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Fritz Kahn (1888-1968), a German, Jewish gynecologist, artist, and popular science writer extraordinaire, is considered by many to be the founder of conceptual medical illustration.

The video below was posted to Vimeo by Henning Lederer.

Der Mensch als Industriepalast [Man as Industrial Palace]

A wonderfully detailed, and illustrated article about Fritz Kahn has been posted to the Fluxlist Blog by Litsa Spathi.

I highly recommend it!

The following is a brief excerpt from an excellent interview of the collage artist, Cecil Touchon, by Paris-based artist and curator, Matthew Rose. The full text of the interview can be read online at http://cecil.touchon.com/interview-matthewrose.html

Matthew Rose: Collage has a long and rich history in Modern Art, beginning formally with Picasso's and Braque's experimental canvases in the early 20th century, cutting newspapers and wall papers and adding them to their canvases.  The effects were to inject a sense of found realism into their tableaux and change forever the illusion of the picture plane. Since then, of course, collage has become a dominate form of artistic production.  Schwitters most well known works are collage pieces; the Dadaists brought collage into a new world not only with physical art works but with performances in a kind of audio and perceptual collage. Painting, as a result of all this early 20th century activity was forced to change, and one might say that all painting now is influenced by collage.

As an artist who has long worked the medium of collage in both cut paper and paint, how do you assess the state of the art of collage?

Cecil Touchon: I would have to say that the state of the art just now is very much alive and the number of artists working in the medium is growing. My efforts to understand and advance this constructive medium have, aside from my own art making, been in the area of developing an online community of collage artists around a central hub which is the International Museum of Collage, Assemblage and Construction (collagemuseum.com) that I founded in 1998.
The museum began as an online virtual museum and then, through various projects, has developed into a significant archive of actual collage and assemblage art.  The collection numbers in the thousands of actual works. My intention has been to create a focal point for collage art. I hope to draw artists together working in this medium so that we might all know each other’s work. Communicating together as colleagues, we discuss issues related to collage such as its history, techniques, materials, copyright and archival issues. We also share information about artists currently working in collage. I also wish as to inspire and promote exhibitions. Through this continuous banter it is possible to get a sense of what everyone is thinking about and what ideas are circulating...

I have excerpted only the very beginning of the interview. The full interview includes images, illustrations, and photographs, in addition to an exceptionally thoughful commentary on contemporary collage.

From the Walker Art Centre in Minneapolis, Minnesota:
Definition of Fluxus:

Fluxus is not: a movement, a moment in history, an organization. Fluxus is: an idea, a kind of work, a tendency, a way of life, a changing set of people who do Fluxworks.--Dick Higgins

Fluxus is a loosely affiliated international network of visual artists, new-music composers, writers, and performers who have been active since the early 1960s.

Beginning with a series of festivals featuring concerts of new experimental music and other avant-garde performance, Fluxus artists reacted against the commodity status of art, its commercialization in the gallery system, and its static presentation in traditional institutions. They often rejected the concept of artistic genius and single authorship in favor of a collective spirit and a collaborative practice.

Fluxus compositions or scores for performances and events involve simple actions, ideas, and objects from everyday life. Some scores, such as those in George Brecht's Water Yam (1972), were printed on cards and then packaged into plastic boxes and sold as inexpensive multiples. These scores call for open-ended actions and events that can be performed by anyone at any time in any place. Also on view is Yoko Ono's Invitation to Participate in a Water Event, in which she invited people to bring containers to her 1971 exhibition. These vessels were filled with water, displayed in the show, and labeled as collaborative works of art.

Sometimes a documentation or artifact from a Fluxus event became a work of art, a material presence that referred to an absent action or previous performance. Alison Knowles' Journal of the Identical Lunch (1971), documents her ritual noontime performances at a New York diner with various artists and friends. In Dick Higgins' ongoing series, The Thousand Symphonies, he composes musical scores with bullet holes and paint on sheet music. The result is both a documentation of the artist's action and a work of visual art.

Incorporating musical compositions, concrete poetry, visual art, and writing, Fluxus performances embody Higgins' idea of "intermedia"--a dialogue between two or more media to create a third, entirely new art form. Fluxus performance also incorporates actions and objects, artists and non-artists, art and everyday life in an attempt to find something "significant in the insignificant." The influence of this highly experimental, spontaneous, often humorous form of performance art prevailed through the 1970s and has been rediscovered by a younger generation of artists working today.

I really like this definition. It pays respectful homage to the historical aspects of Fluxus, while remaining completely open to the idea that Fluxus continued to the present day, and that many people continue to include themselves within the Fluxus meme.

Twitter + Literature = Twitterature

Twitter is a social networking web application in which members post brief notes to each other in a manner similar to Facebook "status updates". Each post is limited to a maximum of 140 characters, including spaces, punctuation, and "hash tags" (more on these later).

IMHO ("In My Humble Opinion" - get used to cute acronyms if u r tweeting on Twitter) the vast majority of Twitter posts or "tweets" are not really worth reading by any public broader than the tweeter's personal peer network. It is hard for me to imagine that a worldwide audience for the inane pronouncements of self-absorbed net-kids exists. For example (...you KNOW that you wanted one!), a trending topic today is something called "sweetest day" and this is a typical post, "HAPPY SWEETEST DAY PPL!!!!!!!!!!" from a young woman who calls herself "reese_21". There are thousands of tweets today with some variation of this message. So, what makes Twitter interesting to the Fluxus Blog? Two things:

  1. Each tweet is limited to a maximum of 140 characters. One of the characteristics of most Fluxus work is its brevity. The creative potential that is built into Twitter with its enforced brevity is an open invitation to Fluxification. Event scores, instructions, collaged haiku, haiku-based poems, very brief fluxpoems; all lend themselves beautifully to the technically imposed limits of Twitter.
  2. The "hash tags" to which I alluded earlier. A hash tag is simply a word (no spaces please; the word, "word" being loosely applied here)  preceded by a hash mark, term used to describe what is also known as the "number sign" or the "pound key" on a computer or cell phone keyboard. Hash tags are searchable symbols that can be used to link individual tweets together. They are the magic symbols that permit online communities of twitterers to organically grow. For example visiting Twitter.com and searching for #haiku will display the posts of everybody that tagged their work with "#haiku". Twitterati sometimes use more esoteric tags like, #twaiku or #micropoetry to filter out the noise of a too-busy tag. The hash tags are also what permitted Iranian democracy activists to disseminate information to each other and to the world, using the tag, #iranelections.

There are a few members of the contemporary Fluxus community currently using Twitter. I use it primarily to post traditional haiku, but also post fairly frequent Fluxus-oriented micropoems. Perhaps a critical mass of Fluxpeople will begin tagging their work #fluxus one day soon?

In this chapter we learn that Fluxus is actually dead. We will also learn that Fluxus is alive and well and living in... everywhere.

I don't think many Living Fluxus artists really believe that they (we) are part of a magical posthumous George Maciunas Fluxus Group. From what I have heard and read, George was fond of including and excluding people in "his" Fluxus as he saw fit... so who knows what he would have done with us? Maybe he would have loved us, and maybe he would have decided that we were not worth caring about. I believe that many artists, writers, historians, etc. have worked around this issue by accepting the two-part or three-part (Part 1 = GM; Part 2 = Worked with GM and kept working; Part 3 = Working today within the Fluxus meme) idea that I proposed in the first note I posted. It is an attempt to be respectful of the Fluxus One era, and of George Maciunas, who was unarguably the keystone to that era -- while acknowledging (what to me is an equally inarguable reality) that Fluxus continued on/continues on unabated after he died.

The label "Fluxus" is the label that works. It is descriptive, and I think it is accurate. Today's Fluxus work represents a continuation of the work that began in the 60s (the 50s if you include the pre-fluxus era of John Cage and Black Mountain College alumni).The passing of George Maciunas represents the end of a single chapter - not the end of the book. It was a really important chapter. The whole bool depends on it... but still, it was only one chapter.

There are a lot of people with very strong incentives to keep Fluxus dead. Dead Fluxus serves the financial interests of a group of collectors and museums. Art Historians like their movements to have beginning dates and end dates, it makes those litle time-bar graphs so much more appealing. And a small group of people who were close personally to George Maciunas worry endlessly that his legacy will somehow be diluted if Fluxus didn't die with him.

When George Maciunas coined the name "Fluxus" and attached it to the work that he and a circle of likeminded people were making, something akin to Fluxus was already happening. This work was an amalgamation of ideas from Dada, Zen, John Cage, Ray Johnson, Black Mountain College. Many artists, writers, composers, and other creators were creating work that was very Fluxus even before George Maciunas attached a name to this work, and built a circle of like-minded creators around himself. I am confident that if there was no George Maciuans there would still have been a Fluxus - it would have been called something else perhaps, but the Fluxus meme already existed.

George Maciunas did not own Fluxus. He may have thought that he did, and it seems that there are 2 or three people who believe that he did, but there were many, many artists working contemporaneously with Maciunas who were also Fluxus, and subsequently there have been dozens, if not hundreds of artists (and anti-artists, poets, creators, etc.) who were, and still are Fluxus.

Fluxus happened. Fluxus is still happening. It is happening whether that is acknowledged by the School of Old Dead Fluxus or not. Of course, I would be thrilled if Living Fluxus was acknowledged by the remaining members of the Original Fluxus circle... but, whether Living Fluxus is acknowledged or not, there is the very real phenomenon of Contemporary Fluxus. That Fluxus is alive and well is not plausably deniable. The Fluxus meme is still alive, and creators around the world are working in the Fluxus milieu. The only way you can look up at the sun and say that it's night time is if your eyes are closed, or you are blind.

I suspect that there will always be some confusion about the "life-status" of Fluxus. That is because there are really two parts to it. During Maciunas' lifetime the two parts were completely intertwined. After his death, I think that part of Fluxus died with him...but a vital and important part continued on without him. That continuing part is not ... Read moresome sort of "new" fluxus, or "neo-Fluxus". It IS Fluxus. It may be Post-Maciunas Fluxus, but it is still Fluxus.

My article was actually prompted by a book jacket note about Dada. It said that "Dada died in Paris in 1924". The claim seemed absurd to me. Dada, like Fluxus, was/is and IDEA. Ideas do not die with the people that propose them. They live on until nobody is interested in them any more.

On the other hand, history is history. Marcel Duchamp and Tristan Tzara cannot be separated from Dada, and no discussion of Dada is coherent without them. George Maciunas was the engine that set Fluxus in motion. It is impossible to discuss Fluxus without celebrating/honoring/respecting his contribution.

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