthcoming Robert Rachenberg Retrospective at Tate Modern, opening in December 2016.
 

Experiments and Incidents - Julie Martin and Barbara Steveni in Conversation
Thu 27 October, 6.30pm
Arts Catalyst Centre, 74-76 Cromer Street, London, WC1H 8DR
 

Why make it simple, when you can make it complex?
Sat 29 October 2016, 12-6pm
Arts Catalyst Centre, 74-76 Cromer Street, London, WC1H 8DR
This day long event has arisen from a month long collaboration between a group of students from MA Art and Science at Central Saint Martins, UAL, and recent graduates from Goldsmiths and Farnham. The group came together as performers in Robert Whitman’s new commission 'Side Effects', produced as part of Arts Catalysts current season ‘9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering Revisited 1966/2016’. In collaboration with The Performance Studio, Arts Catalyst has since hosted weekly workshops for the group to develop a practical and historical perspective on performance practice and transdisciplinary working. The resulting performative installation involves individual works, collectively mediated by the group.
 
Auto Italia discussion with Exhibition Studies Working Group
Thu 3 November 2016, 6.30pm
Arts Catalyst Centre, 74-76 Cromer Street, London, WC1H 8DR

 

Artists

Robert Whitman, in 1966 was one of 10 artists who worked with more than 30 engineers and scientists from Bell Telephone Laboratories to create 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering (nine events held between 13–23 October 1966). From this experience in collaboration Whitman joined engineers Billy Klüver and Fred Waldhauer and fellow artist Robert Rauschenberg to start Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.), a foundation that aimed to provide artists with access to new technology through collaborations between artists and engineers and scientists.

Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.) was launched in 1967 by the engineers Billy Klüver and Fred Waldhauer and the artists Robert Rauschenberg and Robert Whitman. E.A.T. was an organisation 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.

Julie Martin is the Director of Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.), the not-for-profit organisation co-founded in 1966 in New York by artists Robert Rauschenberg and Robert Whitman, and engineers Billy Klüver (Martin’s late husband) and Fred Waldhauer to encourage and facilitate collaborations between artists and engineers.

Catherine Wood is Senior Curator in International Art (Performance) at Tate. Catherine has an ongoing interest and in-depth knowledge on both Robert Rauschenberg and Yvonne Rainer’s artists' practice.