Fluxus has always been notoriously difficult to pin down because it has never fit neatly into any category assigned by the art market or the art academy. I have summarized it as concisely as I think is possible into four parts:
- Fluxus is an attitude. It is not a movement or a style.
- Fluxus is intermedia. Fluxus creators like to see what happens when different media intersect. They use found and everyday objects, sounds, images, and texts to create new combinations of objects, sounds, images, and texts.
- Fluxus works are simple. The art is small, the texts are short, and the performances are brief.
- Fluxus is fun. Humour has always been an important element in Fluxus.
Previous articles here have explored the idea of Fluxus as an attitude. But, what is meant by "intermedia"?
The prevalence of digital communications technologies has tended to lead to some confusion between intermedia and multimedia. I would venture that in the minds of most people, including most artists, the two terms have become interchangable – or the term intermedia has disappeared altogether. This is unfortunate as intermedia is not at all interchangeable with multimedia.
Multimedia is most easily expressed and explained through the medium of video, or in the corporate world, through the application, PowerPoint. Intermedia does not necessarily require more than a single medium to be expressed. Intermedia is not concerned with the number of media that are combined to exhibit a work. An intermedia work can consist of multiple media (multimedia), but can also be expressed through a single medium. The important common denominator of all intermedia is the intersection of different media rather than the number of mediums used in the final product.
One of the easiest to grasp examples of a single medium intermedia work is visual poetry. Visual poetry exists in its simplest finished form as marks on paper. But it is not just drawing since it generally relies heavily on text – but niether is it just poetry or prose, since it relies heavily on visuality too. Visual poetry is nether poetry nor drawing, but neither is it multimedia. It is intermedia. It is based on exploring the space in which poetry and visual art intersect. Cecil Touchon of Texas takes visual poetry to yet another level by creating visual poems on paper and the re-rendering them as paintings on canvas, which are made available through the mainstream art market.
Other examples of intermedia intersections are "sound art" in which elements of musicality and elements of visual art intersect, and result in work that is neither music nor visual. Sound art fills space like sculpture does, but it does not actually occupy space. It is appreciated through the sense of hearing, but it is not music or poetry. Video art can be multimedia, intermedia, or both. Video by its very nature is usually multimedia, combining audio, images, and time/motion. But to be intermedia there needs to be more than a combination of media – there needs to be an exploration of the space in which media intersect. Artists like my friend Nicolas Carras in France explore this through the video exploration of static images, and by exploring audio and visual elements simultaneously, but independantly of each other.