When artists, engineers, and PepsiCo collaborated, then clashed at the 1970 World’s Fair, W. Patrick McCray, δημοσίευση στο IEEE Spectrum [27/2/2020]Marilena Pateraki
ON 18 MARCH 1970, a former Japanese princess stood at the center of a cavernous domed structure on the outskirts of Osaka. With a small crowd of dignitaries, artists, engineers, and business executives looking on, she gracefully cut a ribbon that tethered a large red balloon to a ceremonial Shinto altar. Rumbles of thunder rolled out from speakers hidden in the ceiling. As the balloon slowly floated upward, it appeared to meet itself in midair, reflecting off the massive spherical mirror that covered the walls and ceiling.
With that, one of the world’s most extravagant and expensive multimedia installations officially opened, and the attendees turned to congratulate one another on this collaborative melding of art, science, and technology. Underwritten by PepsiCo, the installation was the beverage company’s signal contribution to Expo ’70, the first international exposition to be held in an Asian country.
A year and a half in the making, the Pepsi Pavilion drew eager crowds and elicited effusive reviews. And no wonder: The pavilion was the creation of Experiments in Art and Technology—E.A.T.—an influential collective of artists, engineers, technicians, and scientists based in New York City. Led by Johan Wilhelm “Billy” Klüver, an electrical engineer at Bell Telephone Laboratories, E.A.T. at its peak had more than a thousand members and enjoyed generous support from corporate donors and philanthropic foundations. Starting in the mid-1960s and continuing into the ’70s, the group mounted performances and installations that blended electronics, lasers, telecommunications, and computers with artistic interpretations of current events, the natural world, and the human condition.
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