• Still from Daria Martin's 16 mm film

    Still from Daria Martin's 16 mm film "Soft Materials" is part of "The Choreographic Turn," on display at the List Visual Arts Center through July 9.

    Photo courtesy / Maureen Paley, London

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  • Image of Alex Hay and Lucinda Childs with ground effect machine at Berkeley Heights School rehearsals, from the MIT List Visual Arts Center's exhibition

    Image of Alex Hay and Lucinda Childs with ground effect machine at Berkeley Heights School rehearsals, from the MIT List Visual Arts Center's exhibition "9 Evenings Reconsidered: Art, Theatre, and Engineering, 1966."

    Photo courtesy / Frances Breer

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Art, technology linked at List

Still from Daria Martin's 16 mm film "Soft Materials" is part of "The Choreographic Turn," on display at the List Visual Arts Center through July 9.


Art and technology are woven together in a complementary set of works now on view in separate exhibitions at the List Visual Arts Center.

"Choreographic Turn," curated by Bill Arning, uses the medium of dance captured on film to show the interplay of art and technology in different ways.

"9 Evenings Reconsidered," curated by Catherine Morris, presents a look at a momentous historical event that brought art and technology together in the mid-1960s.

"The two shows together address some of the issues of the relationship between art and technology," said Arning, who will give a gallery talk on the current exhibitions at the List Center at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 24.

There are two works in "Choreographic Turn." One consists of the huge wall-sized projections of sculptor Peter Weltz's video collaboration with choreographer William Forsythe.

Forsythe's movements were recorded in a nondescript room with five cameras, including two attached to his wrists. The resulting footage, taken from five angles, is projected simultaneously on the gallery walls to produce "whenever on on on nohow on/airdrawing" (2004).

This work has a high-profile destination after MIT: "I think this is the first time we've ever shown an artist whose next show will be the Louvre," Arning said.

The other work in "Choreographic Turn" is Daria Martin's "Soft Materials" (2004), which uses 16mm film to capture dancers interacting with robots. The dancers are naked and the gears of the robots are exposed, making them similar in some ways. Arning called it "a very sensual film ��� with a kind of innocence to it."

The series of 1966 performance events examined in "9 Evenings Reconsidered" was a significant turning point for the art world and heightened awareness of the implications that advancements in technology could have for art.

Orchestrated by Bell Laboratories engineer Billy Kl̹ver in 1966, "9 Evenings" paired Bell Labs performance engineers with New York avante-garde artists to create new works over a series of days. Artists included dancer/choreographer Lucinda Childs, painter/choreographer Robert Rauschenberg and composer John Cage. Engineers included Per Biorn, Cecil Coker and Herb Schneider (S.B., S.M. 1948). "It was a great event at the time," said Arning, who said 10,000 people witnessed the events at the 69th Regiment Armory in New York.

The List Center show consists of source materials and artifacts from the original performances that illustrate how the event deepened the dialogue between artists and engineers. As composer John Cage wrote to Kl̹ver, the "father of electronic art," in one of the letters on display, "Art and Science are inextricably connected."

Also on May 24: "Early Dance Videos at WGBH," a lecture by Susan Dowling, co-founder of Art 21, Inc. and former executive producer of New Television Workshop. Stata Center Room 144, 6:30 p.m.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 24, 2006 (download PDF).


Topics: Arts

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