Dorkbot:16 1960’s Electric Arts: From Kinetic Sculpture to Media Environments


March 2, 2005 - 7:30pm - 8:36pm


Seattle Art Museum


dorkbot-sea, in collaboration with CoCA and Seattle Art Museum present 1960’s Electric Arts: From Kinetic Sculpture to Media Environments, a film screening of incredible original archive film and video footage of the first artists to work with technologies that we consider ‘modern’ today: infra-red cameras, contact microphones, television, sensors and beyond.

Seattle-based, internationally-recognized media arts consultant, historian and curator Robin Oppenheimer curates and introduces an evening of excerpts from films showing artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, Jean Tinguely, Merce Cunningham, John Cage and the collective USCO, in collaboration with engineers such as Billy Kluver, both creating, exhibiting and performing work that is radical in scope and execution even today.

Robin has collected these films especially for this event. The vast majority have never before been seen in Seattle - and are simply never seen by the public in general. Don’t miss this unique opportunity!

The film screening will be held at Seattle Art Museum Downtown in their Pletscheeff Auditorium on Wednesday March 2nd.

ADMISSION IS FREE, $5 suggested donation.

DJ Ez-Action spins rare 1960’s exotica, yé-yé and lounge from 7:00 pm in the SAM Lobby, with visuals from VJ Scobot, taking you on a time-travel trip before the screening starts.

Screening begins at 7.30pm.

More info about the screening.

Directions to SAM.

Art Dish
Seattle Times Critics’ Picks
(requires registration)
Seattle Weekly

See our press release here.

Robin Oppenheimer has written this essay to
accompany the screening.

Films you’ll be seeing :


Merce Cunningham and Dance Company, Variations V. Photo by Herve Gloauguen

Stan VanDerBeek. “Visibles,” 1959-1972. Courtesy Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), NY.

Ira Schneider. “TV as a Creative Medium,” 1969-1984. Courtesy Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), NY.

Homage to Jean Tinguely's "Homage to New York"
(1960), 9.5 min. 16mm, b&w
Filmmaker: Robert Breer

"This tribute is an expressionist documentary of Swiss motion sculptor Jean Tinguely's auto-destructive sculpture as it is assembled and then self-destructs at The Museum of Modern Art. Tinguely's sculpture is an eclectic, massive conglomeration of wheels, bathtubs, piano strings, pulleys, and airplane parts that are constantly in motion. Breer overlays segments of the Homage being set on fire with scenes of the original drawing plan and welding, and extends his portrait by manipulating his imagery in kinetic collages which reflect the energy of Tinguely's work." (MoMA Circulating Film Library Catalogue)

USCO at the Church
(1960s) 16 min. excerpt, 16mm, color
Cinematography by Jud Yalkut (USCO member)
Narration by Gerd Stern (USCO founder and member)
Music by Harry Partch

USCO at the Church is a documentation of several aspects of the USCO (US Company) collective. It features one of their multimedia installations, including the dismantling of all the equipment afterwards by the group that included a young Stewart Brand (Whole Earth Catalogue publisher). Also shown are numerous USCO electrical sculpture pieces being packed for shipping to Europe, and the construction and erection of a parachute ceiling/screen inside the tabernacle where they lived in Garnerville, NY.

Variations V
(1966), 50 min. 16mm, b&w
Choreography by Merce Cunningham
Music by John Cage, assisted by Gordon Mumma and David Tudor
Distortion of TV images by Nam June Paik
Film images by Stan Vanderbeek
Engineers: Billy Kluver, Cecil Coker, Witt Wittnebert
Produced by Studio Hamburg, Nordeutscher Rundfunk
Dancers: Carolyn Brown, Merce Cunningham, Barbara Lloyd, Sandra Neels, Albert Reid, Peter Saul,
Gus Solomons, Jr.

"'Variations V' is a multi-media work involving sound sensitive electronic poles placed around the stage. The sound is triggered by the dancer's movements and then altered or delayed by the musicians. Filmmaker Stan Vanderbeek recorded rehearsals of the dancers and then overlayed this footage as well as other stock footage images in the final film. Composer Nam June Paik projected these images on television screens during the performance. Non-dance related activities were also performed. Merce Cunningham potted a large plant and Carolyn Brown repotted it. The plant had a microphone attached to it so that any movement would produce sound. At the end of the piece, Merce Cunningham rode a bicycle through the space." (

Stan Vanderbeek
Excerpts from two Camera 3 television documentaries about Stan Vanderbeek
Stan Vanderbeekiana (1968, Nick Havinga, 28 min.)
and The Computer Generation!! (1972, John Musilli, 28 min.).

Stan Vanderbeek was born in 1927 and died in 1984. "His early collage animation was created in the spirit of the Surrealist and Dadaist work of Max Ernst, but with a wild, rough informality more akin to the expressionism of the Beat Generation… A pioneer in the development of experimental film and live-action animation technique, Vanderbeek achieved widespread recognition in the American avant-garde cinema. An advocate of the application of a utopian fusion of art and technology, he began making films in 1955. In the 1960s, he produced theatrical, multimedia pieces and computer animation, often working in collaboration with Bell Telephone Laboratories. In the 1970s, he constructed a 'Movie-Drome' in Stony Point, New York, which was an audiovisual laboratory for the projection of film, dance, magic theater, sound and other visual effects. His multimedia experiments included movie murals, projection systems, planetarium events and the exploration of early computer graphics and image-processing systems." (

TV as a Creative Medium
by Ira Schneider
(1969-84), video, 12:08 min., b&w, sound

"In May of 1969, the Howard Wise Gallery in New York presented 'TV as a Creative Medium,' the first exhibition in the U.S. devoted entirely to video as a form of art. Schneider recorded this historical document of the landmark exhibition. It features works such as Nam June Paik's 'Participation TV,' Paul Ryan's 'Everyman's Mobius Strip,' Thomas Tadlock's 'Archetron,' Eric Siegel's 'Psychedelevision in Color,' Charlotte Moorman's first performance of Paik's 'TV Bra For Living Sculpture,' and Schneider's own collaboration with Frank Gillette on the installation 'Wipe Cycle.'" (

About Robin Oppenheimer: Robin Oppenheimer is an internationally-recognized media arts consultant, historian, curator, writer, and educator who has worked in the field since 1980. Clients include the University of Washington, Seattle Public Schools, City of Seattle, Museum of Glass, and Bellevue Art Museum. She is also a former Executive Director of 911 Media Arts Center in Seattle, and IMAGE Film/Video Center in Atlanta, where she directed the Atlanta Film & Video Festival. You can contact Robin at robinopp AT nwlink dot com.