Tag "Fluxus"

I’ve been discussing a score piece with my tutor Ed Kelly the last few tutorials. The scores were a very important part of Fluxus and I am interested in making a piece that builds on this tradition.

The idea is to make a simple website that prompts people with actions (scores) to do – and to make it truly social the scores should be added by users.

One way of doing it could be posting them through Twitter with a custom tag (like #SomeoneSays)


A classic Fluxus score by George Brecht ‘Three Lamp Events’

and curating them on a custom mobile friendly website. Scores could show up in random order or as soon as they are posted and users might get an alert – push or sms if possible.

I wrote some test scores to examplify what I mean.

“Lay your head on the keyboard and roll it back and fourth. Post it as your next status message.”

 ”Read the tweets in your feed aloud. As if were a script for a play.”

 ”Slowly close the screen of your laptop down just so much that it is still on. Kneel on the floor and use the computer like you normally would.”


 ”Post ‘Charlie bit my finger ‘ to your Facebook status. Three times in a row.”

 ”Only post photographs of food that look dull and icky”

 ”Like everything in your newsfeed”


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As mentioned before I would like to create at least one more project for the show. The projects I’ve been working on so far are solely focused on the act of participation and missing a deeper message. It was therefore great for me to see the Yoko Ono exhibition – a lot of her works were meant for active participation but had a lot of meaning even though they were only passively viewed. Refreshed by Ono’s Fluxus thinking I have these new ideas for a projects.

#1. Smile Collection Box. 

A website that lets users donate their smile to a site on the internet. All the smiles could be projected onto a wall or to separate screens. I could also hijack Vine for this project because it’s nice if they are ‘alive’.

#2. Tell.

A website version of a confession box where users can tell a secret anonymously. The idea feels a bit old right now but there’s something in it.

#3. Artist Roulette

Like chat roulette but it’s performance artists performing for users. I would probably only be able to make it live for the show – and even that would be a lot of work.

#4. The Never Ending Canon

Using a sort of karaoke system users should record a verse of a well known canon song. The verse is looped and layered on top of the previous version and in the end you should have a massive canon.

#5. Pass It Down (or pass anything down)

Creating a custom tag for Vine and participants make a Vine where they receive an object from the top of the picture and pass it down to the bottom. When you scroll through a feed it should look like the pictures are connected.

Right now I’m opting for #1 for it’s simplicity or #4. because of its playfulness.

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As I wrote in my last post, I hurried up to Louisiana Museum of Modern Art to see Yoko Ono’s retrospective exhibition last Tuesday. Sadly I was not there at opening night a week before and I felt even worse when I learned that Yoko Ono had been there.

The exhibition is a rather large retrospective, showing her most important work from the early sixties until now. Throughout my MA I’ve been looking at the Fluxus artists as a group (rather than digging into any one of them in particular) so it was interesting seeing an exhibition focused on one artist as a single individual.

As I was entering the exhibition a curious sign caught my eye. It said: ‘The works are not to be touched, unless otherwise indicated’. I was relieved – this meant that at least some of the work would be participative or interactive – as it should be with Fluxus art. I couldn’t film the exhibition because it’s not allowed at the museum but I’ve taken a few photos in secret at I bought the exhibition catalogue which I’ll show some pictures from.


The first  work that met my eye was ‘Eye Blink / Fluxfilm 09′ (1966)  a slow-motion short film showing a single blink of Ono’s eye.

The for room also contained the work ‘Ceiling Painting’ which is also from 1966.The work is a ladder where you climb up to the ceiling and view the word ‘yes’ in tiny letters on a painting through a looking glass. Sadley, since it was the original ’66 ladder, on was not allowed to try the work out. This was the only artwork that I managed to take a photo of before the guard saw me.

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This room also contained a the (formerly) interactive art piece ‘Painting To Hammer A Nail’ (1966) http://imaginepeace.com/archives/7296. The ‘painting’ is a wooden board with a hammer tied to it. The description tells people to hammer in nails, when the work is covered it is finished. As the piece is covered it was now behind a plexiglass screen – this DIY work is an early example of participatory art.


Moving further into the exhibition the following works caught my eyes:

Cut Piece (1964). The piece was presented as photos of Ono’s performance from ’64. The work is a participatory  art performance where Ono sits on a stage and has her clothes cut from her body by the audience. The performance is widely recognized for it’s powerful feministic message.


Air Capsules (1971/2013). 4 or 5 sweets dispensers were placed in the middle of a large room, for 2 DKKR one could get a small transparent plastic container, empty as it contained only air. I was stunned by the simplicity of the work though it also had several layers of meaning. It’s a joke on our for your convenience society and it tells us that there is no such thing as an empty space.

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Danger Box (1971). I loved the simplicity of this work. A plexiglass pedestal with a hole in its top and the following warning engraved on a silver plaque: ‘WARNING. The management will not guarantee that a hand put in this hole will come out in the same condition as prior to the entry.’ On one level it’s just a mind game, what could possible happen to my hand in this seemingly safe environment?


On the other hand its almost Magritte ‘Ceci nest pas une pipe’ logic. My hand will not be in the same condition it will be seconds older when I retrieve it.

Telephone In Maze (1971/2013). Telephone maze had the same kind of underplayed humor as Danger Box. You enter a small plexiglass maze with a small white pedestal with a white phone in the middle. A silver plaque in the entrance tells you that if the phone rings you must pick it up. Though I had not heard the phone ring before I entered I had a ticklish feeling in my stomach of anticipation the whole time I was in the maze. Of course the phone did not ring, I wasn’t even plugged in – but the thought of what I would do or say if it had was amazing.

White Chess Set (1966/2013). Two chess tables with only white chess pieces and an invitation to try to play the game. I can only imagine how confusing and distorted a game of chess at this table would be. Two women were sitting at one of the tables and laughing as they attempted to play.


Wish Tree (1996/2013). In the beautiful museum garden an old tree had been selected for this last participatory work. One could write a wish on a note and hang it on a tree branch. This work is probably the one that has most to do with my own MA practice. The work is nothing without a large base of participants. It also has another dimension in Denmark where there is a tradition of letting toddlers hang their pacifiers on dedicated trees when they stop using them – the pacifiers are often accompanied by notes where the children thank them for comforting them for the first years or their lives.

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I ended up buying three books relevant to my MA in the museum shop. The exhibition catalogue. A book DIY art featuring many of Ono’s participatory pieces. And a short book on concept art.

The DIY artwork book has interesting thoughts on the difference between a interactive artwork (viewer must interact but does not alter the artwork) a participatory artwork (viewer must participate in creating the artwork but the artist directs the participants and keeps control of the artwork). An collaborative art (participants have bigger influence on the outcome and might even help direct it).


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It’s been some frantic weeks lately and sadly I also missed my tutorial because of all the action. First of all I had to attend and grade the 2nd year exams 2 weeks ago where the tutorials were. I was leading them so there was really no option to miss them. Then, last Saturday, I got married (!). I’m quite proud of the idea I came up with for my ring and and a necklace for my husband …

Tuesday I rushed to up north of Copenhagen to see the Yoko Ono retrospective exhibition which was RIGHT up my MA alley and Wednesday I was off to the Cannes Lions Festival with almost 30 students and two colleagues.

I brought my computer but there was absolutely no time to blog, so I’m sitting now and looking through all my notes and creating three posts. One about Yoko. One for Cannes. And FINALLY I have quite a few new ideas for my last project for the exhibition!

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I was lucky enough to have a long talk with the Danish Fluxus Artist Knud Pedersen in the end of November. Knud is the founder of the Art Library, a special library where you can rent art for a very low price. He was also one of the key organizers of the most important Fluxus events in Copenhagen, amongst them the famous Copenhagen Fluxfest of 1963.

Knud is also the owner of a large collection of Fluxus works which he calls the Fluxus Archive, he promised to show me this archive soon but I have not had the chance to come by yet so I hope the offer still stands.

Knud told me that in his opinion some of the Fluxus performances became to person orientated as the artists personal fame grew. So, in 1993, for the celebration of the 30 years of Fluxus Copenhagen, he came up with a concept called “Art ala Carte”. The audience where placed at dining tables and could order Fluxus events and objects from a menu. They were then given the remedies to create the events, and instead of watching perfomances they could create them themselves.

Here are some photos I took of the menu which he had kept in his office, I think the idea is just wonderful!

This work really got me thinking, it is in it’s own way a Fluxus art piece in its own right!

In my opinion Knud is a very important local contributor to Fluxus, as he was both a contributor and an organiser.

It’s was a big inspiration and honor to meet such a noteworthy person and I was very moved by the time he gave me (we talked for hours!). He was not up for a real interview, but instead he referred me to an interview given to the Danish TV station TV4 in 1998 back which I have transcribed for my Research Paper records. Here is an excerpt:

They [the Fluxus Group] came over in November of ‘62, and they made the first Fluxus concert (Fluxfest). One should be careful what you

call a concert. ‘Concert’ just meant that there was a music audience, and it also meant that there were music reviewers. But it had nothing to do with a concert. It was a performance that totally turned the established concepts of art scene upside down. We had been told that in Wiesbaden, eggs and tomatoes hat had been thrown at them, but when we saw
the show in Nicholas Church, we understood what it was that was so different. One of the acts, for example, was ‘633 times for Henry Flint’, this meant that someone sat down and banged on a piano 633 times, like this. I actually think it was half an hour to forty-five minutes long, that piece. There was a violin piece, where the guru amongst the Fluxus artist, George Maciunas, walked on stage and opened the violin case which revieled a trumpet instead. Because it only contained a trumpet he couldn’t do a violin concert, so he closed the case and walked out again.

We were very confused, and TV – there was only one TV station at the time – they had built tall scaffolding inside the church and planned to record the concert. A few days later, on the town hall square, I saw a BT News placard that read: “TV cancels concert because of bad taste.”

The next night at the second concert, we had a final number that was quite interesting. A bus had been rented, and it was announced from the stage that the final act would be performed in the bus parked outside Nikolaj Church. The audience rushed out to get a seat. Since there wasn’t room for more than 40-45 people, the bus was packed. It was ten to ten thirty in the evening, and when the bus was full. The doors closed and the bus started. It then drove – in one stretch – all the way down to the town square of Ringsted. We had an agreement with the driver that if he stopped or opened the door on the trip, he would not get a penny. It was half past eleven in the evening when he stopped in the square of Ringsted. Then the doors opened and the audience was told: “The concert is over.” The people had to get out and try to find their way back to Copenhagen as well as they could. Some of them went to the police station and others went to a hotel. And some, those who had been at the police station, came back the next evening and happily paid the entree fee again. They wanted more, of course.

It was unique what was happening. It’s strange to describe Fluxus, with examples, that don’t work. It may illuminate something, but it can’t tell anything about the core idea of it. On the backdrop behind the altar space, Arthur Køpcke had written: “We create music that is poetry and theater that is painting. We unfold an unspecialized fantasy”. And that is actually goes into the heart and the roots of what Fluxus are. It is not music. It isn’t painting. It isn’t literature and you can’t paint a painting in a way that that makes it become a Fluxus painting. You can’t play a piece of music in a way that makes it a piece Fluxus music. It is something entirely different. In my opinion, we are almost looking at a kind of artistic basic research, which takes fundamental things from the music, from literature, and then treats it in new different ways, and not necessarily even by artists.

From :

Fluxus – In remembrance of an art form. Told by Knud Pedersen, Production: Prime Vision, TV 4 1998


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Some of the relevant litterature I’ve found on the Internet.



Fluxus Portal: http://www.fluxus.org/

Fluxlist archive: http://www.mail-archive.com/fluxlist@scribble.com/

Copenhagen Fluxus Archive: http://www.fluxus-archive.dk/

Artlex.com: http://www.artlex.com/ArtLex/f/fluxus.html

Artpool: http://www.artpool.hu/Defaulte.html

Artnotart: http://www.artnotart.com/fluxus/gmaciunas–.html

Fluxus a la carte (article): http://www.flashartonline.com/interno.php?pagina=whispers_det&id_art=314&det=ok&title=FLUXUS-A-LA-CARTE

Zen and Fluxus (from the Fluxus Reader): http://www.thing.net/~grist/ld/koppany/doris-e.htm

Alison Knowles: http://www.aknowles.com/eventscore.html

Art Historian Peter van der Maijden’s blog: http://petersfluxdeparole.blogspot.dk/



DigitalMailart blog: http://digitalmailart.blogspot.dk/

Effects of the Internet on the Correspondence Art Network: http://www.mailartist.com/honoria/research2003/abstract.htm

Ray Johson Estate (Articles): http://www.rayjohnsonestate.com/research/articles

MailArt.de: http://www.mail-art.de/

Maik Art Projects blog: http://mailartprojects.blogspot.dk/ 

IUMOMA International Union of Mail-Artists


Ruud Janssen mail art interviews: http://www.iuoma.org/interview.html

m@ilart by Matt Ferranto: http://www.spareroom.org/mailart/mis_1.html

Franklin Furnace Mail Art exhibition (FFFlue): http://www.franklinfurnace.org/research/projects/flow/mailart/mailartf.html

Illegal Mail Art (FFFlue): http://www.franklinfurnace.org/research/projects/flow/mailart/Oistetxt.html

On Mail Art: Doo-Da Postage Works (FFFlue)http://www.franklinfurnace.org/research/projects/flow/mailart/Higgtxt.html

The N-titty (FFFlue): http://www.franklinfurnace.org/research/projects/flow/mailart/Pittotxt.html

Mail Art (FFFlue): http://www.franklinfurnace.org/research/projects/flow/BeaDav/beadav.html

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As luck has it, I have just realized that there is a Fluxus exhibition at the museum Nikolaj Kunsthal which also hosted quite a few Fluxus events since the early days of Fluxus in 1962. The museum is also home to the Copenhagen Fluxus Archive that might come in extremely handy, especially because I can see that some of the mentioned artist are Mail-artists like Anna Banana and Ray Johnson are featured here. The archive is filled with Fluxus work all collected by Danish Fluxus artist Knud Pedersen. Knud Pedersen also founded the Art Library, a project, the project which still runs is a library where you can rent a piece of art for the price of a pack of cigarettes.

Knud Pedersen today, picture by: Ilan Brender

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I will probably end up focussing more on the way Fluxus artists gave the audience firsthand experience in the Fluxus art, but I am also fascinated with the role George Maciunas in the creation of the Flux fests, the Fluxus boxes, the Flux house and the Fluxus magazine. He was indeed the curator that I keep babbling about. Fluxus was not him alone and he didn’t own all the different art works and events the contributing created, but he created a platform and a context that joined art together and gave it context.

From the movie: Zefiro Torna Or Scenes From the Life Of George Maciunas

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In his Fluxus Manifesto of 1963 George Maciunas call on the Fluxus artist to:

“PROMOTE A REVOLUTIONARY FLOOD AND TIDE IN ART. Promote living art, anti-art, promote NON ART REALITY to be grasped by all peoples, not critics, dilettantes and professionals.”

The thoughts of Fluxus became a platform for a broad group of artist working in many different medias, together and alone.

The Fluxus art was intermediate, and often interactive. Fluxus Scores and Flux boxes were guidelines for an audience to participate in the creation of the art – as Fluxus artist Ben Patterson puts it in the movie the Misfits. “The true way to experience art is to create it”. This changed the role of the artist to a conceptualiser or even a curator.

The movement was driven by a deep fascination of chance and life itself, and dissociation from the established art world.

In the Fluxus documentary the Misfits another Fluxus artist says that “everything art touches, dies”.

This rejection of the label “art” and open-minded view on amateurs as creators is interesting in a more contemporary context. New digital platforms such as social media networks are now being used as a basis for crowd-sourced art. Art created through such platforms are generally open for contributions from professional and amateurs alike, and the artist them selves often end up curating and editing contributions rather than creating themselves. A single art discipline within the Fluxus movement is Mail art, has a very strong connection to todays networked art.

But in the social networks there are other, even less acknowledged forms of artistic expression. The Memes – a global social trend of creation that operates on a level where most people can contribute. Though they are often regarded as an inferior creative discipline.

Memes like Rage Guy Comics and Lol Cats have their own (though rather crude) aesthetics and their own game rules. They are made from very specific components like the ones you would find in e.g. a Flux box.

In this essay I will attempt to draw parallels from the aesthetics and ideas, and social values of the Fluxus movement to some of the Social Network art of today. Maybe – if we take a look through the eyes of the Fluxus movement – Memes could be seen as a discipline of art.

Fluxkit (2), Georges Maciunas, 1966


“Three Lamp Events”, George Brecht, 1961.


From the “Dear Photograph” website.


Rage Guy Faces “kit” from alltheragefaces.com

Example of a “Rage Guy Comic” from weknowmemes.com

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