Abstract- Clarisse Bardiot

The Artists and Engineers of 9 Evenings

9 Evenings, Theatre & Engineering was presented in New York in 1966. An interdisciplinary project blending avant-garde theatre, dance and new technologies, the festival brought together 10 artists, including Robert Rauschenberg, John Cage, Lucinda Childs, Robert Whitman and many others, as well as some 30 engineers from Bell Telephone Laboratories (Murray Hill, N.J., U.S.).
This study grew out of, and around, diagrams that were published in the program for 9 Evenings. Completed by Herb Schneider, a Bell Labs engineer, between the end of September and the beginning of October 1966, they are a visual affirmation of the festival's mandate, the symbol of an encounter between the artist and the engineer.__
The development of the performance diagrams for 9 Evenings represents a key moment. Artists and engineers not only had to develop new working methods, but to find a common language a well. The performance diagrams would supply the necessary bridge. Starting out as a tool that enabled the artists and engineers to communicate with one another, they also came to serve as catalysts for original technological solutions, as the use of a control panel that would make it possible to interconnect all the components.
In a web publication, I offer an analysis of the content of the diagrams by comparing them to visual material (notably the factual footage produced by Alfons Schilling), eyewitness accounts of the festival, and archival documents. This analysis enables us to understand how the artists conceived of technology within the context of live performance. It also shows quite clearly that combining the same elements did not impose an identical aesthetic on all the performances. Finally, it allows us to consider 9 Evenings as one of the very first experiments to apply computer science principles in the context of live performances — even though the technology used was analog.
Web publication : http://www.fondation-langlois.org/e/9evenings/