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9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering fonds

Documents associated with the performances

Alfons Schilling shooting Alex Hay's performance Grass Field, 1996
Series 1:

Documents associated with the performances presented as part of 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering (1966-1967). — 24 film reels, 71 videocassettes, 5 sound reels, 8 props/technical components, 3 cm of textual documents.

Scope and content:

This series is primarily comprised of factual footage of the performances presented as part of 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering at the 69th Regiment Armory (New York, N.Y., U.S.), from October 13 to 23, 1966.

In 1966, Billy Klüver — an engineer and organizer of the event — asked Austrian artist Alfons Schilling to film the nine evenings. Schilling used an Arriflex camera and a considerable amount of 16 mm film. In the end, almost five hours of footage (approximately 10 reels) were filmed. In the absence of a synchronized sound track, Thelma Schoonmacher and a number of engineers from Bell Telephone Laboratories (Murray Hills, N.J., U.S.) recorded the sound on magnetic tape. The five sound reels contained in this series are the original recordings of Variations VII by John Cage.

The factual footage was not Schilling's only objective, for above all, he hoped to collect enough material from the performances to produce a documentary on the entire event. At the request of Billy Klüver, who wanted to broadcast the work on television, Schilling was obliged to trim down his initial project. The film, entitled 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering (24 minutes), produced a few months after the event, contained a fraction of the filmed footage as well as excerpts from sound recordings. In addition, footage of the performances by Lucinda Childs, Robert Rauschenberg and David Tudor, shot in 35 mm film by unknown camera operators, can be found in this series. The series also includes a selection of props and technical components used on stage, interviews with the artists and engineers who participated (plus transcripts), recorded by Alfons Schilling in 1966, and notes and technical drawings/sketches by engineer Fred Waldhauer.


Title based on the content of the series. – Documents in English. – Originals and reproductions. – The arrangement of certain documents was established by the cataloguer. – For more information on the production of the factual footage by Alfons Schilling and the Bell Telephone Engineers, see : Factual footage of 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering, by Alfons Schilling in the current finding aids. – The fonds Experiments in Art and Technology Records, 1966-1993, housed at the Getty Research Institute (Los Angeles, California, U.S.), contains audio footage of all of the performances (except the original tapes of Variations VII by John Cage), recorded by Thelma Schoonmacher and Alfons Schilling. This fonds also contains the draft of an unpublished book on 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering by Harriet DeLong, Simone Forti, Billy Klüver (et al), as well as artist files comprised of many original items. The CR+D makes available to researchers copies of a number of these documents. – Robert Rauschenberg owns the 10 diagrams drawn by Herb Schneider during the preliminary collaborations between the engineers and artists. To consult digital copies of these documents on the Daniel Langlois Foundation Web site, please see: Clarisse Bardiot, 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering. Photographer Peter Moore attended all of the evenings and took hundreds of shots (approximately fifty 35 mm rolls) of each performance. The negatives of these photos are now part of the collection of Barbara Moore/Bound and Unbound (New York, N.Y., U.S.). – Photographers Burt Shavitz, Francis Breer and Herbert Migdoll documented the event as well. – The personal archives of the participants (artists and engineers) also contain original documentary materials from 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering. A number of these materials are available for consultation. The Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations, Music Division of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts (New York, N.Y., U.S.), houses notes written retrospectively by John Cage in 1972 on his Variations VII performance. A diagram of the performance Bandoneon! (a combine) signed by David Tudor can be found in the David Tudor fonds (David Tudor Papers, 1884-1998) at the Getty Research Institute, Research Library (Los Angeles, California, U.S.). And the Sohm Archiv (Stuttgart, Germany) is home to another series of sound footage of the performances, recorded by an unnamed engineer from Bell Telephone Laboratories (digital copies available for consultation at the CR+D).

[Files and items...]

Vincent Bonin © 2006 FDL