In March 2015 a group of 25 people from all over the world, and representing a wide spectrum of disciplines, convened upon a snow-covered House on the Hill to take part in “Oppenheimer’s Table” - the first in a series of Arts Letters & Numbers workshops examining and expanding upon the nature of 132 doodles generated from the secret joint committee meetings held in 1947 and chaired by Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer.
The doodles, attributed variously to Oppenheimer, Enrico Fermi, I.I. Rabi, and other notable actors within the burgeoning cold war became the conceptual and formal foundation for the exploring of the complex history, culture, and possibilities that lay ahead in our contemporary nuclear age. Through sessions History, Physics and Numbers, Veils, Artifice, Risk and Remains, a framework was established and the Table was set for emergent creative actions to occur within the discourse, across disciplines.
Within an environment of debate and group exercises, the participants embodied the condition of mimesis as a strategy for understanding and inhabiting the doodles. Redrawn, reorganized and re-enacted, the artifacts revealed mysterious internal relations and interdependencies. They became the living model for the participants within “Oppenheimer’s Table”, informing everything from long-format improvisational performances to the sharing of food and stories.
Infinite vast white landscapes of flour, drops of ink slowly diffusing into water, scans of skin and the sound of signs made on a chalkboard all intermingled with isotopes, periodic table food labs and late night Butoh screenings.
The Table has been set and the gestures continue.