Fluxus in Practical Terms

The Fluxus Blog has examined Fluxus in historical and theoretical terms. I have posited that Fluxus “happens when one feels that life and art must be taken so seriously, that it becomes impossible to take life or art seriously.” I have also previously posted several other ideas, theories, and views about Fluxus. But how would “you know it when you see it”? What characteristics of an artwork serve to identify the work as belonging to or related to Fluxus?

Historically many artists working in different media have related their work to Fluxus. However, there are really only two types of work that are nearly always related to Fluxus. They are “Event Scores” and “Fluxkits”.

Event Scores:
Event scores are similar to short musical scores or theatrical setting descriptions. Some are designed to be performed, and some are written to be read and imagined without ever actually being performed. Of those that are written to be performed, some may be designed to be performed only once and recorded (through written, photo, or video) documentation, while others are written so that they can be performed repaeatedly. Fluxus associated artists who have made extensive use of event scores in their work include Yoko Ono and George Brecht. The musical compositions of John Cage and the “Happenings” of Allan Kaprow are also closely related to Fluxus event scores.

Fluxkits, also sometimes call Fluxboxes are smallish (usually no larger than a shoebox or briefcase) objects that are collections of other objects that hold meaning to the artist and can be interacted with by the audience. Fluxkits have been produced as multiples in editions, and as unique, one-of-a-kind objects. Interactivity can consist of examination of the contents, rearrangement of the objects, or games in which the rules often resemble event scores. Artists who have received attention in the art-oriented mass media for their fluxkits and fluxboxes include George Maciunas (who coined the word “Fluxus”), Ay-O, and George Brecht. The first Fluxkits probably resulted from fresh interpretations of the work of dada artist, Marcel Duchamp, and have continued to influence present day Fluxus and mail artists.

Fluxus as Intermedia:
A third indicator of Fluxus relatedness is the concept of “intermedia”. Fluxus artists and historians have sometimes used the terms Fluxus and intermedia almost interchangeably. The important Fluxus artist, Dick Higgins, described Intermedia as a myriad of emerging genres that spilled across the boundaries of traditional media. In the interseces between the arts, mixed-media forms coalesced: Happenings, performance art, kinetic sculpture, and electronic theater (Higgins). Higgins suggests that Fluxus artists explore the territory that lies between art media and life media. The difficulty in using intermedia as a determinant to identifying a particular artists or artwork as Fluxus is that it is not easy to identify what kind of objects exist in “the territory between art media and life media”. However, performance art, video art, installation art, mail art, and time-based artworks are closely related to Fluxus even if not identified as such by either the artist or art critics.

It is safe to say that any work that closely resembles an Event Score or a Fluxkit/Fluxbox, is either Fluxus or is closely related to Fluxus. But Fluxus isn’t quite that simple. While Event Scores and Fluxkits are Fluxus, so are many other types of artwork. If a work is not an event score or a fluxkit, it can not be automatically implied that the work is not Fluxus. While the historical- theoretical core of Fluxus remains the strongest determinant to linking work to Fluxus, many Fluxus artists would argue that the only determinant of Fluxus “authenticity” is the artists “say-so”.

Please follow and like us: