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  • The Strange Dance9 Evenings: Theatre & Engineering as Creative Collaboration
  • Robin Oppenheimer

This dissertation examines the historical case study of 9 Evenings: Theatre & Engineering, a 1966 series of technology-based performances created collaboratively by avant-garde artists and Bell Labs engineers in New York City. It inspired the formation of an international networked organization of artists collaborating with engineers called Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.). The 9 Evenings artists and engineers were influenced by cybernetics and other new ideas emerging from 20th-century science, and they saw the value of experimenting with new communications technologies as part of their respective collaborative practices. The author argues that the 9 Evenings project helped pioneer creative collaboration as a key aspect of today’s digital culture. She also argues that technology has increasingly significant roles to play in the collaborative process, including as translator, or “boundary object” in an emerging “collaboration aesthetic” that foregrounds dialogic processes and new knowledge rather than creating art objects. The author reviews a large body of historical and contemporary literature about mid-20th-century art and examines recent writings about creative collaboration by business experts, social scientists and arts scholars. Through case study methodology, the artists’ and engineers’ writings are applied to a matrix of successful creative collaboration elements. The author concludes that the 9 Evenings project was both revolutionary and transformational as creative collaboration. It was revolutionary for its intentional focus on dialogic processes utilizing technology as both tools and boundary objects to generate new knowledge, and it was transformational emotionally, intellectually and professionally for many of the artists and engineers.

Robin Oppenheimer
<>. PhD diss., Simon Fraser University, Canada, 2011.


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