"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
(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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