Historical Resource Roundup: 9 Evenings



The touring show 9 Evenings Reconsidered: Art Theater and Engineering 1966 documents the legendary series of performances by the likes of John Cage, Robert Rauschenberg, Yvonne Rainer, and many others, and organized by Billy Kluver, a Bell Laboratories engineer, in October 1966 at the 69th Regiment Armory. The exhibition opened in Montreal at the Leonard and Bina Ellen Gallery, traveled to MIT's List Visual Arts Center, and is now on its way to Berlin's Tesla Media Art Laboratory at the beginning of November. For those of us who aren't on the exhibition's path, we can see many elements of the exhibition in a virtual space. Compiled by Langlois Foundation researcher-in-residence Clarisse Baridot, the 9 Evenings: Theater and Engineering fonds has been animated in a way that highlights the specific aspects of the technology not often at the forefront of existing scholarship. Based on the multitude of detailed stage directions, electronic schemas, and process documents in the collection, the interface provides numerous points of access to this incredible set of documents. One click on Robert Rauschenberg's name takes you to video of the tennis match/performance Open Score, and also images and descriptions of all vital electronic components (including photographs of the racquets which were equipped with wireless transmitting microphones). Another click opens an entire section dedicated to every screen and monitor used over the course of the evenings. As so much of the discourse on 9 Evenings is related directly to its importance as an art historical event, it is invigorating to explore this resource that, while still locating this moment firmly within this artistic context, for once puts the technical in the spotlight.