After Modernism Lesson 3 (Fluxus)

In today’s constellations lesson we learnt about the Fluxus art movement.

Firstly we were shown a video by Wolf Vostell called Sun in your head 1963.


The performance is a series of day collage videos mashed up. The result id odd, it is hard to understand and figure out theh story plot or you question is there even one there. Wolf Vostell Deliberately makes this work irritating, it’s not focused it continues to jump screens. He adds subliminal messaging, could it be political? you do recognize military equipment in some scenes. It feels like a brain washing video you aren’t quite sure what you are watching and your brain is forced to thinking different scenarios.

Next we were shown George Maciunas and others, In Memoriam to Adriano Olive6, 1961. I found this to be very interesting, as I felt like it reflected the idea of life being set in stone and you are following the path that has already been written for you. The group of Artists take the piece very seriously and even though the audience finds humor in it and start to laugh the artists remain dead pan.


The Roots of Fluxus

1) DADA Movement

  • Irrationality- The work is meant to annoy you and make you feel angry and irritated
  •  Performance- DADA was all about performance, it seems to be more realistic.
  •  Chance-DADA Liked to play around with the idea of chance.
  •  iconoclasm- The idea of desctruction to the already made culture.

They wanted to remake culture and renew what we already knew.

2) Art Vs Life

Many modernist artists believed that art should be a part of life and not some specialised activity separate from the process of living. There were 2 approaches to achieving this goal: i) Abandon the traditional forms of art (painting, sculpture etc.) and fuse art with design, and in this way revolutionise and enrich the experience of living. Constructivism, Bauhaus ii) Revolutionise the basis of everyday life (through technology, psychoanalysis) and allow new forms of art to spring up to reflect these changes. Futurism, Surrealism

3) John Cage.

John Cage was an important artist/performance musician even though he kept a friendly distance from fluxus. His work relied on

  • Chance
  • Scores-right in graphic form musical events
  • Experimentation

Next we moved on to look at the Dick Higgins and his evolution of modern art.

1)Collage- He felt this was a step from painting as it was combining the real thing with the painting of the real thing. A representation of reality.


2) Combine- Next was the combination between real 3D things with painting.


3) Environment- Creating a piece of 3D/ Paintings that was large enough you could look in to and explore that certain environment


4) Happening- You could then add performance and the materials were put out to make do with what you want.


5) Event- In that space then you add a performance script and actions are predetermined but still open to new ideas.


6) Concentration- Predetermined concentration of that event the totality of it.


How does this compare to the Greenburg theory?  I felt that Greenburg stripped away the ideas and practices of art making it become more concentrated on minimalism, whereas Higging’s started to broaden art out but then suddenly bring it back in by simplifying the idea of performance and making it extremely focused in and it being purified.

We then looked at George Maciunas, Fluxus Manifesto, 1963, George Maciunas was questionably the leader of Fluxus. In his work the Manifesto which meaning to set forward your intentions I find that he tells us what he is going to to. He wants a purge, then to promote a revolutionary flood and tide in art then he wants us to fuse together.

Features of Fluxus.

1) International- Fluxus was spread over 7 countries it was never founded anywhere in particular.

2) Anti-Art And Iconoclasm- this was destruction of art which was seen as cultured and original.

3) Inter-media- This was a mixture of art forms there was no order.

4) Concentration/ Simplicity- They wanted simplicity yet chaotic messy and nothing else mattered.

5) Art and Life- they wanted to combine art and life.

6) Activation of the Audience- they wanted to invite the audience to be apart of art and for them to interact and become a piece of that.

7) Games, Jokes and Playing- They wanted their art to be fun and interactive

8)Ephemerality and invisibility- They wanted the art to be not long lasting and sometimes invisible.


What Higgins doesn’t mention is

  • Mysticism- Focusing in
  • Music – playing organized sounds
  • Meaning and Meaningless art
  • boredom
  • Politics

Imagine, perhaps, an art form that is comprised 10% of music, 25% of architecture, 12% of drawing, 18% of shoemaking, 30% of painting and 5% of smell. What would it be like? How would it work? How would some of the specific artworks appear? How would they function? (Friedman (ed) The Fluxus Reader, 1998: 247-8)

Today’s lesson was an interesting one, I didn’t know much about fluxus so I came into the lesson with an open mind. I find fluxus to be quite unusual and really random. I enjoyed watching the videos as they kept me entertained and I felt it help me as a learning tool. I still really struggle on the reading and it makes me feel frustrated when I can’t understand it. I am a slow reader and get intimidated when the reading is long and technical. I should read more in my free time to develop my language knowledge and how I read.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s