Randall Packer on Thu, 15 Jan 2004 08:37:44 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Billy Kluver Passed Away

My dear friend and mentor Billy Kluver, the Bell
Labs scientist who sparked the art and technology
movement during the 1960s, died Sunday morning at
his home in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey. For all
who knew him, Billy was someone you never forgot:
outspoken, stubborn, brilliant, and defiant. A
true anarchist! As David Ross once told me, Billy
was the real deal.

I have spent the last six years, since meeting
Billy and his wife Julie Martin, drawing
connections between contemporary media arts
practice and Billy's extraordinary achievement
during the 1960s when he befriended such artists
as Jean Tinguely, Robert Rauschenberg, John Cage,
Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns - the list goes on -
urging them to explore the new technologies and
collaborating on some of the most important and
adventurous artworks of the time.

It was clear to me that Billy's ideas on the
integration of art and technology and the
collaboration between artist and engineer had a
profound impact on the changing relationship
between the artist and the artwork. Such works as
the Pepsi Pavilion changed the way we look at
art, in which the viewer becomes an integral and
active participant in the composition of the

But most of all, Billy's anarchist ways were
directly targeted at freeing the artist from the
constraints of traditional materials. He felt
that the engineer as a partner in the creative
process opened doors to artistic thinking and
artistic process that were unimaginable. And he
was right. Since Billy opened those doors in the
1960s, with his collaborative projects and the
founding of E.A.T. (Experiments in Art &
Technology), his imagination, vision, and
commitment to the ideals of art and technology
have had, I believed, the most dramatic impact on
the surge in electronic art and multimedia over
the past twenty years.

I'm sure there will be many tributes for Billy
Kluver in the coming months. I want to bring one
of them to everyone's attention, since Billy and
I had planned to present his work in a dialogue
at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC
on Sunday, March 7th at 2pm. The event will still
take place, but now it will be a lecture and
tribute to his life and work. I hope all of you
who are in the area will come to the National
Gallery to remember Billy.

I want to also note that Billy is survived by his
wife Julie Martin, another dear friend, and a
critical support to Billy and his achievements.
This should also be a moment to give thanks to
Julie for keeping Billy going for all these years
and for being his most important collaborator.

Randall Packer

Billy Kluver Obituary in the New York Times

In Depth profile on Billy Kluver from Multimedia:
>From Wagner to Virtual Reality

The Story of E.A.T. (Experiments in Art and Technology)
and Its Founder Billy Kluver, Lecture by Randall Packer
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Sunday, March 7, 2 pm

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