Open Score

The U.S. Open of art: Rauschenberg's 1966 performance pairing tennis and technology

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Think branded interdisciplinary content is a recent phenomenon? In 1966 a unique project was hatched when conceptual artists and Bell Labs engineers collaborated on a series of live installations inside a National Guard Armory in New York City. One of those, “Open Score” by Robert Rauschenberg, pitted artists—including minimalist painter Frank Stella—against each other in a live game of tennis with rackets wired to switch the stage lights on and off and produce an aural musical score. Their movements were projected on large screens by infrared camera, giving the performers and the assembled crowd of 300 a ghoulish glow inside the cavernous armory


By all accounts electrifying, now 45 years later an exhibit at Seventeen gallery in London will showcase Swedish documentary maker Barbro Schultz Lundestam’s reexamination of the seminal moment in conceptual art history. She takes the audience back to those evenings in NYC with the principles involved explaining how they pulled it off and the effect they had on the actors and spectators. Check out a trailer for the 34-minute film here.

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The 1997 documentary is also available for sale on DVD, but for those near London, the installation runs through 8 October 2011.