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.
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.