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“Electromedia” Performances

Retracing Black (2012)

For the Tanks: Art in Action, Tambellini revisits his early works 'Moondial' and 'Black Zero'.

BLACK (First Performance)
Aldo Tambellini forged into an area which was as yet unexplored – that of expanded art, which meant completely reconsidering the artistic space, using instead of colors and canvases those elements, even today considered unusual, such as light and movement. His pioneering in this new area grew from the natural progression of Aldo’s artistic development. He instinctively moved from working on canvas as a painter to working on glass slides and projecting these images onto large spaces therefore creating paintings in space. This area was so new that it lacked a vocabulary with which to describe its elements, so Aldo Tambellini attached new names to things that he was doing. He called his theatre “electromedia” and his paintings on glass which were projected became “lumagrams.” His very first artistic integration of different artistic elements was called “Black.” Black changed with each performance as new elements were added. It was initially described as “a dramatic integration of Light Poetics and dance.” The poetics were provided by two of the Umbra Poets from the Lower East Side. The light was provided by the projection of the large paintings in space called “Lumagrams.”

Black Performance, international House, Columbia University, January 6, 1965. Artist – Aldo Tambellini. Poet – Ishmael Reed. Poet – Norman Pritchard.



media poster

This performance added a dancer to the previous Black which had “Lumagram” projections and poetry reading. Carla Blank, dancer, covered the lobby floor of the Bridge Theatre with newspaper. I projected on Carla and the floor from above. The audience followed the dancer into the theatre where the second part of the program began with projections of large slides and the poets reciting their works. “The possibilities of black in experience: poetry, dance, projected paintings. Black is space. Black is sound. Black is darkness. Black is anger. Black is void. Black is.”From the Bridge Theatre Program by Aldo Tambellini, 1965

Black Performance, the Bridge Theatre, NYC, March 21 & 22, 1965. Artist – Aldo Tambellini. Poet – Ishmael Reed. Poet – Norman Pritchard. Dancer – Carla Blank.



Black 2 was an attempt to enrich the theatrical experience with the impact of other fields of art. It is the study of Sound, Light, Motion. This performance is believed to be the first attempt to combine the visual arts, dance, music, projections, poetry and various sounds, to affect and involve the audience’s total senses… and sense of social commitment.

Black 2 is an abstract concept of a social message. It is not a play, It is not a “Happening”. It is the fusion of different arts. It is the bombardment of the senses. I describe it as a “Centerfuge: The dimensions of sound, light and motion brought into organic form; the working together of several talents express the idiom of the contemporary scene; the fusion of abstract and social commitment. Black 2 brings together several modalities: film and projectors, live sound, tape recorders, a dancer, a social poet, a musician, black spaces, live machines, mike techniques a lantern and “lumagrams.” Lumagrams are what I called my hand painted slides which are used as projected images. Aldo Tambellini notes from 1965

“Tambellini is not only a rebel but he is a leader of rebels…..Lumagrams reminiscent of sidereal space…noises like a buzz saw gone beserk and a machine gun… but to counterbalance the stridency there was a beautiful flowing of motion and sound in the dancing and music…” Don Ross, New York Herald Tribune, 6/13/1965

Black 2 Performance, The Bridge Theatre, NYC, June 7,18 & 21, 1965. Artist – Aldo Tambellini. Artist – Benn Morea. Artist – Elsa Tambellini. Dancer – Lorraine Boyd. Poet – Calvin C. Herton. Bass – Cecil McBee. Composer – Carlos d’Alessio.



A kinetic ritual of: gas masked robots, 20th Century ‘Icons”; flashing Lumagrams (hand painted projections by Aldo Tambellini) of outer space imagery; floating images from the natural world; dissonant sounds from our mechanized environment. Organized by Group Center.

Performance, Washington Square Park Fountain, NYC, September 25, 1965, part of OUTFALL. Artist – Aldo Tambellini. Artist – Benn Morea – sound and objects. Artist – Ron Hanhne – masks. Artist – Elsa Tambellini. Dancer – Judith Dunn. Dancer – Al Kurchin.




Black Zero: to give what will be tomorrow horrified by the echo which is the inwardness of our groping—it is not life that passes through each day but the revolving of the planets—our revelation comes from the outer forces—from the outer darkness to the inner darkness of man—the cry from the hollowness of our womb is echoed in the stars and in that revelation we become one with god.Statement by Aldo Tambellini as previously written in THE SEED, 1964

“Aldo Tambellini projected fantastic slides onto a balloon which was slowly inflating, bobbing and tossing the image around, until, at about six feet in diameter it burst.” Howard Junker, “Beyond Cinema Festival of the Film-maker’s Cinemateque, The Nation.

“The new avant-garde if cinema (light play) has moved 10 years forward into explorations….their dreams are so much farther advanced than the rest of the human activities that it will take at least another 10 years, maybe to catch up with the artist and to create proper tools to enable him to put those dreams into reality.”Jonas Mekas, The Village Voice, December 2, 1965

Black Zero Performance, Astor Playhouse, NYC, November 16, 1965; Part of the New Cinema Festival 1. Creator/Artist – Aldo Tambellini. Artist – Benn Morea-clamorous machines. Artist – Ron Hahne – spiral machine. Artist – Elsa Tambellini. Horn – Bill Dixon. Bass – Alan Silva. Poet – Calvin C. Herton.


Poster from Black Zero: Aldo Tambellini, Elsa Tambellini
Black Zero Performance, Brooklyn Academy of Music, 1968, Callo Scott on amplified cello

“Black Zero manifests a current development in the arts recently called “Expanded Cinema.” This form brings together, in a live performance, the simultaneous experience of projected imagery, moving slides, dimensional screens, hand held projectors and a merger of concrete experiences with screen action.”Group Center Press Release, November 23, 1965

“Black Zero, a Space-Light-Sound Event, is a live production in which the eye and the ear is charged with the shifting, changing, exploding images of our time. Flashing Lumagrams, hand painted projections by Aldo Tambellini, the rotations of Ron Hahne’s Spiral Machine sliding across moving screens, Benn Morea’s clamorous machines, the strident sounds of Bill Dixon and Alan Silva on horn and bass, the hard reality of black poet, Calvin C. Herton, flashing light and gas-masked heads form a continuous experience in Space, Light and Sound.”News from the Bridge, November 23, 1965

“Except for two strong energizing poems it consists of abstract visual and auditory stimuli — it is theatre of the senses. I was impressed by much of it. The basic method involves harsh contrasts between light and dark (white and black) and noise and silence. A bright beam of light shines into the eyes out of the blackness, a spot of light whirls and transforms, projections of complex ambiguous figurations materialize sectionally in various areas of the stage and dissolve into others o two at one phasing irregularly in and out of focus. The eyes can’t cope with the data and ‘the sense of space goes vague; meanwhile wild sounds have deadened the sense of time. It made me high. Tambellini is doing something worthwhile. The theatre lacks and needs the ingredient of direct sense stimulation, His expanding the theatre into unexplored territory, intensifying its sensory content and engaging the audience on a new level.” Michael Smith, Village Voice

“A weirdly contorting, and rapidly expanding balloon burst and one hundred and fifty people rushed madly from the Talbot Theatre Thursday night to wipe the accumulated saliva from their mouths. BLACK ZERO has struck again. Galactic intensity, the direct result of intermedia by Aldo Tambellini and Company has superimposed itself on the warped and twisted minds of a Western Audience and left them more warped and twisted than they were before….Yet no one went away unaffected. Intense? It sure was. This is the entertainment that Orwell and Huxley have been speculating about in the last few years. It was ‘1984’ and ‘Brave New World’ all wrapped in one."The Gazette, November 25, 1965, London, Canada

“The series of experiences presented last night was designed to propel the audience into what the center (group Center) calls “the new reality,” the psychological re-orientation of man in the Space Age. ‘As man continues his reach into space,’ said Mrs. Elsa Tambellini, ‘his whole sense of his relationship with the world also changes. He conceives of things in a different way. BLACK ZERO is a vehicle for expressing these changes as well as a violent revolution now sweeping the world.’ ”Jeremy Heymsfeld, New York World Telegram and Sun, December 16, 1965

Black Zero Performance, the Bridge Theatre, NYC, December 15 & 16, 1965. Creator/Artist – Aldo Tambellini. Artist – Benn Morea – clamorous machines. Artist – Ron Hahne – spiral machine. Artist – Elsa Tambellini. Horn – Bill Dixon. Bass – Alan Silva. Poet – Calvin C. Herton



black zero

black zero with elsa
Black Zero with Elsa Tambellini

BLACK ZERO (Final Performance)
“BLACK ZERO began and grew in New York but it will grow out there
somewhere outside of New York for America rejects that which naturally
grows. BLACK ZERO is the cry from the oppressed creative man. There
is an injustice done to man which is not forgivable.” Dedication of performance by Aldo Tambellini.

“At present, BLACK ZERO keeps on changing and growing with each presentation as the BLACK balloon which appears through the performance agonizingly grows, expands and disappears. In BLACK ZERO you’ll be inside of the black womb of the Space Era. And in that womb was the Black poet, Calvin C. Herton will speak of the ‘Monster Demon,’ of ‘Jitterbugging In The Street’ under the beat of the bully sticks during the Harlem riot. The plastic gas masked figure floats like an astronaut under the expanding simultaneous motion of the stars. The television monitors pulsate in their insane cosmic dance. One day the light and the energy of sun will become ice cold and the enormous sun disc will become BLACK.” Statement by Aldo Tambellini , “We are the primitives of the Space Era”

“Mr. Tambellini’s work got off to a slow start but turned out to be a stunner. Beginning with Negro voice on tape that intoned a poetic indictment of white injustices (written by Calvin C; Herton), it gradually built up visual and aural imagery-sound, word, music, lights and slide projections to a shattering crescendo. Toward the end a huge balloon began to swell. As it reached the bursting point, something unplanned happened. It broke from its mooring and floated threateningly out over the audience, at whose hands it finally exploded. As a symbolic comment on the explosive racial situation in this country, Mr. Tambellini’s work was a painfully literal experience. On another level, as well, it was a highly effective piece of abstract theatre.”Grace Gluck, New York Times, March 9, 1968

“Sunday night, Intermedia ’68 presented a superb example of existentialism through electronic art. Throbbing and pulsating vibrations of blinding images of black and white and shattering explosions flashed simultaneously from four television screens. Those who found what was happening unbearable walked out either senseless or super sensitized depending on whether they placed it as meaningless or meaningful. If you’re capable of asserting existence through the electromedia you’ll be left in the mind-blowing midst of freaked out black tv viewers---compliments of Tambellini. Tune in, turn on, turn to black. Susan Asch, S.U.N.Y. at Stony Brook, February 18, 1968

Black Zero Performance, the Brooklyn Academy of the Music, March 8, 1968 and April 12, 1968. Part of “Intermedia ‘68” a two month touring festival which went to seven university campuses produced by John Brockman and supported by grants from the NY State Council on the ARTS and the National Council on the Arts




Aldo Tambellini was asked to recreate the highly acclaimed Black Zero in 2009 as part of the PERFORMA 09, Roselee Goldberg, Director, in New York. Black Zero was performed using two Bass Players, Will Parker and Hillard Greene, Ben Morea on sound machine, Maggie Clapis as the performer, Christoph Draeger curated the show. The performance included, 800 hand-painted slides (lumagrams) 5 films, space sound, 7 slide projectors, and 3 video projectors. It was held at the White Box Gallery, New York, NY.

Poem as introduction to Black Zero 2009

in the still
of the stillness
when time stands still
& nothing moves

in the immensity of
the inflating universe bubble
where deep space
is blacker than black

in the silence
inside space
life’s breath

this cosmic night
when conflicting earth
is young & old

the waiting stillness
waiting with suspense
waiting to revolve again
with a new creative vision



black zero 2009

black zero 2009

black zero 2009

Having been an admirer of the dancer Beverly Schmidt and later becoming a friend, Aldo Tambellini asked her if she wanted to collaborate in an “Electromedia” (intermedia) Performance. She had been a principal in the Alwin Nikolais Dance Company at the Henry Street Settlement House in Manhattan. Aldo had seen her performing several times and also seen her in some films by Ed Emshwiller which were screened at The Gate Theater.
The program was going to include improvisational dance, sound and projected hand painted film and slides (lumagrams). Aldo designed a very simple costume for the dancer made out of clear transparent plastic. Silver discs from pizza pie covers were pinned all over the plastic costume so that they would shine and shimmer under the light as the dancer moved. Her headpiece was designed to move as a mobile.

Aldo created an original set of hand painted slides (lumagrams) to be projected. Two full trays of slides, 160 of them, were to be projected from two carousel projectors. These slides all had a black circle which was split down the middle leaving a band of light in the center. The dancer was to use the black space and the light area to improvise movement in and out of the light. She also used a big loop to create the image of a circle within a circle. Elsa and Aldo Tambellini worked the hand-held projectors with the slides in a circular motion projecting on the screen and the dancer. A film from the “Black Film Series” was also projected through a 16mm projector in order to add a faster kinetic movement. Drummer, Lawrence Cook, was included to improvise the sound and participate in the performance. Calo Scott with his amplified cello replaced Cook in subsequent performances. The performance was one of intensive improvisation.

This performance was first given in 1965 at The Dom, in ST Mark’s Place, NYC. Aldo Tambellini was invited by Rudi Stern and Jackie Cassen part of their “TRIPS” Program. Later, were invited to do several performances at the Bridge Theater, NYC and at the University of Western Ontario, Canada where Mary McKay, who was trained by Beverly Schmidt, danced and Calo Scott played his amplified cello.

The DOM Performance, NYC, 1965. Visuals – Aldo Tambellini. Dance – Beverly Schmidt. Sound – Laurence Cook

The Bridge Performance, NYC, June 15 & 16, 1966. Projection – Aldo Tambellini. Dance – Beverly Schmidt. Sound – Laurence Cook – drum. Replaced by Calo Scott – amplified cello

Also performed at Arts Festival, University of Western Ontario Performance 1966. Mc Carter Theatre, Princeton University, 1967


moon dial

moon dial

mary mckay in moondial
Moon Dial with performer Mary McKay

A live environmental performance consisting of 4 TV monitors, 1 video recorder, 4 screens, 4 carousel projectors, 6 movie projectors, 2 hours of experimental videotapes made of light and electronic images and sound with “Black Film Series” movies and 2 trays of “Periscope and Internal Slide Series” projections.

Moonblack Performance, Syracuse University, Rochester University and Albany, NY. Artist – Aldo Tambellini


Aldo at the Black Gate
Aldo Tambellini at The Black Gate Theatre in his Electromedia environment

This event was described as an oscilloscope event with video projections. This performance used three floors of the International Institute at Automation House. On each floor there was a different activity. On the first and second floors the activities are repeated twice during the ninety minute performance. On the third floor there is one continuous performance.

First Floor – Lights attached to hanging strips of bubble plastic respond to:

  1. Tape music – four channels of electronic music mixed live.
  2. Performer created sounds on musical instruments with microphones and ring modulators.
  3. Audience created sounds on the Moog synthesizer and using a ring modulated microphone.

Second Floor – Combinations of projections with tapes of electronic and other sounds. The taped sounds play continuously and may or may not relate directly to the projections at a given time. Among the projections are:

  1. Three kinescopes of the same event shown simultaneously through three different colored filters.
  2. Three films of oscilloscope images shown simultaneously through colored filters. The images were produced by feeding synthesizer sounds into an oscilloscope through a special switching system which allowed control over kind, position, and motion of image.; Slides of similar images are combined with the films.
  3. Slides of a Nixon press conference made from an electronically manipulated TV (Black Spiral).
  4. Slides of inflatable used on the first floor, plus slides of electronic parts and human body parts.
  5. Three films form modified TV, Black Spiral and other light projections.

Photocells have been placed on two of the projection surfaces. The cells activate six sound sources. At one point, the taped sounds are discontinued, and first flashlights and then the projections are used to activate the cells and sound sources. The projections thus create their own synchronized sound.

Third Floor – Osmosis/transfer of information/hemostasis/Membrain. Like human skin, the polyethylene inflatable merely defines space, allowing the organism to engage in sensual dialogue with the environment. Participation includes techniques using video, projection, live audio mix, and non-verbal communication. The audience walks through and is entertained in a large multi-chambered, partly white, partly black inflatable. Description by performers and artists taken from the Automation House Publication, 1971

0+0 (ZERO PLUS ZERO) Performance, Automation House, NYC, March 19, 1971. Visual Artist – Aldo Tambellini. Sound Artist – Franklin Morris. Cooperatives – Membrain Studio. Electrical Engineer – Warren Lombard. Artist/Professor – Ronald Marquisse. Performer of brass – Donald Smithers. Performer of flute – Sue Roberts. Performer electronic music & voice – Una Stewart. Juggler – Judy Burgess.



Aldo Tambellini at the Black Gate Theatre with Installation

MOONBLACK (Homage to Leonardo)
In a large empty space the performer lies on the floor. She is wearing a US Army issued parachute jumpsuit. Her two arms are outstretched and have two small video cameras strapped to her wrists. The cables from the cameras feed into three monitors. A surveillance camera suspended from the ceiling above the performer projects the performer’s image through a video projector onto a suspended large screen. The audience sits on the floor around the circular lit area around the performer. There are three 16MM movie projectors with footage of television images of the 60’s: riots, flight to the moon; civil rights demonstrations; anti-Vietnam War rallies. There is an audio tape recorder with sounds from a Vietnam War documentary; Apollo 8’s Mission to the Moon with the conversation among the astronauts and Mission Control and other electronic sounds. There is also a live musician with drums.

I walk to the lit area and with a chalk draw a wide circle around the performer. The image of Leonardo’s drawing of the outstretched male figure within a circle becomes apparent in the projection on the screen. Slowly, the performer begins creating movement. The two cameras which she has on her wrists capture random images of the audience and project them onto the monitors. As the performer stands up, she begins to point the cameras at individuals in the audience. The people begin to see their images projected unto the monitors becoming aware that they are the focus of the surveillance. As the action flows, one by one the movies begin to be projected on the wall. At this point, you have simultaneous surveillance of the audience and surveillance of the surveillant. The recorded audio begins and, at one point, the drummer joins in improvising. The program abruptly stops.

MOONBLACK Performance (Homage to Leonardo) Harvard University, Cambridge, MA. Artist – Aldo Tambellini. Performer – Sarah Dickenson



sarah dickenson in performance
Sarah Dickinson performing in Moonblack (Homage to Leonardo)

This work illustrates television’s ability to control and manipulate one’s perception of time. In this piece the mime enacts the concept of man’s first attempt to walk on the moon and adjust to another planet. The performer is being taped live and the video is shown on a monitor. On another monitor the tape is delayed 10 seconds, so that the audience also sees a replay of past action. The two dimensions of time – past and present—are at once visible, and the performer is seen moving in two different times and spaces.

10 Second Delay Performance: In Conjunction with ARTSTRANSITION, Center for Visual Studies, MIT, 1975. Everson Museum, Syracuse, New York, 1976. Artist – Aldo Tambellini. Performer – Sarah Dickenson.



This piece also emphasizes this ability of the media to manipulate visual imagery. In this work the performer becomes the second segment of three tapes. In the final part of the performance, three tapes are being played simultaneously – all having recorded a different “time” and spatial attitude. Then again, the performer interacts live with the three videotapes. In Pierrot in Time, Dickinson, a mime, performed a movement segment that. was simultaneously shown on monitors and taped. Then she moved on to another segment. As she did it live, two monitors showed a playback of the first segment. Meanwhile, two other monitors displayed the live movement which was also taped. (Since the monitors formed a back-S ground for the performance, the video caught brief flickers of the images on the monitors. In other words, the taped segments showed glimpses of other segments as well as some feedback images—all of them like echoes in time.) The performance continued that way. Segments were taped and replayed until finally there were three different segments on three sets of monitors going on at once while Dickinson performed a related fourth segment of movement. The piece seemed to be a visual and temporal fugue. One past was layered over the next and together they became the present. “Pierrot in Time” was an example of an abstract and highly conceptualized use of video. The medium was primary, an indispensable component of the piece. But video has on occasion functioned merely in a subordinate role to enhance and clarify abstract performance concepts.”Peter Z. Grossman, Getting into the Act: Video in Live Performance, VIDEOGRAPHY Magazine, March 1978

Performance at the Global Village, NYC, December 17, 1977. Sarah Dickenson – Performer/mime.