Design 3

Visual Organization + Communication Design

Fluxus at MoMA

After our recent visit to the MoMA I thought I would take a moment to post some notes related to some of the things that we saw in the Fluxus exhibition.

I would also like to pose a question for you to ponder and discuss.

What is a book?

As you consider your response, move beyond your assumptions and received perceptions about what you think and thing is. Lets ask ourselves what a book could become in form, content, and experience.  I hope our discussion leads us to something new as we prepare to work on creating books in class.

Installation photo by Thomas Griesel

Installation photo by Thomas Griesel

Here is an image of the book Fluxus-1, 1963, by George Maciunas. It is a wonderful example of how questioning the assumptions of tradition and format for something as simple as a book can lead us into new ideas, forms, experiences and understanding.

A Fluxus 1 yearbox assembled by George Maciunas c.1964

A Fluxus 1 yearbox assembled by George Maciunas c.1964

Fluxus 1, detail book in the box.

Fluxus 1, detail book in the box.

Fluxus 1, Detail nuts and bolts binding.

Fluxus 1, Detail nuts and bolts binding.

Notes on Fluxus

Fluxus according to the Oxford University Press and an essay on MoMA’s website is an “Informal international group of avant-garde artists working in a wide range of media and active from the early 1960s to the late 1970s. Their activities included public concerts or festivals and the dissemination of innovatively designed anthologies and publications, including scores for electronic music, theatrical performances, ephemeral events, gestures and actions constituted from the individual’s everyday experience. Other types of work included the distribution of object editions, correspondence art and concrete poetry. According to the directions of the artist, Fluxus works often required the participation of a spectator in order to be completed.

The name Fluxus, taken from the Latin for ‘flow’, was originally conceived by the American writer, performance artist and composer George Maciunas (1931–78) in 1961 as the title for a projected series of anthologies profiling the work of such artists as the composer La Monte Young (b 1935), George Brecht, Yoko Ono, Dick Higgins (b 1928), Ben, Nam June Paik and others engaged in experimental music, concrete poetry, performance events and ‘anti-films’ (e.g. Paik’s imageless Zen for Film, 1962). In a manifesto of 1962 (‘Neo-Dada in Music, Theater, Poetry, Art’, in J. Becker and W. Vostell: Happenings, Fluxus, Pop Art, Nouveau Réalisme, Hamburg, 1965), Maciunas categorized this diversity under the broad heading of ‘Neo-Dada’ and stressed the interest shared by all the artists in manifesting time and space as concrete phenomena. Influences of Fluxus noted by Maciunas included John Cage’s concrete music (1939) and intermedia event at Black Mountain College, NC (1952), with Merce Cunningham, Robert Rauschenberg and others; the Nouveaux Réalistes; the work of Ben; the concept art of Henry Flynt (b 1940); and Duchamp’s notion of the ready-made.

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This entry was posted on October 4, 2011 by in Art, Books, Exhibition, Typography.

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