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The DVD Filter


Robert Rauschenberg in the early days of multimedia art, 1966.   

La Haine (Hate) Mathieu Kassovitz’s violent, wildly stylish film about French street kids (Arabic, Jewish, and black) now seems rather prophetic. How many times have Sarkozy and Ségolène seen it? R; $39.95. Bobby Emilio Estevez’s syrupy nostalgiafest for RFK. R; $28.95. Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple For a much more complex look at a sixties cult of personality, check out this brilliant documentary about Jim Jones. NR; $24.99. Twin Peaks: The Second Season Laura Palmer’s murderer, revealed! NR; $54.99.

It’s now possible to be a couch-potato aesthete by taking home the kind of historic footage you’d normally have to dig out of a museum’s white-glove archive: from video pieces by Bill Viola or Matthew Barney to the new release Open Score by Robert Rauschenberg. It’s the first DVD in a series that documents the historic collaborations between the pocket-protectored engineers of Bell Laboratories and such wild artists as John Cage, Yvonne Rainer, and Robert Whitman. This disc—with titles by Robert Rauschenberg himself—captures his contribution to “9 Evenings: Theatre & Engineering,” a series of performances held in 1966 at the 69th Regiment Armory that doubled as the coming-out party for the newborn field of high-tech multimedia art. In Rauschenberg’s piece, Frank Stella and a local tennis pro simply put on white shorts and thwacked balls back and forth. But the engineers had wired the handles of the rackets with transmitters, so that each hit triggered ominous, distorted sounds, even after the lights went off and projectors began screening ghostly images of people shot with a then-radical infrared camera. Naturally, the Times hated it, but Rauschenberg expected that. “It was done before its time,” he says, “and it’s too late now.” NR; $25.


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