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Reduxus Too-Muchus?

In the post below I stated that Fluxus work nearly always contains four key elements, an attitude vs. an "art movement", intermedia, simplicity, and fun. I believe this to be true, but should also state that, as contained within the term itself, "flux"us is malleable and resists attempts to over-simplify its own definition. It can be (and often is) argued that there is no "one size fits all" definition of Fluxus and that even the four points that I see as commonalities will not adequately account for work that is clearly Fluxus, but does not conform or contain the four common features that I present.

Ken Friedman and Dick Higgins felt that the 12 ideas of Fluxus should be seen as a set of characteristics that can be found in Fuxus works, but that it is not necessary for any single work to include all 12 ideas. Rather they felt that most Fluxus works incorporated some of these ideas to various degrees, such that a work may be high on one scale, moderate on others, and have no characteristics of other scales. Since Higgins co-founded Fluxus with George Maciunas, and Friedman worked with both of them, their ideas need to be carefully considered. In particular, Ken Friedman continues to write about Fluxus and his thoughts on the subject carry considerable weight.

My own feeling is that, much as Owen Smith described "Fluxus as an attitude", it does remain possible to distill what I might call "the essence of Fluxus", without in any way contradicting the variability model of the 12 ideas scale as described by Friedman. I think that nearly all Fluxus works incorporate the four points that I propose to varying degrees, but that individual works and artists often also include one or more of the 12 Friedman/Higgins ideas. Three of my four points are actually included in the 12 ideas.

  1. Intermedia
  2. Simplicity
  3. Playfulness (fun)

The fourth point "Fluxus is an attitude" has been thoroughly discussed by Owen Smith in his book, Fluxus, The History of an Attitude. I think that the "attitude" alluded too by Smith might also be considered as a synthesis of the 12 ideas. I.E. The Fluxus attitude is expressed within these 12 ideas.

Below is a very brief extract from Ken Friedmans 40 Years of Fluxus essay in which he lists the 12 ideas:

"...As I see it, Fluxus was a laboratory. The research program of the Fluxus laboratory is characterized by twelve ideas:

  1. globalism,
  2. the unity of art and life,
  3. intermedia,
  4. experimentalism,
  5. chance,
  6. playfulness,
  7. simplicity,
  8. implicativeness,
  9. exemplativism,
  10. specificity,
  11. presence in time, and
  12. musicality." (Friedman, 1998, The Fluxus Reader) (numbers and bold text added by author - not in original text)
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About Allan Revich

Allan Revich is a Toronto artist and writer. His work has appeared in numerous publications, in international exhibitions, and on many websites. He is active in the international Fluxus community. He currently writes poetry, creates visual poems, and works with photography. His work includes Web-based art, mixed media art, and mail art. His books, Headline Haiku 2006, Headline Haiku 2007, and Fluxus Vision are available internationally on Amazon.com and its affiliates, as his most recent collection of poems, "Flux You!".

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