The following was first published in Fluxus Newspaper #4 (June 1964)
Something About Fluxus
Now that Fluxus activities are occurring in New York it's possible for statesiders to get some understanding and, relatively, some misunderstanding of the nature of Fluxus. (A report on last year's Fluxus activities in Europe, Dick Higgins' Postface, is to be available this summer.) From my point of view the individual understandings of Fluxus have come from placing hands in Ay-o's.Tactile Boxes, from making a poem with Diter Rot's Poem Machine published in the Fluxus newspaper, from watching Ben Vautier string Alison Knowles-on-the-blue-stool to objects in the room and to the audience in Kosugi's Anima I...
The misunderstandings have seemed to come from comparing Fluxus with movements or groups whose individuals 'have had some principle in common, or an agreed-upon program. In Fluxus there has never been any attempt to agree on aims or methods; individuals with something unnameable in common have simply naturally coalesced to publish and perform their work. Perhaps this common something is a feeling that the bounds of art are much wider than they have conventionally seemed, or that art and certain long-established bounds are no longer very useful. At any rate, individuals in Europe, the US, and Japan have discovered each other's work and found it nourishing (or something) and have grown objects and events which are original, and often uncategorizable, in a strange new way:
Alison Knowles' Bean Can: Early Red Valentines, Early Mohawks, Long Yellow Six Weeks, English Canterburys... Bean's Insulated Boot Foot Wader (Suspenders extra)... Ich bean ein Starein Kino-Star-... The US bean crop would make enough bean soup to run Niagara Falls for three hours...
Bob Watt's Box of Rocks marked with their weight in kilograms.
Tomas Schmit's Zyklus; the performer, surrounded by a ring of bottles, pours water from one bottle into the next, until all the water has evaporated or been spilled.
Ben Patterson's Two Movements from Symphony n. 1: the audience stands in line. One person at a time sits at a stool across the table from Ben, who whispers: "Do you trust me?" Ben puts yesses on one side of the room, noes on the other. The lights go out. Waiting; possibly tensions. Then, the smell of coffee, ground-coffee-rain, in the air, dusting over the floor. Medaglia d'Oro.
Ben Vautier's Bottle of Dirty Water, the Street Composition Lie Down on Your Back, Total Art Sculpture Pick up Anything at Your Feet, Total Art Poetry Just Say Anything...
Daniel Spoerri's Optique modeme: collection of unknown spectacles, with Dufrene's useless notes.
Dick Higgins' lectures, like "The day begins. After a time the day ends. The day begins. After a time the day ends. The day begins..." (repeated the number of times that a day appears in a common span of time)
Emmet Williams Piece for La Monte Young - "Is La Monte Young in the Audience?"
Brooklyn Joe Jones' chair, switchboards on the arms. Lower the white translucent hat over your head, and flip the switches. Lights here and there, and sounds from peripheral radios on, off, news, static, twist music, commercials...
George Brecht's Bead Puzzle. "Your birthday."
La Monte Young, Composition 1960, n. 2: "Build a fire in front of the audience..."
Ay-o's Exit Events: the audience leaves the performance room through a narrow hall, over a large mirror on the floor, or over a bed of upward-pointed nails, with foot-sized gaps in the bed, or tfirough rows of taut, knee-high strings.
Nam June Paik's Zen for Film. (See it, then go to your neighborhood theater and see it again.)
Henry Flynt's professional anti-culture and down-withs (paying culture a sort of inverse compliment), making Alison Knowles' bean-sprouts seem even lovelier.
Whether you think that concert halls, theaters, and art galleries are the natural places to present music, performances, and objects, or find these places mummifying, preferring streets, homes, and railway stations, or do not find it useful to distinguish between these two aspects of the world theater, there is someone associated with Fluxus who agrees with you. Artist, anti-artists, non-artists, anartists, the politically committed and the apolitical, poets of non-poetry, non-dancers dancing, doers, undoers, and non-doers, Fluxus encompasses opposites. Consider opposing it, supporting it, ignoring it, changing your mind.