Robert Whitman is a pioneering American artist who, in the company of other groundbreaking figures including Claes Oldenberg, Jim Dine, and Allan Kaprow, performed experimental performance art pieces in New York in the 1960s. In 1966, Whitman would become a founding member of the collective Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.), along with Bell Labs engineers Billy Klüver and Fred Waldhaur and artist Robert Rauschenberg. Whitman continues to forge partnerships with scientists and engineers to incorporate new technology — from lasers to sound and video recording software to cell phone applications — for his performances and installation artworks. With his drive to innovate and adapt technologies and to create new work for contemporary audiences, Whitman remains a deeply influential and relevant artist.
In this episode of the Oxford Comment, the first of a two-part series in conjunction with the Benezit Dictionary of Artists, Robert Whitman sits down in our New York office with Benezit Editor in Chief, Dr. Kathy Battista, and Julie Martin, the director of Experiments in Art and Technology. Inspired by this roundtable conversation, our Multimedia Producer, Sara Levine, reaches out to Shawn Van Every, of NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, and Emilie Gossiaux, an artist and Museum Educator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, to learn more about their collaborations with Whitman on two of his recent projects, Local Report and Swim.
Featured image credit: A magnified image of a performer’s echocardiogram is projected onto a screen during a performance of Swim. Swim was presented March 26-29, 2015 at the Alexander Kasser Theater at Montclair State University. Photo by Anne Williams, used with permission.