straight up

Billy Klüver at work on Oracle



One of the most persistent ideas in twentieth-century art is that of absorbing new technology into art: the Futurists' blind devotion to technology; the Russian Constructivists' attempts to merge art and life into new imaginative forms, the more rigorous design approaches at the Bauhaus, continued by Gyorgy Kepes at MIT, and the work of individual artists such as Marcel Duchamp and John Cage. This involvement with technology has represented artists' positive desire to be engaged in the physical and social environment around them.

In the early 1960s, when technology began to develop rapidly, many artists wanted to work with forms of new technologies, but often found themselves shut out, with little or no access to technical and industrial communities. When, in 1960, I began to collaborate with artists on their projects, I was working as a scientist in the Communication Sciences Division at Bell Telephone Laboratories and had virtually unlimited access to technical people and resources.

E.A.T.'s contribution to the social dialogue of the 1960s and '70s was the idea of one-to-one collaborations between artists and engineers. E.A.T. opened up exciting possibilities for the artists' work by finding engineers willing to work with them in the artists' own environment. Together the artist and the engineer went one stop beyond what either of them could have done separately. But perhaps more importantly, the artist-engineer collaboration was the training ground for larger-scale involvement in social issues for both the artist and the engineer.

Texts by Billy Klüver
Edited by Randall Packer

Culled from the following sources:

• Artists, Engineers and Collaboration; "Culture on the Brink: Ideologies of Technology;" 1994

• Lecture given by Billy Klüver at the University of California, Berkeley and the San Jose Museum of Art; 1997