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.

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peetee says:

What’s there to understand?

I’m curious to know why you guys feel the need to wrap a flag around what you do? To be part of a ‘movement’… to have a ‘model’… to join a club?… Aren’t artists essentially outsiders?…

Allan says:

What makes you think that “we guys” are part of a ‘movement’ or club? Which ‘guys’ are you referring to anyway?

peetee says:

It was a serious question. I would genuinely like to know. Can you offer any kind of explanation or comment?

What makes you think that

Allan says:

Hi Peetee,

I’m sorry if you found my response to be “defensive”.

May I suggest the following two books that you will find very helpful if you are genuinely curious, and are seeking information beyond the condensed narratives that I post on the Fluxus Blog:

1) The Fluxus Experience by Hannah Higgins
2) Fluxus: The History of an Attitude, by Owen Smith

peetee says:


Thanks, I’ll check them out. (May take a while as I’m currently in a non-English speaking country). If they don’t answer my original question I’ll be back!

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