Leah Dickerman: The pioneering video artist Charles Atlas has worked closely with video footage of 9 Evenings.
Charles Atlas: Nine Evenings was an event that took place in New York City in 1966. Engineers from Bell Labs worked with a group of very well-known artists, and they made pieces that incorporated elements of technology.
Leah Dickerman: Here’s Julie Martin:
Julie Martin: Bob Rauschenberg did a piece called Open Score. Pete Kaminski at Bell Labs had made a very small FM transmitter that could fit in the handle of the tennis racquet. And there was a contact mic at the head of the racquet so that each time the ball hit, a very loud bong was transmitted. In addition, each time the racquet hit a ball, the sound turned off a light. When the space was completely dark, the space was flooded with infrared light, and infrared-sensitive cameras picked up the images of the people on the floor. And a crowd of 500 people did very simple choreography — wave a handkerchief; take off a coat, put it back on; hug the person next to you.
Charles Atlas: Around the corner you’ll see an installation I made based on the documentary materials that exist from Nine Evenings—16-millimeter black-and-white film footage, and a bit of color film footage also. I made a nine-channel sync composition with nine projectors and nine screens, mounted in a forest of pipes. It’s like, a maze in a way, but there’s no end goal. It’s sequential. Instead of the dancers moving around the audience, the audience is moving around the dancers. Hopefully, you’ll get that feeling of experimentation and rawness in technology.