Oyvind Fahlstrom's

"Kisses Sweeter Than Wine"

Video screening, Anthology Film Archives, New York City,
September 27, 1996.
Billy Kluver, Producer and Barbro Schultz, Director

video screening- September 27, 1997

In 1966, 9 Evenings: Experiments in Theatre and Engineering were held at the Armory in New York. Sponsored by Experiments in Art and Technology (founded in 1956 by scientist Billy Kluver and artist Robert Rauschenberg), 9 Evenings presented the work of eleven artists including Rauschenberg, Yvonne Rainer, and John Cage, who for close to a year had worked in collaboration with engineers from Bell Laboratories. Culled from original footage, Kisses Sweeter than Wine is the first in a series of eleven planned documentaries of the 9 Evenings. Through skillful editing, Oyvind Fahlstrom's complex work ("initiation rites for a new medium, Total Theater."), is artfully recaptured.

Combining theater, sound, movement, music, film, and slides, Falhstrom's work was not atypical for a decade in which technically adventurous, multi-media performances (with ties to Fluxus and happenings) were prevalent. Nonetheless, he merged his theatrical vision with technology in ways often surprising and memorable: large, undulating, tentacles made of "bubbles",handfuls breaking off occasionally and floating away; men on swings with light-tipped "spears" implanted in their backs, repetitive sounds echoing their movements; steam emanating from a man's side. Diverse socio-political elements a man who recalls streams of pointless data; street reactions to demonstrators carrying posters of Bob Hope and Mao; a totem-like head (Lyndon Johnson's), and a survey that asks "Are you happy?" coalesce in this thoughtful, ironic, and humorous work that is both a platform for and response to sixties technology. Kisses is not only an important historical "find", but illuminating for the interactive nineties.

Diana Meckley, Brooklyn, NY
composer, writer, educator, and consultant
(This review is being jointly published by LEONARDO Digital Review.)