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Lucinda Childs

Vehicle (performance)

Lucinda Childs, Vehicle (video)
Lucinda Childs, Vehicle (video)
Lucinda Childs, Vehicle Lucinda Childs, Vehicle Lucinda Childs, Vehicle
Performance (a) presented as part of 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering, The 69th Regiment Armory, New York, N.Y., United States, October 16-23, 1966.

Technological design: Peter Hirsch

Performers:
William Davis; Alex Hay; Lucinda Childs

Slides:
Les Levine

Lighting design: Jennifer Tipton; Beverly Emmons (assistant)

In Vehicle, Lucinda Childs drew a parallel between situations that revealed the qualities and limits of each non-static stage element (sets, props, dancers). She accomplished this by having a sonar device cut in unevenly on all of the movements, without distinguishing between objects and performers. The data were processed in order to generate the desired weave of sounds and to adjust the light sources. Childs also reduced her choreographic score to simple, repetitive actions like swinging buckets and moving around a hanging Plexiglas cube. At the same time, a performer took up various positions within this technological system and on the space of the stage, moving about on a vehicle raised several centimetres above the floor (1).

First moment: For approximately 10 minutes (2), a Plexiglas cube measuring 18 X 18 inches was suspended from scaffolding and made to rotate by wind from a fan (b). Three light projectors were switched on one after another, gradually tripling the shadows of the moving cube that were cast on the screen to the left. Childs subsequently moved the cube, placing it in front of the screen to the right. Into the cube (which continued to be moved by wind from the fan), she inserted a bulb that threw out another band of light (c).

Second moment: Alex Hay and William Davis hung three red buckets, also containing bulbs, from the centre of the scaffolding. Childs took up a position inside the structure and kept the buckets swinging back and forth, (d), (e), (f), (g), (h), (i), (j), (k), (l), (m). The beam emitted by the 70-kHz Doppler sonar system swept across a distance of some 20 feet, and at a level located approximately between Childs’ waist and shoulders (3), (n), (o). The light rays emanating from the buckets and Plexiglas cube cut across the beam, in the process casting shadows on the central screen. Meanwhile, on the right-hand screen one could see the waves picked up by the sonar device and converted into a video signal by means of an oscilloscope (p), (q), (r). While this was going on, Alex Hay moved throughout the space of the Armory with the “Ground Effect Machine,” (4), his body raised several inches above the floor on an air cushion (s), (t). As he moved through the piece, Hay was backed up by William Davis, who kept the cart in place. Noises somewhat akin to a soft hissing were generated by the flow of information between the light sources and the sonar device, as well as by the humming of vacuum cleaner motors under the G.E.M. (A rustling could also be heard as the module brushed lightly over the floor.) At the same time, the radio station WQXR broadcast live a variety of intermittent sounds (inaudible to the audience) that switched the bulbs in the G.E.M. on and off, along with the buckets and Plexiglas cube (u), (v), (w), (x), (y), (z).

Third moment (not in the film footage): At the 20-minute mark, 45 colour slides of the buckets were projected on the central screen. The first sequence, which showed only their shadows, was followed up by images that reproduced their spasmodic motion, like a series of freeze-frame images of photograms. Each performance lasted about 25 minutes.

[Documentary sources...]

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Vincent Bonin © 2006 FDL

(1) Paragraph based on Lucinda Childs’ statement of purpose in the program. See: 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering, Pontus Hultén and Frank Königsberg eds. ([New York]: Experiments in Art and Technology: The Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts, [1966]). p.[3].

(2) Data on the timing and duration of the performances are provided in the description that Lucinda Childs wrote in 1966 and published (in a reworked form) in 1973 in an article that appeared in Artforum. See: Manuscript, 1966 (1972-1973): I Artists: B. Lucinda Childs, “Vehicle” / Harriet DeLong; Simone Forti-Whitman; Billy Klüver. Experiments in Art and Technology. Records, 1966-1993, Research Library, The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, California (940003), Box 1, file 12. and Lucinda Childs, “Lucinda Childs: a portfolio,” Artforum, Vol. XI, no. 6 (Feb. 1973) p.50-56.

(3) See the descriptive notes for the "Doppler Sonar"

(4) See the descriptive notes for the “Ground Effect Machine”