Avant-garde pioneer Allan Kaprow, inventor of the "happening," has died. From "Multimedia: From Wagner to Virtual Reality":
Allan Kaprow coined the term Happening in the late 1950s, and led the movement into the bright lights of popular culture that characterized the 1960s. Happenings are notoriously difficult to describe, in part because each was a unique event shaped by the actions of the audience that participated on any given performance. Simply put, Happenings, such as Household from 1964, were held in physical environments – loft spaces, abandoned factories, buses, parks, etc. – and brought people, objects, and events in surprising juxtaposition to one another. Kaprow views art as a vehicle for expanding our awareness of life by prompting unexpected, provocative interactions. For Kaprow, art is a continual work-in-progress, with an unfolding narrative that is realized through the active participation of the audience.Link to AP obituary (Thanks, Jill Miller)
Kaprow developed techniques to prompt a creative response from the audience, encouraging audience members to make their own connections between ideas and events. These narrative strategies relied on a non-linear sequencing of events, and the use of indeterminacy to shape the course of the Happening. The Happening was a constellation of events that could be distributed across once arbitrary temporal and spatial boundaries. The decentralization of authorship, location, and narrative – here united by the intent of the artist and the imagination of the participating audience members – foreshadows non-linear forms in digital media which makes use of interactive and networked technology to expand the boundaries of space and time.
David Pescovitz is Boing Boing's co-editor/managing partner. He's also a research director at Institute for the Future. On Instagram, he's @pesco.