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9 Evenings: Theater & Engineering
Theater-Festival, Armory Hall, New York: In the 1960s, what would later lead to the founding of the organization Experiments in Art and Technology, was first put into practice on a large scale by ten New York artists as a unique festival for electronic as well as interactive performances and demonstrations. The idea of collaborating with technicians, not only initiated by Robert Rauschenberg and Billy Klüver but also organized and largely promoted by them, lead to the performances suggested by the festival title: Nine Evenings with performances by John Cage, Lucinda Childs, Merce Cunningham, Öyvind Fahlström, Alex Hay, Deborah Hay, Steve Paxton, Robert Rauschenberg, David Tudor, and Robert Whitman. Billy Klüver was again the driving force. The main technical element of the performances was the electronic modulation system TEEM, composed of portable, electronic units which functioned without cables by remote control. Cage used this system to activate and deactivate loud speakers that consistently reacted to movement by way of photo-cells. For not always being technically and artistically successful, these performances exhausted for the first time the full range of the live-aspect of electronics, taking advantage of its artistic potential in all of its diversity. Seen in that light, the «9 Evenings» rank among the milestones of media art, even though today only a few filmed documents bear witness to the event.