WASHINGTON -- A free screening of a film on one of Robert Rauschenberg's most important performance works, "Open Score," will take place on Thursday, July 12, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the National Academy of Sciences' building at 2100 C St., N.W., Washington, D.C., U.S.A. A public reception will precede the screening from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. A photo ID is required to enter the building.
In 1966, 10 New York artists worked with 30 engineers and scientists from the Bell Laboratories to create a series of groundbreaking performances that incorporated new technology. They used video projection, wireless sound transmission, and Doppler sonar -- technologies that are commonplace today but that had never been seen in the art of the 1960s. This performance series, titled "9 Evenings: Theater & Engineering," was organized by Robert Rauschenberg and Billy Klüver, then a research scientist at Bell Labs in Murray Hill, N.J. The series led to the creation of the foundation Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.), whose mission was to promote collaborations between artists, engineers, and scientists.
E.A.T. has begun to produce a series of films documenting each artist's performance at the "9 Evenings," and this film on Robert Rauschenberg's "Open Score" is the first to be released, providing important documentation of Rauschenberg's work and these innovative collaborations. Julie Martin, producer of the "9 Evenings" DVD series, will discuss the films as well as the 1966 event that was the first large-scale collaboration between artists, engineers, and scientists.
"Open Score" began with a tennis game at the 69th Regiment Armory in New York City on Oct. 14, 1966. Bill Kaminski of Bell Labs designed a miniature FM transmitter that fit in the handle of the tennis racket, and a contact microphone was attached to the handle with the antenna wound around the frame of the head. Each time Frank Stella (a prominent American painter) and his tennis partner Mimi Kanarek hit the ball, the vibrations of the racket strings were transmitted to the speakers around the Armory, and a loud "bong" was heard. At each bong, one of the 48 lights illuminating the arena went out, and the game ended when the Armory was in complete darkness. Five hundred people descended onto the tennis court in the dark, and their images were recorded using infrared light and infrared television cameras and projected onto three large screens suspended in front of the audience. In the third part of the film, Simone Forti sang an Italian folk song as Rauschenberg picked her up and put her down at several places on the Armory floor.
"Open Score" is co-produced by E.A.T. and ARTPIX and is distributed by Microcinema International. It is directed by Barbro Schultz Lundestam.
This event is held in conjunction with the exhibition "Speculative Data and the Creative Imaginary," on view at the National Academy of Sciences' building through Aug. 24.
For more than 25 years, the Office of Exhibitions and Cultural Programs of the National Academy of Sciences has sponsored exhibitions, concerts, and other events that explore relationships among the arts and sciences.
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