"From Milton Cohen's Space Theater to EMPAC"
by Franck Ancel

ARIAS / INHA 2, rue Vivienne 75002 Paris France
Monday 07 janv 08 from 6pm to 8pm.

Abstract by Franck Ancel

In 1957, a few years after the famous performance in the United States at Black Mountain College (1952) called "Untitled event", Artist Professor Milton Cohen created his "Space Theatre". In Ann Arbor - and mainly in his loft until 1966 - he experimented with a 360-degree form of theatre construction, presenting visual, light and sound shows in collaboration with other artists. These events eventually led to the creation of the "Once Festival" (1961-66) and later the "Once Group". The founding members of this group are the composers Robert Ashley, George Cacioppo, Gordon Mumma, Roger Reynolds, Donald Scavarda, and Bruce Wise; the architects Harold Borkin and Joseph Wehrer; the director George Manupelli; the painters and sculptors Mary Ashley and Milton Cohen. Some of the problems of future multimedia performances when dealing with electronic music arose here. (1) Ten years after the official inauguration of the Centre for Art and Media Technology in Karlsruhe, Germany, this concept was continued in the USA with the construction in Troy, situated halfway between New York and Montreal, of a theatrical venue unique in the world: EMPAC, which became the first type of theatre to turn entirely towards our digital era, while maintaining a "traditional" layout. For its official inauguration during the first weekend of November 2008, one of the key projects was a 360-degree immersive environment especially created by a theatre company, The Wooster Group. (2) The conference was animated with visual documents (some never seen before), sound documents and interviews (in English) carried out or discovered during a research trip to Ann Arbor, Cambridge, New York and Troy, in November 2007, and was sponsored in part by the ARIAS Laboratories, CNRS (National Committee for Scientific Research). One year after the conference held on the French scenographer "Jacques Polieri: beyond theatre", this historical and current study aims for a better understanding of the challenges of contemporary creation in the making.

(1) http://sonhors.free.fr/panorama/sonhors11.htm

(2) Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center

THX to Harold Borkin, Karen Dorn, Johannes Goebel, Gordon Mumma, Pat Oleszko, Jacques Polieri, Richard Trythall, Karen Tsao, The Wooster Group, Gene Youngblood.

Biography of Franck Ancel

Franck Ancel has been raising questions about technology for twenty years, tracing a line from the avant-garde art movements of the last century to the recent changes in creation on a planetary scale. He has organised and coordinated conferences, exhibitions and performances, including a retrospective of /"Jacques Polieri: creator of a modern scenography"/ at the French National Library in Paris in 2002. Since the 9/11 attacks, he has set up an interactive, collaborative triptych called "A.I.T.", which raises questions about architecture, images and technology, on 20th century heritage sites. In 2005, he concluded a cycle of five communications for five continents entitled /"From scenography to planetary network/" with a world première on the Internet, from a plane in flight from Shanghai to Munich. In 2006, he held a conference /"From scenography to planetary network for Shanghai 2010/" in Silicon Valley during the ISEA/ZeroOne Festival. In 2007, it will celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the first satellite sent into space with the performance "From Sputnik Satellite to Explorer Art" in the huge ONERA wind tunnel in France.


The art of theatre and new technologies
Cycle of conferences conducted
by Béatrice Picon-Vallin and Clarisse Bardiot

Presentation by Béatrice Picon-Vallin
The art of theatre has always revelled in technological progress. For instance, the conversion of lighting from gas to electricity profoundly modified stage procedures. New changes are underway with computer science and digital technology. Artists-researchers will be at the heart of the questions being asked that must attempt to mark the course of the commitment of the art of theatre today. They must enable an analysis to be made of the new relationships that link creation team members, which are increasingly numerous and complex. They must define the functions of technologies employed and their contribution, and, finally, they must reflect on the evolution of the role of the director andon the transformation of the role of the actor. During this cycle of conferences we must try to understand the new facts of the current perspective, by linking them to the history of technologies that the theatre has always succeeded in integrating.


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