Abstract


Realizing the Moment: Towards a Continued Role for Technology in Art

Margaret Schedel, Elizabeth de Martelly

In 1966, Billy Klüver organized Nine Evenings of Theatre and Engineering, in which ten artists, collaborated with nearly thirty engineers. Evenings left a permanent impression on the artists who participated, and inspired many younger artists who were in the audience. It has become a classic event in the history of art and technology, yet few people could experience it first hand. Two of the nine works from this pioneering event, have been released on video with original documentary footage and interviews, but is this an accurate representation of the artwork? Ultimately, time-based art is nothing more or less than an engineered experience, a temporal environment with a beginning and an end between which exist the performance. Performance is essential to the practice of time-based art as a living form, but has been complicated by the unique challenges in interpretation and re-creation posed by works which incorporate technology. Is a document of an event as moving as the event itself? Do we have a responsibility not only maintain and conserve work that incorporates new technology, but also to ensure repeated performances? The responsibility for this decision lies not only with curators, but also with the artists themselves who should document their pieces consistently and thoroughly if they wish their work to remain performable. The issue of sustainability should be on the minds of creators and producers of works involving technology. Great art rests on the tradition of what comes before, if we only can experience this art through documentation, are we cheating future generations? The greatest driving force for sustainability is the demand for works to be performed and heard. I will examine the rewards and challenges of creating work with a technological component which can be viable well into the future.

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