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Fred Waldhauer


Fred Waldhauer earned an engineering degree from Cornell University (Ithaca, N.Y., U.S.) and a master’s degree from Columbia University (New York, N.Y., U.S.). He initially worked as an engineer at RCA and in 1953 joined Bell Telephone Laboratories (Murray Hill, N.J., U.S.). While at Bell, he participated in the development of one of the first commercial digital sound transmission systems (T1 PCM). In 1961, together with engineer Billy Klüver and artist Herbert Gesner, he constructed light machines for a performance by musician and composer Leroy (Sam) Parkins at the Moderna Museet (Stockholm, Sweden). For 9 Evenings, he created the Proportional Control System (P.C.S.) used by David Tudor in Bandoneon! (a combine). This interface was comprised of a plotting board, 16 receivers and an electronic pen to allow numerous components in the Armory to be remotely controlled. Notably, Tudor used the device to spatialize the sound tracks and adjust the volume from one speaker to another.

In November 1966, Waldhauer founded Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.) with Billy Klüver, Robert Rauschenberg and Robert Whitman. The mandate of this non-profit organization, which was active primarily in the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s, was to create projects that would rally individuals from the arts, science and industry sectors around projects representing all three of these disciplines. Waldhauer helped Robert Rauschenberg integrate interactive components into his work Soundings (1968). For descriptions of projects conducted by the Bell Telephone Laboratories engineers as part of E.A.T., please refer to the finding aids in the Collection of Documents Published by Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.).

In 1970, Waldhauer collaborated once again with Tudor to help him create the sound system for the Pepsi Pavilion, designed by E.A.T. for Expo ’70 in Osaka, Japan. In 1969, he (together with artist Forrest Myers) sent a number of works of art into space by miniaturizing (on 40 ceramic chips) drawings by various artists (Andy Warhol, Clase Oldenburg, Robert Rauschenberg, David Novros, and John Chamberlain). In fact, one of these works accompanied Apollo 12 on its lunar mission. The other chips would eventually become part of private or museum collections, including that of MOMA (New York, N.Y., U.S.). In addition to his digital telecommunications research at Bell Telephone Laboratories, Waldhauer developed technological components for hearing aids, which led to major advances in this field in the decades that followed. During his career, he held 18 patents and published a number of technical papers and a book (Feedback, Wiley, 1982).

[Documents available in the collection about Fred Waldhauer...] 

[Documents available in the collection by Fred Waldhauer...] 

Vincent Bonin © 2006 FDL