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Arnolfini - est 1961

Arnolfini is pleased to present the first complete screening in the UK of 9 Evenings….

In 1966 ten artists, including John Cage, Öyvind Fahlström, and Yvonne Rainer, produced 9 Evenings: Theatre & Engineering – a series of innovative dance, music and theatre performances, developed in collaboration with engineers and scientists from Bell Telephone Laboratories. The legendary events, held at 69th Regiment Armory, New York City, in October 1966, were the culmination of extraordinary activity in art, dance and music in New York in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The films – produced by Billy Klüver and Julie Martin for E.A.T. and edited by Barbro Schultz Lundestam – present rarely seen archival materials and reconstruct the artist’s original work to illuminate the artistic, technical and historical aspects of the work.

Öyvind Fahlström: Kisses Sweeter Than Wine, 71mins

Kisses Sweeter than Wine was a theatre performance that combined live actors, slides, audio recordings, film and TV projection. Featuring an extraordinary mix of images – amongst them Idiot Savant Jedediah Buxton, a remote-controlled Mylar inflated missile and a girl in a swimming pool of Jell-O – Kisses Sweeter than Wine’s mesh of mediums explored technology’s ramifications on society and theatrical form.

Steve Paxton: Physical Things, 45mins

Physical Things was a performance piece and sculpture: participants moved within a 20,000 square feet network of inflatable polythene tunnels that housed installations and dance pieces. This traversable performance space made common cause with two major currents of the 1960s, the “happening” and “expanded cinema”, and served as a participatory experiment, investigating how technology alters our perceptual habits.

These films will be introduced and discussed by director Barbro Schultz Lundestam, exhibiting artist Olivia Plender and other guests.


John Cage: Variations VII, 41mins

Variations VII is a seminal example of Cage’s experiments in musical indeterminacy. Applying the principle of randomness to select acoustic materials, Cage intercepted sound phenomena and manipulated technologies to create live audio feeds: for example, he prepared telephone lines and intercepted radio waves, as well as converting biological data – a collaborator’s brain waves – into sound.

Lucinda Childs: Vehicle, 38 mins

Vehicle reduced choreographic score to simple repetitive actions like swinging buckets and moving around a hanging Plexiglas cube. A “Ground Effect Machine” (G.E.M.) which rose several inches above the floor on an air cushion was also integrated into the sequences, as was a sonar beam, that cut in on all of the movements, without distinguishing between objects and performers. Childs sought to disrupt the conventions of contemporary dance, and like her contemporaries blurred the stark line separating dancers from non-dancers.


Deborah Hay: Solo, 45mins

Combining human and mechanical movement, Solo’s dance sequences were interwoven with the movement of the carts, steered by the drivers by means of remote-control devices. A member of the Judson Dance Theater, Deborah Hay questioned conventional ideas about dance, exploring the proposition: Dance is movement, so all movement can be choreographed.

Alex Hay: Grass Field, 40mins

In Grass Field, Alex Hay amplified his own physiological phenomena: wearing a backpack of specially designed amplifiers he picked up and amplified brain waves, muscle activity and eye movement from electrodes placed on his head and body. This piece contextualises Hay within a tradition of art research that expanded in the early 1960s, developed as a response to the medical research being conducted on the brain.


Yvonne Rainer: Carriage Discreteness, 40 mins

In Carriage Discreteness, Rainer guided dancers and non-dancers through generic tasks of walking and carrying stage props from one point to another. Inspired by John Cage’s indeterminacy notions, Rainer integrated everyday gestures into dance vocabulary. Technological components were also used to cue movement: a ball and solenoid moved on wires stretching across the stage, and films were projected onto screens cued to fall at the performance’s end.

Robert Rauschenberg: Open Score, 32mins

Open Score was a movement piece that suggested the idea of a dance improvised in accordance with specific rules: as tennis players volleyed, the contact of ball to raquet triggered a mechanism that shut off the 36 lights on the Armory one by one. In the second part of the piece, a crowd assembled on stage in complete darkness, filmed by infrared cameras. After his participation in 9 evenings, Rauschenberg co-founded Experiments in Art and Technology, (E.A.T.)


David Tudor: Bandoneon! (a combine), 41mins

In Bandoneon! (a combine), Tudor put a traditional instrument, the bandoneon, on a circuit with an array of technological components, frequency modulators and amplifiers. The tones of the bandoneon were converted into electronic signals that generated sounds and graphics. Tudor’s work, alongside John Cage and other composers, developed musical notation methods based on indeterminacy and an atypical use of instruments.

Robert Whitman: Two Holes of Water-3, Length TBC

In Two Holes of Water -3, Whitman wanted to show that the film records traces of events, while TV makes its content appear and disappear in real time. The stage evoked drive-in movie theatres and cars were used as projection booths. Engaging in live montage during performance, Whitman used feeds of TV cameras on stage, and then projected the resulting image tracks side by side with excerpts of 16-mm films.

9 Evenings: Theatre & Engineering – Weekly Wednesday Screenings from 25 July 2012 all at 6.30pm. £3.00/£2.00 Concs / £10.00/£8.00 Concs for all films