Experiments in Art and Technology, an organization
founded by artists and engineers in New York in 1967, was part of a wave
of art and technology initiatives in the late 1960s and early 1970s in
the U.S. that included the USCO group in Cambridge, Massachusetts and
Gregory Kepes’ Center for Advanced Visual Studies at the Massachusetts
Institute for Technology, also founded in 1967. In 1968 the Museum of
Modern Art acknowledged the influence of these initiatives with its exhibition,
"The Machine as Seen at the End of the Mechanical Age." Kepes
and his MIT group were selected to represent the U.S. at the Sao Paulo
Biennale in 1969. E.A.T, which received funding from Xerox, IBM, AT&T,
the AFL-CIO and the New York State Council for the Arts, was commissioned
to design and execute one of the three U.S. Pavilions at the World’s
Fair in Osaka, Japan in 1970. E.A.T.’s success in promoting collaborations
between artists and engineers was especially impressive: by 1970 E.A.T.
membership numbered about 6,000 and was almost evenly divided between
artists and engineers. E.A.T. chapters were established in major cities
all over the U.S., including Portland and Seattle, where the Henry Gallery
at the University of Washington served as a center for exchanges between
artists and scientists in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
The E.A.T. organization, founded by artists Robert Rauschenberg and Robert Whitman and engineers Billy Kluver and Fred Waldhauer, was inspired by the collaborative interchange engendered by a remarkable series of performances at the 69th Street Armory in New York in 1966, "9 Evenings: Theater and Engineering." Kluver (once described as the "Edison-Tesla-Steinmetz-Marconi-Leonardo da Vinci of the American avant garde") recruited 40 engineers for Bell Laboratories to work with artists such as John Cage, Lucinda Childs and Robert Rauschenberg to produce a series of mixed-media, art-and-technology performances. This event was the catalyst for E.A.T., officially established to promote "the inevitable active involvement of industry, technology and the arts."