Cecil Touchon on Fluxus

Cecil Touchon is an American artist who works with Fluxus. His website can be seen at http://cecil.touchon.com.Cecil wrote the following response to an art student who posted a question on the Fluxlist:

Fluxus is a lot like Post-Dogmatism. In post dogmatism – which is not post-fluxus – the key thing is the focus on the ‘threshold of becoming” that place where all things that have shape, take shape. It is the point of inception, the place from which the creative impulse rises where art is pure and our interaction with life is at it’s most powerful. To arrive somewhere close to this threshold is to have pealed away many layers of other intentions (and beliefs) that ‘sully’ our relationship with that creative impulse.

Starting in the late 1800’s let’s say, with the advance of psychology, there came to be a rising concern with finding this place of creative purity and we see a lot of experimentation going on where artists are attempting to find that threshold and attempting to understand the optimal state of being that an artist should be in when having found it and then what sort of art might be generated by that process. It was assumed from an early period that the state of childhood innocence and wonderment is the most likely starting point and so children’s art became highly prized and studied for the creative solutions children come up with. Being child-like has never been the goal of our culture but with artists taking an interest in the creative activities of children, there has been a significant increase in having respect for the state of childhood.

Seen in this light, Fluxus has done a great job of articulating issues that hamper free artistic development and encouraging the idea that everyone should engage themselves in creative activity. This has been done to some degree by attempting to develop processes that can be easily and cheaply documented and easily reproduced, encouraging the participation of those who would normally be a passive audience member. This is done through creating performance scores and the creation of simple objects that, by the mere apprehension of them, the viewer has engaged directly in a performance.

These were general trends happening in the art world and in the culture at large at the time fluxus got started and, for me, fluxus became a basket that many related and not so related ideas got dropped into. The complexity of Fluxus rests in this fact and fluxus serves as a sort of smoking gun of the times in which it took shape. Our current experiment is to see if we can continue to keep shooting into the crowd with the same gun.

Cecil Touchon also maintains:http://fluxnexus.com, http://fluxcase.com, http://fluxmuseum.org and http://www.fluxshop.com/

Allen Bukoff on Fluxus

Recently, a graduate student named Claire posted some questions about Fluxus to the Fluxlist. Allen Bukoff, an artist who has been active in Fluxus for many years, and is one of the founding members of the Fluxlist, has posted a very interesting answer to her questions, which I am including in full here on The Fluxus Blog.

There are many different ways to understand Fluxus, no? Some are more useful than others (e.g., "Fluxus is about creativity" compared to "Fluxus is about art" compared to "Fluxus was the stuff George Maciunas was involved in"). A very broad way to understand Fluxus is to use the metaphor of the right and left brain–where the "right brain" is the intuitive, divergent, nonverbal, complex way of understanding things and the "left brain" is the rational, convergent, linear, verbal way of understanding things. With this metaphor, Fluxus can be thought of as the right brain's attempt to make the left brain act and operate (and enjoy things) like the right brain does. Fluxus is a set of activities, games, objects that the right brain uses to get the left-brain to play the right brain's game. This is not easy (one reason is that the left brain really likes to be the leader on all higher order cognitive tasks). And it is a "reversal" of much western intellectual history and accomplishment (even in Art). Our very verbal left-brained-tasked world is dependent on the left brain leading and using the right brain. While this strategy is powerful and has accomplished much (e.g., science and technology), it is incomplete. Fluxus COULD be thought of as the effort to explore, understand, and empower the right-brain's ability to lead and use the left brain for the purpose of extending human experience and advancing creativity.

I think this metaphor also helps explain the feeling that many of us have had that left-brain/analytic attempts to capture and analyze Fluxus are inherently misguided–they're essentially going in the wrong direction (i.e., ass-backward to the phenomenon). Yeah, even this one.

This is not about the right brain VERSUS the left brain, it's about how the two dance together (another metaphor) at certain times for certain tasks, and about who leads and to what effect. I think most of us recognize that Fluxus activities are both very right-brained AND very left-brained (e.g., good ones tickle the fancy and the funny bone of both). We might even view Fluxus efforts so far as being the exploratory "science" or "choreography" of this other important dance.

I think that this is a great fluxnarrative! It's different than other explanations that I can remember reading, but it is also an entirely comprehensible model of Fluxus, and it manages to look at Fluxus in a new way, without negating all of the "old" ways. The only "old" way that it does dismiss, is the "Fluxus as an Art Historical Movement Only", which has been dismissed anyway by artists who continue to work with Fluxus ideas. Allen Bukoff presents both an excellent explanation of what Fluxus is, and an excellent argument for why Fluxus continues to thrive today.

Fluxus for The Ears

In a previous post I talked about Visual Poetry as being "poetry for the eyes". Fluxus, being Intermedia, is all about the spaces in which different media intersect, so audio art, sound art, and noise recording, can be described as "art for the ears". In the late 20th century many artists trained in traditional visual theory and technique began to expand their artistic practice into the aural sphere. The most common audible art is familiar to most people in the form of the "sound track" to a video. When artists began producing motion picture art, whether in "high-tech" films, or using "low-tech" video cameras, sound was often incorporated to accompany the visual elements. This work is commonly referred to as being "multimedia". But at around the same time as some artists were producing art videos without sound, other artists began producing art audios without video imagery. This audio art has become in effect a new type of "visual" art, although it is invisible to the eyes.

Examples of my own audio art are on my website at; https://www.digitalsalon.com/revich-fluxus.html. There are many other examples of work on the Fluxus Podcast, maintained by Walter Cianciusi.

Sound Art on Wikipedia