Open Score (1966)

DVD. Duration: 11’. Courtesy: Barbro Schultz Lundestam / Billy Kluver and Julie Martin for Experiments in Art and Technology.

Open Score was the performance presented by Robert Rauschenberg as part of Experiments in Art and Technology’s (E.A.T.) legendary 9 Evenings series of performances.

The series took place at the 69th Regiment Armory in New York in 1966, and featured collaborations between ten artists and 30 engineers from the Bell Laboratories. In Open Score, two participants played a game of tennis using racquets with FM radio transmitters in the handles.

As the ball hit one of the racquets, the noise of a gong was played through the loudspeakers. At each sound of the gong, one of the lights went out, until eventually the whole space was in darkness. At this point a crowd of 300 people entered the auditorium, live images of which were then projected onto three large screens using infra-red cameras.

9 Evenings is now recognized as a seminal moment in the history of new media art, with works that prefigured and anticipated many of the developments in the art form. Open Score was one of the most memorable and probably most successful of the performances and confirmed Rauschenberg’s status as a highly innovative artist, unafraid to experiment with new means of thinking about and making art.

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