Collaboration

  • Historically, collaborative practices have provided a fertile territory for the development of technology-based art. Consider, for instance, initiatives such as 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering (1966) or E.A.T. (1967-1998). But what is the role played by collaboration in the relationship between art and technology today?
  • Is the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration truly understood and acknowledged in the institutional discourse around art and technology?
  • Is collaboration between art, science and technology truly beneficial for these fields or can a collaborative practice, instead, overly contaminate and weaken all sides? What role, in this respect, does the medium play?
  • How can we establish the difference between a collaborator and a participant, in relation to, for instance, the role of the audience in performative works?

“This section of This is Tomorrow represents the basis of a collaboration between architect and artist as part of a general human activity rather than as the reconciliation of specialised aesthetic systems. It is communications research with offers a means of talking about human activities (including art and architecture) without dividing them into compartments. Hitherto the conventional definition of the artist and architect has limited their efficacy to narrow mutually exclusive areas. It is this that has made collaboration difficult. Seeing art and architecture in the framework of communications, however, can reduce these difficulties by a new sense of what is important”

Laurence Alloway et al., This is Tomorrow, Whitechapel Gallery, London, 1956


“Whereas Buren helped shape the premises of institutional critique by speaking of artists studios and exhibition sites as belonging to a system of “frames, envelopes, and limits,” Obrist and Vanderlinden talked about “establishing… networks, fluctuating between highly specialised work by scientists, artists, dancers and writers”; about “the laboratory within the museum, but also the question of the museum as laboratory”; about the museum having “multiple identities”; and ultimately about “a creative blur between the making and the exhibiting of a work””

Lane Relyea, ‘Studio Unbound’ in Mary Jane Jacob and Michelle Grabner The Studio Reader, On the Space of Artists, University of Chicago Press, 2010, p.341


“[…] What they had just heard was, of course, the first performance of John Cage’s 4′ 33”, the so-called ‘silent piece’. Despite being referred to as such, not least by Cage himself, it is not actually about silence. According to Cage it was inspired, in part at least, by his experience in Harvard University’s anechoic chamber, where he failed to hear the silence he expected. What he heard instead, according to his own account, was the noise of his nervous system. This experience taught him that silence as such was not possible, or at least that it is impossible to hear silence. Thus, 4′ 33” is about dismantling the boundaries between noise and music and between the performer(s), the audience and the environment. In this case this meant the noise of wind in the trees outside, of the confused and even angry murmurs of the audience, of cars driving past the concert hall and a solitary plane”

Charlie Gere, Art, Time and Technology, Berg, 2006, p.94


“[…] The problem is more serious: we must dispense with instruments altogether and get used to working with tools. […] It can be put this way too: find ways of using instruments as though they were tools, i.e., so that they leave no traces. That’s precisely what our tape-recorders, amplifiers, microphones, loud-speakers, photoelectric cells, etc., are: things to be used which don’t necessarily determine the nature of what is done. […] Whenever anyone speaks informatively with precision about how something should be done, listen, if you can, with great interest, knowing his talk is descriptive of a single line in a sphere of illuminating potential activity, that each one of his measurement exists in a field that is wide open for exploration”

John Cage, ‘Rhythm Etc.’ in Gyorgy Kepes ed, module, symmetry, proportion, Studio Vista Ltd, 1966, p.197,202


“”Rauschenberg and I always said that if E.A.T. was successful it would automatically disappear, because once everybody understands the idea of artists and engineers working together there is no reason for E.A.T. to exist”. Today it is common practice for artists to work with musicians, architects, engineers, scientists and other professionals. E.A.T. was the model for such collaboration and its egalitarian spirit was an inspiration”

Kathy Battista, ‘E.A.T. – The Spirit of Collaboration” in Sabine Breitwieser ed, E.A.T. Experiments in Art and Technology, Museum der Moderne, 2015, p.36


“Science and art are inevitably separated. Any attempt to ‘bring the two together’ should be looked at with suspicion. Science deals with reality in rational, single-valued terms which are constantly related to a language that is uniquely understood. Art deals with the reality in irrational and poetic terms. Art allows for discontinuities that science cannot tolerate. History must have provided us with the separateness of art and science for a reason”

Billy Klüver, ‘Theatre and Engineering: An Experiment; Notes by an Engineer’, in Artforum, February 1967, p.11