Experiments in Art & Technology

There are a few major landmarks in digital art; EAT is definitely one of them. This biographical note from the Getty site, which details the project well, explains it in a nutshell:

“E.A.T., an organization devoted to promoting the interaction between art and technology, developed from the philosophies of Marshall McLuhan and Buckminster Fuller. E.A.T. founders, Billy Klüver, Robert Rauschenberg, Robert Whitman and Fred Waldhauer, believed that artists and scientists working together would greatly benefit society as a whole. The organization was created after the landmark event “9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering, ” 1966, and sought to continue the artist/engineer relationship forged during those performances. E.A.T.’s primary goal was to give artists access to new materials, such as plastics, reflecting materials, resins, video, and technologies, such as electronics and computers, which would have been otherwise inaccessible. Staff and participants explored or experimented with these and the precursors of many technologies that are now commonplace: chat lines, fax machines, lasers, cable television, and digitized graphics.

“By the early 1970s, E.A.T.’s artist and engineer matching service, called the Technical Services Program, boasted 6, 000 members. Through this matching system approximately 500 works were created, the most effective being in the areas of sculpture and performance. E.A.T. considered the collaborative process between artist and engineer of greater import than the aesthetics of the end result. Additionally, E.A.T. helped to organize many exhibitions in order to display the finished products of collaborations. Other E.A.T. activities focused on educational programs designed to inform the public about new telecommunications technologies. Research was conducted in order to locate inexpensive equipment and methods with which to bring TV programming to wider audiences, including underdeveloped countries.”

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