Interspatial: E.A.T., Cybernetic Serendipity, and the Future of Creative Collaboration

Saturday, September 21, 2013
10:30 a.m.–5:00 p.m. Symposium
7:00–8:30 p.m. Screening and Performance including Collusion by Holly Herndon and Mat Dryhurst

Exploratorium, Pier 15

Free with museum admission

Note: Space is limited. To reserve space for the symposium and evening performances email


A series of groundbreaking art and technology experiments took place between 1965 and 1971, each seeking to integrate the advances of science and technology within the spheres of art and culture. The Exploratorium, itself a hybrid laboratory/museum environment, officially opened its doors in 1969 with the traveling exhibition Cybernetic Serendipity, organized by Jasia Reichardt for the Institute of Contemporary Art in London. The show featured the explorations of artists and scientists inspired by the creative possibilities of computation.

At the same time, a group of artists including Robert Rauschenberg and Robert Whitman and engineers Billy Klüver and Fred Waldhauer formed Experiments in Art & Technology (E.A.T.) to facilitate collaborations between artists and engineers. The E.A.T. Pepsi Pavilion, an immersive performance environment created for the Expo '70 in Osaka, Japan, is generally regarded as the pinnacle of the group’s work. E.A.T. collaborator Fujiko Nakaya (creator of the Exploratorium’s current outdoor installation Fog Bridge) enshrouded the Pepsi Pavilion in billowing fog.

Interspatial, a day-long symposium organized by the Exploratorium’s Center for Art & Inquiry, brought together key collaborators of the E.A.T. Pepsi Pavilion project along with other artists, theorists, and interdisciplinary thinkers to explore the legacy and influence of art and technology experiments of the 1960s and '70s. The event focused on architectural and metaphorical conceptions of space. And considered how these experiments shaped the environments, networks, and hybrid cultures we inhabit today and enabled the potential for exchange and new knowledge. What inspires people to migrate outside of given domains of expertise in cooperative efforts and why is that critical today?


Morning Program
10:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Robert Semper, Ph. D. Exploratorium Executive Associate Director and Director of Program; and Marina McDougall, Director, Center for Art & Inquiry introduce Interspatial

Julie Martin on E.A.T. Osaka '70 Pepsi Pavilion

Elsa Garmire on the Pepsi Pavilion Mirror Dome

You Nakai introduces and plays David Tudor’s Pepscillator; You Nakai and Wilm Thoben on David Tudor's Microphone (1973)

Wilm Thoben moderates panel discussion E.A.T. & Architectures of Participation with Elsa Garmire, Julie Martin, You Nakai and Fujiko Nakaya


Afternoon Program
2:30 - 5 p.m.

Kenjiro Okazaki presents Circuits of Isolation, Autonomy, and Escapement: The Lost Possibilities of the Osaka Expo and Pepsi Pavilion

Dominic Willsdon reports on the Mercosul Biennial

John Weber moderates panel discussion Campgrounds, Platforms & Networks with Amy Franceschini, Guna Nadarajan, and Casey Reas


A Collaborative Evening
7:00 - 8:30 p.m.

Doors open 6:30 p.m. A small number of tickets will be available at the door.

A laboratory for new ideas and methods of presentation, The Exploratorium has always emphasized process and collaboration over product and singular authorship. This evening’s program reflects that ethos as it relates to the spatial themes and concerns explored earlier in the day.


Euclidean Illusions (1980, 9 mins., 16mm)
Stan Vanderbeek

Made just four years before his death, this geometric exploration was created in collaboration with animator Richard Weinberg while Vanderbeek was in residence with NASA. A pioneering filmmaker, video artist, and collagist consistently at the forefront of new visualization technologies, Vanderbeek is clearly at play in the realm of computational outer space in this short film. Toward the end of a dynamic career, the artist investigates the relationship between new spaces and new technologies as well as the speed at which technological advances perpetually hurdle us forward.


The Architecture of Rhythmic Perception: Euclidean Algorithms in Music
Meara O’Reilly and Beau Sievers

E.A.T. inspired and facilitated countless dynamic connections between artists, engineers, and others. While organizing Interspatial, the Exploratorium had the similar good fortune in connecting O’Reilly, an Exploratorium Artist-in-Residence, with Sievers, a composer pursuing a PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience. Together, they have begun exploring aural perception as related to Euclidean algorithms, the mathematical properties of which are useful in fields as varied as crystallography and radio astronomy. These algorithms are also relevant in ethnomusicology, where they take the form of rhythm necklaces—circular representations of what is ordinarily thought of as a horizontal timeline. These necklaces are also a particularly interesting foundation for an exploration of perception; their repetitive cycles and interlocking modular nature make them an ideal constant for highlighting the tricks that our ears play on us. O’Reilly and Sievers discuss and demonstrate their recent findings.


Holly Herndon and Mat Dryhurst in collaboration with philosopher Reza Negarestani

Collusion is a semi-improvisational performance work that implicates the audience—and technology, more broadly—in subtle acts of participation. The collaborative work takes various mundane aspects of the immediate performative environment to what Negarestani calls “psychotic extremes.” This incarnation of the piece focuses on the familiar cadence of technological presentations and the problematic dualism that emerges when people become enthralled by technology as spectacle. Collusion was first performed at 23Five’s Activating the Medium Festival at the Lab in San Francisco in 2012.


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Image: Mirror Dome, Pepsi Pavilion, 1970, photo by Fujiko Nakaya