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The main focus of this article will be on a specific subcategory of Fluxus output, namely Fluxus performances, or the so-called “event scores”. These event scores have been preserved mainly due to the effords of Ken Friedman, who collected the majority of them in the Fluxus Performance Workbook (henceforth, FPW)1. The main part of this article will consider the different compositional methods used in a subset of the Fluxus event scores, illustrated with ample use of examples and quotations. I will claim that many structures are immediately derivative from classical/modernist compostion techniques.
0.1 Early Fluxus & its Aesthetic Principles
Fluxus is derived from the Latin verb “to flow” and brings into mind Heraclites’ doctrine that man can never step into the same river twice. Fluxus started to be organized around 1962 by George Maciunas (1931-1978), a Lithuanian-born American artist. Many other artists involved, such as George Brecht, Jackson Mac Low and Dick Higgins had followed or were influenced by John Cage’s Experimental Composition classes at the New School for Social Research in New York City, many of which did not have any formal education in music at all. It is mainly accepted, though often contested, that the main Fluxus period (Early Fluxus) ended with the death of George Maciunas in 1978, although many artists have kept on using the denomination and even artists bron after that period have entitled themselves “Fluxus”. George Maciunas releases together with an inventory of official Fluxus artists the official definition of “Fluxus art-amusement”, as opposed to “Art” in 19652. Notice that the juxtaposition of the “Fluxus art-amusement” definition and “Art” is already in itself a compositional method. By juxtaposing the two definitions (whilst simultaneously giving a defitition of “Art”!), Maciunas opens up a metanarrative on the relation between mainstream art and Fluxus, and by doing so, points to the conceptual space in which many of the Fluxus event scores take place; the metanarrative of this definition is similar to the metanarrative in which Fluxus performances find their structure, and in this sense it is not the literal definition of “Fluxus art-amusement” that Maciuans proposes below, that counts, but the space in which the conflict between the two defintions happens that is of value to my
From http://www.performance-research.net/pages/epublications.html#fluxus Fluxus Perfomance Workbook (2002), eds. Friedman, K., Smith, O. & Sawchyn, L. 2 Mr. Fluxus (1997), eds. Williams, E & Noël Ann, Thames and Hudson Ltd, London, p.88
FLUXUS ART-AMUSEMENT To establish artist’s non-professional status in society. pretentious. Fluxus should be simple. Notice also that the form and socio-historical context of a “definition” conflict with the claims put forward in that same definition. serious. and texts to create new combinations of objects. He must demonstrate the dependability of audience upon him. Therefore. If it isn’t fun. obtainable by all and eventually produced by all. theatrical.org/wiki/Fluxus and other sources. Therefore.analysis. massproduced. He must demonstrate artist’s dispensability and inclusiveness. inspired. ART To justify artist’s professional. It is the fusion of Spike Jones. Fluxus art-amusement is the rear-guard without any pretention or urge to participate in the competition of “one-upmanship” with the avant-garde. Again. intellectual. and the performances are brief Fluxus should be fun. art must appear to be complex. gag. amusing. a game or gag. the juxtaposition of the two definitions succesfully cancels and surpasses this morphological problem. Vaudeville. It must appear to be valuable as commodity so as to provide the artist with an income. sounds. He must demonstrate the selfsufficiency of the audience. images and texts. unpretentious. concerned with insignificances. He must demonstrate that no one but the artist can do art. This formulation by Maciunas has been generally adapted and eventually boiled down to five charateristics by scholars and other Fluxus artists alike3: 0 0 0 Fluxus is an attitude. the texts are short. skillfull. children’s games and Duchamp. He must demonstrate artist’s indispensability and exclusiveness. sounds. Fluxus like to see what happens when different media intersect. art is made to appear rare. . which somehow clashes with its 3 From http://en. Fluxus is intermedia. it isn’t Fluxus. To raise its value (artist’s income and patron’s profit). 0 0 Notice that the interplay between Maciunas’ original defintions4 has now been lost and replaced by a rigid five-point definition. art-amusement must be simple. The value of art-amusement must be lowered by making it unlimited. He must demonstrate that anything can be art and anyone can do it. limited in quantity and therefore obtainable and accessible only to the social elite and institutions. not a movement or a style. Fluxus creators like to mix things up. It strives for the monostructural and nontheatrical qualities of a simple natural event. profound. parasitic and elite status in society.wikipedia. The art is small. significant. reuiqre no skill or countless rehearsals. have no commodity or institutional value. They use found and everyday objects. images.
Ken Friedman. 5 It would be beyond the scope of this article to analyze the concept of simplicity heren but elucidating excerpts from John Maeda’s Laws of Simplicity can be found at is homepage: http://lawsofsimplicity. Fluxus has been analyzed within art history from a sociopolitical or arthistorical perspective. Galerie Schüppenhauer. but many have a considerable compositional complexity. natural event. there was not much innovation in Fluxus performance art..g. T. Fluxus also does fit 4 Note that Maciunas’ presentation method of the manifesto. Unfortunately. mainly because some of the most eyecatching features of the movement. despite the claims made for them by [George] Maciunas […]. the semantic space that is probed and researched in the event compositions has indeed shed a bright new light on the linguistic organization of time. game or gag. but a lot of play. few Fluxus events had more revolutionary potential than a stampcollecting convention. 12 . social criticism. Köln. realizes this defect later on his career.”7 Although the events themselves might not have the “revolutionary potential”. too complex and multiple to fit into the simple outlines of contemporary art. the body of Fluxus work is much more diverse. objets trouvés/musique concrète. classical composition techniques were translated into the space of the concept. short or brief. thus opening up possibilities that had never existed before. is precursive to Derrida’s masterpiece Glas (1974). Also. Fluxus performances are not generally small. They might have one or several aspects.com/category/laws?order=ASC. In my opinion. complex and incoherent. Conceptual Art (1998). a close analysis of the resemblences is beyond the scope of this article. are presumably best analyzed from these perspectives. 0. Many aspects of classical performances. #4 generalizes this to “Fluxus art should be simple”5. However. As I will illustrate below.2 Approaches to Fluxus Mainly. Whereas Maciunas talks about the “monostructural and nontheatrical qualities of a simple. In this sense. juxtaposition. neo-dadaism. characteristic #4 seems to me a gross generalization of the subtle statement Maciunas makes on simplicity.”. when he writes the event score: Ken Friedman – Fluxus is Dead (1989) Send someone the smallest sculpture you own.104 7 Fluxus Virus (1992). p. We have to conclude that. dadaist performances and language games are explored within the dense output of the Fluxus movement. or stand in a complex relation with art (history). p. space and action. e. which adhere to these qualities. which has frequently compelled critics to put forth claims such as “[…].”6 Other authors contrarily claim that “Fluxus was always a phenomenon on its own.content. the editor of the FPW. and clearing the way for the conceptual art movement. 6 Godfrey. which juxtaposed texts by/on Hegel and Genet.
K. and not about the artworks produced. It must be noted that the FPW itself is considered part of the Fluxus output and therefore not historically neutral: many artists that were related to Fluxus. one equally doesn’t consider Catholic religion when formally analysing counterpoint technique in medieval motets. I disagree with denotation of Fluxus as “anti-art”. on equal level and without content. 0. have not been included in the corpus. Although the intention of the movement might be analyzed as anti-art-establishment. This is truly an important gesture and is definitely worth more analysis than this concise paper is able to give. Academy Editions. or have produced only a few Fluxus pieces. Finally. This article does not aim to consider the sociopolitical context of the Fluxus movement in the compositional analysis. Fluxus is revolutionary in opening up a completely new domain for the arts. p.in into “the outlines of contemporary art”: Fluxus helped to define and develop them. is nothing more than a metacompositional statement about the movement and the community. this is not a paper that deals with questions such as “what is beautiful?” or “what is art?”. Moreover.”8. amongst others. West Sussex UK. ed Friedman. I will claim. György Ligeti. and is therefore most suited for the survey that I will be undertaking on the compositional methods employed by Fluxus artists. the FPW offers the most comprehensive and organized collection of Fluxus performances. are highly influenced by tools and structures employed in the history of music and performance. such as Emmett Williams’ famous elocution “Fluxus is what Fluxus does – but no one know whodunit. which have been “expelled” from Fluxus by George Maciunas nonetheless are included. which in itself is immediate descendent of the Fluxus scores. the following analysis of Fluxus pieces follows the indexation from the FPW. only to be applied to a different domain: the domain of concepts. In this sense. However. It deals quite straightforwardly with the question “what is a well-constructed Fluxus composition and how is it constructed?”. 8 Quote from: The Fluxus Reader (1998). whereas Scandinavian Fluxus-related artists such as Bengt af Klingberg. Although this context is quintessential to grasp the “feel” of this movement. these types of claims have lead critics to reduce the whole body of work to “Fluxus whimsy”. the compositional methods that have largely been used. The claim from the movement itself that all artworks are alike.viii . such as composers from the Darmstadt school..3 The Fluxus Performance Workbook As mentioned above.
which causes an information overload with the performer. George Brecht and Ben Vautier extended it to Ready- . Theme & Variations The first analysis will focus on several works by George Brecht. whereas rhythm. a sonata by Chopin is more or less restrictive on time (duration. space. and the restriction of restriction itself. velocity. John Cage extended it to Ready-Made sound. This broader application of restriction as I will use it means defining the borders of concepts such as time. which extrapolate one of the main compositional forms in classical composition – theme & variation – into the realm of concepts and ideas. a variation on a theme is constrained by parameters. a theme can be recognized and defined by those restrictions. and similarly serve as a connection. an “event tends to be scored in brief verbal notations. propositions or instructions. harmony. harmony and tonality are variable. and provides a first guideline for an in depth aesthetical analysis. as a source of creativity and uniqueness. shared nature of the theme and variations. Early serial works by Stockhausen or Boulez are very restrictive on nearly all parameters. medium. Thus. but very restrictive on medium (piano). and instructions. within the conceptual space left by the restrictions. George Maciunas. noise. building blocks of this melody. length). which are already present in theme itself. It is exactly this conceptual space that is stretched and explored within the context of restrictions different from and transcending traditional notions of rhythm and harmony. In a general sense. number of performers. for example. velocity (rhythm). more specifically those on the variations. propositions. the content is stressed instead of form and composition. and. they are sometimes known as proposal pieces. in movement-internal analyses of Brecht’s and others’ Fluxus pieces. etc. 1. the composer is free to play with the thematic material. A variation is related to the original melody by several keynotes and length.According to the introduction of FPW. For example. it means the opposite of abstraction. These notes are known as event scores. puts forth the following claim: “Concertism is a simple term. Fluxus performances play with the categories of restriction. Thus. The Ready-Made is the most concrete thing. Theme and variation structures have been present in Western music history ever since medieval music. These restrictions. tonality and keynotes are restrictions in tonal material. they are proposals. provide a focus on the underlying melody and the main concepts. However. while composers such as Ferneyhough use severe restriction.” This analysis focuses on the external (linguistic/semantic) form of the Fluxus performances. Moreover. Length and rhythm are restrictions in time.
R. Drip Music. Drip Music. in: Hapgood. Observe: George Brecht – Word Event (1961) Exit. George Brecht – Drip Music. position (on a tall ladder. but is more specific on the number of performers (two). S. Fluxversion 1 contains similar instructions. George Brecht wrote several other sets of pieces consisting of one thematic version (like Drip Music. George Brecht – Drip Music. N. (1994) Dada and Fluxus. New York. such as Jill Johnston. rain. These three pieces from the early Fluxus period give already a broad illustration of the compositional methods used in performance pieces.VCH Publishers.”11 George Brecht – Drip Music (1959) For single or multiple performance.”9 What Maciunas ignores is. in playing position) and duration (very slowly). All three pieces fit into the description outlined above. This is also stated by artists from the same period. e. Drip Music contains several instructions. Drip Music. the vessel (the bell of a French horn or tuba). 9 Quote from: Fluxus Today and Yesterday (1993). can constitute successful performances. or a proposition “it is stated that there is dripping”. Similarly to the the Drip Music pieces. that although the content of many of the Fluxus performance pieces may be “Ready-Made”. 11 Quote from: Johnston. Second Version contains a verb. for Fluxus actions became as methodical as Cage in their means of production.8 10 One can see an interesting parallel with Maciunas’s treatment of “definition” in the case of his Fluxus art-amusement definition. the form is dictated by classical principles10. Universe Publishing. Both the active creation of a dripping event as in Drip Music and a passive “objet trouvé” type of dripping.. Second Version) and one more constricted variation (fluxversion)..94 . the source of the water (pitcher). Khambatta. p. talking about a performance: “[…]. A source of dripping water and an empty vessel are arranged so that the water falls into the vessel. Fluxversion 1 sets the most parameters for a performance and is in that sense the most restricted of the three Drip Music pieces. Second Version (1959) Dripping. outside the Fluxus movement.. Hodges. eds. Cambridge UK. L. like turning on the light. p.g. which can either be a proposal “let’s do some dripping”. Trentham. (1994) Neo-Dada. J.Made actions. Fluxversion 1 (1959) First performer on a tall ladder pours water from a pitcher very slowly into the bell of a French horn or tuba held in the playing position by a second performer at floor level.
realizes the mistake. The thematic version is very straightforward in its description.George Brecht – Word Event. And: George Brecht – Saxophone Solo (1962) Trumpet. Brecht uses these fluxversions to explore the variety of possible interpretations of the thematic piece in terms of restrictions on one or more of its aspects. Fluxversion 1 (1962) The piece is announced. The expression of the performance within language however. The two restrictions are formulated as a negative restriction. Therefore negation presents a revolutionary tool in the realm of composition. In both abovementioned cases. Fluxversion 1 (1966) Performer drums with drum sticks or drum brushes over the surface of wet mud or thick glue until brushes or sticks get stuck and can’t be lifted. Notice that negation is primarily and uniquely a linguistic operation. A similar formulation was already implicitly present in Saxophone Solo. An elaborate example is the series For a Drummer for which he designs seven Fluxversions. places it on a stand. puts it quickly back in the case and exits. does offer this novel possibility. Performer enters stage with an instrument case. George Brecht – For a Drummer. . there is no such thing – except for an occasional “do not hurry!” in a sonata – as formal negation in classical music. opens it and pulls out a trumpet. George Brecht – For a Drummer (For Eric) (1966) Drum on something you have never drummed on before. the fluxversion is more restrictive than the thematic version. One or both of the complementary conceptual spaces that are presented in the thematic version are explored in the seven fluxversions. Fluxversion 1 (1961) The audience is instructed to leave the theatre. where the opposition saxophone/trumpet caused a similar solution from contradiction/negation. which is a linguistic method occasionaly used in Fluxus performances in order to access the conceptual space complementary to the common preformance praxis. George Brecht – Saxophone Solo. Drum with something you have never drummed with before.
until the feathers have escaped. respectively: until the brushes get stuck. the first negative restriction is expored in several ways. George Brecht – For a Drummer. George Brecht – For a Drummer. Fluxversion 3 (1966) Performer drums over drum with 2 ends of slightly leaking leather hose. In these three fluxversions. The main compositional feature in comparison with the other fluxversions is the inclusion of a second performer. respectively: surface of mud or glue. from which we can conclude that the period seperating the instructions in the thematic piece must be interpreted as an “exclusive or”. Fluxversions 3 and 5 do not. and 5 all focus on the second restriction of the general piece.George Brecht – For a Drummer. George Brecht – For a Drummer. All three performances are to be done with common drumming equipment (sticks/brushes). As one can see clearly from the abovementioned examples. respectively: rolled newspapers. vessel. Fluxversion 5 (1966) Performer dribbles a ping-pong ball between hand-held racket and drum skin. George Brecht – For a Drummer. Fluxversions 3. Fluxversion 7 (1966) Performer drums with brushes inside a vessel filled with cream until the cream is thick. All three pieces are implicitly restricted in medium/instrument. and in time. Fluxversion 4 (1966) Performer drums over drums with rolled newspaper until the rolls disintegrate. pillow. 4. Fluxversion 2 (1966) Performer drums with sticks over a leaking feather pillow making the feathers escape the pillow. these types of Fluxus performances are composed according to the classical theme/variation method. leather hose. Fluxversion 4 also includes a restriction on time: until disintegration. George Brecht – For a Drummer. The medium/instrument is common drumming equipment (drums). but in the completely unrestricted space of number of performers. until the cream is thick. In FPW there one can track . racket/ping-pong ball. Fluxversion 6 (1966) Performer drums with mallets or hammers on a helmet worn by another performer. Not only George Brecht used this compositional method. Fluxversion 6 is standing out from the rest since the main exploration is not conducted in the medium/instrument or the equipment. which are played by.
by sinking through the floor. George Brecht: No Smoking Event (1961). Marriage Ceremony (1967). Milan Knizak: A Week (1966). e.). etc. instead of content contradicting title. Jed Curtis – Music for My Son (date unknown) Do not prepare for the performance and even try to forget that in a short time you will be performing. no.1 More on Negative Restrictions Although. by becoming someone else. Selection Event (1991). there aren’t many pieces12. by hiding. Anthony Cox: Tactical Pieces for Orchestra. Eric Anderson: Opus 46 (1963). Dick Higgins: Danger Music No. never. For Mr M. or at least not during the time of its publication. The same holds for Bici Forbes. in this case the content of the performance forces the performer (if wise) the cease his existence. Like/Don’t Like (1981). The whole context of performing is denied. This use of negation in an existential manner can also be found in a piece by Bici Forbes: Bici Forbes – Become invisible (1966) a. nor in his 1966 Fluxus diagram. negation is a novel. simply do something appropriate. Fluxversion I (1966). Moreover.similar works by Mieko Shiomi: Wind Music. Ben Vautier: Nothing (1962).2. by distracting everybody else from your physical presence. Jed Curtis – Music for Wise Men (date unknown) Commit suicide Music for My Son stresses the absence of any preparation for the performance. by going away. 12 From the approximately 570 event scores in the FPW only 20 contain an overtly expressed negation (not. Stage Fright Event (1991). When the time of the performance comes. and Ben Vautier: Monochrome for Yves Klein. Jackson Mac Low: Thanks (1960-1). as I mentioned above. Mirror Piece No. Larry Miller: 200 Yard Candle Dash (1970). except Brecht’s For a Drummer. Takehisa Kosugi: Distance for Piano (1965). g. . 13 Notice also that Jed Curtis is not listed in George Maciunas official 1965 inventory list of Fluxus artists. Peter Frank: Breaking Event (1988).31 (1963). compositional tool. Ken Friedman: Mandatory Happening (1966). There are two pieces by Jed Curtis13 listed in the FPW. Falling Event. 1. which exploit this concept. Mieko Shiomi: Wind Music. d. by concentrating so hard on some object or idea that you cease to be aware of your physical presence. powerful. by ceasing to exist. b. h.2. Mirror Piece No.2 (1966). However. whence the performance is “on”. Music for Wise Men features a complex relationship between title and content just like Brecht’s Saxophone Solo. by divesting yourself of all distinguishing marks. c. these pieces often deal with “negation” in terms of absence and generally have a Zen-like touch to them. Fluxversion II (1963). Ken Friedman (editor of the FPW) was also never part of the movement according to this inventory. f. Event for the Late Afternoon. which is stressed by “doing something appropriate”. Then again. For a Drummer (1966). Mirror Piece no. and even the performance itself. Wind Music no.2.
By putting restrains on the peripheral aspects of a “classical” performance. 2. a quote from Jill Johnston (ibid. George Maciunas – Composition no. paradoxical and inconcievable. we might conclude that the exploration of the realm of negative contexts has. the focus shifts from the content to the context.12 (1962) Let piano movers carry piano out of the stage. since it embodies in its grandeur the apex of classical performance culture14. This technique involves the amplification of or (extreme) focus on the peripheral aspects of or relationships within the performance praxis. once again. 14 Cf. next to (negative) restriction is the deconstruction of praxis. This is very well illustrated in the series 12 Piano Compositions for Nam June Paik by George Maciunas. and focus on the preparatory phase of a concert15. never been explored exhaustively. The main instrument in most of these types of pieces is the grand piano. never performable performance of this piece: to perform and simultaneously to do nothing. restriction. see also Ben Vautier’s Orchestra Piece no. is definitely one of the pieces with the strongest restriction on them. this is truly one of the toughest event scores ever written.1 and No.12 are the cornerstone pieces of 12 Piano Compositions. No. George Maciunas – Composition no. on first sight. One of the tools to do so is.98) “A grand piano on stage always signalled its unconventional use. Although the content.Ben Vautier’s piece Nothing. Jacques (1985) Noise – The Political Economy of Music. University of Minnesota Press. “[…] the piano. p. there is actually only one singular. The Deconstruction of Praxis: Recycling of Classical Composition Techniques Another key concept. George Maciunas – Composition no.4 . From the absence of pieces similar to Brecht’s For a Drummer. of which I will analyze a few below.119 15 For an orchestral variation. Ben Vautier – Nothing (1962) Performers do nothing.2 (1962) Tune the piano. within the Fluxus movement.” Also.1 (1962) Let piano movers carry piano into the stage. which for the bourgeoisie was a means of gaining access to a simulacrum of the representation of music and romantic culture” Attali. suggests an open piece with many possibilities. p.
George Maciunas – Composition no.9 comments on the visual aspect of a piano recital: no performance is successful if the piano is not in view. which are hence the center points of the dramatic action. other pieces stress the physicality of the performance and aim for a more literal deconstruction of the piano. The last two compositions by Maciunas comment on the relation between the performer and the audience. Similarly.6 (1962) Stretch the 3 highest strings with a tuning key until they break. No.11 on the external preparation. George Maciunas – Composition no. and No. These pieces have often symbolized the whole Fluxus movement because of their potential scandalous outcome: the complete destruction of the instrument. Notice that both performaces aim for a highly audible effect: all keys sounding at once.George Maciunas – Composition no. Also. George Maciunas – Composition no. Both performances focus on the mechanics of playing piano: depressing keys and the exertion of force on stretched strings (hammering). when tuned). and the breaking of the highest strings. Whereas the pieces mentioned above focus on the deconstruction of the classical praxis. George Maciunas – Composition no.10 focuses on the practice of handing out/selling accompanying booklets before a piano recital.9 (1962) Draw a picture of a piano so that the audience can see the picture. observe the apparent symmetry. This amplifies the effect of the composition. No.2 focuses on the internal preparation of the piano.10 (1962) Write a sign reading: piano composition #10 and show the audience the sign. These booklets provide the audience information on the performer. the pieces that will be played and the general context of the evening/location. All four abovementioned pieces are restricted in medium (piano) and time (when carried into/out of the stage. Composition no. The following centerpieces deal on several levels with the praxis of a piano recital. Restriction is only posed on (unusual) way of depressing/stretching.4 (1962) Using a straight stick the length of the keyboard sound all keys together. wax and polish it well.11 (1962) Wash the piano. Following pieces fit into this picture: Jackson Mac Low – Piano Suite for David Tudor and John Cage (1961) . the focus on the performance praxis.
he lifts the great lid suddenly. 4. Performer produces sounds at points of piano previously determined by him. glass vases. Toshi Ichiyanagi – Music for Piano No. chess pieces. bricks. Thomas Schmit – Piano Piece no. The playfulness can be easily transformed into destruction. etc. Mac Low’s piece has a structure similar to Maciunas’ Compositions. Distance for Piano (to David Tudor) touches on this topic. rubber balls. 2. the violence that is . The playfulness exhibited in Mac Low’s. in a way child’s play often ends in outbursts of violence. and to lesser extend Kosugi’s. Tune the piano. The piano must be placed so that when the lid opens. Similarly. Assistants may move piano to change distance and direction to directions of the performer.5. – on the closed lid of a grand piano. the objects slide toward the audience. Carefully reassemble the piano. piece is more prominent in the following pieces by Ichiyanagi and Schmit. All parts cut or cast or forged as one piece must remain as one piece.1 (1962) Performer places various objects – toys. The pedal is fixed in a depressed position. Fluxversion (date unknown) An upright piano is positioned at the center stage with its profile toward the audience. wood blocks. concrete blocks. etc. 3. He may arrange these objects very carefully and with deliberation. Performer does not touch piano directly by any part of his body. throws darts into the back of the piano according to the time pattern indicated in the score. the actual execution is a complex task. He may construct a building out of the blocks. it deconstructs part of the classical performance and although the instructions sound easy and straightforward. When he has completed his arrangement. or arrange the chess pieces. Destruction is also the most effective way to comment on the kathartic element of classical performance. Do not break any parts or separate parts joined by gluing or welding (unless welding apparatus & experienced welder are available for the 2nd movement!). in a piece by Takehisa Kosugi. Carefully disassemble the piano. Takeshi Kosugi – Distance for Piano (to David Tudor) (1965) Performer positions himself at some distance from the piano from which he should not move. hidden from view in the wings. or arrange the various toys. A performer. Play something. The complexity of the instrument becomes a metaphor for the complexity of the performance.(any number of persons may participate in one or more of the movements) 1. but may manipulate other objects to produce sound on piano thourgh them.
He takes a stage position as far as possible. crashing into the piano with helmeted head. although they are less abstract and more restricted. Interesting about Choice 16 is that time is not only restricted by the state of the piano. Robert Bozzi – Choice 16 (1966) A piano is lifted by means of a windlass to the height of 2 meters and then dropped. Choice 16 is quite similar to Schmit’s Sanitas no. i. is generally known to be performed in the same way but not found in the FPW. tool.g. Whereas Schmit avoids any reference to the spatial context. late Chopin) and subsequently atonal music and musique concrète is extended to the physical mutilation of the instrument. is on the physical presence of the instrument. space. Robert Bozzi – Choice 3 (1966) A piano is on stage. Bozzi stresses it.151 in its language and effect. They depress the pedals and crash the pianos into each other several times. is mentioned.present in the dissonance of the late-romantic era (e. Choice 3 introduces restrictions on the performer and focuses on the troubled relationship between performer and instrument. Wagner. The performer enters wearing a crash helmet. Notice in the instruction no performer. but also by the state of performance area. Fluxvariation 1 (date unknown)16 All the piano keys of a chromatic scale are nailed down. 16 George Maciunas’ Piano Piece #13 (for Nam June Paik). Robert Bozzi – Choice 5 (1966) Two pianists sit behind pianos. which doesn’t focus on the physicality of the instrument.151. the destruction of the piano. Robert Bozzi specifically excels in the creation of such pieces. Emmett Williams – Emotional Duet (1962) Performer A inflicts pain upon himself. This is repeated until the piano or the floor is destroyed. Thomas Schmit – Sanitas no. and therefore direct focus. In relation to Choice 5. there has to be one. color etc. but on the physicality of the performer and the emotional strain of a performance.e. Performer B inflicts pain upon herself.streamos. which is quite similar to Thomas Schmit’s piece. duration. a piece by Emmett Williams is also noteworthy. The only restriction. He lowers his head and dashes toward the piano at top speed.mov .com/download/sonicyouth/videos/hires/piano. An excellent performance of this piece by Sonic Youth can be found at: http://boss.
which is often quoted as one the foundations of mutual understanding – or by question–answer games. and drag him back to the piano. Ben Vautier – Paino Concerto no. Nam June Paik was used for his physical agility and expression18.Performer A inflicts pain upon performer B. Emmett Williams – Duet for Performer and Audience (1961) Performer waits silently on stage for audible reaction from audience. Note that there are restrictions on the sex of the performers (one male.2 for Paik17. Performer B inflicts pain upon performer A. Cf. bows and walks to the piano. Apart from an analysis of the physicality of a perfomer. In both pieces by Williams. p. Many pieces consider these relationships. The final relationships internal to the praxis of performance is the connection between the performer(s) and the audience and the audience to itself. he jumps from the stage and runs to the exit. Ben Vautier – Concerto for Audience by Audience (1964) 17 18 FPW also lists exactly the same performance as Emmett Williams: Piano Concerto for Paik no. and this piece is therefore very much suited for him as a soloist. this can be on a very basic level – imitation. One of such pieces is Ben Vautier’s Piano Concerto no. Again. Richard (1999) György Ligeti. these relationships are worked out systematically. Once again it seems that although Fluxus “abolished” classical art forms. When the [player] is finally returned to the piano. the lights are turned off. Also the often problematic relationship between soloist and orchestra is deconstructed and reassembled.2 for Paik (1965) Orchestra members seat themselves and wait for the pianist. of which I will present some below.2.81. Emmett Williams – For La Monte Young (1962) Performer asks if La Monte Young is in the audience. which he imitates. The ultimate consequence of this line of conceptual inquiry is the complete absence of the performer or the merge of the performer with the audience: the audience becomes performer. catch him. Phaidon London UK. . one female). it is also an interesting counterpoint to the classical pas-de-deux in ballet. the amusing anecdote in Toop. Not only the relation between performer. stage and instrument is explored. the main target of the performance is communication with the audience. their often comical commentary is grounded in classical forms. Upon reaching the piano. The pianist enters. Orchestra members must run after him.
Robert Watts – Washroom (1962) The local national anthem or another appropriate tune is sung or played in the washroom under the supervision of uiformed attendent. such as Washroom. focusing on absurd or paradoxal proposals. Metadadaism Next to the compositional methods used. which provides an obvious reference to Duchamp’s famous Fountain. These last two pieces (among many others by Ben Vautier) complete the Fluxus analysis of the classical realm of performance and the recycling of classical composition procedures. which I think of minor interest. but with its trace. Talk together. 2. its narrative. but can also be located in several other neo-dadaist pieces. Change places. Most of these pieces commented on developments during the dadaist/surreaist period. Several of these types of pieces were created by Robert Watts. This is already clear for the Washroom piece. If the audience does not respond to the invitation. C/S Trace and similar pieces do not deal with the actual firing or landing of the object. 3. These pieces are usually molded around a neo-dadaist approach. Give something to your neighbor. the Fluxus pieces usually commented on a metalevel to the environment. instruments should be distributed among them. Luce Fierens – Possible Flux Performances or Post Flux Games (1987. there are a few categories of Fluxus peerformance pieces.and festivities. Whereas dadaism focuses on direct action. in public spaces. most notably the Exit pieces by Ay-O. Robert Watts – C/S Trace (1963) An object is fired from a cannon at a cymbal. sit on the orchestra seats and play for 3 minutes.The audience is invited to come to the stage. Several other pieces are connected with the itenerary to and from a performance. Whereas dadaist performances usually involved very concrete act. . take instruments that are provided to them. excerpt) Go to the nearest café and wait for Godot! Most of these pieces were to be performed outside the classical environment of the performance hall. Sometimes the reference is even more direct as in Luce Fierens’ Possible Flux Performances or Post Flux Games. Ben Vautier – Three Pieces for Audiences (1964) 1. 3.
Having made your decision. 19 Interestingly. http://en. and research into the pieces that were missing/omitted from the FPW. the happening is over. The inevitability of the piece sublimates the metadadaist qualities. the play with compositional methods and imposes an extreme restriction on the performer19. and has a radical quality similar to previously mentioned Ben Vautier’s Nothing. Conclusion In the previous sections I have aimed to initiate the research into the structural properties of Fluxus performance art on several levels. The cause of this shift is mostly due to the fact that all the performances are written. which is common throughout the FPW and the play with the instructions themselves. I have touched on theme/variation principles. Ken Friedman – Mandatory Happening (1966) You will decide to read or not read this instruction. Mandatory Happening is indeed a performance that cannot possibly not happen once initiated. As a final note I would like to quote Friedman’s Mandatory Happening.this category of Fluxus output is more referential to action: meta-action. 4. it is specifically this piece that is resonated in the viral game “The Game”: it cannot be not played. A more complete analysis of the whole Fluxus performances would obviously include performance praxis and its sociopolical context.wikipedia. The contextual and performative extremities that are required by the Fluxus event scores have paved the way for the all later body/performance artists that we know and love. thus providing space for language game techniques such as the play with titles.org/wiki/The_Game_%28game%29 . deconstruction of praxis and so-called metadadaist approaches to organizing the conceptual performance space and the linguistic methods that can be employed to do so.