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Robert Whitman : Two Holes of Water-3
Performance Engineer : Robby Robinson

October 18 - 19, 1966

Performers: Max Baker, Gil Miller, Terry Riley, Les Levine, Toby Mussman, Bob Breer, Jane Kramer, Elaine Sturtevant, John Giorno, Susanne De Maria, Mimi Miller, Trisha Schlichter, Julie Martin. Additional Participants: Bob Savage, Jackie Leavitt, Malinda Peel, Karl Schenzer, Julie Judd, Melynda Albrecht, Hala Pietkewicz, Gloria Bryant, Karin Bacon, Vernon Lobb, Per Biorn, Alex Hay, Simone Whitman. Film: Pan American. Fiber Optics: Flexi-Optics.TV Help: Bill Hartig.

9e RW McElroy  corner overview good of video projection of girls in mirror.jpg

Robert Whitman's performance

Artist Statement:

I am after a work around the stability of a film image and the immediacy of newsflash. The images are concerns – the whole piece makes an image. Television is a great way to collect stuff; besides what’s on the air, a camera on anything brings it in live – a local newsflash. Film is rock solid steady unchangeable record of someone looking at something past.

Robert Whitman’s Two Holes of Water-3, presented at 9 Evenings, was the third version of a theater piece, Two Holes of Water-3, that incorporated many of the same visual elements that he had used in two previous performances of the work  in very different spaces in 1966. The first performance was part of the Midsummer Festival, performed August 26, outdoors in a swampy area just off Two Holes of Water Road in East Hampton, New York. The second performance was done for a film festival  in a small theater at Lincoln Center in September. But this performance had to be stopped as a very violent rain storm sent cascades of water  flooding onto the stage. For Two Holes of Water-3, presented at 9 Evenings in October, Whitman decided to make the Armory space into a giant drive-in cinema and covered back wall of the performance space with white paper to make a 45-meter long continuous projection screen.

Two Holes of Water-3, began as a car arrived on the large open freight elevator at the back of the performance space, and with a contact microphone attached to the muffler, drove across the floor and parked in front of a projection screen on which were shone images from documentary footage Whitman had collected. Later in the work, Les Levine, the driver, got out, and used the fiber optic camera to pick up images of small objects in his pocket that were projected on to the very large screen in back of him, while Suzanne de Maria also left the car and performed simple tasks like pouring water from a jar for a television camera on the floor of the Armory. Seven cars, each draped in clear plastic, drove slowly from a back corner out onto the Armory floor and parked along of the projection screen on the back wall. Each car carried either a film projector or a television projector.

Up in the balcony, there were two performance areas. In the first area there were large curved Plexiglas mirrors; and the television camera shot  the distorted images of Trisha Brown and Mimi Miller as they moved slowly in front of the curved mirrors and sent the images to a television projector in one of the cars on the Armory floor.. In the other performance area on the balcony, a camera picked up the images of Jackie Leavitt, who was typing. A contact microphone was attached to the typewriter, and the sound reverberated through the Armory. When Leavitt finished typing, she stood up and one TV camera focused on the top half of her body. a second camera on the bottom half of her body, and the images were projected on two separated screens below.

Using a video switching system installed on the balcony, Whitman was able to feed either commercial television channels or the live television performances going on the balcony to the television projectors in the cars. He could also cue the drivers  to turn on the film projectors that showed either documentary films he had chosen, one eagles and another on penguins. He also showed film material he had shot himself of Mimi Miller that superimposed images of the front and the back of her body as she performed simple movements like sitting down, turning, fixing her hair, etc.  Toward the end of the piece he played the very loud sound of a speech by Winston Churchill. The work ended with all the drivers honking their car horns, then getting out of their cars, slamming the doors, and walking out.

Preparations & Technical Elements


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