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 <EH;MEH:8O@ED>;D:H?9AI

 FH;<79;

 The Chronographic Chart
 Visual Enlightenment
 Cinematographic Vision Machine

 Evolution of the Russian State
 Mapping History
 History Mapping
 From Space-Time Atlas to Time-Space Chart

 History as Chronology
 Making Capitalism History
 Focus on Russia
 Cyclical Time
 Mapping Art History

 Premiere at the Kleines Sommerfest
 Festum Fluxorum
 Fluxus Goes East
 Finite Invention
 Historical Development of Fluxus
 Expanded Arts Diagram
 Who Is Fluxus?
 The Big Chart
 Genealogy of Fluxus
 The Tree of Cage
 Historical Design and Dependence
 Fluxus Chronology

 Mapping Knowledge
 Net-Works
 Vision of Networking
 The Eternal Classifier
 Plain Narratives, Significant Narratives
 Richard Kostelanetz, a Pioneer of Diagrammatics
 Small-scale Model

 FB7J;I

 Notes
 Index
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There are, of course, numerous ways of looking at the world—of digesting information—
and spitting out a useful strategy for moving forward. Our minds are constantly function-
ing this way: getting across the street, choosing a movie to see, choosing a mate, analyzing
financial data. Numerous forces influence our decisions: people have been injured crossing
the street at that particular spot; the critics all loved a particular movie, but your best friend
hated it; you and your potential mate are both of the same religion, but you love books and
he’s a techno nerd, and even though you are both physically attracted to each other, your
introspection and his extrovertedness seem to be turning you off; the financial data re-
ported in the media contradicts your own gut judgment.

George Maciunas was constantly gathering data and devising ways to store it and to access
it. Of course he was doing this in his mind, as one would expect, but he loved to work out
systems. The data covered numerous subjects, from hardware supplies to wigs, from Ro-
manesque architecture to detailed notes on Yoriaki Matsudaira’s scores, and biographical
information, together with a contact print portrait, all on an eight-by-thirteen centimeter
index card. Maciunas’ curiosity was prodigious: when drawing up plans for the “Circum-
navigation of the World with 145 Ft Converted Mine Sweeper, 1976–1984,” he anticipated
making stops in Pukapuka, Majuro Atoll, Celebes, Rameshwaram, Gwalior, Latakia, Baalbek,
Sochi, Vologda, Bornholm, Blois, Carcassonne, and Cape Verde, and bringing along a crew
that would include a dentist, a marine biologist, a cinematographer, and an art historian,
among other skills. The crew were to be the passengers. He accompanied the plans with
detailed itineraries:


The untrained sailor Maciunas’ plans to equip the minesweeper included:

The plan was that the crew/passengers would be as “self-sustaining as possible” and their
responsibilities would include fishers and food collectors.

When Maciunas developed plans for a Fluxus island—Ginger Island in the British Virgin
Islands—he prepared a list (with both scientific name and common name) of nine nut trees,
twenty-two vegetables, and forty-nine fruit trees to be planted on the barren island with
nearly one third of the year without rainfall. Maciunas even envisaged a Fluxus airline, with
Joe Jones as the pilot. Brooklyn Joe Jones! I don’t even think he knew how to drive a car.
But I believe he was planning to take some pilot lessons. However, after the tragic death of
Ken Dewey in his small plane, barred from landing in New Jersey because of the fog and
unable to reach an airport in New York, he crashed, and along with him went Maciunas’
fantasy of a Fluxus airline. For the Fluxus island, plans didn’t get too far beyond the plan-
ning stages either. There was a brief, nearly disastrous visit by several Fluxus artists and
friends, who were dropped off on the island by boat. They were poisoned by the sun and sap
from a tree, and had no way to get off the island until they were able to get the boat to

Maciunas’ way of thinking, of organizing vast amounts of information in support of his vi-
sion of the Fluxus movement permitted him to organize Fluxus concerts, Fluxus antholo-
gies, Fluxus editions, statistics on genocide, Fluxus cooperative housing, architectural pre-
fabrication plans and systems, and art historical information, to name a few, all in a
pre-computer age. For the Flux Toilet, Maciunas prepared a grid. On the top of this grid, five
Fluxus artists and the Fluxus collective were each assigned to one of six toilets. The func-
tion was designated for each toilet along the left side, so for example, the seat in “Toilet no. 3,
Joe Jones,” would be hot, with an electric cell inside the seat. The toilet paper in “Toilet no. 2,
Paul Sharits,” would be all stuck together. The sink faucet for “Toilet no. 1, Bob Watts,” would
produce soapy water. “Toilet no. 6, collective” proposes that chess boards could be played by
two people swinging the door around, one person inside, another outside the stall (the artist
identified here was to be Takako Saito). Etc.

Maciunas’ extraordinary art history charts are just one aspect of his inquiring mind, striv-
ing to see the relationships of things, to figure out trends and explanations, developments
and reasons. They all serve as a model, a kind of learning machine, for others to move for-
ward with.

Jon Hendricks, New York, August 11, 2010

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Opinions as to what Fluxus is or once was differ immensely. And not only among Fluxmen
and Fluxwomen themselves, but also among those who have taken a critical interest in
this avant-garde movement, whether from a scholarly or from an ideological point of view.
In a certain way, the Fluxus project lives off these contradictions, which have crystallized
in a variety of narratives about Fluxus.1 That Fluxus was an international movement with
regional centers in the United States, France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Czechoslovakia,
and Japan remains undisputed. It was a heterogeneous group comprising about thirty art-
ists with the most diverse motives for wanting to, or being able to, identify with Fluxus.2
The name “Fluxus” was coined in 1961 by the initiator of the movement and countercultural
activist George Maciunas. He showed the word in a huge dictionary to Yoko Ono during an
exhibition of hers at his AG Gallery in June of that year, but Ono thought it would be wrong
to make it into a movement.3 The first mention of Fluxus in print was in a notice, written
in Lithuanian and designed by Maciunas, advertising a lecture on new music and old instru-
ments.4 The invitations sent out by the AG Gallery a short while later promised that the
concert proceeds would be used to print a magazine to be called Fluxus.5 Maciunas chose
this term as the title of an anthology which was never actually published as originally in-
tended.6 There was no copyright on the word Fluxus.7 It was taken from the Latin verb,
fluere, meaning to flow, stream, or to be in a state of flux, and had exactly the right dynamic
associations to be able to bring together widely different positions. The word Fluxus draws
attention to the essentially fluid and open-ended nature of art. Notwithstanding the ono-
matopoeia, the lexical ambiguity of “Fluxus” made this avant-garde movement sound quasi-
scientific and old-fashioned. Maciunas the impresario sought to coordinate all the various
artistic activities so that Fluxus would be more than just a “new wave” (Maciunas) which
came and went like so many other -isms, but would instead grow into a worldwide art “cur-
rent” that would drown out all other artistic movements.

It was in the 1960s that Fluxus took root as a label for an international avant-garde movement
active in the border zone between art and non-art. Fluxus had less to do with an art theory
than with a specific practice aimed at the trivialization of the aesthetic, and the infiltration
of art by the everyday. With Dick Higgins, Fluxus can be defined as the intersection of art and
life. Nor were its practitioners restricted to any particular medium. Fluxus was a hybrid form
or intermedia, and so it could be music, performance, dance, and literature at the same time.

Fluxus is often described as a mindset, very much according to the maxim: Fluxus is not
something you do, it is something you are.8 Yet attitude alone was never enough for Fluxus
to leave its stamp on the history of art. History is made by active intervention and is written
about only after pondering what has happened. Maciunas did both of these. Thanks to his
background in graphic design, he was constantly busy with the publication of at times im-
provised, at times professionally designed promotional materials. Right from the start,
Maciunas sought to confer on Fluxus the status of the historic—not from without and not
after the event, but from the very heart of the happening. This alone made him the group’s
central figure.

Fluxus essentially spawned two unmistakable artistic forms of expression: the events, which
can be described as short performances, and the Fluxkits with editions of various artists.
As independent statements, they advocated the dissolution of art as an aesthetic bench-
mark. Both Fluxus’ resistance to the art market and its ambivalent, ironically refracted
complicity with it found expression in these two genres. Yet for their critical potential to
be grasped, these performative acts and unspectacular artifacts needed a clear conceptual
frame of reference. Maciunas developed this frame of reference by drawing a strict, ratio-
nally defined dividing line between non-fine-art work and the fine arts, or rather non-art
and art. This was to lend historical legitimacy on the one hand, and be a source of artistic

stimulation on the other.9 He provided concrete illustrations of what it was he was aiming :_Ya>_]]_di" Q<bknki9^WhjS"'/.'$?daed
for in various diagrams. Citing Maciunas himself and to set his diagrammatic concept apart fWf[h"*+$- × +.$*Yc

from Gilles Deleuze’s “abstract machine,” 10 these charts will be referred to in what follows
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as “learning machines.” Maciunas’ learning machines illustrating the history of modernism FeijYWhZ"'&$- × '+$)Yc$9ekhj[ioe\j^[
were not just sketched spontaneously, but were preceded by many years of intense study of ;ijWj[e\:_Ya>_]]_di
the history of Russia and art from antiquity to postmodernism. The idea of the learning
machine, on the other hand, has a history of its own that dates back to the Enlightenment
and continues to this day.

With more than two dozen history atlases, charts, and maps, most of which were produced
between 1953 and 1973, Maciunas was a major contributor to this history of the diagram as
learning machine. First as a student, then briefly as an architect and for a much longer pe-
riod as the initiator of Fluxus, and finally as a New York urban developer of the Fluxhouse
Cooperatives in SoHo, Maciunas spent more than twenty years grappling with the diagram-
matic visualization of historical, political, cultural, economic, and artistic developments
and the relationships between them. His diagrams range from sparsely filled charts to
densely packed information clusters. In a variety of ways, they also raise questions concern-
ing the nature of historiography and how knowledge can and should be presented. There is
evidence to suggest that Maciunas was working toward a total knowledgescape and in pur-
suit of this self-imposed task replaced the narrative communication of knowledge with a
visual information system. The text-pictures created in this way are the logical consequence
of Maciunas’ aversion to long-winded tomes and his preference for writing that was short
and to the point.

This book has a long prehistory, which was followed by a period of intensive research and
writing. Now there is a posthistory in the form of this second expanded edition. The first
edition of Maciunas’ Learning Machines: From Art History to a Chronology of Fluxus (Berlin
2003) had the great good fortune to be published neither too early nor too late, but at just

the right time for it to have its finger on the pulse. This was thanks largely to Jon Hendricks,
who as curator of the Gilbert and Lila Silverman Fluxus Collection, Detroit—which now
belongs to the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York—was aware of how
topical Maciunas’ diagrams had become and so supported me wherever he could. This also
entailed affording me the intellectual scope necessary to see my idea—or rather our idea—
through to completion, the idea of organizing a touring exhibition with which to present
this conceptual body of work to a broader public. This second edition is dedicated to Jon
Hendricks in token of my high esteem and profound gratitude.

Maciunas was a manic perfectionist especially where his diagrams were concerned. He con-
tinued to work indefatigably on the definitive version of his Diagram of History of the Avant-
Garde right up to his premature death in May 1978. The second edition of this book was
certainly not borne of any ambition to outdo Maciunas in obsessiveness. But it was guided
by the desire to present new material and above all new insights into Maciunas’ diagram-
matic oeuvre. This would not have been possible without the various works that were un-
earthed in the course of the touring exhibition Maciunas’ Learning Machines (2003–2007),
with ports of call in Berlin, Karlsruhe, Budapest, Vienna, and Bielefeld.11

The most important of those works was the Atlas of Russian History (1953) whose where-
abouts were unknown right up to the fall of 2006, when it suddenly resurfaced on the Amer-
ican art market.12 Since 2007, the Atlas of Russian History has formed part of the Fluxus
collection of the Jonas Mekas Visual Arts Center in Vilnius, which kindly granted me per-
mission to publish this key work in full for the first time. Just how much Maciunas excelled
as a “map artist” becomes clear only here.13 The Atlas ushered in an era of cartographic work
in which, from the 1960s onward, numerous artists produced maps that in many cases were
a critique of colonialist activities in the political arena and of the inexorable drive toward
economic globalization.14

The importance of the Atlas of Russian History to an understanding of Maciunas’ diagram-

matic oeuvre cannot be overestimated. It marks the beginning of the visualization process
out of which all future diagrams developed—those on Russian history, on the history of art
including that of Fluxus, as well as the Atlas of Prehistoric Chinese Art (1958). Even Maciunas’
very last diagram, the so-called Big Chart of 1973 with its quasi-scientific title Diagram of
Historical Development of Fluxus and Other 4 Dimentional [sic], Aural, Optic, Olfactory, Epithelial
and Tactile Artforms has its intellectual roots in the Atlas of Russian History.

Among the works to have been unearthed just recently is Maciunas’ Barr Chart and various
other lucky finds such as maps Maciunas worked with and reproductions of Fluxus dia-
grams in journals and anthologies. Taken together, these hitherto unknown works lend
legitimacy to this second edition, which has been enlarged by the addition of three whole
chapters, as well as several subchapters, and numerous interpolations. Two of these new
chapters, “Learning in the Age of Enlightenment” and “Learning Machines,” place Maciunas’
diagrammatic oeuvre in a larger cultural context. The glance back at the first true learning
machine of the eighteenth century opens up a historical perspective in which Maciunas’
charts share the same axis as the idealistic aspirations of the Enlightenment. Looking
at reception since Maciunas’ lifetime meanwhile underscores the enduring power of the
learning machines, as illustrated by several recent examples.

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The meteoric career of charts and diagrams in historiography began long before George
Maciunas’ learning machines. Its origins can be traced back to a network of eighteenth-
century scholars who were instrumental in popularizing the visualization of history in the
form of knowledge charts and also helped to sustain the ascendancy of these charts well
into the nineteenth century. The prime mover in this development was Jacques Barbeu-
Dubourg (1709–1779), a doctor of medicine and professor of pharmacology at the University
of Paris, who in 1753 published a remarkable map of history, the Chronographie universelle &
détails qui en dépendent pour la Chronologie & les Généalogies, also known as the Carte chro-
nographique.15 This chart was the first to map world history synchronoptically, from Adam
and Eve to the Enlightenment. Barbeu-Dubourg even designed a “machine” to facilitate the
practical use of his chart, his objective being the exemplary fulfillment of the education
mandate imposed by the Enlightenment on the intellectual elite.16 An explanatory booklet
was published with the chart.17

The Carte chronographique consists of thirty-five folio-format copperplate engravings exe-

cuted by the Parisian map engraver A. Cosmant.18 Pasted next to each other in a row, the
engravings produce a long scroll of paper of about six and a half meters in length. The
length was merely the inevitable consequence of Barbeu-Dubourg’s insistence on allotting
equal space to each of the 6,500 years of world history. The scale is given in the top margin.
The horizontal axis represents the continuous timeline of historical topography, while the
categories along the vertical axis are variable, since it is they that reflect the course of his-
tory. Whereas the early stages of the chart are structured primarily by the thematic catego-
ries “The Patriarchs,” “Descendents of Cain,” and “Momentous Events,” the new category of
“Famous People” is soon added. After “The Flood” it is individual countries, starting with
“Egypt” and “China,” which slowly but surely take over as the most important variable on
the map of history, and which as topological formations eventually displace the Old Testa-
ment categories.
@WYgk[i8WhX[k#:kXekh]" 9^hede]hWf^_[
kd_l[hi[bb[ZƒjW_bigk_[dZƒf[dZ[dj As a method of visualization, the Carte chronographique broke new ground in historiogra-
phy, which is doubtless why commentators at the time described it as an “invention.” 19 Its
Fh_dY[jed"D@$H[fheZkY[ZXof[hc_ii_ed main novelty resides in Barbeu-Dubourg’s adaptation of a method from geography for use
e\J^[Fh_dY[jedKd_l[hi_joB_XhWho in history.20 Charts and tables are an indispensable tool in geography, where they provide
a comprehensive impression of the topographical conditions prevailing in different parts
of the world. Historiography, on the other hand, knew of no such visuals or teaching aids,
for although history could be and was indeed broken down into single thematic blocks and
these then configured and reconfigured to form charts, no one had ever attempted to
capture all of world history in a single diagram. Barbeu-Dubourg’s synchronoptic total
view of the past was a pioneering work.21 His contribution to learning by seeing or, better
still, to visual enlightenment, cannot be overestimated.

Having defined the “general utility” of his work as his paramount concern, Barbeu-Dubourg
had to seek recourse in geography, since only there could he find the vivid forms of repre-
sentation which a chronology based solely on facts could not provide. The visual appeal of
geography, moreover, was so strong that it seemed methodologically more sophisticated
than a chronology confined to mere names and numbers. “Bright,” “simple,” and “captivat-
ing” were among the words used by Barbeu-Dubourg to describe the geographical sciences
with their appealing maps and diverse graphic elements. Measured against such a yardstick,
chronology’s abstract data seemed excessively “dry,” “tedious,” and “laborious.” 22 Barbeu-
Dubourg’s true stroke of genius thus lay in his discovery, through geography, of a new way
of representing chronology and making it visually attractive. For as Barbeu-Dubourg him-
self reasoned: “Geography is much more sophisticated, and is generally less ignored than
Chronology; & the reason for this is very clear. There are lots of ways of studying the one,
but these have not yet been applied to the other.” 23 It was the combination of the two disci-
plines that sparked something new—namely the didactic chart as “entertaining science.” 24
Barbeu-Dubourg’s combinational method, and above all his visual communication of knowl-
edge, confirmed one of the basic assumptions of the encyclopedists, which was that knowl-
edge is acquired directly only via the medium of the senses.25

Yet it is not just Barbeu-Dubourg’s method, but also his style of chronographic design that
is indebted to geography. The grid of the Carte chronographique, for example, was borrowed
from cylindrical projection. All that Barbeu-Dubourg had to do was recode the lines of lati-
tude and meridians that geographers used to isogonally map the surface of the spherical
Earth on a two-dimensional plane as a system of coordinates in which the horizontal and
vertical axes represented time and space. This determined the layout of all of world history.
Time is represented at first by dotted lines and later, as the quantity of available data in-
creases, by solid vertical lines marking the passage of the decades. Space is divided up hori-
zontally and by and large according to theme and country. The use of rows of dots and
broken vertical lines allows a certain degree of clarity to be retained, even where a large
number of facts have to be packed in. The grid structure at least accords every historical
personage and every significant past event a place in a system from which the larger histori-
cal context can be inferred. To put it in more abstract terms: the horizontal comparison of
different facts rests on the same variables, while the vertical comparison of different vari-
ables rests on the same point in time.

Barbeu-Dubourg’s desire to modernize historiography without trivializing it rested on a

combination of various methods of visualization. This was essential to his credibility as an
advocate of an iconic turn in the study of history. The very act of combining, however, also
cast him in the role of mediator between different scholarly practices—a self-imposed mis-
sion which is characteristic of the age of Enlightenment. Pointers to the visually educational
function of the Carte chronographique can be found both in the responses of contemporary
critics and in the writings of Barbeu-Dubourg himself, who in an intertextual play on a well-
known cliché draws attention to the visual qualities of geography and chronology by de-
scribing them in metaphorical terms as the “two eyes of history.” 26

The metaphor of the “deux yeux de l’histoire,” which was first coined by Abraham Ortelius
and at the time formed part of every historian’s vocabulary, is symptomatic of the reassess-
ment of the importance of the act of seeing in historiography in the late seventeenth and
early eighteenth centuries.27 The greater weight attached to seeing was not confined to eye-
witness accounts of seminal events found in old sources. Learning by seeing was also be- @WYgk[i8WhX[k#:kXekh]" 9^hede#
coming more and more a part of the methodological toolbox of the study of history. Being ]hWf^_["ek:[iYh_fj_edZ[ij[ci FWh_i
easy to memorize, charts and tables soon became a constituent part of the cognitive process

by which knowledge was acquired and evidence collected—across all generations. ;cf[hehie\j^[Eh_[dj0iocXebije
As a scholar, Barbeu-Dubourg knew that the will to know had to be nurtured from infancy. fh_dY[ Z[jW_b"_d 7jbWi^_ijeh_gk["leb$(
His Carte chronographique can therefore be viewed as an attempt to provide new scope 7cij[hZWc'-&."fb$'+

for learning, from which young people—of both sexes, as he himself stressed—would be

especially likely to profit, bearing in mind that many of them had no teacher capable of
introducing them to the study of history.28 The opportunity for learning by seeing which
pictorial or strongly visual forms of representation offered was thus an ideal introduction
to history’s vast terrain. For older people, meanwhile, such visuals were a useful aid when
committing historical knowledge to memory.


Barbeu-Dubourg provided another aid to orientation for those navigating the past, in the
form of a system of symbols developed specially for his Carte chronographique. He included
iconic markers which enabled him to indicate the professions, talents, and personalities of
the historical figures on his chart, as well as key events in their lives. These symbolic mark-
ers lent the names and concepts introduced an essentially emblematic quality. Some have
speculated that the model for them might have been Cesare Ripa’s Iconologia—at the time a

@WYgk[i8WhX[k#:kXekh]" 9^hede# well-known manual for the interpretation of allegorical figures and their attributes. This
]hWf^_[kd_l[hi[bb[ZƒjW_bigk_[d work was first published without illustrations in Rome in 1593, and was reissued in several
illustrated editions and translations, including one in French, in the course of the eigh-
=ƒdƒWbe]_[i Z[jW_bFWh_i'-+)$
8_Xb_ej^„gk[dWj_edWb[Z[<hWdY[" teenth century.29 But the use of symbols was of course not confined to iconography and art
FWh_i alone. As chemical signs, alchemical ciphers, or astronomical constellations, symbols had
long belonged to the armory of knowledge representation. In genealogy, too, symbols were
for a long time used to characterize the moral standing of historical personages. The Atlas
historique, ou Nouvelle Introduction à l’Histoire, à la Chronologie & à la Géographie Ancienne &
Moderne, for example—an extravagant compendium of history both ancient and modern
published in Amsterdam by François L’Honoré and Zacharias Châtelain in several volumes
and editions in the early eighteenth century 30—characterizes the princes mentioned with
the aid of nineteen symbols standing for a whole gamut of qualities, proclivities, and

The system of symbols in the Carte chronographique is considerably more nuanced than that
in the Atlas historique. Barbeu-Dubourg did not confine himself to the character traits of
holders of positions of political power. Instead, he used his sixty-five symbols to define a
vast array of people. All the estates of the ancien régime were represented, from prince to
prisoner, bishop to blasphemer, philosopher to fool, and historian to thespian. While the
little icons inevitably lend the geometrically structured chart an ornamental touch, the
embellishment of the diagram and moralizing of the facts are actually two sides of the same
coin. The eye-catching symbols served as iconic signposts, which according to Barbeu-Dubourg
would help viewers to distinguish effortlessly between “good and evil” in history.31 One
critic who was especially concerned about young people suggested that viewers should enter
new symbols of their own for the personages named on the chart—for both pleasure and

personal evaluation.32 The chronographic chart, he argued, could only unfold its full didactic
potential by being elaborated according to the individual interests of the student. Only then
would enlightenment be put into practice.

Barbeu-Dubourg’s Carte chronographique stands apart from older chronological tables to the
extent that here everything literally “speaks to the eye & to the imagination.” 33 Unlike the
historical charts of Denis Pétau, Claude Delisle, and Antoine Lancelot, all of whom were
highly acclaimed authors in their field and in their time, Barbeu-Dubourg’s chart takes the
monolinear approach to narrative historiography one stage further by adding a synchro-
noptical dimension to a developmental scheme.34 This was Barbeu-Dubourg’s response to
the demand for precision and brevity, itself a reaction to the predilection for prolixity of so
many historians. Barbeu-Dubourg argued that a glance at the chart was all that was needed
to grasp the superfluity of lengthy historical discourse: “Does anyone read history books?
One has only to take one’s place in front of the Machine, opened at the century correspond-
ing to the sovereigns being studied, and one sees at a glance all the rulers, all the memorable
events of the same century & all the personages most worthy of remembrance by poster-
ity.” 35 Yet the topological arrangement of history was not everything. Barbeu-Dubourg also
developed a mechanical apparatus with which to transform the Carte chronographique into
a veritable chronology machine.


Barbeu-Dubourg’s chronology machine rests on an ingenious mechanism consisting of two

wooden cylinders with hand cranks. By turning these, the chart can be horizontally rolled
off one cylinder and onto the other at the same time. The scrolling can be done either for-
ward or backward and as the distance between the two cylinders and thus also the visible
portion of the diagram remains constant at around thirty-five centimeters, the only thing
that changes is the historical period that is under scrutiny. This likewise remains constant :[d_iFƒjWk" JWXb[Y^hedebe]_gk[Z[
at about 150 years, thus precluding the risk of universal history as chronological overkill. bÊ^_ije_h[kd_l[hi[bb["leb$*FWh_i'-'+"

The effect on the viewer of such a steady procession of data does indeed merit the epithet
cinematographic. The mechanism that produced the optical effects with which Barbeu-
Dubourg sought to gain viewers’ attention and suspense long before the invention of film
was not without antecedents, however. One of these was the practice of preserving large
prints and drawings by storing them rolled up.36 The technique was simple, and safe and
effective as a means of preventing creases and tears—which in Barbeu-Dubourg’s machine
was essential to the uninterrupted chronological flow of data.

The chronology machine had to work perfectly, for only then could wearisome chronology
metamorphose into exciting chronography, only then could the “dry,” “tedious,” and “labori-
ous” study of facts become entertaining science. Where curiosity coincided with the thirst
for knowledge, affective reinvention could be said to have succeeded.37 Barbeu-Dubourg
placed his faith in a mechanical method of visualization which had the capacity to fire the
imagination. He used the machine’s optical potential to show the fascination of history
using only a bare minimum of words. Driven by the hand of the viewer, the gloriously sim-
ple chronology machine with its quietly rustling roll of paper lulls the user into a trance-like
state in which knowledge literally rolls off the line. With a minimum of effort, the viewer
can watch past rulers and their contemporaries, and whole epochs slowly pass by, the actual
physical length of their representation in the diagram commensurate with their reign,
lifespan, or duration. Barbeu-Dubourg himself called the chart a “tableau mouvant & animé,”
and took care to incorporate visual, tactile, and acoustic elements to reinforce the learning
effect with an appeal to several senses. Memorable facts appealed so strongly to the senses,
or so the machine’s inventor believed, that they would in any case make themselves unfor-
gettable—by leaving an indelible stamp on the memory. The declared aim was “to learn as
if mechanically and without having to think too much.” 38 It was this combination of work

and play, knowledge and pleasure, that earned Barbeu-Dubourg such high praise. Little by
little, this entertaining learning machine introduced its viewers to history without ever
burdening them with the sheer weight of the facts. This lightness of touch in the handling
of vast amounts of material moved one writer for the Mercure de France to hail the invention
as a new kind of “science machine.” 39

The chronology machine offered a modest spectacle to delight the eyes. With lingering
stares and cursory glances and the desire to break with linear reading practices, the past
could be experienced afresh. Viewers had only to put a finger on the chart to travel back and
forth through history,40 studying either the diachronic course of events and the transitions
between them or the synchronic overlaps. The didactic vision machine was constantly mu-
tating into a veritable time machine. The moving text-picture created incentives to explore
the many surprising twists and turns of history. It was part of the Carte chronographique’s
representational strategy that history could be studied from front to back or back to front.
The irreversible timeline on which all historical accounts had hitherto rested could at last
be recast as a reversible conceptual model. Users could pursue their own interests in depth,
and above all actively—by varying the speed and hence the duration and intensity of the
lesson. Thus the art of entertainment inadvertently became a visual learning method.
The image of the autonomous student or scholar, which Barbeu-Dubourg always had in
mind, was a key figure in the intellectual underpinning of the Enlightenment. The Carte
chronographique thus provided a didactic, diagrammatic way out of self-inflicted ignorance.
The idea of the interactive user was born. George Maciunas is one of them.

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Maciunas’ diagrammatic oeuvre begins with a remarkable work of cartography, his Atlas of
Russian History of 1953 (pl. 1/1–37).41 Finely drawn with a pen, the atlas comprising thirty-
seven maps in approximate letter format occupies a special place in Maciunas’ output, and
not just because of the painstaking attention to detail he invested in its creation. Maciunas
was very much aware of the conceptual importance of this work,42 and found a place for it
in his own biographical resume: “Atlas of Russian History. (book of translucent pages, su-
perimposed maps.).” 43 This rather cryptic definition was for many years the only proof of
the existence of a work which only a select few had ever set eyes on.44

The Atlas of Russian History was produced in the year of Stalin’s death, when Maciunas was
majoring in architecture with a minor in musicology at the Carnegie Institute of Technology
in Pittsburgh (1952–1954). Although he had taken an interest in art, graphic design, and
architecture even while a student at the Cooper Union School of Art in New York from 1949
to 1952, it was the intensive drawing of plans demanded of him by the Carnegie Institute of
Technology that triggered his interest in various techniques of visual representation, and
which led the twenty-two-year-old Maciunas to try his hand at them himself.

The crucial inspiration for the Atlas of Russian History was a senior course on the “Evolution
of the Modern Russian State,” in which Maciunas was a regular participant. This three-hour,
nine-unit course was “open to properly qualified students in the College of Fine Arts,” and
hence to students of architecture, too.45 In view of the incipient Cold War and the sharp
ideological divide separating East from West in the years 1952 to 1954 when Maciunas was
in Pittsburgh, the course was repeated every semester, and always covered the same mate-
rial. According to the course catalogue, it was to provide “a critical survey of the complex
forces which brought about the present system of Russian government; the historic heri-
tage of Old Russia; the struggle of East and West; the overthrow of the Old Order; the
emergence of a New Russia; Russia’s role in the present-day world.” It was in this senior
course that Maciunas acquired the grounding in Russian history that he needed to be able
to produce his Atlas. That the students were also required to work extensively with maps
likewise comes as no surprise.46 Yet Maciunas’ Atlas of Russian History is far more than just
elaborate lecture notes. Since he produced it of his own accord, it can be read as stemming
from his desire to make a personal contribution that would reach beyond the ambit of the
course.47 The Atlas of Russian History marks the advent of Maciunas’ interest in the use of
pictorial methods to systematize knowledge. This interest in graphic forms of communi-
cation can in turn be traced back to Maciunas’ profound aversion to books. Instead of
spending hours of his time reading, he preferred to learn by taking in as much informa-
tion as possible at a glance. This explains his fascination with diagrams, charts, maps,
tables, systems of coordinates, and graphs. The charting of history, moreover, was but one
facet of the visual information which was to preoccupy him throughout his life, not just
as an architect, but as a knowledge worker.


Maciunas mapped out the Atlas of Russian History on a pad of tracing paper, which architects
in those days used to trace floor plans. The sheets are stapled together and perforated along
the top edge so that they can be torn off the pad without any unwanted tears. Maciunas
made no use of this option, however. Instead, he turned the pad through ninety degrees in
order to obtain landscape format and then proceeded to draw some three dozen maps, sim-
ply tracing whichever borders and contours were needed off the sheet below. In the impec-
cably neat hand of a model schoolboy, he then made a note of all the most important histori-
cal dates and facts, and also penciled in the addenda so that they could be incorporated at a
later date.

By sticking to the geographical status quo, the Atlas of Russian History leaves little scope for
a fundamentally new view of Russian history. Nowhere on his maps does Maciunas chal-
lenge deeply ingrained habits of orientation. Not once does he invert the geographical coor-
dinates. Whatever other reference points might define Russia’s position in space, the North
Pole is up and the South Pole is down, and the positive and negative connotations of “up”
and “down” need no further explication.48 In this sense, Maciunas’ maps present a conven-
tional worldview in which Soviet supremacy is treated as a historical constant.

Arranged in chronological order, the sheets bring together all the significant events and
changes that took place in the course of Russian history, beginning with the nomadic
Scythians and steppe dwellers of the period around 700 B.C. on the map at the bottom of
the pile, and proceeding from there to the Christianization of Russia, the Tartar invasions,
the rule of the Mongols, and the emergence of the tsarist empire of the nineteenth century,
which as the last maps in the series are on top. Superimposing the translucent sheets one
on top of the other has the effect of visualizing how the periods interconnect so that his-
tory is conveyed as a single, densely woven fabric (see illustrations on page 18 and 105). @eWgk‡dJehh[i#=WhY‡W"Kfi_Z[#ZemdcWf
While the overlapping of information conveys an exemplary sense of historical depth, e\ Iekj^7c[h_YW"_d 9‡hYkbeo9kWZhWZe"
being able to leaf through the ages without changing the geographical perspective allows
the user to gain a quick overall impression too. This is undoubtedly how the concept un-
derlying the Atlas of Russian History should be understood, even if the work itself no longer
exists in this form—in other words as a drawing pad stapled together at one end—but only
as a stack of loose-leaf maps. Fragmentation has also had a positive effect on the Atlas,
however, inasmuch as the maps can now be viewed not just individually, but side by side,
with the result that they can be compared and contrasted, too.49

The original visualization strategy of the stapled version of the Atlas of Russian History not
only reduced real space to two dimensions, thus making it easier to grasp, but it also ele-
vated the spatial to a representational principle allowing for the visualization of non-spatial
information as well. This always applies wherever cartographic material is annotated with
text. Maciunas’ maps of history can be described as remarks on space inasmuch as the notes
and annotations apply to a geographically defined space. The ensuing new relationship be-
tween visual matrix and commentary extends the reach of the Atlas beyond the purely vis-
ible and purely factual. The comprehensive hermeneutic patterns that emerge are implicitly
capable of being developed as theories.50 Thus the Atlas of Russian History ranks among
those forms of knowledge-driven visualization systems that can be grouped together under
the term “operative pictoriality.” 51

One key feature of “operative pictoriality” is the interaction on a map of the visual and the
discursive. The latter takes the form of keywords used to chronicle historical events—trans-
formative processes of which each map can provide no more than a snapshot showing them
at a certain point in time, or at a particular stage in their unfolding. The Atlas of Russian His-
tory is remarkable for another quality as well, namely in the way it uses recurring terminol-
ogy. As a kind of hyperlink, this terminology facilitates navigation through the Atlas, which
after all works on the principle of anticipation. And thanks to the transparency of the

individual sheets, it also makes for a hypertextual link between the various cartographic
layers, thus giving users an inkling of the historical concepts at work behind the terms used.
Each map thus forms a layer, conceived less as a geographical expanse than as a semantic
stratum, so that it could be described as a predigital precursor of the hypertext.

Although the Atlas paints a very lively picture of Russian history, Maciunas worked with
only two map templates copied out of an atlas: one a general map and the other a detailed
map (pl. 1/5–6). While the former by and large shows what used to be the Soviet Union and
its communist neighbors, the latter homes in on the European part of the USSR. Both maps
are rectangular projections, or plane charts, in which the curvature of the Earth’s surface is
projected onto a cylinder so that all the meridians and central or standard parallels are true.
All other horizontal parallels, however, are too long.52 Because this type of projection trans-
lates into an evenly spaced rectangular grid with considerable areal distortions, it is the
;gkWjeh_WbYob_dZh_YWbfhe`[Yj_edm_j^jhk[ projection of choice only for very basic maps. The transformational geometry underlying all
c[h_Z_Wdi"_dCWhaCedced_[h" >emjeB_[ maps in any case makes them less a reflection of spatial contingency than an expression of
what it is they set out to define. The type of projection selected by Maciunas stretches the
land masses close to the polar circles to such an extent that the distance between St. Peters-
burg and Vladivostok seems disproportionately great. What this means for the Atlas of Rus-
sian History is that the Asian part of the Soviet Union appears much larger than it is in real-
ity. Maciunas, however, is careful not to use the increased surface area of the map as extra
space in which to record historical information. The projection rather implies an interpreta-
tion of Russian history which greatly inflates the importance of the Russian Empire. Just
as every historical account has a subjective bias, so every map shows a distorted image of
the world. This being a matter of course, the fact that the vast territory covered by the Atlas
of Russian History has been significantly enlarged needs no further comment. Implicit in
this symbolic inflation of Eurasia is the geopolitically explosive posturing of the Soviet su-
perpower during the Cold War era.

Maciunas used three general maps to summarize all the salient events and various macro-
trends in the eastern hemisphere—meaning in the area extending from Central Europe
to Alaska and from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Indian and Pacific Oceans in
the south—in periods ranging from one hundred to two hundred years (“1500–1700,”
“1700–1800,” “1800–18[. . . ]”) (pl. 1/3–5). Maciunas uses various symbols to make the maps
easier to read: the asterisks indicate journeys of discovery and “explorations” over land and
on water, the boxes mark settlements, cities, and forts, and the hatching signifies annexed
territories. Circumscribed by the coast of the Arctic Ocean, Russia’s northern border re-
mained relatively stable over the centuries. Its southern border, on the other hand, had
to be repeatedly defended, while that in the west had to be fortified, and that in the east
defined both in the mind and on the ground. The many different areas of armed conflict
recorded on the maps seem to confirm the Marxist view that the history of the world is the
history of struggle.

The map showing the eighteenth century has its own leitmotif which makes it especially
striking (pl. 1/4). What is articulated here, albeit in an erratic, almost insecure fashion, is
the core concept underlying this phase of history—a phase based on land-based world dom-
ination. Squeezed between the top of the sheet and the obligatory dating of the map is the
remains of the heading which Maciunas began writing, only to lose his thread after the
word “first,” which is followed by two short squiggles. Only on second attempt does the idea
of “first of all and then—” take shape. As incidental as this definition may at first appear, it
nevertheless encapsulates how profoundly the self-perception of Russia’s elite was changing
on the eve of the age of the modern nation state. Transformations in the eighteenth century
that helped forge Russian identity were necessitated by the emergence of an imperial body
politic and by territorial expansion that annexed and incorporated cultural heterogeneity.
What the map charts, therefore, is not just the trend to an ever larger area for Russia, in
other words Russian expansionism, but also Russia’s desire to set itself apart from its neigh-
bors. Burgeoning interest in the upstart empire’s eastern borderlands is characteristic of

the period of change between 1700 and 1800. The illustrious team that set off over land
on the Second Kamchatka Expedition of “1733” included the historian Gerhard Friedrich
“Müller,” the botanist Johann Georg “Gmelin,” the naturalist Georg Wilhelm “Steller,”
the astronomer Louis “Delisle” de la Croyère, and the geographer Stepan Petrovich
“Krasheninnikov.” This expedition to the East-Asian peninsula was one of the most ambi-
tious in history, opening up Siberia and discovering Alaska. Driven not so much by the
pursuit of knowledge and even less by the urge to proselytize and spread civilization, the
expedition to the northern Pacific rim was motivated primarily by economic interest, just
as the eastward expansion of Russian control along new routes into dangerous regions
would be spearheaded not by scholars and scientists, but by intrepid traders and merchants.
The most important of these adventurers and the co-founder of the Russian-American Com-
pany was Grigory “Shelekhov,” who is credited with founding the first Russian colony on
“island of Kodiak” in Alaska in “1784.” In “1812,” moreover, Russia’s eastward expansion into
the north Pacific culminated in the fanciful vision of Alexander “Baranov,” chief manager of
the influential fur-trading Russian-American Company, who toyed with the idea of settling
the “whole Pacific.” His founding of a Russian trading colony in “Calif[ornia]” was his first
successful venture in pursuit of this goal. All of this is recorded in keywords on Maciunas’
general map for “1800–18[. . .]” (pl. 1/3). What this map also tells us is that Baranov’s mer-
cantile vision did not materialize. Instead, starting around mid-century, the land-hungry
tsarist empire began annexing parts of Manchuria as well as the northern part of the island
of Sakhalin. The overseas colonies, however, soon came to be regarded by St. Petersburg
as an excessively remote and hence costly and unprofitable burden, and it was this that
induced the tsarist regime to sell its American possessions to the United States for the sum
of “$ 7,200,000.” The transaction may have won the Russian Empire a new ally—“Russo-
American rapprochement”—but it also put an end to its territorial expansion.

The main reason for this close reading of the general maps is to show just how interested
Maciunas was in providing a definitive narrative, which still today is seen as the clear goal
of the historian. To put it another way, contemporary art’s undermining of history through
its relentless focus on only the most recent past was alien to Maciunas.53 His approach is
premised on the potential of the longue durée, using cartographical narrative structures as
a vehicle.

Among the general maps is a rudimentary panorama of the nineteenth century (pl. 1/2).
Like all of Maciunas’ history charts, this one was drawn without the poetry of geographical
alienation. The region covered is defined by just a few coastlines extending from the Kola
Peninsula to the Yamal Peninsula and Novaya Zemlya Archipelago in the Arctic Ocean to
the southern shores of the Caspian Sea. Yet the map does not tell us much about history.
The “speech balloon” which looks as if it is dangling from the southern shores of the Caspian
gives us no more than an inkling of the Russification of still more territories that took place
during the reign of Alexander III. Without any concrete places and specific allusions, the
map is by and large mute, a cartographic void at best providing scope for the geohistorical
imagination to roam.

Just as maps have always been a means of demonstrating power and dominance, so the
Atlas of Russian History is a means of appropriating knowledge. Extrahistorical voids, espe-
cially on the early maps, do not contradict this, since every map delivers a “scene” of history
and hence a snapshot of Maciunas’ own individual knowledge. And in a more general sense,
the ahistorical dimension comprises a productive unconsciousness of social processes. From
the ethno-psychoanalytical point of view, the absence of events in the emptier maps can be
read as periods of latency, which because of their potential for change are in fact essential
to the process of cultural maturation.54

While the general maps of the Atlas of Russian History present the macrotrends of each
epoch, the thirty-two detailed maps confine themselves to relatively short periods of time
and focus on specific facts. Maciunas traced these maps off a map of waterways drawn on

graph paper (pl. 1/1).55 He concentrated on central and southern eastern Europe and on the
flatlands of northern Russia as far as the Black Sea and Caspian Sea in the south, and from
the Vistula in the west to the Volga in the east. Yet viewers learn very little about the geo-
graphical features of this vast region. Instead of entering plains or mountain ranges on the
map, Maciunas drew in the courses of rivers such as the Danube and the Don, the Daugava
and the Dnieper. And because he also made a note of the towns that sprang up along their
banks, he gave the viewer a sense of just how important these waterways leading to the
Baltic Sea, Black Sea, Sea of Azov, and Caspian Sea as well as their many tributaries are to
Russia’s settlement history—important in a way that neither the mountain ranges nor the
highlands can claim to be. (The detailed maps also show how Russia’s spatial concept of
geographical expansion tended increasingly to be replaced by a temporal concept of histori-
cal development. While foreign policy was defined by the forging of political alliances, the
overriding concern of domestic policy was modernization.)

Using his loose map of waterways as a template, Maciunas built up his Atlas of Russian His-
tory map for map. The template helped him to pinpoint all the most important waterways
and towns, as well as the main theaters of war and routes taken by various armies, and
hence to trace the process by which the silhouette of the Russian Empire began to stabilize.
Battles that ended in victory are marked with an asterisk—the typographic character with
which Maciunas would later draw attention to the worthiest of his fellow Fluxus artists in
his Fluxus diagrams or to special events in his calendar. As in the general maps, the top
right-hand corner is used to specify the period covered by each of the detailed maps. Start-
ing with the century “800–900,” the detailed maps also home in on subjects of special rel-
evance to their time frame (pl. 1/31). This emphasis on outcomes has the effect of trans-
forming abstract dates and periods into historical entities with individual defining
characteristics. Labels such as “Christianization,” “Strugle [sic] between Forest & Steppe,”
“Golden Horde,” and “times of trouble” render more general categories such as Antiquity,
Middle Ages, and Early Modern Age superfluous, especially as these are in any case mere

=[eh][CWY_kdWiÊ[nfWdZ[Zj_jb[WdZ expedients invented to satisfy the modern age’s need to create historical caesurae that pro-
Yecc[djWhoed 7jbWie\Hkii_Wd>_ijeho" vide a structure to European history (pl. 1/20, 24–31).56 With Russia’s rise to the status of
d$Z$Jof[iYh_fj"* ×'&Yc$ž@edWiC[aWi
“Empire” under Peter the Great “1721–1725,” Maciunas shifts to a more dynastic mapping of
history (pl. 1/15), and from then on dispenses with any consistent characterization of his-
torical phases—as if everything worth saying had already been said merely by personalizing
history with the name of the reigning tsar or tsarina.


Text demands a linear reading, whereas maps demand to be grasped synchronously. They
allow the viewers to follow their own inclinations, to skip around without being bound
by any one idea or concept. This is not the case with the Atlas of Russian History,
however, which Maciunas prefaces with very clear instructions for use: “Must be read
backward (starting with last page) One can observe thus geographic changes in time.”

The dramaturgy of browsing through the Atlas prescribed here reverses the reverse chronol-
ogy with which the sheets are presented, insisting that history should not be read backward
toward some zero point. If, instead, in keeping with Maciunas’ wishes, the Atlas is opened
at the bottom sheet and not the top sheet, then through its history Russia develops from
the historiographic void of maps that are by and large free of all topographical information
to the superpower familiar to us from the modern age. Only the Scythians are mentioned
on the “7 B.C. ’” map (pl. 1/37). Yet apart from the fact that they traded with the Greek
colonies, we learn nothing at all about these Ancient Iranian nomads.

Chronologically, this is the first map of the Atlas. It is defined by its negative character, by
the absence of geographical features and entries. As an empty map, it does not permit any
recognition of geographical space. In a certain sense, however, it is precisely the non-place
depicted here which best evokes the virtually boundless territory on which Russia’s extraor-
dinary ascendancy was to be based. The area which Maciunas’ map circumscribes is without
any concrete cartographic points of reference and because of this can continue to develop in
the viewer’s imagination until it takes the shape of a mighty empire straddling both the
West and the ancient civilizations of the East.

Maciunas’ sparing use of drawing in these maps is an indication of just how little is known
about early Russian history. The only geographical information provided on the minimalis-
tic map labeled “4. A.D.” is a small, unnamed squiggle representing the lower reaches of the
Bug River (pl. 1/34). For the “6.” century, on the other hand, Maciunas draws two clear coast-
lines to stake out the area between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea that was to be a scene
of migration and demographic fluctuation (pl. 1/33). Arrows are used to indicate the inexo-
rable westward thrust of the “Magyars (ungarians [sic]),” “Turks,” and steppe-dwellers such
as the “Khazars” and “Avars.” It was the intermarrying of these peoples and cultures during
the age of migration that gave rise to the polyethnic identity of the Eastern Slavs. The
eighth century then saw the arrival of the “Norseman (Vikings),” who after invading along
the Neva and the Volga, advanced as far as the mouth of the Oka, displacing the “Magyars”
in the process (pl. 1/32).

The distinction drawn between “forests” and “steppes” for the period “4–2 B.C.” and beyond
serves to divide the territory into two climatic zones (pl. 1/36). All that is needed to distin-
guish the forests of the north from the steppes of the south is a horizontal dividing line.
While this is all very abstract, the line snaking along the lower edge of the page is a good
deal more concrete. This marks the northern coastline of the Black Sea with the Crimean
Peninsula and the Sea of Azov. Viewed in its entirety, what this rudimentary cartographic
information outlines is the heartland of today’s Ukraine with its two climatic zones.

Yet the distinction between “forests” and “steppes” is much more fundamental than may
at first appear. After all, different climates make for different ways of life. While the forests
are populated by “hunters” who live in “small groups,” the steppes are home to “nomadic
tribes” who live in “large groups & states.” Viewed in the long term, the tensions to which
the anthropological differences described here would eventually lead were to have a pro-
found influence on the genesis of the Russian Empire. According to Maciunas’ Atlas, the
“Christianization” of Kiev was followed by a veritable “Strugle [sic] between Forest & Steppe.”
Three distinct phases are identified: the periods “973–1036,” “1036–1125,” and “1125–1238”
(pl. 1/27–29), which stand for the constitution of the Kievan State and its rise as an imperial
power, its decline as a result of civil strife between princes, and finally its fall following the
invasion of the “Tartars” led by “Ghenghiz Khan.” During the period between 973 and 1238,
itself subdivided into three phases, the “forest & steppe” dichotomy influences the course
of Russian history in a variety of ways. The hegemony of Kiev, which rested mainly on trade,
was at first under threat from the nomads of the steppes. Internal power struggles, more-
over, exacerbated the danger by weakening Kiev’s supremacy, and hence leaving it vulner-
able to Mongol attacks from the south.

The next three maps record the “Tartar invasion” and subsequent “domination,” followed by
the “unification of Forest & Steppe” that took place in the periods “1238–1241,” “1241–1325,”
and “1325–1462” (pl. 1/24–26). It was under the rule of the “Golden Horde,” when Russia was
part of the Mongol Empire, that the consequences of the “gradual loss of contact with seas”
dated to the turn of the millennium became most apparent. After that, the scene of the ac-
tion gradually shifts to the now colonized forests of the northeast, until in the years “1462–
1505,” Ivan the Great (“Ivan III”) consolidated Moscow as the new center of power (pl. 1/23).
In “1480,” the Grand Duchy of Moscow succeeded in liberating itself without lifting a sword
from its 240-year-old subjection to the Tartar yoke. The “destruction of Golden Horde” was
finally secured by the Tartars of the Crimea in the Battle of “Sarai.” Moscow’s incorporation
of territories to the north, west, and south led to expansion on a vast scale and to its rise as
the “chief center of Orthodox.” Until well into the seventeenth century, the borders of this
new entity cemented together by the Russian Orthodox faith—an entity Maciunas defines
by hatching—were defended by two Cossack tribes of the steppes of southern Russia: the
“Zaparog Host” on the Dnieper and “Host of the Don.” The wiggly arrows pointing to both
these tribes are a reminder that the Cossacks’ origins lie with Russian peasants fleeing
serfdom on the one hand, and Tartar deserters on the other. The large land area of the new
empire under Moscow’s dominion met all the preconditions for a new state ideology, and it
was on this basis that Ivan the Great’s wars against “Lithuania” would be fought. Political
ascendancy resulted in the forging of diplomatic relations with other empires. The “First
Russian Embasy [sic]” abroad, for example, was installed in Constantinople in 1497.

The various maps which Maciunas drew for the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries de-
scribe how Russia continued to expand under changing rulers and how it successively pushed
back its own boundaries. Especially worthy of note is the massive expansion that started
under Ivan IV (“1505–1564”), who in 1547 was crowned the “1st Tsar” of Russia, and there-
after ruled with an iron hand (pl. 1/22). His autocratic “reign of terror,” marred by innumer-
able executions and seizures of property in the years “1564–1584,” was followed by a period
of internal conflict known as the “times of trouble” (“1584–1613”) (pl. 1/20–21). Not until
the end of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries would Russia recover from the
political and cultural “Dualism” exacerbated by the deep-seated conflict between “tsar &
patriarch” and “State & Church.” One outward sign of this change was the strategic deci-
sion to move the capital to the new city of “St. Petersburg” on the Gulf of Finland, founded
in 1703 (pl. 1/16). This had the effect of rectifying the “gradual loss of contact with seas”
which had begun with the emergence of the Kievan State.

The remarkable reign of Peter the Great is the subject of the maps “1676–1698,” “1698–1721,”
and “1721–1725” (pl. 1/15–17). Maciunas’ account begins with the route taken by the young
ruler, who in 1697 set off on a journey that would take him to Riga, Brandenburg, Holland,
England, and Vienna, and make him the first tsar to travel abroad. This is followed by a
cartographic summary of the Great Northern War against Sweden, and finally by an opti-
mistic picture of the rise of the glorious Russian “Empire.” The ever greater complexity of
Russian history at this point led Maciunas to summarize the fundamental and far-reaching
reforms and innovations of Peter’s reign in a list of twelve points, and to append these to
the Atlas in an addendum attached with Scotch tape (pl. 1/15).

After Peter the Great, the expansion of the St. Petersburg-based empire continued under
“Catherine II,” better known as Catherine the Great (“1762–1781” and “1781–1793”) (pl. 1/12–13).
The historic defeat of Napoleon in 1814 (“1801–1812” and “1812–1825”), which Maciunas re-
cords without any great pathos as “Russian General Barclay de Tolly + allied troops enters
[sic] Paris,” led not only to Alexander I being heralded as Europe’s liberator, but also to the
recognition of Russia as one of the great modern European powers, and not just in terms of
geographical size, but in political and military terms as well (pl. 1/9–10). In the Atlas, Russia’s
new status on the world stage is reflected in the increasingly dense clustering of information.
Maciunas resorted to the use of Scotch tape to add an extra sheet to the map “1855–1881”
in order to provide the additional space required to record this information (pl. 1/7).

Apart from a few short-lived changes to Russia’s borders brought about by annexation and
war—in areas of conflict which Maciunas identifies with hatching—the empire’s borders to
the west and south became increasingly stable from 1721 onward (pl. 1/4, 15). The formative
phase of the Russian “Empire” is plotted step by step. There may be many reasons for the

shape an empire takes, and most of them are painful. For Russia, territorial boundaries =[eh][CWY_kdWi"7jbWie\Hkii_Wd
marked the dividing line between friend and foe. But borders have another meaning, too, >_ijeho" '/+)$?daWdZ]hWf^_j[ed
and this other meaning has nothing to do with tension and conflict—quite the contrary:
Z[jW_b"'-$/ × '*Yc$ž@edWiC[aWi
they can be the guarantors of that static formation which in times of peace is the seat of L_ikWb7hji9[dj[h"L_bd_ki
modern sovereignty.57

The Slavophiles and Westerners differed radically on the question of whether Russia, having
won the respect of the other European powers through its 1814 march on Paris, could also
be considered part of Europe in social and cultural terms. The controversy around univer-
salist claims and national identity became the key issue in the Russian history of ideas of

both the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.58 Maciunas, too, grappled with the argu-
ments on both sides, even if this is not immediately apparent in his Atlas of Russian History.
The Atlas did not offer an appropriate space for a discussion as weighty as this, but Maciu-
nas worked it into his Chronology of Russian History: 867–1950, one whole section of which is
devoted to “Slavophilism” and “Westernism” (pl. 5/A2).

The cartography ends more or less abruptly in the late nineteenth century. The heroic phase
of Soviet history that was to follow in the early twentieth century was too complex to be
contained, let alone mapped, in the traditional atlas format. To a certain extent, therefore,
Maciunas can be said to have reached the limits of what the charting and mapping of his-
tory could achieve. The limit he had reached was systemic, of the kind Gregory Bateson
examined in his book Mind and Nature (1979): “All description, explanation, or representa-
tion is necessarily in some sense a mapping of derivatives from the phenomena to be de-
scribed onto some surface or matrix or system of coordinates. In the case of an actual map,
the receiving matrix is commonly a flat sheet of paper of finite extent, and difficulties occur
when that which is to be mapped is too big or, for example, spherical. . . . Every receiving
matrix,” Bateson concluded, “will have its formal characteristics which will in principle be
distortive of the phenomena to be mapped onto it.” 59

The distortion of phenomena in the Atlas of Russian History consisted in its gross simplifica-
tion of complex geohistorical processes as factographic fallout. To be able to capture that
“hot” phase in a chronology which, owing to the large number of fast-moving events that
have to be taken into account, has the character of “differential elements”—to borrow
Claude Lévi-Strauss’ definition for the study of anthropology—Maciunas had no choice but
to change his mode of presentation. He therefore switched from two-dimensional mapping
of history to the historiogram, which could be expanded in three dimensions without any
major structural changes and thus lent itself more readily to the ever greater factual density
Maciunas now grappled with. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that Maciunas began
working on his Chronology: 1881–1934 (pl. 2/A–D) even before he had finished the Atlas. The
former work picks up the narrative thread in the very same year as that in which the Atlas
7i_Wj_YC_]hWj_edi"_d7b\h[Z9$>WZZed" of Russian History comes to an abrupt halt, namely in 1881, the year in which Alexander III
J^[MWdZ[h_d]ie\F[efb[i9WcXh_Z][ ascended the throne following the assassination of his father (pl. 1/2, 1/6; 2/A).60 The empti-
ness that takes up so much of the available space on the maps dedicated to the reign of
“Alex III” has to do with the fact that the charting of history was work in progress. Yet the
tabula rasa provided by the semantically blank sheet of paper is at the same time a stunning
way of raising the question of whether history might not also be understood as something
other than factographic set theory.

Usually, geographical maps are static representations. The snapshots of history they pro-
vide have no room for the dynamic dimension of historical processes. The arrows Maciunas
used in the Atlas of Russian History are an attempt to restore a sense of dynamism. The
vectors are necessary to the mental animation of systems, and signify large-scale move-
ments such as migrations or invasions. Yet they can only ever mark out the general direc-
tion, never the exact route taken. It is the arrows, moreover, which lend the charts the dia-
grammatic character that appeals so strongly to non-cartographers such as Maciunas. The
rudimentary nature of the cartographic information provided on the various sheets also
belongs in this category. Because Maciunas dispenses with a frame, a grid, and a specifica-
tion of scale, the representational space of his history charts tends to resemble pictures
rather than maps.61

Up to a point, the Atlas functions as a crash course in Russian history. This effect is best
achieved if it is used like a kind of flipbook and the maps perused at some speed and—as
Maciunas himself instructed—from back to front. Only then can the viewer replay the
emergence and growth of Russia and the shaping of the Russian Empire as if in fast motion,
while also gaining an impression of the process-based nature of historical change. If the
Atlas is indeed used performatively, this sets in motion a visual stream of images that skims

over epochs and through the centuries. Such a cinematographic review of Russian history
gives rise to an image of Russia as an empire which emerged out of nothing, is permanently
expanding, and which in terms of land area has been the world’s largest single body politic
ever since the sixteenth century, encompassing no less than one sixth of the Earth’s total
land mass.62


History never happens in a void. On the contrary, it always happens in a specific space. Ac-
cording to Michel de Certeau, space presupposes ensembles of movement deployed within
it: “Space occurs as the effect produced by the operations that orient it, situate it, temporal-
ize it, and make it function in a polyvalent unity of conflictual programs or contractual
proximities.” 63 In this sense, spatiality is crucial to all those historical events whose fateful
ramifications become apparent in the strategic land grabs practiced in the name of a disas-
trous policy of Blut und Boden. The Atlas of Russian History conveys this in graphic fashion
not only by pinpointing scenes of battle, but also by visualizing the radius within which
these military conflicts made waves.

Maciunas used a limited set of symbols to specify history’s spatial dimension: circles to in-
dicate places and asterisks to indicate battlefields and the destinations of expeditions, etc.
This kind of geohistorical infrastructure on maps is subject to what George Kubler, in his
1962 book Shape of Time, described as the iconic “reduction of knowledge.” There is no
“chartjunk”—to borrow Edward Tufte’s concept—in Maciunas’ diagrams.64 The elementary
data and features which help to whittle down the sheer bulk of information to a manageable
size are not themselves illustrative; they rather generate an epistemic field of operation
based on consistency and visual homogeneity. The degree of knowledge contained in gen-
eral maps of this nature is measurable by the precision of the graphic information provided
and not by criteria for the aesthetic representation of space, whatever they might be. The
Atlas also affords us not so much aesthetic pleasure as conceptual aids that enable us to see
historical facts, and to see them differently. Maciunas’ unspoken aim was to integrate car-
tographic methods of representation in historiography’s presentational and communicative
repertoire.65 The vast Russian state could thus be apprehended as a historical order of mag-
nitude open to a range of interpretations.

It was to expose these different interpretations that Maciunas switched, as already men-
tioned, his representation of history to chronological mode. The atlas of history leveled the
time factor for a large geographical region and was thus faced with the insoluble problem of
describing historical processes simultaneously. It was therefore replaced by the history
chart. The descriptive map was superseded by the abstract diagram, analogue representa-
tion by chronographic organization. The new design matrix was no longer an area, but
rather a vertical timeline. For his diagrams, Maciunas preferred to use lined writing paper
with a single vertical on the left margin. The lines provided a basic two-dimensional system
of coordinates, which in turn served as the basic structure of a time-space chart (pl. 2).66
Historiographic space, which had taken up so much room in the atlas, was thus subordi-
nated to a synchronoptical ordering principle.

The transition from atlas to diagram was tantamount to a paradigm shift. The categories
would henceforth be weighted by time rather than place. In purely formal terms, this shift
from juxtaposition in space to consecutive presentation in time is borne out by Maciunas’
switch from landscape format, with its implications of a geographical horizon, to portrait
format, in which the crucial point of reference is the vertical time axis. This paradigm shift
is highlighted by the extended title: (Space-Time) Atlas of Russian History (see illustration on
p. 23). Maciunas typed the text, like all his later Fluxus publications, on an IBM Executive
typewriter in the remarkably light sans serif font News Gothic and pasted what he had
typed into the Atlas by way of a title page. Whereas the title (Space-Time) Atlas focused firstly

on space, Maciunas prioritized time in his description of his giant two-by-four meter His-
tory of Art Chart (incomplete) (1955–1960) as a “time/space chart categorizing all past styles,
movements, schools, artists, etc.” 67 The distinction that Maciunas drew between the domi-
nance of space in the maps of history and the supremacy of time in the history diagrams
would later resurface—albeit in a somewhat different guise—in his Fluxus charts. There,
the various facets of futurism, Dadaism, and lettrism are subdivided into space arts and
time arts as well as gradual convergences and composites of the two (pl. 12–13).

The account of Russian history related in the various chronological charts which Maciunas
produced in the course of his studies is the same as that told by the maps in the Atlas, or at
least takes that version as its starting point. The approach naturally differs from chart to
chart. The truncating of historiographic space in Maciunas’ oeuvre of Chronologies (in all
covering periods between 867 and 1950) serves to heighten the drama of linear progress,
which after all can be evoked only with the aid of a timeline. The predominance of time thus
has the effect of turning the spotlight on the developmental paradigm. Even more impor-
tant than territorial shifts on a grand scale are differences in the speed of change and mi-
crohistorical processes. The conception of history in the Atlas is a political one. There are no
maps in which Maciunas depicted the history of religion, art, business, law, or statecraft.
These aspects therefore have to be left to his history diagrams.

The charts of Russian history, which vary in size, but are consistent in layout, fall into two
categories depending on how Maciunas modeled his own idealized image of the past. In the
descending timeline, the history of Russia profits from its earlier periods in that Maciunas
presented the fledgling Soviet Union in a spectacular, three-dimensional diagram which
casts it as the quintessence of the past (pl. 4/1–9). In the ascending, three-part Chronology of
Russian History: 867–1950, on the other hand, the Soviet Union is elevated to the apogee of
Russia’s development (pl. 5). Awareness of its own superiority allows it to triumph over the
past, despite all the many social shortcomings which the diagram does not conceal. Apply-
ing the model of history as an upward thrust, Maciunas presents progress as a powerful
evolutionary trend—an aspect which could not have been highlighted anywhere near as
emphatically as this had he adhered to the atlas format.

The great increase in the popularity of historical atlases in the nineteenth century would
be inconceivable without the emergence of the nation state and the pursuit of aggressively
expansionist and imperialist policies.68 The history of the empire was to inform maps of
the empire. The political function of the atlas of history was thus very similar to that of
history painting. Its purpose was not so much to deliver comfort and relief—which was
what history paintings had to do—as to nurture historical awareness. Such awareness as
the basis for social development, however, was to be found only at the top of the learning
curve that was preceded and facilitated by the positivistic acquisition of facts. To para-
phrase Jürgen Habermas, social evolution is driven by changes in the knowledge poten-
tial.69 The historical sources show a milieu which believed in the reformation—meaning
the improvement—of the world by education. Maciunas’ maps are of a piece with this en-
lightenment ideology. As an imaginative matrix, they do not deliver an abstract model of
history, but rather generate their own history—one whose narrative strategies elude any
direct empirical verification. This metahistory is ideologically motivated. As the factual
density increases, so the process of historical change picks up speed, culminating in the
Russian Revolution. Maciunas’ mapping project was focused on that one event, an event
which exemplifies most vividly the feasibility of history, which in turn allows for the idea
that society can indeed be modeled.

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Drawn history rests on the same preconditions and premises as cartography.70 Historiographic
diagrams do not allow for a central perspective any more than do the systems of coordinates
used in geography. In two-dimensional historiography, the meridians and parallels which in
cartography allow the curvature of the Earth to be projected onto a grid are recoded as axes
of time and space. Maps and history charts are not just structurally related; in functional
terms, too, they both aim to satisfy the same basic need for orientation. Yet the geographical
picture never quite matches the historical picture. As an empirical representation of reality,
the map is rather the foil which throws the abstract space of history into relief.

Maciunas’ sprawling Chronologies of European history are painstakingly penned onto the
verso of sheets from old notepads. Long before the Italian critic Germano Celant coined the
term “arte povera,” Maciunas had already made the use of inexpensive materials a guiding
principle. His chronic shortage of funds was no more than a pretext for this; what undoubt-
edly carried more weight was his implicit critique of the glamour of US-American art and
consumerism, to which the high-gloss aesthetic of pop art had made such a vital contribu-
tion. The medium had long been the message.

Maciunas found ring-binder paper with pale blue rulings and a pink vertical delineating the
left-hand margin to be even better suited to his spatio-chronological interpretations of the
past than was ordinary writing paper, since the former generated a two-dimensional system
of coordinates almost of its own accord. Space and time, being at first coexistent and then
consecutive, together form the system of coordinates by which Maciunas’ diagrammatic his-
toriography is ordered, and only when these coordinates have been fixed can historical
knowledge be installed. It is the mathematical relationships between the data implied by the
space and time axes which in turn make it possible for quantitative assertions to be made.

The hole-punched sheets in letter format were made to be filed, although Maciunas never
really made use of ring binders for the flexible ordering of his diagrams. He regarded them
less as running text than as textures arranged vertically and horizontally, and frequently
taped together to produce a graphic picture of knowledge. The conceptual space created in
this way is a space of seeing created with a view to maximizing breadth.

When preparing his charts, Maciunas first entered a column of numbers to the left of the
pink vertical and then the names of various countries along the upper edge of the paper
(pl. 2/A–D). Once the coordinates had been fixed in this way, he got down to work by split-
ting the thematically arranged text columns into smaller and smaller subtopics. Differenti-
ating between the large columns on the one hand and the small subheadings on the other
was part of his attempt to order the chaos of history. Maciunas’ systematic ordering of
the past within the coordinates of historical time and geographical space was a means
of providing orientation. It is according to this same grid that two-dimensional space of

the writing paper is broken down into historical modules. Dividing lines drawn with a ruler
make the charts clearer, even where their meandering possesses an almost ornamental
quality.71 Whenever the space staked out for writing turned out to be too small, Maciunas
carefully collaged smaller pieces of paper into his planimetric ordering system, and so en-
tered the third dimension. The reading direction of these digressions is liable to change.
Horizontal blocks of text push their way into vertical columns. Sometimes the diagrams
have to be turned through ninety degrees so that all the addenda can be read. The data pile
up and branch out in all directions. Maciunas bestows on dates the same kind of “physiog-
nomy” that Walter Benjamin in his Arcades Project viewed as a general requirement of all
historiography. Dates alone, in the sense of a linear series of numbers, give us no more than
an inkling of the multilayered nature of historical time, no matter how short the periods
covered. It is the multidimensionality of historical processes that interests Maciunas and it
is this he tries to reconstruct by expanding his two-dimensional diagram into a third di-
mension (pl. 4/1–9, poster 1). Deliberately avoiding sophisticated pop-up effects, he instead
built a solid architecture of history, the aim being to allow the content of his diagrams to be
unearthed layer by layer as an archeology of knowledge.

The fact that the time strata can be literally leafed through means that parallel develop-
ments can be followed synchronously and the thematic context understood at a glance. Lin-
ear progress is frequently interrupted, but with the aid of cross-references and more general
associations Maciunas guides viewers through the labyrinth of history, repeatedly bringing
home the extraordinary complexity of each brief historical moment. Time takes on the con-
crete form of what Gilles Deleuze called “folded space.” In his early Chronologies, Maciunas
translated time and space, two terms which in the Fluxcharts would later become insepara-
ble as causally related semantic elements (pl. 12–13), into multilayered models. In this way,
he demonstrated the very same quality that John Cage claimed for experimental music.
In his composition classes at the New School for Social Research in the late 1950s—inciden-
tally attended by George Brecht, Al Hansen, Dick Higgins, Allan Kaprow, and Jackson
Mac Low—Cage saw music as the expansion of time art into space.72

Because Maciunas worked mainly with a fine-nibbed fountain pen and black ink, he was able
to write tiny block letters without endangering the legibility of his minute handwriting.73
Such a neat and tidy chronology could well have given him a sense of having a grip on history.
If handwriting really is a psychogram, then Maciunas must have been both stingy and pedan-
tic or, expressed in positive terms, thrifty and punctilious. And if handwriting is an image of
the soul, then Maciunas must have been a man of remarkable equanimity, for his hand was
beautifully even. The slight slant to the right also suggests a moderate degree of dynamism.

Maciunas is at any rate a systematic thinker. He starts by plotting his diagrams of history
with their linear grid made up of rows and columns onto the kind of spatial ordering system
that is essential to the storage of what Immanuel Kant called the “scientistically known.”
Historical space is thus subjected to synchronoptical ordering and the lack of a sensuous
dimension to a large extent compensated by the gain of an intellectual one, as Maciunas
shows in the Chronology: 1881–1934 (pl. 2).74 His tabular recording of political events in France,
England, Austria and Germany, the Balkans, and Russia presents late-nineteenth- and early-
twentieth-century European history in an abstract topography based on geographical
factors. To complete the picture, on which the stamp of World War I is clearly visible,
Maciunas then adds comparisons with China, Japan, and the USA (pl. 2/A–D). That the
nation states are separated by vertical dividing lines implies a certain parity between them.
It is above all these dividing lines that Maciunas uses to teach us to conceive of history in
clearly delimited geographical spaces. By defining these as columns, he produces a version
of the past as the history of regions that can easily be compared with each other.

Over a long period of time, these ruled lines run parallel. Yet at the first sign of armed con-
flict between the countries, they instantly metamorphose into frontlines—as if they were
based on a kind of jigsaw puzzle. Maciunas concentrates on the line so as to lend graphic

form to the territorial play of forces unleashed when military energies clash. The lines’ ir-
regularity is indicative of the territorial shifts resulting from military campaigns. The verti-
cally meandering line thus serves as an index for a geopolitical status quo which is con-
stantly being redefined, whether by troop advances or by retreats. The true seat of modern
sovereignty, Hardt and Negri have argued, is the border, since it is here that friend is distin-
guished from foe. Comparing the borderlines in Maciunas’ diagram, it soon becomes clear
that the German aggression that began in mid-August 1914 and continued until November
1918 was able to concentrate on the annexation of the East only because the Western Front
was stable at the time (pl. 2/C). Historiography as drawn here by Maciunas, in other words,
creates a space in which history can be played out—a space which is tied to the written word,
but even more so to polyvalent line drawing.

The Chronology of Russian History: 867–1950 was an attempt to rechart Russian history (pl. 5/
A1–B5). It is an ambitious, but ultimately unfinished work, perhaps best understood as the
conceptual counterpart of the Atlas of Russian History (pl. 1/1–37). What the Chronology does
is to examine in greater depth the social and cultural history of Russia which the Atlas left
largely unexplored. It sketches the period from the appointment of Russia’s first bishop in
the year 867 followed by the militarization of the peasant state to the end of the Stalinist
era after World War II. The three parts of the Chronology—each of them several sheets held
together with Scotch tape—all focus on a different theme: the history of literature, paint-
ing, and architecture (900–1800), the history of the church and the secularization of culture
(867–1850), and economic history (1200–1950). The result of this synchronoptical view of
history is a multifaceted knowledge chart which allows the larger context to shine through
precisely because it contains so many blank spaces. Lacunae are an epistemological category
in their own right. Many of them in fact turn out to be the very same “interfaces” as those
liable to be colonized by the elemental processes of knowledge production.75 In this context,
however, the word “interfaces” can also be understood literally to the extent that if the
sequence of thematic blocks is changed—Maciunas did not specify the order in which they
were to appear—the overlaps in content are likewise bound to change, thus giving rise to
new correlations. The flexible ordering of this chart not only contrasts sharply with the
rigorous subdivision of the Chronology of Russian History: 1917–1934 into the categories “in-
dustry,” “agriculture,” “budget,” “Poetry,” “Prose,” and “Music” (pl. 4, poster 1), but also has
the effect of further honing the viewer’s historical consciousness.

Maciunas had a gift for lending convoluted problems a clarity tantamount to an explana-
tion. The graphs showing Russia’s demographic development and industrialization from the
seventeenth to the early nineteenth centuries, for example, tend to trace parallel curves,
while the fall in agricultural output after 1900 is precipitous (pl. 5/A3–5). Drawn lightly in
pencil, this particular graph breaks off suddenly around 1915 as if Maciunas had been inter-
rupted, although what it really shows is the incipient food crisis brought about by war com-
munism. Compared with the abstract line of these graphs, the figurative depiction of an
onion dome looks almost anecdotal (pl. 5/C1). Maciunas uses this miniature drawing to il-
lustrate the functional aspect of this Byzantine wooden roof. The great advantage of the
onion dome introduced around 1100, or so we are told, is that the snow slips straight off it.

The diagram’s information clusters and blank spaces together yield a tissue of knowledge in
which close connections are interlaced with much more tenuous associations. The blank
spaces, moreover, provide scope for speculation, there being no limits to the historiographi-
cal sense of possibility. Spanning a period of more than a thousand years, the Chronology is
itself proof of Maciunas’ aspiration to grasp Russian history in its totality. In its unfinished
state, however, it remains open to still more semantic associations, which it is up to the
viewers to provide. Regular comparisons with the Atlas are therefore highly recommended;
not just because of the additional information provided there, but also because occasionally
the information is the same, as is the case for the years “988” and “1494” (pl. 1/23, 29; 5/B5, C2).
Just how closely the two works are interwoven thus becomes apparent in the extent to
which they overlap and complement each other. Only when viewed in conjunction with each

other do the Chronology of Russian History: 867–1950 and Atlas of Russian History present a
truly comprehensive picture of Russia’s past.

Maciunas has the ascending development of Russian history culminate in the conflict between
“Slavophilism” and “Westernism” (pl. 5/A2). This divide was the deepest of the fault lines run-
ning through mid- to late-nineteenth-century Russia, which at that time was paradoxically
trying to set itself apart from the West while at the same time seeking closer ties. The political
divide between nationalism and internationalism reopened after World War II, albeit under
greatly changed historical circumstances, namely in the bipolar constellation of the Cold War,
in which one of the two superpowers was the Soviet Union. The conflict was not a dilemma for
Maciunas personally, however, as his three biographical stations—Lithuania, Germany, and
the USA—had more than once broadened his horizons and he had always regarded himself as
a world citizen in any case. It was his cosmopolitan experience that would inform the world-
embracing projects with which Maciunas sought to advance the globalization of Fluxus.


Maciunas’ special interest in the history of Russia and in the early days of the Soviet Union
in particular cannot be adequately explained by his own immigrant background. He was
born in Kaunas, Lithuania, in 1931, and spent most of his childhood and early adolescence
there until the Russian invasion of Lithuania in 1944 induced his family to flee first to Ger-
many and, four years later when Maciunas was still just sixteen, to the USA. Nor are his own
family origins—his mother’s family hailed from Russia—enough to account for his interest
in Russian history. A psychoanalytical explanation would seem similarly far fetched; it
would see Maciunas subconsciously taking sides with the country of origin of the mother he
so revered throughout his whole life in order to distance himself—Oedipus-like—from his
estranged father, who had fought with Lithuanian partisans against the Soviets as a politi-
cally active high school student. The fact is that Maciunas was motivated neither by his own
biography, nor by genealogy or predisposition. What fascinated him most of all, albeit for
very different reasons, was the “heroic phase” of Soviet history—as short as this phase
might seem viewed from the perspective of the longue durée.76 Whereas this early phase at
first served him as a starting point for some general reflections on social processes, it later
became a source of legitimacy for Fluxus. The longer Maciunas lived in the West, the stron-
ger his ideological ties to the East that supplied the raw material for his emphatically social
self-perception became. In the USA, the “pro-Soviet Lithuanian” in his own way turned out
to be a “Russianist,” a “peculiar kind of Marxist-Leninist.” 77

Articulating the specific relevance of history to the Fluxus movement, Maciunas did indeed
trace its intellectual roots back to the history of Russia and the USSR. The link exposed
aspects of the past which Maciunas tried to bring to bear on his own present, even using
Fluxus to render history accessible as the source of an alternative future. It might be argued
that there were at least three theses to be drawn from history: first, the thesis that Fluxus
was in fact a continuation of the Russian Revolution with other means; second the thesis
that avant-garde interventionism can bring about social change; and third, the thesis that
art has a potential for cultural transgression in the sense of “spatial practice.” The word
“thesis” is used deliberately on the grounds that Maciunas never elaborated any coherent
theory of the avant-garde movement which he initiated. Fluxus did not simulate profundity.
As in Zen, artistic practice was more important than abstract problems. Yet Fluxus was still J^[Ikhh[Wb_ijCWfe\j^[MehbZ"_d
conceptualized as a vanguard of social change resting on assumptions derived from history LWh_ƒjƒi"@kd['/(/"ff$(,Å(-

that could be developed into theories. The conceptual tool for this reflective turn on history
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was that provided by the Atlas and the Chronologies, which taken together prepared the e\\i[jfh_dj"*- × +(Yc$IjWWji]Wb[h_[
ground for Maciunas’ avant-garde concept to be incorporated in discourse on cultural and Ijkjj]Whj"Ie^c7hY^_l[žF^eje]hWf^0
intellectual history. The historiographic connection at the same time provided a form of IjWWji]Wb[h_[Ijkjj]Whj
ideological backup. Cartography and diagrams also proved to be an important instrument
for opening up both spatial and mental scope.

Maciunas’ special interest in the 1920s manifested itself in a three-dimensional chart. In
terms of design, this diagram, which explores the radical changes precipitated by the revolu-
tion of October 1917, is the most sophisticated of all his historiograms (pl. 4, poster 1). The
two-dimensional outline of Soviet history is here enlarged to spectacular effect by the ad-
dition of a third dimension. A miner of facts, Maciunas achieved this by constantly adding
new aspects, and by pasting little slips of paper containing additional information onto the
underlying grid in the manner of a collage. The result is a multiple fold-out history which
lives from the excitement of its architectural versatility and with it the possibility of new
historiographical constellations and insights.

Starting with Russia’s political history, the period between 1917 and 1934 is subdivided into
the categories “industry,” “agriculture,” “budget,” “Poetry,” and “Prose.” A “Music” category
is also penciled in, but not pursued. What is summarized, in other words, is the heroic phase
in the history of the Soviet Union that Maciunas often recalled when talking to other art-
ists at the AG Gallery and frequently referred to in his correspondence. Maciunas’ leftist
background had obvious affinities to the most extreme movements of the early twentieth
century. In those days, it was the Russian constructivists who were espousing the most radi-
cal artistic positions. Their attempt at an ideological renewal of the state was a utopian
project which Maciunas sought to reanimate through Fluxus. By doing so, he was also tak-
ing a clear stand against the McCarthyism prevailing in his own time.

=[eh][CWY_kdWi"<_b[YWhZm_j^dej[i As far as artistic developments in the period after 1917 are concerned, the diagram lists
edLbWZ_c_hCWoWaeliao"Y$'/+)Å+*$ “Proletkult” and the “Futurist school” with its “most colorful propagandist” Vladimir Maya-
?daedfWf[h"-$+ × '($-Yc
kovsky as models that were to have a decisive influence on Fluxus as well.78 At least by im-
plication, “Mayakovsky,” who wanted to “abandon outmoded traditions of the past,” here
also stands for the Left Front of the Arts or LEF, a loose grouping of Soviet artists he founded
in the year of the revolution and that was centered on the magazine of that name (1923–
1925), and also its much more radical successor organization Novy LEF (New LEF). Follow-
ing the model of both LEF and Novy LEF, the self-appointed Fluxus chairman Maciunas
called for the abolition of all art, by which he meant music, theater, poetry, fiction, painting,
sculpture, and the like. Setting himself unequivocally apart from the aesthetic concept of
the fine arts, Maciunas put political activism firmly back on the agenda. The reference to
Proletkult enabled Maciunas to throw his weight behind the programmatic demand that
more be done for the common good. Proletkult was a workers’ educational organization
which had become established during the political upheavals of 1917, and hence at a time
when “progres[s]ive opposition” was ousting “reactionary government” (pl. 3/A). What ap-
pealed most strongly to Maciunas were the eclectic cultural activities of Proletkult and its
vehement opposition to the apolitical aestheticism of high-brow culture. When he called on
his fellow artists to produce “socially constructive” applied and functional arts, what he
meant was proletarian art for the masses or, expressed in concrete terms, industrial design,
journalism, architecture, engineering, graphic-typographic arts, printing, and such like.79

In 1928, the year of the launch of the first five-year plan, the “social command” of art, ac-
cording to the diagram, consisted of three tasks: “1. to illustrate the 5 yr. Plan,” “2. to glorify
it,” and “3. Constructive criticism.” Maciunas internalized these demands as well, at least to
the extent that he wanted Fluxus to become important only in relation to politics: “Our
activities loose [sic] all significance if divorced from social-political struggle,” he wrote pro-
grammatically in a 1963 letter to Emmett Williams.80

The “great confusion” occasioned by uncertainty over what the frenzied year of 1917 with
its February and October Revolutions would mean for art had at last subsided.81 That “lit-
erature and all other arts [have] to serve the cause of the State,” as the diagram tells us,
had long since become a matter of course for Fluxus. Even the “Forced Humour” that the
diagram dates with 1930 and ascribes to the later Nobel laureate for literature Mikhail
Alexandrovich Sholokhov appears to live on in the much vaunted Fluxus humor, by means
of which the world was to be made a better place.

In the diagram, however, Maciunas also exposes the limits of Soviet arts and culture policy,
which not only instrumentalized artists, but also committed them to a priori self-chastise-
ment. The two comments on the 1934 entry on “Socialist realism” are very telling in this
connection: the “artist must be optimistic, constructive, accept life as beautifull [sic]”; and “it
is the artist that is wrong, not life.” The diagram gives the impression that these comments
are quotations from the patriotic poet Vera Inber and the novelist Aleksey Nikolayevich
Tolstoy, although this is not really the case. Both names are here used as representatives of
the First All-Union Congress of Soviet Writers, which in the summer of 1934 decreed that all
artists—and thus not only writers—would henceforth be bound by socialist realism. Anyone
who did not unconditionally subscribe to this school would have to suffer the consequences.
The murder on December 1, 1934, of Sergey Kirov, one of Comrade Stalin’s closest associates,
is mentioned on the far left of the diagram as an ominous portent of what such consequences
might be. That event also marks the beginning of dictator Stalin’s monstrous purges, which
were to culminate in the great show trials of the late 1930s.82

Using the artistic resources of Fluxus as a vehicle, Maciunas firmly dismissed the strident
demand of Westerners—and hence, implicitly, of the West—that “Russia should accept
western capitalism” (pl. 5/A2). In doing so, he was in a sense fulfilling a historic mission of
whose legitimacy innumerable Russians were convinced—as Henry Flint learned from
Maciunas in the early 1960s.83 The events and Fluxkits were conceived in such a way that
they did indeed undermine the commodity value of conventional artworks—one of the best
known side-effects of which was to condemn Fluxus to unrelieved financial embarrassment.

What Maciunas was striving for with Fluxus was the gradual elimination of the fine arts.
His efforts were directed against the monadic work of art as a commercial entity. When he
preached anti-individualism to his fellow artists, the anonymity of the collective he held
up as a model was that of the Soviet kolkhoz. His purpose was to break down not only the
traditional notion of the “work” with which modernism had identified, but all its economic
aspects as well.84 Being an artist was not a socially acceptable profession, but rather a
purely voluntary sideline, he argued. True Fluxus artists therefore ought to earn their liv-
ing with a regular nine-to-five job, which on top of everything else had to be just as socially
constructive and useful as all other Fluxus activities.85 Unlike the early Marx, who in his
libertarian phase considered literary criticism in the evening as more important than
drudgery during the day, Maciunas thought very little of immaterial work. As mentioned
above, he was no friend of theory and intellectual art. What impressed him were rather
disciplined revolutionaries such as Cuban leader Fidel Castro, who ran a country by day,
and wrote propagandistic speeches by night. According to this model, Fluxus was to be
pursued during the evening hours, or between five and ten to be exact, Maciunas having
decreed that the hours between midnight and eight in the morning were for sleep.86 This,
in other words, was how his Fluxus-style planned economy looked. As noble as the inten-
tions behind Maciunas’ doctrine were, the avant-garde attempt to turn “art into life” did

not lead to the assimilation of the aesthetic, but instead merely paved the way to new art.87
Despite the vehemence of his critique, Maciunas was not in fact able to change this. On the
contrary, it seems that he provoked just the opposite.


The Atlas of Russian History and the Chronologies enabled Maciunas to gain a wide-ranging
overview of Russian history. The most important data and facts were provided by the senior
course on the “Evolution of the Modern Russian State” that he took at the Carnegie Insti-
tute of Technology in Pittsburgh, while others were gleaned from innumerable compendia
and reference works he worked through with the utmost diligence. At heart, he was always
an inveterate knowledge worker. Lexical knowledge was painstakingly transferred to filing
cards or recorded with the aid of excerpts, and the compilation drawn from these docu-
ments then reworked as maps and charts to enable it to unfold its full potential.

The grounding in Russian history that Maciunas acquired of his own accord while a student
in Pittsburgh turned out to be a great asset when he began studying art history at New York
University’s Institute of Fine Arts (1955–1960). Instead of contenting himself with subjects
of interest only to the educated middle classes, such as Erwin Panofsky’s lecture course on
funerary sculpture or a course on Baroque painting taught by emeritus professor Walter
Friedlaender, Maciunas commenced his own in-depth study of the European and Siberian
“art of migrations.” Maciunas was supported in this endeavor by his mentor, the art histo-
rian and expert in Asian art Alfred Salmony, who encouraged him to pursue a career as a
professor of art history.88 It was Salmony’s courses on the art and sculpture of China, Japan,
and Korea, moreover, that enabled Maciunas to extend his historiographic knowledgescape
by adding the Atlas of Prehistoric Chinese Art.89 Maciunas’ papers also contain small-format
photographs of thematic maps such as the Sketch-Map of South Russia Showing the Places of
the Most Important Archaeological Finds, the Map of the Evolution of the Fibula, the Belt-buckle
and the Agrafe, as well as an extract from a geographical map of the Soviet Union which
was intended to provide a more accurate picture of the “art of migrations.” 90

Maciunas was interested in the Migration period not just because he had experienced migra-
tion at first hand. What fascinated him was the cultural force for change implicit in the inva-
sion of the Huns and in the nomadism of the Tartars, Mongols, and Turks. It was a fascination
which Salmony fostered with his lectures on the “Art of the Migrations.” 91 The culturally
H[fheZkYj_edie\cWfi\hecCWY_kdWiÊ transformative energy unleashed by the migrations is reflected in the Atlas wherever Maciunas
fWf[hi uses arrows to indicate both the direction and magnitude of such mass movements.92

The Atlas of Russian History contains no early hint of the many bold plans that Maciunas
would later pursue true to the avant-garde promise of art to be not mere aesthetics but also
socially and politically committed. But just as every map almost imperceptibly reveals to us
an inner geography and biography, so there are signs of Maciunas’ eastward urge even in the
Atlas. There, prepared in small, is a project that would later take on utopian proportions—
the project not just to change, but to better the world with the aid of Fluxus. The backdrop
of expectations against which Maciunas developed this project ultimately makes sense only
in the experiential space of historiography outlined by the Atlas of Russian History. It is Rus-
sian history that supplies the crucial arguments for Fluxus’ reactivating of the past, and
hence for a revival of the idea of the avant-garde.


The chronological coding of history which Maciunas undertook with the discrete events
listed in the early historiographic diagrams emphasizes the linear dimension of time and
its hierarchical ordering in terms of past, present, and future. The straight line as timeline
symbolizes this very succinctly, while the curve or spiral represents kinetic regularity. The
course of history in fact resembles cycles, which lined up in sequence look rather like a
wavy line. Toward the end of his study of art history at NYU, Maciunas devoted a lot of
time and effort to analyzing the laws to which these cycles are subject. His hitherto un-
published fourteen pages of notes labeled “Historical Periodicity: for thesis only” provides
eloquent proof of this.93 The theory of cyclical history assumes the transformability of
historical issues, which after all are constantly regrouping or being deferred or displaced.
The time model underlying this theory has a lot in common with the mythical concept of
time and concepts from non-Western cultures. The search for underlying patterns implies
concurrence with the idea that history repeats itself. The directional thrust of historical
processes can thus be regarded as a form of rhythmic self-regulation, which because it can
be reduced to a formula implies a world that is mathematically predictable.

To acquire a better grasp of the historiographic equations, Maciunas turned to specialist

• Joseph Vogt, Gesetz und Handlungsfreiheit in der Geschichte: Studien zur historischen Wieder-
holung (Stuttgart 1955)
• Gaston Georgel, Les Rythmes dans l’histoire: Historique et cycles secondaires, cycles cosmiques
et synthèse de l’histoire: Applications (Besançon 1947)
• Alexandre Deulofeu, La matemática de la historia (Barcelona 1951)
• Louis Emrich, Wohin steuert die Welt? Was wird aus Europa? Die kommende Entwicklung im
Spiegel der Zyklen und Rhythmen (Bündingen-Gettenbach 1954), chap. 6: “Die Zyklen des
Westens und die Rhythmen des Ostens”
• Frederic Edward Clements, “Nature of the Problem of the Cycle” (introduction), in Reports
of the Conference on Cycles, published by The Carnegie Institution of Washington (Washington,
DC, 1929), pp. 3–4
• Edwin Francis Gay, “The Rhythm of History,” in The Harvard Graduates’ Magazine, vol. 32,
no. 125 (Sept. 1923), pp. 1–16

The cyclical theory of time rests on a biological model with four phases: nascence, blos-
soming, maturity, and decline. Together they form principal and secondary cycles, large
and small segments of time, which appear to be subject to mathematical laws. No matter
how long the phases of rise and fall are—an inconceivable 2,160 years or just eleven—the
timeframe is essentially determined by a game of numbers, which can be verified arbi-
trarily by naming people and events in history. Hegel’s notion of a “mechanism of ideas,”
which Maciunas made a note of in this context, is not adduced as a critical objection to
cyclical theory, but rather provides an opposite pole to August Comte’s naturalistic con-
cept of social progress.

In another note, the Notations for Sinusoidal Cycle, Maciunas grapples with the graphic rep-
resentation of rhythmic processes, recording the model of recurrent social upheaval in the
form of a graph plotted onto several loose sheets of paper. The ups and downs of history are
rendered as curves with almost mathematical precision. Starting with completely even si-
nusoidal cycles, the waves are at times flattened, at times elaborated to form decorative
loops, and at times intertwined in the manner of a double helix. Especially striking is the
normal distribution curve of Karl Friedrich Gauss, which is not an extract from a cycle but
rather the basic model underlying random variables. The symmetrical shape of this bell
curve, which flattens out on both sides, gives us no clue as to the complex formula on which
it is based, which Maciunas noted on a small filing card:

This formula describes the normal distribution curve and is used for error estimation in prob-
ability theory. For Maciunas, however, it served more as supporting evidence for the serious
errors of calculation that are possible, even if extremely improbable, in cyclical theory.

=[eh][CWY_kdWi" QDejWj_edi\eh
[WY^(-$/ × ('$,Yc

Given this premise, it would be possible to draw up a “system of evaluation of apex of activ-
ity” (pl. 6). Maciunas therefore turned the peaks and valleys of his Notations for Sinusoidal
Cycle to create a horizontal pendulum motion, thus precluding such intrinsic value judg-
ments as “high & low” right from the start. The antitheses of apogee and demise now appear
less as qualitative differences than as the rhythm dictating the twists and turns of fortune.
For physicists, such pendulum curves are the result of simple oscillation of the same peri-
odicity and amplitude, but different phases. For students of art history like Maciunas,
they evoked a dialectical model with which to visualize differences in tendency, but not in
quality, while maintaining periodic regularity. It was for this model of history that László
Moholy-Nagy in 1930 prescribed the ideal curve.94 Like Moholy-Nagy, Maciunas regarded
the agents of history as the “migr[ations]” from the “East.” It was in these migrations that
the driving force behind the periodic reversals from one extreme to another, from “supra
style” to “anti supra style,” were to be sought. The descending serpentine line that echoes
itself allowed Maciunas to plumb the boundaries of “stylistic expansion” from Byzantine art
to abstraction within clearly defined geographical limits. Since the main axis around which
everything else revolves is “political expansion,” art and politics are inevitably intertwined
and together subject to the gravitation of the expansion paradigm.

In 1959, Maciunas attended a seminar by the art historian Robert John Goldwater—these
days better known as the husband of Louise Bourgeois 95—in the course of which he ex-
panded his notations on the rhythm of history. His course essay on the “Development of
Western Abstract Chirography as a Product of Far Eastern Mentality,” for instance, exam-
ined the controversial topic of periodic return, taking Chinese and Japanese calligraphy and
its recurrence in twentieth-century Western art as an example.96 Maciunas believed the
cause of such repetitions to lie in the fact that in both social and ideological terms, East and
West had developed in diametrically opposite directions. The arc which Maciunas was span-
ning here stretched far beyond the “Cycles of the West and Rhythms of the East,” which
Louis Emrich had sought to define in the sixth chapter of his book on the outstanding poli-
ticians of the twentieth century.97 Maciunas described the engine of history as a dynamic of
time and space and even cited the electric generator by way of a comparison. This gross
simplification had the effect of appearing to reduce the complex processes by which change
takes place to purely mechanical functions. Yet the model actually provided by the alternat-
ing current generated by a generator, which according to the law of sines changes periodi-
cally in terms of both direction and amplitude, is in fact that of history as a cyclical process
defined by chronology and geography.

Maciunas’ postgraduate musings on the repetition of phases in history did not affect his
ongoing study of art history in any meaningful way. The short time span covered by the
Fluxus charts in any case ruled out any rhythmic apprehension of history right from the
start. Even more serious was the fact that the philosophical concept of periodic repetition
inevitably nips in the bud any optimistic belief in progress, inasmuch as the historiographic
meta-narrative rests on regular cyclically returning paradigm shifts. The regularity im-
posed by the mathematical approach to history could not be reconciled with Maciunas’ en-
lightenment perspective. Years, for him, were indications of time rather than powerful data
capable of computation. What emerges from Maciunas’ picture of history is not so much its
predictability as its feasibility. And this was the grasp of history that he would explore =[eh][CWY_kdWi" QIoij[ce\;lWbkWj_ed
through Fluxus as artistic reform in action. e\7f[ne\7Yj_l_joS"Y$'/+/Å,&$?daed
b_d[ZfWf[h"(, × (&$)Yc

B|ipbŒCe^ebo#DW]o" H^oj^ce\Ijob[i
C7FF?D=7HJ>?IJEHO WYYehZ_d]je:h$=[eh]=$M_[ipd[h"_d
=[eh]=kijWlM_[ipd[h":[h FkbiiY^bW]
Maciunas approaches art history from the perspective of universal history. He makes visual Z[kjiY^[hIj_b][iY^_Y^j[0?$J[_b0Led
assertions about the past which testify to his sensitivity to the problems of visualizing his- Ijkjj]WhjQ'/)&S"\hedj_if_[Y[
tory. Historiography deals with processes which are so complex that they have to be con-
stantly probed and reprobed, and whose larger context must be visualized for them to be
properly understood. The main advantage of the diagram lies in its highly explicatory

function. Without many words, it can reduce complexity, while at the same time presenting
facts in their entirety. By systematizing information and rationalizing factual relationships,
the diagram establishes a knowledge order based on a simple system of signs. Its arrows,
connecting lines, intersections, interfaces, edges, clusters, etc. together with the specialist
terminology and years between them present an abstract picture of history.

The chronological knowledgescapes which Maciunas completed between 1953 and 1954 were
a means of understanding the microhistorical processes of European history (pl. 2, 3, 4).
Only the three-part Chronology of Russian History: 867–1950 covered a much more ambitious
period of time (pl. 5), and it is here that we see Maciunas trying to grasp history in its total-
ity. Here, his coordination of vast amounts of data at first attempt did not advance beyond
the early stages, and was successful only later, after Maciunas had immersed himself in his
study of art history at NYU. Between 1955 and 1960, at a time when he was still entertaining
hopes of becoming a professor in art history, he went ahead with his ambitious intention of
schematically recording the history of world art from its origins to the present in several
history of art charts.98 Maciunas proceeded cautiously, however, working in pencil and
starting with preliminary sketches.

The Greek and Roman History of Art Chart is a meticulously and thoroughly composed text-
picture (pl. 7). Unlike in his earlier history diagrams, here Maciunas abandons division
into columns and switches to a system of information ordering in variously sized textual
blocks. Typographically highlighted lemmata provide a kind of semantic guidance system.
With the aid of these structures, Maciunas produces an overview which also contains a
wealth of highly condensed factual knowledge. The entries often consist of just a few lines
and are three centimeters wide on average. In this way, Maciunas was able to compress the
development of art in the Mediterranean region from late geometric vase painting to
Early Christian art into an area measuring just less than one square meter. Very early ar-
chaeological finds of everyday objects such as vases or coins are represented by islands
such as Naxos, Chios, and Samos, and towns such as Phocaea, Ephesus, and Miletus (pl. 7/
A3). From the mid-Archaic period around 600 BCE onward, the topographical information
intensifies, and local schools develop. There is a large section dedicated to the Doric archi-
tectural order subdivided into “plan,” “development,” and “later development” (pl. 7/A1),
while the section on the Doric school of sculpture introduces the importance of Ancient
Greek art (pl. 7/A2). Maciunas names Lysippus, Praxiteles, and Apelles as the outstanding
artists of their time, and he develops a typology of artworks: fora, theaters, offices, resi-
dences, temples, altars, arches, mausoleums, tombs, portraiture, and pavements (pl. 7/
B1–3). Occupying the center of the composition are Asia Minor—the Attalid dynasty and
its capital Pergamon—and the conquests of Alexander the Great and Hellenism (pl. 7/
B2–3). After this, only the imperial art of Augustus to Constantine I and Early Christian
art stand out (pl. 7/B1, C1). Of all the artistic movements mentioned here, it is the latter
that is given the most detailed treatment with information on “technique – form,” and
“subject – content” (pl. 7/C4). In a small chart of the Late Bronze Age and Iron Age, Maciunas
endeavors to unfurl the history of Roman art, presenting it as an offshoot of Greek art
(pl. 8/A1–B1), although this is a theme that is not elaborated.99

The History of Art Chart is thematically linked to the Greek and Roman History of Art Chart,
and it is the largest of all Maciunas’ charts to have survived (pl. 11). Maciunas starts with
a plan headed: Preliminary Unfinished Form of the Proposed Index Coordinate Graph (pl. 10,
poster 2). This scientific sounding title tells us nothing about what Maciunas really had in
mind, which was to plot the history of art from the Visigoths to metaphysical painting. It
seems that Maciunas himself was uncertain where such a scheme should begin. He there-
fore leaves several lines empty so that he can extend the chart backward in time if need be.
He may even have considered a link to the Greek and Roman History of Art Chart. Finally, he
enters the first term in the left margin about half way down the first sheet of paper: “Visi-
gothic Toulouse kingdom.” More keywords follow and the space available is gradually par-
titioned into geometrical areas. The sketch takes on ever larger proportions, eventually

forming a historiographic blueprint spread across six pages, which then have to be taped
together on the back. Maciunas’ ordering system, flush left with a ragged right margin, is
intended to be read like writing from left to right and from top to bottom.

The time coordinate is defined by the names given to certain epochs: Visigothic, Gothic,
High Renaissance, baroque, and neoclassicism. Modernism with its avant-garde movements
receives short shrift, inasmuch as it is not given a conceptual heading of its own. Maciunas
then attempts to differentiate the various epochs by using red lines to separate them from =[eh][CWY_kdWi" QDej[ied7hj>_ijehoS"
each other. These irregular lines are not necessarily conducive to a better understanding of Y$'/++Å,&$?da"]hWf^_j["WdZf^eje]hWf^i
the epochal borders, however. [WY^(-$/ × ('$,Yc$IjWWji]Wb[h_[
The History of Art Chart evolved on the basis of the preliminary coordinate graph and is IjWWji]Wb[h_[Ijkjj]Whj
about five times as large as the plan (pl. 11/A2–D9). The amount of meticulously compiled
information appears to have multiplied in proportion to the chart’s size, and has had to be
reduced in size in order to be rendered visible at all. Only by using miniature handwriting
was Maciunas able to cram the entire history of art from “Visigothic architecture” to “Vorti-
cism” into his twenty-eight-page History of Art Chart (pl. 11/A2, D6). Faced with the chal-
lenge of making his facts as tiny as possible, Maciunas made use of an ultra-fine pen, which
he eventually came to swear by. This enabled him to visualize even larger contexts within
the smallest of spaces, and so to capture the whole of art history in a single work. The
chart sets out to systematically record every single aspect of Western art history from the
Visigoths, Salian Franks, Merovingians, and Alemannics, from the great epochs to the
regional schools, from long-term stylistic periods to avant-garde trends, from biographical
information about artists to brief descriptions of their work. When it comes to architecture,
the time needed for construction of particular buildings, their structural features, and, if
necessary, the number of rows of columns are also recorded. From the High Middle Ages
onward, the historical facts are noticeably more numerous and more condensed. It seems
that even the blank spaces in the upper half of the knowledge chart were intended to be
filled in eventually. Maciunas penciled in his first notes here.

The History of Art Chart is the result of extensive preparatory work which began with mak-
ing lists, collecting handwritten excerpts, and creating a filing card system. As was custom-
ary for American students of art history, Maciunas managed his knowledge in the form of
lists recording the dates of well-known modernist paintings, biographical information about
the artists, and political events as well. Ad Reinhardt had already compiled such lists in the
1930s and 1940s. But while Reinhardt’s lists were to a large extent based on Julia B. De
Forest’s bestselling Short History of Art (New York 1881), we still know relatively little about
Maciunas’ reading matter. Most of his encyclopedic knowledge was presumably gained from
reference works and books about art history.

What we do have are various preparatory studies for an art history diagram. These take the
form of lecture notes and other notes jotted down while reading, which the art history stu-
dent Maciunas pieced together to create text-image collages (pl. 9). What is remarkable
about these works is the quality of both the pasted-in stamp-sized black-and-white photo-
graphs and the comments neatly penned in ink. Maciunas kept the hole-punched, letter-
format pages in ring binders, one practical advantage of which was that new pages could be
added without upsetting the basic chronological order. Only after collecting countless pieces
of information did he proceed to the next stage, which was to interconnect the data so as to
open up the larger historiographic context. To do this, he pasted together his data sheets to
create much larger datascapes. These were then divided up into geometrical sections and
furnished with semantically charged headings as an aid to orientation. The next step was
to fill in the details. The thematic segments are linked by penciled-in arrows, there being
no more room for further illustrations in this knowledge map. The transition from strati-
fied epochs to a functional genealogy of history achieved through the use of arrows does
not remove the distinctions, but rather necessitates their reconstruction, as when the strata
are translated into taxonomic categories such as “Visigothic architecture,” “Abbasid style,”

“Italo Gothic style,” etc. The definition of consecutive epochs and localization of artistic
schools, on the other hand, lend the history of ancient art a certain logic. This was a design
principle that could be applied to all areas of knowledge, whether they were concerned with
prehistoric artifacts from China, archeological finds documenting the “Siberian interrela-
tionship with [the] West and China,” or European or US American art. The layout of what
was to be a global history of art and culture had been defined.

Although the History of Art Chart was made while Maciunas was a student, it can still be
seen as a major work. Maciunas’ lifelong interest in depicting knowledge and creating mod-
els for understanding may have led him at some later date to integrate the History of Art
Chart into “a 3D system of information presentation & storage.” 100 Projects of this magni-
tude were work in progress, and they stayed that way too. With their later corrections,
extensions, and additions, Maciunas’ charts pushed him to the very limits of what was
technically feasible. The practical problems that he was constantly facing when creating
these knowledge charts could not be averted simply by greatly enlarging the format. That
is what he had tried to do with his incomplete History of Art Chart, in doing so turning it
into the enormous two-by-four-meter diagram that Pierre Restany referred to as a “giant
family tree.” 101 The problems to which this kind of enlargement gave rise can be under-
stood even without looking at the back of these painstakingly assembled montages, as the
Scotch tape adhesive has long since seeped through to the front, exposing the patchwork
for all to see. Technical problems were in any case endemic in Maciunas’ system of informa-
tion presentation, and it was therefore only logical that he would eventually decide to ex-
pand into the third dimension: “1st category on drawer faces, 2nd category on horizontal
drawer interior surface and 3rd category on vertical multiple surfaces of drawer interior-
faces of filing cards.” These ideas were the basis of the History of Art 3 dimentional [sic] Chart
(1958–1966), although this is all we know about this spectacular work whose whereabouts
are unknown.102

The fundamental question which has to be asked about a project of this magnitude concerns
its purpose. How can such a complex scheme be put to use? Viewers are confronted with an
immense amount of information, far more than they can possibly hope to take in. Instead
of obtaining an overview and orientation, they are liable to be overwhelmed by detail. And
because the history charts are designed to be viewed close up, the larger contexts are in any
case doomed. Maciunas’ diagrams cannot be grasped at a glance; they rather have to be read
like a reference book. Treating them in this way, however, strips the heavily visual ordering
system of its meaning. Instead of speeding up the process of knowledge acquisition and
hence saving time, the charts actually do the opposite. Maciunas was well aware of this
problem. Only simple tables such as the Time-Space Chart were a real alternative.

=[eh][CWY_kdWiY[dj[hWdZDWc@kd[FW_afWhjbol_i_Xb[edj^[h_]^jmW_j_d]\ehj^[_hXh_[\f[h\ehcWdY[Zkh_d]j^[\_hij<bknkiYedY[hj" 7fh„i@e^d9W]["



Maciunas first considered schematizing Fluxus in December 1961, while preparing a series
of festivals to be held in Germany.103 The earliest public manifestation of “Neo-Dada” took
place at the Galerie Parnass in Wuppertal on June 9, 1962, Neo-Dada being the term under
which Maciunas originally sought to establish Fluxus as a coherent movement.104 Implying
a link with one of the great early-twentieth-century avant-garde movements was certainly
shrewd. Rooted in the German-speaking world with centers in Zurich, Berlin, and Cologne,
Dada had been a key and enduring movement for the reform of artistic practice, which the
1958 exhibition Dada: Dokumente einer Bewegung at the Kunstverein Düsseldorf had again
made very clear.105 Dada was what Maciunas was intending to build on when he coined the
term Neo-Dada, while at the same time launching his own personal vision of a new avant-
garde movement. Besides putting together the program for the Kleines Sommerfest, there-
fore, Maciunas also took advantage of the festival to distribute several copies of a four-page
Brochure Prospectus for Fluxus Yearboxes. Not only was this the first time that forthcoming
Fluxus publication projects had been announced in advance, but the announcement, signifi-
cantly, was prefaced by a lexical definition of “flux.” 106

In the summer of 1962, Fluxus artists were still completely unknown in Europe and audi-
ences had no idea what was in store for them. The invitation was to a Kleines Sommerfest, a
“small summer festival” to be called Après John Cage.107 Responding to the invitation, some
150 people flocked to the late-nineteenth-century villa of the gallerist and architect Rolf
Jährling at which the festival was to be held.108 As a theoretical warm-up for the concert to
follow, Maciunas endeavored to explain to the audience the aesthetic aims and intentions
of post-Cagean art in the United States. He had theater director Arthus C. Caspari read out
his paradigmatic manifesto “Neo-Dada in Music, Theater, Poetry, Art”—in part freely trans-
lated, partly revised, and expanded—which he had renamed “Neo-Dada in den Vereinigten
Staaten” (Neo-Dada in the United States) for the occasion.109 The stage was the staircase in
the entrance hall of the villa.

Caspari delivered the text earnestly and in a professorial tone so that the first fifteen min-
utes of the event had a decidedly scholarly feel. “What could be called Neo-Dada in the United
:[\_d_j_ede\Ç\bknÈ_d 8heY^kh[Fheif[Yjki States,” he began, “or what we, at any rate, would like to see as such a revival of Dadaism, is
\eh<bknkiO[WhXen[iM_[iXWZ[d'/,( making itself known in a very broad area. It ranges from time arts to space arts; or more

specifically from literary art (time-art), through graphic-literature (time-space art) to graph-
b[\jWdZDWc@kd[FW_ah_]^jmW_j_d]\eh ics (space-art) through graphic music (space-time-art) to graphless or scoreless music (time-
j^[_hXh_[\f[h\ehcWdY[Zkh_d]j^[\_hij art), through theatrical music and theater (space-time art) to spatial arrangements called
<bknkiYedY[hj" 7fh„i@e^d9W]["=Wb[h_[ environments, made without any specific intention (space-art). There exist no clear border-
FWhdWii"Mkff[hjWb"@kd[/"'/,( lines within this whole space-time field.” 110 Caspari read on, while Maciunas and Nam June
Paik, both of whom had been standing in the background, unfurled a large diagram, provoking
some laughter from members of the audience. This was the first time that one of Maciunas’
diagrams—specifically the German version of the Time-Space Chart (pl. 13)—had been

presented in public. Jährling captured the historic moment in a photograph (pl. 15), which
would later be the only proof that the diagram in question had ever existed.111 What the pho-
tograph does not show is Maciunas himself, who was holding the chart on the left. The main
purpose of the low angle from which the shot was taken was to ensure that Paik was in the
picture as well as the speaker Caspari, as Paik had set up the contact to the Galerie Parnass.112
The photo angle also had the effect of lending the speaker still more authority.

Caspari did not say anything about the diagram and its structure. The crucial passage was
missing from his manuscript of “Neo-Dada in den Vereinigten Staaten” and exists only in
the manifesto “Neo-Dada in Music, Theater, Poetry, Art,” which Maciunas never had printed.
His decision not to publish probably had to do with his desire to propagate not Neo-Dada,
but Fluxus. Yet the term Fluxus does not occur a single time in the programmatic text, and
it does not feature in the Time-Space Chart either. It seems likely that what ultimately led
Maciunas to drop the term Neo-Dada was a comment by the Düsseldorf-based art dealer
Jean-Pierre Wilhelm, who just a week after Caspari’s talk had launched into a polemic
against the use of this “very badly chosen,” even “erroneous,” term in painting.113

The relevant passage from “Neo-Dada in Music, Theater, Poetry, Art” does indeed shed light
on the Time-Space Chart, if only by explaining how the diagram is organized: “There exist
no borderlines between one and the other extreme. Many works belong to several categories
and also many artists create separate works in each category. Almost each category and each
artist however, is bound with the concept of concretism ranging in intensity from pseudo
concretism, surface concretism, structural concretism, method concretism (indeterminacy
systems), to the extreme of concretism which is beyond the limits of art, and therefore
sometimes referred to as anti-art, or art-nihilism. The new activities of the artists therefore
could be charted by reference to two coordinates: the horizontal coordinate defining transi-
tion from time arts to space arts and back to time and space etc., and the vertical coordinate
defining transition from extremely artificial art, illusionistic art, then abstract art (not
within the subject of this essay), to mild concretism, which becomes more and more con-
crete, or rather nonartificial till it becomes non-art, anti-art, nature, reality.” 114

Whereas the German version of the lecture, “Neo-Dada in den Vereinigten Staaten,” was
actually an extended version of “Neo-Dada in Music, Theater, Poetry, Art,” the banner
which Maciunas and Paik unfurled in what Dick Higgins would later call a “diagrammati-
cal act” was a simplified depiction of Time projected in 2 dim. space POETRY GRAPHICS / space
projected in time GRAPHIC MUSIC / Time projected in space MUSIC THEATRE (pl. 13). This
horizontal chart, called the Time-Space Chart for short, is based on the preliminary group-
ing and categorizing of artists in Space projected in time GRAPHIC MUSIC / Time projected in
space MUSIC THEATRE (pl. 12). The enlarged and improved second version of the chart
owes much to Higgins’ constructive input. By this time, Maciunas was already describing
it as a “Fluxus Diagram.” 115

The “very wide fields of creativity” within which Fluxus operated, from “Dada” and “futurist
sound poetry” to Kurt Schwitters’ “Dada junk collages,” were explored in a kind of status bar.
Acting on Higgins’ advice, Maciunas replaced Edgard Varèse, who as a transmitter of futurist
and Dada bruitism from Paris to the USA had been given a special place at the top in the first
chart, with Charles Ives, who now stood for “indeterminacy.” This was one of six criteria ac-
cording to which the four generic terms, poetry, graphics, music, and theater, were split up
into thirteen categories based on their temporal and spatial manifestations. The Fluxartists
were then allocated to the columns created in this way, Jackson Mac Low and Dick Higgins
now ranking among those few exceptions credited with having mastered a wide range of
artistic forms of expression—a status they had not been accorded in the first version of the
chart. The transition from the extreme of time arts to the opposite extreme of space arts
along the horizontal axis is fluid. As a hybrid of literature, music, theater, and environments,
Fluxus was able to unite all artistic disciplines in one. The blurring of boundaries between
the media—Adorno spoke of their “fraying”—was symptomatic of the new avant-garde.

While for Maciunas the chart’s horizontal axis describes the fluid transition from time arts
to space arts, the vertical axis provides a scale for defining the gradations from extremely
artifical art to illusionistic art, and then from abstract art to the various facets of “concre-
tism,” leading ultimately to the anti-art favored by Maciunas himself.116 These shifts are not
actually apparent in the diagram, however, as neither the English nor the German version
has a defined vertical axis.

In the version of the Time-Space Chart that Maciunas later revised by hand, he underlined
the word “Dada” several times, and turned the two lines connecting “Dada theatre-happen-
ings” with “theatre, happenings” and “environments” into vectors (pl. 14). An arrow in-

7hj^ki9$9WifWh_h[WZ_d]j^[=[hcWd cluded as an afterthought points to the added term “Neo Dada” and from there to “happen-
jhWdibWj_ede\CWY_kdWiÊcWd_\[ije ings.” Neo-Dada, as worked out by Maciunas in his manifesto, encompasses all artistic
forms of expression,117 and the Neo-Dada departure is represented by artists whose names
Zkh_d]j^[\_hij<bknkiYedY[hj" 7fh„i
@e^d9W]["=Wb[h_[FWhdWii"Mkff[hjWb" Maciunas later marked with an asterisk: Robert Morris, La Monte Young, Dick Higgins,
@kd[/"'/,(f^eje]hWf^Wjjh_Xkj[Z George Brecht, and others. The position of Jim Dine and Robert Whitman was at first open
jeHeb\@^hb_d] to doubt, but then confirmed.

As already mentioned, the revised German version of the lecture strayed from the American
original to be better suited to the German audience. The extended summary, in particular,
caused many of those present to prick up their ears: “Whereas many of these so-called Neo-
Dadas lack the originality of the original Dadaists, they have nevertheless achieved some-
thing of unparalleled importance which the original Dadas did not accomplish; the stimula-
tion they achieved was stronger and their reach greater.” 118 This self-glorifying distinction
places Neo-Dada firmly in the tradition of Dada, by claiming to have completed the avant-
garde project which Dada began. The rhetorical flourish was aimed at all the Dadaists of
yore.119 Yet it fell short of its target. The sanitized version of “Neo-Dada in Music, Theater,
Poetry, Art” which Maciunas sent to Raoul Hausmann had had this particular point re-
moved, but incensed the irritable old Dadaist nonetheless.

Hausmann was one of several who followed the Neo-Dadaists’ activities in the USA, Italy, to a
certain extent in Paris, and above all in Germany with both interest and suspicion in equal
measure. He exchanged letters with Higgins, Maciunas, and Wolf Vostell, and asked them to
send him their publications. He also engaged critically with the new art forms they were pro-
ducing, and monitored how they were received in the press. Once the revival of Dada in the
USA that Richard Huelsenbeck, Marcel Janko, Hans Richter, and Marcel Duchamp had wanted
to inaugurate had come to nothing, mainly owing to their lack of staying power, Hausmann

considered throwing in his lot with the Neo-Dadaists, who at least offered him the opportu-
nity he had long been waiting for of ending his years of isolation and reconnecting with the
contemporary art scene.120 In the end, however, he was either unable or unwilling to find any-
thing worthwhile in “nouveau flux.” 121 What he saw as the danger posed by the neo-avant-
garde Fluxus through its reprise of Dada and Dadaist methods stemmed not so much from the
fact that it, too, wanted to change the institution of art, as from the possibility that by doing
so it might itself mutate into an institution, which in turn would have sidelined Dadaism once
again as a historical avant-garde. The Freudian concept of repetition originating in repression
and disavowal provides a model for the psychoanalytical interpretation of this scenario.122

Hausmann was one of only a few who took the trouble to intensively study Maciunas’ mani-
festo “Neo-Dada in Music, Theatre, Poetry, Art.” He translated the typescript sent to him by
Maciunas, citing it in its entirety and criticizing its many contradictions in his essay “Aus-
sichten oder Ende des Neodadaismus” (Perspectives or the End of Neo-Dadaism).123 In Novem-
ber 1962, by which time the term Neo-Dada was beginning to take hold, Hausmann sent two
strongly worded letters to Maciunas in which, speaking on behalf of his erstwhile fellow trav-
elers, he declared categorically that “neodadaism does not exist.” 124 Hausmann, who had won
notoriety for his chronic obsession with distinction, urged Maciunas to drop the term “neo-
dadaism” and use the term Fluxus instead, “because it’s new and dada is historic.” 125 Haus-
mann’s view that the term Neo-Dada was misleading was one that many Fluxus activists later
shared.126 Just how intentional the association ultimately was can be measured by Maciunas’
own sporting of a bowler hat, monocle, high collar, and black tie in emulation of Tristan Tzara,
whose role as leader of the Dada movement he had internalized.127 Yet as Hausmann pointed
out, the historical situation out of which Dada had emerged, the period of social upheaval
following World War I, was irrevocably over. He was therefore in no doubt that the Neo-Da-
daist activities of the years after 1945 amounted to no more than the speculative exploitation
of the original movement.128 The self-appointed Dadasoph argued his case in “Aussichten oder
Ende des Neodadaismus,” in which he declared the “Fluxus group of American Neo-Dadaists”
to be the primary target of his fundamentalist critique.129 The essay was not actually pub-
lished until thirty years later, however, by which time Neo-Dada was no longer a controversial
term, and Fluxus had already made history through its reforming artistic practice.


Maciunas was not in the best of health after the first Fluxus festivals of 1962 in Wuppertal,
Wiesbaden, Copenhagen, and Paris. He was an asthmatic and Germany’s cold damp winter
of 1962 and 1963 got the better of him. Preparations for the new Fluxus events in Düsseldorf,
Amsterdam, The Hague, London, and Nice took up much of his energy and time. Once again,
Maciunas delegated. His contact at the Düsseldorf Art Academy was Joseph Beuys. Despite
the informality of Maciunas’ letters to “Dear Prof. Beuys,” it was clear right from the start
that it was Maciunas who would be in charge of the Festum Fluxorum: Fluxus: Musik und
Antimusik: Das instrumentale Theater on February 2 and 3, 1963. The ninety-minute program
was all his own work, as was the poster for the two-evening event. It was shortage of funds
that obliged him to ask Beuys to take care of the printing—which he then did at the acad- =[eh][CWY_kdWi" <[ijkc<bknehkc0
emy’s expense. Maciunas nevertheless insisted that his own typography be used on all <bknki0Cki_akdZ7dj_cki_a0:Wi
printed matter, including publicity and programs.130
*.$+ × ()$-Yc

Beuys followed these instructions and there do not appear to have been any complaints
from Maciunas. Since they worked well together, Maciunas had no choice but to invite
Beuys, at that time professor of monumental sculpture, to appear as a performer at the
festival. That the official invitation arrived so late is indicative of just how difficult it
must have been for Maciunas to make up his mind regarding Beuys’ Fluxian credentials.
Yet the two-day event was a pivotal moment in Beuys’ career and marked his debut as a
performer. Beuys’ name is inconspicuous in the center column of the list that Maciunas
put together for the poster. The subtle hierarchical positioning was not lost on Nam June

Paik, who as a thank-you for having put Beuys and Maciunas in touch was the second art-
ist to be named: “Beuys’ name is placed at the 32nd in old German alphabet, which is not
easily readable. But his name is placed right at the center of the poster.” 131 Maciunas, who
deliberately had his own name and that of his many allies set in modern roman type—
later a hallmark of all his publications—took care to distance himself typographically
from the Gothic type used for Beuys.132 Maciunas had trained in graphic design and the
News Gothic typeface he then selected as his typographic trademark was designed by
Morris Fuller Benton for the American Type Founders Company in 1908. With its sans-
serif text face, almost total lack of quirks, proportional spacing, and versatile nongeomet-
ric forms, News Gothic is not just suitable for small print, but looks good even when ex-
=[eh][CWY_kdWi" <bknki?ji>_ijeh_YWb tremely large or even headline size.133
By using different typefaces for the Festum Fluxorum poster, Maciunas made his misgivings
E\\i[j"*)$( × '*$)Yc
about Beuys clear for all to see. The personal differences between the two artists were later
to become even more pronounced in their conflicting perceptions of Fluxus.134 Because of
this, Beuys never really belonged to Maciunas’ inner circle. Working collectively was some-
thing he rejected out of hand, as he was simply too “independent” (pl. 16), too much of a
charismatic lone fighter striving for what we now know was to be a hugely successful solo
career.135 But he liked the name “Fluxus,” inspired by Heraclitus’ panta rhei, and in October
1963, eight months after the Festum Fluxorum, used it for his second exhibition in the stables
at the Van der Grinten farmhouse in Kranenburg. Furthermore, nearly one in ten of the
drawings, small objects, and three-dimensional pictures listed in the Beuys catalogue for
the period after 1947 had the word Fluxus in their titles.136 For the Beuys collector Hans van
der Grinten, this retrospective labeling was sufficient grounds to coin the term “Beuys-
Fluxus.” 137 The effect of this was to imply a certain geographical and intellectual distance
from “Maciunas in the USA,” who by organizing a series of concerts and festivals in Europe
had long since left his own unmistakable stamp on the movement.138

The three columns of names, which begin with the hardcore of Fluxus and Maciunas him-
self right at the top, extend far beyond the names of dozen or so participants at the various
events, concerts, and actions. The Fluxus artists Takehisa Kosugi, Robert Watts, George
Brecht, Jackson Mac Low, Philip Corner, and Yoko Ono who either could not or did not wish
to be actively involved in the Düsseldorf two-day event are also named, just as by mention-
ing John Cage, Raoul Hausmann, Bruno Maderna, György Ligeti, and Krzysztof Penderecki,
Maciunas recalled those composers and sound artists whom he regarded as models or pio-
neers. The “instrumental theater” in Düsseldorf with its music and anti-art was organized
very much in their spirit. Yet no matter where each Fluxartist landed on the list of names,
and notwithstanding the personal touch permitted by the use of different typefaces, the
overall effect of the list was to forge a collective Fluxus identity. They all belonged to the
group and no one was excluded.


True to the agitators’ rallying cry of “Communists Must Give Revolutionary Leadership in
Culture,” Maciunas decided to use Fluxus as the vehicle for an anarchic and nomadic trans-
formation of culture.139 The plan was for a kind of Mongolian campaign in the form of a
three- to four-month long agitprop tour through the USSR. The aim was to promote the
fusion of revolutionary society with the international community of revolutionary artists,
composers, writers, and philosophers. The model for this “exhibit-tour” might have been
Dziga Vertov’s cinema railroad car of 1920 which, attached to Mikhail Kalinin’s propaganda
train The October Revolution, was used to show both documentaries and feature films to
often illiterate people in all the far-flung corners of the young Soviet Union.

Maciunas must have had something similar in mind when he dreamed up the idea of a
train journey from Vladivostok to Moscow and Vilnius with Fluxus performances at every

station en route. Local audiences would express their appreciation of these—this is typical
Maciunas—by paying the performers in food. Nor was that all. Crossing the Soviet Union
was to have been just one part of an international Fluxus concert tour in the winter of
1964.140 Yet as much as Maciunas himself wanted to visit the Soviet Union, he found it
impossible to find fellow travelers willing to brave the subzero temperatures of Siberia in
return for what was essentially a pittance.141 The idea was dropped, and Maciunas himself
was never to set foot in the USSR again. Meanwhile, the vast, sprawling entity known as
the Soviet Union gradually took on a life of its own in Maciunas’ mind, where it soon be-
came the dominant feature of his mental topography.

Maciunas liked to travel and traveled widely—and not just with his finger on the Atlas of
Russian History (pl. 1/1–37). Unlike the imaginary journeys he embarked on inside his head,
however, the trips he took in real life were often subject to drastic financial constraints, and
proved physically exhausting for the asthmatic Maciunas. Thanks to his regular employ-
ment with the U.S. Army in Wiesbaden, however, he was even able to go on a number of edu-
cational trips together with his mother, who had moved with her son to Germany. The
“Grand Tour” they began in 1962, for example, took them to France and Italy, to Holland and
through Germany. At the same time, Maciunas regarded himself as the Fluxus movement’s
Mercury, as it were. Being constantly on the road was thus just part of the job. Had it not
been, the Fluxus festivals of 1962 and 1963 in Wuppertal, Wiesbaden, Copenhagen, Paris,
Düsseldorf, Amsterdam, The Hague, London, and Nice which were to make Fluxus known
throughout Europe within just a few months, would not have been possible at all. Maciunas’
original vision of Fluxus as an international avant-garde movement had always been pre-
mised on the mobility of its artists. The sociopolitical implications of this operative or be-
havioral approach should not be underestimated. Cross-border travel was all about “spatial
practice” long before this kind of concept of critical cultural activism began trespassing into
neighboring, or even alien, fields of knowledge.142 The purpose of the transnational tours
undertaken under the Fluxus banner in the West was to transcend the narrow-mindedness
of the nation state. The planned trips to the Eastern Bloc were supposed to bridge geopoliti-
cal polarities. Maciunas wanted the expansive and transgressive potential of Fluxus to
make history not just in the West, but also—and even more so—in the East.

Despite chronic underfinancing, Maciunas could not be talked out of his plan to perpetuate
the heroic phase of Russian history in Fluxus. Using his rhetorical skills and the motto
“Communists Must Give Revolutionary Leadership in Culture,” the movement’s chief ideo-
logue tried to commit his fellow artists to key communist values. The twin ideological pil-
lars upon which his own personal leftist philosophy of art rested—without the blessing of
party membership—were anticapitalist and anticonsumerist critique. Sounding much like
a communist rabble-rouser, however, Maciunas also preached anti-individualism in the
form of collective production or authorship.

Ben Vautier had provocatively claimed “Je signe tout” (I sign everything), thus capturing in
a nutshell one of the salient characteristics of his times, but Maciunas disagreed and warned
Vautier: “(If you can) don’t sign anything—don’t attribute anything to yourself—deperson-
alize yourself!” 143 Yet this advice, intended as it was to rid the world of the hollow pathos of
individualism with its heavily subjective, first-person formulae, in fact had the opposite
effect. Wherever Vautier performed, whatever he did, he always tried to make his mark, and
with his fluid schoolboy handwriting did indeed sign just about “everything.” But Maciunas
unswervingly held fast to the kolkhoz as his model of an artistic cooperative. Doing without
the art business star system meant anonymity for every single Fluxist, the dissolution of
traditional work categories, and an end to the commercial concept of culture.144 The domi-
nant economy thus became the main topic of reflective cultural critique.

Maciunas did not stop at this attempt to transfer his socialist views to his artistic practice.
He went even further by planning to launch a kind of joint venture between party politics
and artistic output, between “concretist society” in the Soviet Union and “concretist artists”

of the world—by which he meant Fluxus.145 Maciunas was appalled by the official art being
churned out by the USSR, and decried it as a strange admixture of “feudal and bourgeois
classics and propaganda kitsch.” 146 The artistic impoverishment of the Eastern Bloc, whose
supposedly “realistic” paintings in fact did nothing but spread illusions, was not only much
easier to spot, but also much easier to remedy for someone who like him had experience of
America. Or so it must have seemed to Maciunas. As he saw it, all that was needed to pre-
cipitate the long overdue abandonment of “socialist realism” in the arts was an across-the-
board commitment to “realistic art” by Fluxus.147 In order to set this—in Maciunas’ view
historically necessary—transformation in motion, “the directive and operational head-
quarters for all FLUXUS activities” was to be based “anywhere within the USSR.” 148 It was
with this lofty aim in mind that “Fluxus-George” composed, and even sent, a long letter to
no less a recipient than the First Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party and premier of
the Soviet Union Nikita Khrushchev. What Maciunas had not considered when drafting his
proposal for a transformation of cultural life in the USSR was that at the height of the Cold
War Socialist Realism was much easier to instrumentalize for political ends than was
Fluxus’ wittily absurd “concretism,” whose subversive potency—what Maciunas called its
“humor value”—did not in fact enter the art-historical consciousness properly until after
the Iron Curtain had fallen.149 As far as we know, Khrushchev never replied to Maciunas,
even if Jean-Pierre Wilhelm once asserted that he did, and even if Maciunas himself did
nothing to refute such rumors.150 In secret, however, Maciunas had no choice but to come
to terms with the fact that Khrushchev was not seriously interested in working together
with him. The ideological rejuvenation of Eastern Bloc art with the aid of Fluxus was thus
doomed to remain just another of the many “unfinished projects” bequeathed to us by the


Like pop art and conceptual art, Fluxus was one of many generic terms used after 1945
which differ categorically from the ism-ideology of historical avant-gardes. The term “real-
ism” that Gustave Courbet coined by analogy with “classicism” was but the first of all the
many -isms in art from the mid-nineteenth century onward. Since then, every avant-garde
has explicitly invoked an epoch-making turn and claimed to be a break with history, or at
least a new style—albeit not without implicitly entering into an auto-genealogized and
hence somewhat double-bind relationship with the past. Fluxus, however, was different
inasmuch as Maciunas, by reflecting on what had gone before and by emphasizing the
larger context of art history, made clear that his vision of the gradual abolition of high art
was in fact rooted in the past. The old was not denied, but rather co-opted as a constitutive
factor of the new. Recalling artistic tradition was Maciunas’ way of lending the Fluxus
movement historical weight right from the outset. The theoretical underpinning was sup-
plied by American art historian George Kubler, whose theory of “finite invention” of 1962
had attracted widespread attention. “Radical artistic innovations may perhaps not con-
tinue to appear with the frequency we have come to expect in the past century,” Kubler
predicted in anticipation of postmodernism.152 The avant-garde category of the “absolutely
new,” which Harold Rosenberg had already debunked with his catchphrase “tradition of the
new” back in the late 1950s, was beginning to look old-fashioned. Recourse to pioneers and
precursors invested the past with new significance. Instead of declaring history null and
void, this grounded Fluxus in history and guaranteed its own continuity, which at that
stage was still uncertain.

Maciunas’ own reflections on the development of Fluxus emerged from the realization that
the alleged division between art history and the avant-garde can be defended only from one
perspective: the perspective that compares and contrasts end products, but takes no account
of how they came about. His focus was not on Fluxus events or on works produced by Fluxus,
but on their temporal and causal precursors. To put it another way, what interested him was
not so much outcomes of Fluxus as the underlying artistic practices and their genealogies.


Being anxious to draw as complex a picture as possible of Fluxus’ as yet very short history,
Maciunas welcomed ideas and suggestions from his friends and even sometimes used the
Fluxnewsletter to call on them to be part of the process. After all, what counted was to accord
recognition for artists on his charts where recognition was due and by the same token not
to credit individuals with an importance that they did not in fact have. Fluxus (Its Historical
Development and Relationship to Avant-Garde Movements) was finished in early 1966 (pl. 16).153
The chart was intended for the Czech anthology Slovo, písmo, akce, hlas (Word, Letter, Action,
Voice), which published a complete translation of it in 1967.154 This publication, which was
Maciunas’ first—and only—diagrammatic venture in the Eastern Bloc, was to have reper-
cussions in the West as well.155 Parallel to its Czech publication, Maciunas also produced
leaflets of Fluxus (Its Historical Development and Relationship to Avant-Garde Movements) in a
tall and narrow format and illustrated with two diagrams. He used the top diagram to offer
a categorical definition of what was to be included and eliminated in the realm of fine arts,
expressing his concern that the perception of the fine arts as practically all-inclusive, by
that time widespread among members and would-be members of the avant-garde, had led
to broadmindedness at the expense of critical analysis. The elimination of borders, said
Maciunas, made art nonexistent as an entity. As Fluxus defined itself as non-art and oc- =[eh][CWY_kdWi"Ç<bknki@[^e^_ijeh_Ya
curred at the borders or even beyond the borders of art, Maciunas considered it his top lle`WlpjW^aWlWdj]WhZd‡c^dkj‡c"È
_d Ibele"f‡ice"WaY["^bWi"[Z$8e^kc_bW
priority to expose these borders and to show exactly where they were located. The key ques-
tions were: What is art? What is non-art? What should be included? What eliminated? The '/,-"X[jm[[df$(*&WdZf$(*'
answers were then listed in a table under the headings “artificial,” “nonfunctional: leisure,”
and “cultural.”

The second diagram attempts a graphic definition of Fluxus’ position as seen in relation to =[eh][CWY_kdWi" <bknki?ji>_ijeh_YWb
other -isms and as distinct from other avant-garde movements. The plan can be read in two :[l[befc[djWdZH[bWj_edi^_fje
ways, one vertical, the other horizontal, though it is best to start with the vertically ar-
E\\i[j"*)$( × '*$)Yc
ranged terms, which are channeled through conduits of varying width and direction and
eventually flow into the horizontally arranged lists of artists. The latter are distributed
along the horizontal time axis running from left to right. Maciunas wanted the diagram to
illustrate the parallel development of Fluxus and related post-1959 movements, and was not
concerned in any sense with the autonomy of any one movement. His aim was rather genea-
logical coherence. This in turn allows for signifiers that float through time and by doing so
generate associations. Historical validation, whether through approved prototypes such as
the “ready-made” and “natural events” on the one hand or through precursors such as “Mar-
cel Duchamp” and “John Cage” on the other, permitted only a relative determination of
Fluxus’ position in a history of art reaching as far back as baroque theater and the garden
spectacles of Versailles. Yet without this eclectic repertoire of influences, Fluxus could not
have ventured along new paths like those pursued by artists such as “George Brecht,” “George
Maciunas,” “Ben Vautier,” and “Robert Watts” from 1961 onward. Maciunas did not just
make a list, however. He wanted to point up the differences within the group as well and so
divided it into four categories, beginning with the pre-Fluxus artists Brecht and Vautier,

who were active even before Fluxus proper came into being. Next come the hardcore Flux-
ists, followed by the independents ranging from Joseph Beuys to La Monte Young—who
had worked only briefly within Fluxus—and finally all the many dissidents who had been
punished by expulsion. Maciunas even went so far as to systematically record their offenses,
among the most common of which were an “anti[-]collective attitude,” “excessive individual-
ism,” the “desire for personal glory,” and “prima donna complex.” Opportunism, member-
ship of rival groups that promised greater publicity, competitiveness, and forming rival op-
erations, on the other hand, were comparatively rare offenses. Nam June Paik, who had
managed to break all the rules, was hit particularly hard. The days when Maciunas had
gratefully acknowledged Paik’s connections to the Rhineland art scene by listing him sec-
ond on the Festum Fluxorum poster were long gone. The entries stop in “1966,” just when the
first phase of Fluxus was drawing to a close. This is not evident from the diagram, howev-
er—unless the names of the newcomers who joined Fluxus in the mid-1960s are interpreted
in this way.

Fluxus (Its Historical Development and Relationship to Avant-Garde Movements) was a success-
ful work for Maciunas. Although programmatic, Maciunas took care to arrange the rectan-
gular boxes containing names and concepts and the connecting lines between them in such
a way that they produced a visually balanced composition, which derives much of its vi-
brancy from the contrast between the light and dark sections. There are copies of the leaflet
printed on white, pale green, and red paper. One copy went into a Fluxkit. The rest were


The Expanded Arts Diagram was issued at the end of 1966 (pl. 17). It is printed on the back of
the Fluxfest Sale flyer, some 2,000 copies of which rolled off the offset press. Working on the
flyer for almost a year, Maciunas listed about half the entire Fluxus repertoire on the front
of it. The artists were introduced with individual name designs and their pieces, the flyer
said, could be performed “anytime, anyplace and by anybody,” and even without payment,
as long as Maciunas’ conditions were met. If they were not, a fee applied. This strategic self-
marketing as a modified form of self-advertisement was not as selfless as it seemed. Besides
being a cunning scheme for spreading Fluxus ideas, it would also be a good way of filling the
Fluxus movement’s chronically empty coffers, or so Maciunas hoped. Those who had not yet
been nominated “Fluxfriends” but still met the profile of requirements were allowed to as-
sociate themselves with Fluxus and to hope that their names would feature on the next,
even more expanded diagram. Those who did not receive a copy of the Fluxfest Sale flyer
were able to study the Expanded Arts Diagram in the New York magazine Film Culture,156
whose winter issue 1966 was an “Expanded Arts” special designed for the most part by

When Maciunas typed Fluxus (Its Historical Development and Relationship to Avant-Garde
Movements) on his electric IBM Executive typewriter, many of the art-historical contexts
were not yet as clear to him as they would later become in the Expanded Arts Diagram. While
the latter rests on the same underlying structure as its predecessor, individual trends are
=[eh][CWY_kdWi" <bknki?ji>_ijeh_YWb defined with much greater precision and a much larger number of artists cited as examples.
:[l[befc[djWdZH[bWj_edi^_fje Maciunas was able to draw heavily on his earlier synopses and History of Art charts. The LEF
Group (Left Front of the Arts) around Vladimir Mayakovsky, which had been alluded to—
*)$( × '*$)Yc albeit only implicitly—in the Chronology of Russian History: 1917–1934 (Industry / Agriculture /
 Budget / Poetry / Prose) (pl. 4, poster 1), is now mentioned by name, or rather by the name of
=[eh][CWY_kdWi[Z$" <bkna_j Ç9ÈYefo" its official organ Novy LEF (1927–1928), and assigned to the “anti-art & functionalism” cate-
'/,+Å,/$L_dobWjjWY^ƒYWi[m_j^[Z_j_edi gory. “Bauhaus,” meanwhile, was named as early as the Preliminary Unfinished Form of the
XolWh_ekiWhj_iji"(.$) × ** × '*$-Yc
Proposed Index Coordinate Graph (pl. 10, poster 2). In addition to rereading his own works,
Maciunas also included new ideas from friends. The result was an increase not just in infor-
mation density, but also in the number of vertical, horizontal, and diagonal cross-references.

Although Maciunas could not possibly take account of every single idea in his diagram, and
probably did not even want to, Wolf Vostell still felt bound to point out what he saw as an
underexposed facet of anti-art: “You seem also to forget my personal opinion on Anti Art I
have since 1965.” 157

That the chart was supposed to have an explanatory function does not of itself make it self-
explanatory. It rather requires exegesis, as do images and texts. The need for commentary
in fact increases in direct proportion to the complexity of the data. Maciunas was aware of
this problem from the very outset. The unveiling of his Time-Space Chart in Wuppertal in
1962 was therefore followed by an explanatory lecture, just as the Fluxus chart came with a
commentary, and the Expanded Arts Diagram with an introduction (pl. 15–17).

If Maciunas’ account of the development of the expanded performing arts is to be read =[eh][CWY_kdWi" <bkn\[ijIWb[D[mOeha
chronologically, the flyer has to be turned to the right through ninety degrees. The time '/,,"\hedjfW][WdZXWYafW][

axis is then vertical and the time segments perspectival, meaning that they become slightly
shorter the closer they are to the present. As in the first diagram, the chronology starts in
1959 when Fluxus as such did not yet exist. The period preceding this is subsumed under the
ahistorical concept of the “past.” The only marked breaks after 1959 are 1964, which saw the
formation of a “political culture,” and 1966, when China’s Red Guards, the vanguard of the
Cultural Revolution, began mobilizing. The categories “verbal theatre” at the far left and
“anti-art” at the right are intended as conceptual opposites. There is also a dualism between
“neo-baroque theatre” and “neo-haiku theatre.” 158 Maciunas used these two concepts to dis-
tinguish between the purportedly obsolete “polymorphic mixed media” of bourgeois art and
what he regarded as the “monomorphic structure” of the future. Whatever terminology
Maciunas chose, its purpose was always to set Fluxus apart from happenings and to endow

it with its own artistic identity.159 The lineages which Maciunas defined for Fluxus and hap-
penings are therefore quite distinct: Fluxus “derived from: Vaudeville, Gags, Dada, Duchamp,
some Cage, Japanese Haiku, Japanese Zen, much Spikes [sic] Jones; the so called happenings
derived from Baroque ballets staged in Versailles, with waterworks, fireworks, casts of hun-
dreds, many simultaneous acts, music, dance, warfare, etc., etc.” 160

All the key terms are set in uppercase and printed in bold type. In purely formal terms,
Maciunas’ use of concepts such as “verbal theatre,” “happenings/neo-baroque theatre,” “ex-
panded cinema,” “kinesthetic theatre,” “acoustic theatre,” and “events/neo-haiku theatre”
was an attempt to inject order into the increasingly complex network of expanded art move-
ments and artists’ names and so provide orientation. Thematically, the concepts offer a
kind of cross-section of the world of art in the year 1959. Maciunas also did some restructur-
ing. “Baroque theatre,” for example, no longer undergoes an incremental revival parallel to
Richard Wagner in the happenings. Instead, “Wagnerism” is placed in the tradition of the
baroque multimedia spectacle as a precursor of the Gesamtkunstwerk here referred to as
“whole art.” Several concepts are redefined in the interests of greater precision, among them
“kinesthetic theatre” in place of “kinetic theatre” and “baroque multi-media spectacle” in
place of “baroque theatre.”

The inclusion of the “Chinese Red Guards” as the successors of “Byzantine iconoclasm” was
a direct reference to the politics of the day.161 Yet this allusion to the Great Cultural Revolu-
tion in China proclaimed by Mao and instigated with the help of the Red Guards leads up
an ideological blind alley inasmuch as it does not appear to have had any direct influence on
the Fluxus movement. As the years pass by, so the bloody conflicts between supporters and
opponents of the Cultural Revolution fade into oblivion. The Red Guards do not feature at
all in Maciunas’ Big Chart of 1973, in which “Byzantine iconoclasm” is treated as a singular
phenomenon of the past (pl. 20/1).

As much as “exhibitionism,” “sadism,” “sex,” and “perversion” may have been prime movers
of artistic practice, Maciunas did not accord any of these phenomena much space in his
scheme. Their forms were too manifold and intended to draw an affective rather than an
intellectual response, he said. In other words, they were intended to arouse strong emotion
in the audience, as Maciunas put it in his “Introduction to Diagram.” Sensationalism,
“pseudotechnology or ‘engineering’ (in quotes)” are not of themselves relevant to art, but
can be under certain circumstances. They therefore play only a minor role in the Expanded
Arts Diagram. Whatever else was missing could be added at a later date, and Maciunas
made it clear that he was more interested in art movements than in a catalogue of names.
The list of Fluxus members, in which the names are divided into four groups just as they
were in the first Fluxus chart, is the only one that is complete.


Doubtless very few Fluxus artists agreed with Maciunas’ categorization on every count, and
those he forgot or allocated to the wrong category did not agree with him at all. And there
were quite a few of them—as the examples of Arthur Køpcke and Ken Friedman show. In an
article entitled “Wer ist Fluxus?” (Who Is Fluxus?) published in the early 1990s, Friedman, in
particular, sought to correct what he saw as the false picture that the Expanded Arts Diagram
had presented of the entire first—or founding—generation. He complained that the dia-
gram of 1966 had vacillated on the issue of which artists belonged to Fluxus and which did
not, as Maciunas’ treatment of Dick Higgins, Alison Knowles, Nam June Paik, and Ben
Patterson made clear. According to the diagram, Tomas Schmit and Emmett Williams did
not belong to Fluxus at all, while George Brecht, Robert Watts, and Maciunas clearly did.
In 1966, moreover, a second group numbering the artists Per Kirkeby, Milan Knížák, and
Friedman himself was affiliated to Fluxus.162 Friedman had obviously not read Maciunas’
“Introduction to Diagram,” in which he explains that the lines leading away from the artists

are not indicative of any vacillation concerning their affiliation, but on the contrary show
the duration of their membership of Fluxus. Setting aside this kind of misunderstanding,
Friedman was actually in agreement with Maciunas’ genealogy of art, as the section on
“Evolution and Ancestors” in his essay “Fluxus and Company” shows.163 Unlike Maciunas,
Friedman felt that De Stijl and Bauhaus were much more relevant to Fluxus than multifac-
eted Dadaism, which in his view was far too nihilistic.

Maciunas’ categorization met with complete incomprehension on the part of Dick Higgins,
who lost his official membership of Fluxus in 1964. It has frequently been surmised that the
reason for Higgins’ expulsion was the “Originale affair,” 164 a scandal which Maciunas him-
self initiated by attempting to promote a boycott of Karlheinz Stockhausen’s piece of musi-
cal theater Originale, which was about to be premiered in New York in 1964 under the direc-
tion of Allan Kaprow.165 Maciunas designed a flyer calling on people to Picket Stockhausen
Concert! and together with Henry Flynt appealed for demonstrations against the composer,
whose allegedly elitist understanding of art was to be publicly denounced. Not everyone in
Fluxus sided with Maciunas, however, and the latent differences of opinion within the
group eventually spilled out into the open when Nam June Paik, who was a former student
of Stockhausen, Jackson Mac Low, and Dick Higgins leapt to the composer’s defense. Their
punishment was not long coming. Appalled by his expulsion, Higgins appealed to Maciunas,
reaffirming both his own and Emmett Williams’ unbroken loyalty to Fluxus.166 He also in-
terceded on behalf of the ostracized Alison Knowles, to whom he had been married since
1960, and described the expulsion of Mac Low, Schmit, Paik, and Takehisa Kosugi as an act
of despotism.

In his rejoinder, Maciunas simply turned the tables by reminding Higgins that he and other
artists had expressly distanced themselves from Fluxus: “Dear Dick, The red mis-informa-
tion sheet was based on your supplement to your Postface for Rowohlt book. The date of
summer 1964 was set by your self not me, when you said (in that supplement) (not me), that
you quit Fluxus, not only you, but in your own words everybody. So, all I did was take your
word for a fact and assumed everybody quit, except that is, people who later denied this
assumption. This is how Phil Corner, Alison, Ben Patterson & Paik got themselves in com-
pany with yourself (& for a while Bob Watts), because you said you all were shocked by
Henry’s & mine action, (which incidentally had nothing to do with Fluxus). A stronger rea-
son, of my braking [sic] all relationship with Paik, was his threat to black mail me (to ob-
struct my getting U.S. passport) if we did not stop the Stockhausen picket. Kosugi did a
classic double cross a year ago. Thomas [sic] quit himself. Henry Flynt quit himself, Jackson
quit himself before the film culture job, besides he was hired by J. Mekas not me to do the
IBM typing & I had nothing to do with paying him.” 167 The expulsions, in other words, had
not come unilaterally “from the top” and were definitely not a case of revenge, as Higgins
had claimed.

As an experimental poet, Jackson Mac Low later attached great importance to the fact that
he temporarily left Fluxus on pacifistic grounds on April 25, 1963.168 The cause was a Fluxus
News-Policy Letter in which Maciunas had called for the deliberate wrecking of trucks in the
road tunnels under the Hudson River in order to bring traffic to a standstill.169 La Monte
Young also sought to distance himself artistically from the Fluxus movement and wanted
nothing to do with what he called its entertainment in the style of “Marx Brothers vaude-
ville shows.” 170 This insistence on being true to oneself was an attitude not necessarily
shared by all Fluxists.171 Whereas Mac Low tried to make a virtue of a necessity by leaving,
Higgins always felt bound to Fluxus, even if the degree of his commitment wavered.172 His
protests made no impression at all at first, and Maciunas confidently confirmed his purge
in the Expanded Arts Diagram. Viewed in the long term, however, Higgins’ objections did
indeed have an effect: his own rehabilitation. In 1973, Maciunas produced a Diagram of His-
torical Development of Fluxus and Other 4 Dimentional [sic], Aural, Optic, Olfactory, Epithelial
and Tactile Artforms in which he included various activities by Fluxus expellees, including
those who had had to leave even after 1964 (pl. 20/1–4).

According to Fluxus (Its Historical Development and Relationship to Avant-Garde Movements),
there were three separate expulsions between 1962 and 1964. The first to detach himself
from Fluxus was Henry Flynt, followed by Jackson Mac Low, Tomas Schmit, and Emmett
Williams, and finally by Philip Corner, Dick Higgins, Alison Knowles, Ben Patterson, Nam
June Paik, and Takehisa Kosugi (pl. 16). The grounds Maciunas cites for each of these depar-
tures are persuasive—except in the case of Flynt, who claimed never to have had any con-
nection with Fluxus as an art movement in the first place, and whose sole link with Fluxus
had been Maciunas’ publication of his first philosophical manuscript in the Fluxus newspa-
per number 3, cc Valise eTRanglE in 1964.173 Why the diagram severs Flynt’s ties with Fluxus
as early as 1962 therefore remains a mystery.

Rightly or wrongly, art historians have tried very hard to link each separate wave of expul-
sions to a specific controversy between Maciunas and his fellow Fluxists.174 Maciunas him-
self, however, cared little about specific dates and dramas. He was more interested in using
his power of definition to send a clear signal, as he did in the Expanded Arts Diagram with
its record of only one collective expulsion in 1964 (pl. 17).175 Being determined to establish
an artists’ collective with rules that would be binding on all members, Maciunas was both
strict and uncompromising when it came to expulsions. What was important to him was not
so much banishing individual members as issuing directives that would set the course for
Fluxus’ future development. How else can Maciunas’ undiminished appreciation of Paik
after his exclusion be explained? Or indeed his use of the paradoxical term “expelled

Maciunas’ expulsion of numerous Fluxartists in the mid-1960s did in fact signal a sea
change. The first phase of Fluxus, which had been shaped mainly by concerts and festivals,
had come to an end. From 1965 onward, Maciunas devoted more and more of his time to his
publishing activities and the distribution of multiples. Many first-hour activists now pre-
ferred to go their own way, and were replaced in the ranks by new Fluxartists such as Ken
Friedman, Geoffrey Hendricks, Larry Miller, and Takako Saito—to name but a few. The
result was a shift of focus. Instead of seeking to merge art into life, as the first generation
of Fluxartists had tried to do, this new generation regarded even just living their own lives
as a creative process, as social praxis. Together they shared a belief in the value of exchang-
ing experience.

The American art critic James Lewes went to the trouble of analyzing Maciunas’ Fluxlist
(c. 1964–1974), the publications of the Gilbert and Lila Silverman Fluxus Collection, and
nineteen exhibition catalogues in order to assess how Maciunas and his fellow Fluxists, art
historians, and curators viewed the affinity of some 350 artists to Fluxus. The results of his
work, presented as a chart, prove that Maciunas’ own verdicts were influential, but not
necessarily binding.177 Maciunas’ diagrams make it quite clear that he was trying hard to
steer Fluxus in one particular direction and to make sure it stayed on course. Exercising the
authority he had bestowed on himself, Maciunas claimed sole power of definition and was
therefore constantly redefining the Fluxus hardcore. The admission of new members and
expulsion of old ones were at first announced in the Newsletter or documented in the mani-
festos, and it was this personnel policy which eventually gave rise to the Expanded Arts Dia-
gram. To be accepted into the fold, would-be Fluxists first had to prove themselves to be
kindred spirits, and express a genuine desire to promote Fluxus as a group without trying
to stand out from the crowd.

The real reason for the expulsions was undoubtedly the profound ideological differences be-
tween Maciunas and the expellees, which were debated in the numerous letters they ex-
changed. The differences culminated in what was later styled the Fluxbattle of 1963, a contro-
versy sparked by number six of the Fluxus News-Policy Letter, which within a year had escalated
into an even greater conflict like the “Originale affair.” To be or not to be Fluxus, that was
always the question.178 “You could be dropped from the charts for crimes against the collective
in the best tradition of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia,” remarked Emmett Williams, with

more than just a hint of irony.179 This practice of ostracizing cultural dissidents reminded him
far too much of the political reprisals that had become standard practice in Maciunas’ na-
tive country. Only those “renegades” who, like Emmett Williams, refused to take their stig-
matization seriously were able to retain their self-respect. Like other expellees, too, Emmett
Williams was replaced by new members.180 Other artists such as Yves Klein who were cer-
tainly very close to Fluxus were later also deemed not to merit any mention at all in the dia-
grams—a shortcoming to which Maciunas himself freely admitted.181

Maciunas’ quasi-judicial machinations in the name of better group cohesion are reminiscent
of Guy Debord’s situationist purges, to which the German SPUR Group fell victim. Within
Fluxus, however, the comparison was more likely to be with André Breton’s practice of ex-
pelling people from the surrealist movement.182 In 1921, Breton produced a liquidation list
which can be seen as an attempt to indirectly define the new movement of surrealism, and
which later served him as grounds for excluding artists from his circle as he saw fit.183 The
“Dalí case” was especially notorious—Breton intended it as a warning to those friends who
had remained. Such authoritarianism was possible only from someone who held all the
reins of power and who believed himself to be in absolute control. That was certainly true
of Breton, and even more so of Maciunas.

As the Japanese artist Chieko (later Mieko) Shiomi, who had linked up with Maciunas in
New York, made clear, Breton foreshadowed another negative habit. Shiomi condemned
autocratic practices, arguing that Maciunas himself had been eminently more guilty of the
alleged misconduct than had the expellees.184 Citing Tristan Tzara, she recalled some of the
grave mistakes Breton had made as head of the surrealist movement, although the real
target of her censure was of course Maciunas: “But here is Tristan Zala’(?)s words to Breton.
The mistake of Breton was that he didn’t recognize the time to put period to the activity of surreal-
ism and as a result Breton made it soiled and decadent. Nobody can revive the once dead activity
by any artificial means.” Trying to keep Fluxus alive artificially, Shiomi concluded, was
therefore not advisable. “And also this would be true that even if the groupe [sic] were dead,
each person in it can survive and found renewed groupe. You, as George Maciunas, too.” 185
Maciunas, however, was careful not to heed this kind of advice, as that would have meant
relinquishing his leading role as organizer and chronicler of Fluxus, which after all had
done much for his reputation as spiritus rector. Notwithstanding all that Maciunas had
done for Fluxus, the image of the tyrant “in the style of Tzara and Breton” was one he never
really shook off.186


In the fall of 1973, after a spate of spectacular Fluxus activities and hence in post-Festum
mode, as it were, Maciunas submitted his Diagram of Historical Development of Fluxus and
Other 4 Dimentional [sic], Aural, Optic, Olfactory, Epithelial and Tactile Artforms as a two-part
poster, on which he had been working seven years and which he continued to work on
even after it went to print (pl. 20/1–4).187 Its forthcoming publication had already been an-
nounced in April in a Fluxnewsletter: “I have been working on an extensive chart-diagram
showing growth and development of fluxus, also preceding, bordering, allied, following
and imitative trends. I would like to request all recipients of this letter to send me as many
facts as possible on any performances (and what was performed), exhibits, events, envi-
ronments, productions—with exact dates!, flux pieces or flux-like pieces by yourselves or
others. All this I need by July 4th. Collaborators will receive the completed chart, which
will be about 1 × 2 meters.” 188 This call for collaboration did not go unheeded. Ken Fried-
man, for example, reacted promptly: “for the revised history and chart, i believe you have
the big pages i made for the fluxus show on the cards by archiv sohm? . . . also from 1967,
you should still have my letter suggesting additional sections, persons, etc., for the big
chart. do you still have this?” 189 Friedman’s suggestions, however, were more misleading
than to the point. “In your letters,” Maciunas replied, “you always refer to all these lists,

and information you sent me, but you never send me, only confuse me, since I begin to
think somehow these documents walk away from my file.” 190 But even if the exchange of
information proved difficult in this one case, Maciunas received sufficient material from
other Fluxus activists. Working this new information into the chart nevertheless slowed
down its completion. And the dimensions increased steadily so that by October the draft
chart measured one by three meters.191 The diagram was to have been published in the
Italian art magazine Flash Art, but it seems the large format put paid to this plan.192 The
idea was that Maciunas would take care of the printing, while the publishers Multhipla of
Milan raised the necessary funds and organized sales.193 Maciunas had also planned to
present his mapping of Fluxus history at the Internationales Colloquium der experimentellen
Künste to be held in Berlin from October 10 to 13, 1973, but was prevented from doing so
by an acute attack of asthma. The diagram was finished one month later. Its completion
was a momentous occasion for Maciunas, as is evident from his calendar entry of Novem-
ber 18, when he wrote “Chart. – complete” and added a little asterisk by way of emphasis
(see illustration on page 69). The first copies of the diagram were dispatched the very next
day. Maciunas also insisted that if his diagram was on display at Contemporanea, the exhi-
bition curated by Achille Bonito Oliva that preceded the official opening of what was al-
legedly the largest underground parking lot in Rome, at the Parcheggio di Villa Borghese
from late November 1973 to February 1974, then it would first have to be photographically
enlarged.194 In the course of its history, the diagram was also reduced, for a reprint pub-
lished by Mats B. at the Swedish publishing house Kalejdoskop in Åhus in 1979, a year
after Maciunas’ death, and again in 1981 in a second edition.

The ambitious sounding title Diagram of Historical Development of Fluxus and Other 4 Dimen-
tional [sic], Aural, Optic, Olfactory, Epithelial and Tactile Artforms explains how the term “ex-
panded arts” should be understood. It is an interpretation of sensuality that is not confined
to the eye, but expands the arts toward synesthesia. The fields of perception addressed here
involve the whole body, which makes this work of interest to biopolitical discourse and a
broader understanding of the concept of production.195 The scientization implicit in the title
informs the again expanded synchronic and diachronic system of references, too. As the
most comprehensive and complex of all Maciunas’ diagrams, the Big Chart summarizes the
activities of Fluxartists worldwide. It is an attempt to take stock in which Maciunas, draw-
ing on the facts and figures he has accumulated, makes the case for Fluxus’ status as a major
post-1945 avant-garde movement. Others have even gone so far as to describe it as the last
great avant-garde of the twentieth century, although Maciunas himself preferred the pug-
nacious notion of a “rear-garde.” 196

In his anxiety to produce the ultimate diagram, Maciunas invested more and more time in
research, with the result that although the chart continued to grow, it was destined to re-
main unfinished. The more detailed the knowledge that informed it became, the more frag-
mented the chart became, too. Yet Maciunas firmly believed that by working indefatigably,
he would find a way out of this dilemma. In the summer of 1972, when the British artist-
curator David F. Mayor inquired whether Maciunas could send him the “expanded expanded
arts diagram” for inclusion in an exhibition called Fluxshoe that was to tour seven English
provincial cities for a year from that October, the artist himself was still hard at work.197
Having outlined the structure of the chart in a series of large manuscript sketches, he pro-
ceeded by typing the blocks of text, cutting them out, and then pasting them into the care-
fully ruled columns. These pasted-in texts were to be printed on two separate sheets, which
then had to be stuck together vertically.198 Mayor, who knew nothing of this long-drawn-out
=[eh][CWY_kdWi" :_W]hWce\>_ijeh_YWb process, asked if he could at least have a copy of the unfinished chart for inclusion in the
:[l[befc[dje\<bknkiWdZEj^[h* planned supplement to the Fluxshoe catalogue, Fluxshoe: Add End A: 72–73, that coming au-
tumn. Maciunas, however, told him that he would have to wait until the year following:
E\\i[j"(i^[[ji"eh_]_dWbbo]bk[Zje][j^[h “Expanded arts diagram will take entire year to complete, so you can’t include it this winter,
.,$( × +.$+YcWdZ./ × +.$+Yc but i am enclosing an early version, which although very brief and slightly outdated is still
correct.” 199 Yet when the Big Chart was finally printed the following year, Maciunas still
declared it unfinished.

The charts documenting the global aspirations of Fluxus were bound to remain work in
progress, like a diary in constant need of updating. Today the Diagram of Historical Develop-
ment of Fluxus is seen as the authoritative chronicle of Fluxus, even if it is “incomplete” or,
as some former Fluxists would more likely say, incorrect.200 Maciunas himself preferred to
modestly call his head-high chart a “calendar.” The designation certainly makes sense, as
the diagram does not have to be rotated to be understood, as did earlier ones, and instead
can be read from top to bottom like a calendar.201

For the research, Maciunas made use of public records, first-hand accounts from eye-wit-
nesses, reviews in periodicals, and copyrighted publications. Originally, the sources were to
have included “institutional letters” as well, although Maciunas did not pursue this idea on
the grounds that the material was not balanced.202 The top priority was “historical authen-
ticity,” the plan being to publish a complete genealogy and chronology of Fluxus using the =[eh][CWY_kdWi" Dej[ed9^Whj"Y$'/-&$
compiled data as a starting point. Despite working obsessively on the project right up to his F^ejeYefo". × '($-Yc

death in May 1978, Maciunas progressed too slowly to be able to complete his opus magnum
during his own lifetime.

The groundwork that had to be done for the process of informatization ahead entailed mak-
ing several sketches as well as copious written notes. The first layout was penned onto the
back of one such note, whose recto bears the letterhead of the Film-Maker’s Distribution
Center (pl. 18). Lined up next to each other so as to imply absolute parity, the artists are
grouped under two separate titles with “Happenings” on one side and “Fluxus” on the other.
The incompatibility of the two implied by this dichotomy is reinforced by the distinction
drawn between polymorphism and monomorphism. Happenings are “polymorphic,” mean-
ing that many things happen at the same time.203 Fluxus, on the other hand, is “monomor-
phic” inasmuch as like Zen, it attempts to focus on one thing at a time—an enlightenment
practice for which Maciunas had developed a strong affinity through his work on the Atlas
of Prehistoric Chinese Art (1958).204 This monomorphic approach gives rise to gag-like events,
and even to good gags. Humor in all its many permutations was always an important crite-
rion for Fluxus.

Nowhere is the importance of the AG Gallery in New York, the Fluxus platform which Maci-
unas and his Lithuanian friend Almus Salcius founded in December 1960, as clearly in evi-
dence as in this sketch. Yet this prototype Fluxus center located at 925 Madison Avenue
between 73th and 74th Street—a prestigious address close to the old-established auction
house Parke-Bernet Galleries—was not to flourish. Heavily in debt, Maciunas closed the
gallery after just seven months in business, and in the fall of 1961 accepted a job as graphic
artist to the U.S. Air Force which entailed moving to Wiesbaden, Germany. The only pointer
to this episode, which is often reported as a case of tax evasion, is a small arrow in another
sketch (pl. 19/1). Maciunas’ move to Germany ushered in a period of rapid development
within Fluxus. The events included in the sketch come thick and fast and the areas of artis-
tic activity become too numerous and confusing to take in. All that we are left with in the
end is a list of artists and on the verso the vast range of genres, all heavily influenced by
Cage, Duchamp, and Man Ray: “film/TV,” “dance,” “action/music,” “gesture/grimace,” “con-
cert/event/gag,” “street” events, “sport/games,” “travel/mail,” “audience” participation, “ob-
ject,” and “concept” (pl. 19/2). Fluxus combined many of these genres in a single movement.


As the Diagram of Historical Development of Fluxus took shape, so it became evident that
Maciunas did not have anything new to add to the prehistory of Fluxus. He traced an arc
linking the “church procession” to the “Roman circus,” used the terms “sensationalism,”
“baroque mimicry,” and “Byzantine iconoclasm” as headings, and engaged in excavations
that took him as far as the precursors of “Pollock” and the “Wagnerism” of the late

nineteenth century (pl. 20/1). On his own copy of the chart, George Brecht made much of
what he regarded as the important influence of vaudeville and found a place in the Fluxus
family tree for “Erasmus,” who composed his satire In Praise of Folly while riding over the
Alps in 1509. Viewed collectively, the chart’s eclectic affinities reflect the penchant for the
Gesamtkunstwerk which almost all Fluxartists shared. Marcel Duchamp, moreover, is as-
signed a central position as an authority on art beyond painting. It was Maciunas’ keen
interest in areas extraneous to art and in entertainment which moved Pierre Restany to
speak of the diagram as a cultural genealogy.205 Maciunas channeled the non-art influ-
ences such as vaudeville, games and puzzles, and natural events according to the various
strands of Fluxus, which is how he handled immanent influences such as futurism, Dada,
and surrealism. Yet these terms are basically catchphrases in need of further explanation
since normative models alone cannot do justice to Fluxus’ vital pluralism. Only certain
aspects of each art movement became a part of Fluxus, among them the performative as-
pects of futurism, the collage principle of Dada, and the combinatory processes of surreal-
ism. Compared with the two diagrams of 1966, the amount of detail provided is more ex-
tensive in places. In addition to the protagonists of various art movements and the names
and dates of their key works, several seminal manifestos and publications are also listed.
Maciunas reroutes some of the developmental lines of the past, although the changes he
makes are more of degree than categorical improvements. One possible exception is the
historical avant-gardes, whose internal relationships Maciunas probably understood better
after perusing Michel Sanouillet’s analytical diagram The Dada Movement, a copy of which
he owned. In Maciunas’ Big Chart, the sequence futurism – Dada Zurich – Dada Paris – sur-
realism is rendered visually as a series of shallow steps, whereas the “downward” thrust of
Sanouillet’s development of modernism is considerably more abrupt. Like Sanouillet, how-
ever, Maciunas regards both Schwitters’ Merz art in Hanover and Berlin Dada as of no
C_Y^[bIWdek_bb[j" J^[:WZWCel[c[dj" consequence to posterity, though he does not go so far as to exclude Germany’s heavily
Y$'/,/$F^ejeYefo"('$+ × ()Yc$ politicized Dada scene right from the outset, as did Robert Motherwell in his Dada Anthol-
ogy.206 Meanwhile, “anti-art & functionalism,” which basically meant the dissolution of art
within real life propagated by Soviet organizations such as the LEF, Novy LEF, and REF
(Revolutionary Front of the Arts), is credited with having had a much more lasting effect.207
The degree to which these movements influenced Fluxus can be measured by the relative
thickness of the connecting lines, which interweave the various groupings into one great
avant-garde family.208 The “Futurist school” assumes a special position as an umbrella or-
ganization, while futurist theater and Luigi Russolo’s intonarumori are credited with having
provided the stimuli that led to a new interest in indeterminacy, simultaneity, concretism,
and noise. Fluxus profited from this interest in the “monomorphic, condenced [sic] event,”
from the renewed appreciation of “smell, temperature, tactile sence [sic], aerial arts,” and
also from receptiveness to “audience participation,” “concretism,” and the “humorous as-
pect.” Maciunas outlined how the influence of arte-azione on Fluxus events came about via
the experimental music of John Cage, and this has long since become commonplace for
historians of performance art in general.209 Maciunas asserts a special affinity between
Duchamp and Cage—an affinity that other artists saw, too.210 The name Georges “Mathieu”
marks the beginning of the “Happening” in the chart, which Maciunas dates to 1952 and
hence coincident with Cage’s “action music.” According to the chart, 1952 was the year of
Mathieu’s Battle of Bouvines, a painting-happening which in fact took place two years later.
In 1957, Mathieu was involved in the founding of the Japanese Gutai Group, which caused
a stir by using paintings for target practice.211 “Doing” paintings as actions was right up
Maciunas’ street,212 and in the chart “Ann Halprin” with her “natural activities & tasks,”
such as walking in a circle, stands in the mid-1950s as a counterpoint to “action painting.”
Surrealism, which Maciunas had first counted among the precursors of Fluxus in his Dia-
gram of Historical Development of Fluxus, gained additional weight in the person of “Joseph
Cornell,” whose boxes of objets trouvés were a prototype of the Fluxkits. The American sur-
realist is actually named twice: once pre-1948 and once in 1956, although his role as an
antecedent of Dick Higgins and Robert Watts remains unexplained.


There are dominant and recessive lines within the Fluxus genealogy. John Cage, for example,
founded a dominant lineage as no matter where he was, he always succeeded in bringing nu-
merous artistic initiatives to life. Maciunas listed all the most important stations of these
early activities in his Diagram of Historical Development of Fluxus. In a wordplay on the mis-
sionary travels of St. Paul, he called the whole chart the “Travels of John,” noting that wher-
ever the composer went, “he left a little John Cage group” behind him, whether in France, in
Italy, in Darmstadt, or in Cologne.213 Maciunas tried hard to cast the author of transformed
sounds (the “prepared piano” of 1938) and sound collages (the “musique concrète” of 1939) in
the role of Fluxus’ spiritual father, especially as many of those who later became Fluxartists
studied with him. Others preferred to see him as a godfather or in a more avuncular light.214

Even if Maciunas was indeed “pedigree hunting” or engaged in “ancestor worship” as a

“ready-made for the art historian,” which is what Emmett Williams accused him of, this did
not prevent Cage from trying hard to live up to the expectations Maciunas had of him.215
When questioned about this, he described Maciunas’ quasi-scientific chart rather tellingly
as a family tree: “You could also say not a spiritual father but kind of a source, like a root;
and there were many roots and I was just one. You’ve seen the tree design that George
Maciunas made of Fluxus. Well, you recall that the roots are given at the top and my name
is connected with one of the roots. So I wasn’t the only one who brought it about, but I was
one of the ones. And I never had . . . a sense of being one of the roots. It was George Maciunas
who actually thought of Fluxus, who put me in his design of the tree with roots.” 216 Cage,
who from 1938 to 1958 is the main axis of the Diagram of Historical Development of Fluxus, at
least in terms of the dramatis personae, was not always as modest as this, and elsewhere is
on record as claiming a central position within Fluxus for himself.217 By renaming the dia-
gram the Cage Chart shortly before his death, Maciunas underscored the composer’s special
status even further.218


Maciunas’ genealogy of Fluxus was less an attempt at historiographical hegemony than the
product of his desire to put artistic self-historization in the foreground. The quest for his
own identity takes Maciunas back to his roots. George Brecht once remarked that every art-
ist works on the basis of models from the past that he has picked up along the way, and that
his own work thus becomes a model for someone else. For Brecht, building on what had
gone before was just as normal in the “family of art” as it was in science, in which the “mod-
els” were the experiments and theories of past scientists.219 By trying to chart these influ-
ences, Maciunas developed a system of references that would secure him and his fellow
artists—as part of the Fluxus lineage—a place in Fluxus’ fluctuating history. Only within
the larger historical and cultural context does a Fluxwork have significance. The self-aware-
ness of the artist, in other words, rests in large part on an instrumentalized past.

Fluxus was heir to a number of early-twentieth-century avant-gardes and hence regarded

itself as heir to a subversive counterculture. Stephen Foster even went so far as to claim that
Fluxus was basically a reconfiguration of the avant-garde paradigm, by which he meant that
it could reject the historical manifestation of modernism, but not its history. It followed
that although Maciunas was indubitably anti-art, anti-establishment, and anti-commercial
culture, he was definitely not anti-history.220 Foster, however, failed to take account of the
fact that even the historical avant-gardes had had to operate with models of history, de-
spite—or even because of—their claim to be breaking with the past. Genealogy regulates KcX[hje8eYY_ed_" F_jjkhWiYkbjkhW
the balance between continuity and innovation. Criticism of the new is softened by the le- \kjkh_ij[0:_dWc_icefbWij_YeC_bWd
gitimizing power of ancestry and origin.221 Artists secure their position in history through
tradition. To become a subject of history at all, every avant-garde movement both past and
present has to accept the existence of antecedents.

Foster describes the relationship between Fluxus and its historical models as ambivalent.
According to him, Fluxus had been happy enough to be included in the avant-garde canon,
but at the same time had fought energetically to distance itself from it. Being attracted to
and repelled by art history in equal measure, Fluxus had developed what was essentially a
two-pronged operational strategy. While by and large rejecting modernism, it nevertheless
acknowledged the overarching authority of history, and hence its own place in history. This
is why Maciunas deliberately and repeatedly attempted to prove that Fluxus had its own
history.222 While Foster’s thesis is not unfounded, at least with regard to the transhistorical
quality of the Fluxus myth, its relevance to Maciunas’ diagrams, if it has any at all, extends
only as far as the “optical unconscious.” According to Rosalind Krauss, the “optical uncon-
scious” is that latent pictorial content which is not apparent at first glance, but which as a
message implicit in the work must still be included in any reflection on the same.223 Besides,
as the Big Chart clearly illustrates, the bonds of kinship are almost impossible to sever, even
if Fluxus preferred to engage only with certain aspects of the work of its direct progenitors.
Maciunas’ own visual strategy aimed to bridge the gap between past and present, without
any ifs and buts.


In the course of time, an accurate record of events became just as relevant as the expansive
historical backdrop against which Maciunas had positioned Fluxus. It was this all-inclusive
compilation of the movement’s deeds and doings that Maciunas would adduce as proof of
its historical significance. His mania for precision was such that the chronological part of
the diagram soon took on proportions that made the long prehistory of Fluxus appear as
but a brief episode. Fluxus’ endeavors to put an end to art as an aesthetic phenomenon and
<hWdY_iF_YWX_W" :WZWCel[c[dj"_d :WZW" commercial factor can be regarded as commensurate to its efforts to establish itself as a
de$*Å+'/'/"d$f$ cultural force.

Learning more about Fluxus, its members, and its activities, about what Jon Hendricks once
referred to as “the flow of things,” requires the in-depth study of the Diagram of Historical
Development of Fluxus.224 Depending on the direction in which the information is combined,
the result is either a simultaneous or a successive image of its history. Synchronic actions
and a diachronic sequence of events are the two narrative styles in which history is related,
even if the chronological account of Fluxus’ artistic activities is more consistent than that
of the parallel happenings. Citing exact dates, the chart for the first time tells us who initi-
ated what, when, and where. The period covered—from 1948 to 1971—spans just over two
decades and hence a much longer period than the eight years (1959–1966) covered by the
earlier Fluxus diagrams. The Big Chart is the first to prove that 1959 was a “very influential
year” that saw the emergence of numerous new ideas, many of which were put into practice
at the 1962 and 1963 festivals and concerts in Germany, England, Denmark, France, and the
Netherlands. Although the Fluxus collective remained a part of the art scene even after 1967,
it was clear even then that its “heroic” phase was drawing to a close. The public events be-
came visibly fewer, and many of the artists began going their own way. After what Maciunas
called the “Fluxus golden Age,” musicians like “John Lennon” had long taken over with more
effective pacifist messages at the height of Vietnam War—even if they recognized Maciunas’
form of social critique (pl. 20/4).225 The elevation of pop music as a result of Lennon’s own
star status should not hide the fact that the history of Fluxus had in any case long since
undergone a paradigm shift. In 1966, Maciunas had begun to set new standards for inter-
ventional urban development with his pioneering Fluxhouse Cooperative Building Project.
Critique of urbanism as artistic practice, which has been on the increase since the 1970s, has
one of its most vital roots right here.

8[dLWkj_[h" Q>[bbeCWY_kdWiS"_d <bWi^7hj"de$.*Å.+EYj$ÅDel$'/-."f$+'



Compared with many fellow artists of his generation, Maciunas had a very broad education.
He studied art, graphic design, and architecture at the Cooper Union School of Art in New
York (1949–1952), architecture and musicology at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in
Pittsburgh (1952–1954), and gained a thorough grounding in art history at the Institute of
Fine Arts at New York University (1955–1960). As was the norm for American students at the
time, Maciunas used his own diagrams and lists of facts and figures to give himself a better
sense of the larger picture.226 For Maciunas as graphic designer, the written word in diagram-
matic form became a key motif. He was also an exceptional “learning machine” himself.
Throughout his studies, he repeatedly ventured into languages, logic, psychology, and even
physiology. His broad range of interests and universal approach required appropriate forms of
knowledge management to enable him to keep track of this plethora of material. The diagram
seemed ideal inasmuch as it lent itself to the ordering of facts, the reduction of complexity,
and the accrual of meaning. With the diagram, the ever expanding field of knowledge could
be made manageable within a limited time, as Maciunas recalled when he looked back at his
student years in his “Preliminary Proposal for a 3-Dimensional System of Information Stor-
age and Presentation.” 227 In this short text, written in the late 1960s, Maciunas condemned
the inefficiency of the American education system, which for him was a result of premature
specialization and the fragmentation of knowledge. Maciunas knew what he was talking
about. After all, he had spent eleven years, and hence much longer than average, at college and
had gained first-hand experience of several educational establishments of renown. He sum-
marized his proposals for improvements in the Learning Machine of 1969 (pl. 21).

Maciunas used this chart-like taxonomy with its easily comprehensible structure to excori-
ate the slow, linear-narrative method of traditional sources of information such as books,
=[eh][8h[Y^j" Dej[Xeea0EYjeX[h" lectures, television, and movies, as well as of newer computer technology. As one who did not
'/+.Å7fh_b"'/+/"d$f$ really enjoy reading books, Maciunas replaced text-based knowledge transfer with a visual sys-
tem of information that allowed a wealth of information to be grasped simultaneously. What
he had in mind was a three-dimensional diagram whose main advantage would be its provision
of a time-saving overview. Even if Maciunas’ Learning Machine, conceived as an all-inclusive
view of all areas of knowledge, never progressed beyond a two-dimensional tree of categories,
its interdisciplinary frame of reference nevertheless provided a binding blueprint for future
educational programs. The purpose of networked thinking was to prevent the wood from being
obscured by the trees. Maciunas believed that this was the only way to overcome the blinkered
vision caused by specialization. Students with a broad education should be offered a four-year
curriculum which would allow them to specialize only gradually. As part of these reform pro-
posals, Maciunas also advocated interdepartmental seminars from which the art major pro-
gram in particular would greatly benefit. Otherwise, or so he feared, the chances of survival for
budding professional artists would sink drastically. The gravity of the situation was expressed
in Maciunas’ Curriculum Plan (c. 1968–1969) with a typographic SOS (pl. 22). From Maciunas’
point of view, it was high time the communication of knowledge was revolutionized.

Maciunas’ Curriculum Plan resembles a board game, a design that evinces a certain insouci-
ance toward the glaring shortcomings of the system by which American artists were trained.
The three letters of the international distress call can be read as the playing field of the
board, the two serpentine tracks and one circular shape signifying the different levels of the
new curriculum. The rules are defined at the start and finish of the two tracks. To get from
A to B, the player first has to perform various tasks, the increasing difficulty of which is
visualized by the pasted-on pictures of tools, technical equipment, and technical drawings.
Not until the player’s imaginary playing piece has passed through all the different areas from
non-major program to major program does it become apparent at the finish whether or not
the effort has been worthwhile. Successful screening, testing, and evaluation during and at
the end of the major program indicate that all is well and that there is nothing now standing
in the way of a career—at least not according to the Curriculum Plan.

Notwithstanding this conceptual work based on the ideas of educational reform, Maciunas :c_jh_?$C[dZ[b[[l"F[h_eZ_YJWXb[e\
always regarded the Learning Machine as his best work and went to great lengths to make it j^[;b[c[dji"'.-'"_d@e^Wdd[iM_bb[c
lWdIfhedi[d" J^[F[h_eZ_YIoij[c
known to a wider audience.228 He put the chart on the list of objects shown at the Rome
exhibition Contemporanea (1973–1974) and had plans to present it at the Internationales <_hij>kdZh[ZO[Whi7cij[hZWc"
Colloquium der experimentellen Künste in Berlin in the fall of 1973. Having been forced by ill BedZed"WdZD[mOeha'/,/"f$')-
health to cancel his participation in that event, Maciunas sent a copy of his chart to the
organizer Christos Joachimides, describing it as a “recategorization of all fields of knowl-
edge according to a more logical system,” and explaining that he had been inspired by scien-
tific charts such as Dmitri Mendeleev’s periodic table of the elements, originally published
in German.229 Mendeleev’s table can be read as an expression of an attempt to understand
matter in as much depth as possible and to capture it in a vivid, readily understandable
model. Mendeleev provided the periodic ABC in a table remarkable above all for its econ-
omy: the letters symbolize the nomenclature of the chemical elements, the numbers their
atomic number. Mendeleev’s table classifies the elements by arranging them in groups (the
vertical columns) and periods (the horizontal rows) in order to visualize the correlation
between their physical atomic structure and chemical reactivity. The position of an element
in the periodic system, or rather in one of the groups, allows us to draw conclusions re-
garding its properties. Just as Mendeleev was able to use the periodic table to predict the
existence of elements that would not be discovered until much later, so Maciunas’ Learning
Machine was to enable the prediction of new trends and new forms. As he explained to
Joachimides: “It is very easy to locate all present art forms within the categories, and find
categories for which no art examples exist yet.” 230 Joachimides was so impressed by the
complexity of the chart that he wanted to include it in the publication of the colloquium’s

proceedings. But first he requested additional information as guidance for the reader: “If
time allows, would you prepare for us an explanatory text on the diagram work you have
been carrying out in recent years. It would also be of value if we could publish your proposals
for the recategorization of art and also the historical study of experimental art in the last
20 years (in diagram form) in your publication.” 231 Did Maciunas respond to this request? We
do not know. At any rate, no proceedings of the colloquium were ever published.


The net is an ideal metaphor for the interrelatedness of all things. With its nodes, connect-
ing lines, and points of intersection, it forms a complex system of relationships. The net-
work, meanwhile, is a tool for making this figure of speech an artistic reality. As a medium
of action, it is predicated on participation. It demands the involvement of a collective in a
highly complex process of exchange. The avant-garde was quick to appropriate this transfer
principle and in the course of its own globalization applied it—as a migration effect, as it
were—to the formation of an international network. What Hubert van den Berg has so fit-
tingly described as the “supranationality of the avant-garde” is especially true of Fluxus.232
Yet these global nets are not pursued indiscriminately; instead, they are subject to a norma-
tive selection procedure, of which Maciunas was an early and exemplary practitioner.

As one who aspired to have contacts all over the world, Maciunas felt a stronger affinity for
Dada than for futurism or surrealism. While F. T. Marinetti sought to impress upon the
futurists the importance of italianitá, and André Breton went out of his way to ensure that
surrealism retained its French roots (at least until World War II put an abrupt end to the
patriotic dream of a grande nation of surrealism), Dadaism’s inherent internationalism was
apparent even in the name. “The word Dada in itself indicates the internationalism of the
movement which is bound to no frontiers, religions or professions,” as Richard Huelsenbeck
put it in his First German Dada Manifesto, also called the Collective Dada Manifesto. “Dada is
the international expression of our times . . . the Dada Club consequently has members all
over the world, in Honolulu as well as New Orleans and Meseritz.” 233 Avant-garde interna-
tionalism was a programmatic offshoot of the movement’s international core, even if this
core was itself a product of historical circumstances. The same tendency is apparent in the
name “Fluxus” as well, which like the word “Dada” was found by leafing through a reference
book. “Fluxus” is a Latin word—a lexical and hence international concept.

Maciunas developed an international, but selective network of contacts right from the
start of the Fluxus movement. That the editorial committee of the Fluxus Yearboxes set up
in 1962 had an American, German, Scandinavian, French, Italian, Austrian, British, East
European, Japanese, and Canadian section bears this out.234 The self-appointed chairman
was nevertheless assiduous about ensuring that he was at the center of this web and that
no relationships could develop without his involvement.235 Global collaboration, such as
the quasi-synchronous networking that has been practiced by artists using computer-
assisted networks since the 1980s, was something that Maciunas had sought to initiate in
countless letters to friends and fellow artists as early as the 1960s.236 It was an undertaking
for which he might have been inspired by the New York Correspondence School, the world’s
first mail art network founded by Ray Johnson in 1962. To judge by Maciunas’ own corre-
spondence, he collected contacts with fellow artists the way other people collect stamps.
These network communications in the form of cross-border exchanges of letters were suf-
ficient to facilitate an interweaving of ideas which, to paraphrase Roy Ascott, lends the
term “associative thinking” considerable interpretative latitude. 237 When, following the tri-
umph of the computer, the electronic network embarked on what was to be a transdisci-
plinary career in disciplines such as sociology, psychology, and ethnology, it turned out
that the human resource of the social network was one of Fluxus’ salient characteristics.
And even today, old boy and old girl networks seem to work perfectly when the task in
hand is to keep Fluxus alive.

If, however, the Italian communications theorist Tatiana Bazzichelli is right, then the his-
tory of “networking” in art essentially began with Maciunas’ net-based diagrams of history,
art history, and the Fluxus movement.238 That Maciunas, whose sophisticated diagrams link
together the most heterogeneous knowledge cultures, artistic currents, and artists, is one
of postmodernism’s greatest networkers is certainly not in doubt. His fascination with ta-
bles as the archetypal diagram and with charts and maps was profoundly optimistic, and
evidence of the widespread assumption that the main thrust and patterns of history can
indeed be captured in graphic form. Between 1953 and 1973, he produced some two dozen
maps, charts, and diagrams, which together with further unfinished works from the years
up to his death in 1978 form a vivid account of the various ways in which politics, business,
cultural history, poetry, music, and art are intertwined.

The diagrammatic network as a mode of reflection at one remove allowed Maciunas, acting
from within the Fluxus movement, to lend it the status of an artistic international by draw-
ing attention to the universality of its left-leaning aspirations. Nam June Paik saw compa-
rable ideologems at work when he identified Maciunas’ Lithuanianism and Marxist back-
ground as responsible for his concept of a global movement.239 Maciunas’ desire to make
Fluxus a global network could also well have been inspired by the notion of a new world
culture modeled on the ancient world cultures that he had studied while a student, natu-
rally with the aid of diagrams and tables.

Even if, or perhaps because Maciunas used his Fluxus diagrams to reflect on the latest de-
velopments in art, he was certainly no friend of universal theories and made no secret of
this. As he asserted somewhat apodictically in his undated essay “Rebuttal of One Theory”:
“A theory is a scheme rationally explaining observed facts.” 240 According to Maciunas, the
lofty abstractionist thinking of the theorist is constantly at risk of becoming too far re-
moved from the facts on the ground and hence no longer a fair representation of the same.
Overarching cognitive constructs must not be allowed to precede, ignore, or even manipu-
late facts. The best negative example of this in Maciunas’ view was no less an achievement
than Marshall McLuhan’s popular media theory: “McLuhan meanwhile first creates a the-
ory and then when observed facts do not support it, distorts them making it propaganda.”
There are echoes of the artist’s fundamental reservations about theoretical models in this
very serious charge of the abuse of facts in the name of propaganda.241 Maciunas himself
eschewed theoretical work.

Unlike Marinetti, Tzara, or Breton, who endeavored to guarantee avant-garde art’s produc-
tion of meaning by giving futurism, Dada, and surrealism a theoretical underpinning right
from the start, Maciunas made no attempt to emulate his models on this score and to pro-
vide an intellectual explanation for the approaches taken by Fluxus, which were not always
easy to understand. This lack of conceptual work was regarded as a shortcoming of Fluxus.
The great shaman of theory, Joseph Beuys, for example, accused the Fluxus people of lack-
ing any “real theory” or “recognizable underlying structure” conceptually precise enough to
set them apart from other avant-garde movements.242 But there could be no “real”—for
which read “coherent”—theory for Fluxus, since such a theory would only have undermined
the ideas and concepts inspired by Zen practice and activity. Not even those Fluxus artists
who did indeed have intellectual potential—such as George Brecht and Tomas Schmit—saw
any need to take action here. Fluxus seemed simple. Few restrictions prevented an artist
from presenting almost anything under the Fluxus rubric. Yet there were approaches and
outlines of theoretical premises which did indeed come in ideological guise: Maciunas never
tired of calling for “revolutionary leadership in culture,” for example, “leadership” in this
case meaning a joint venture between communism and art. This dogma had to be internal-
ized for a Maciunas-style Fluxus to be practiced. Yet it was in this same unilateral appro-
priation by “Marxist ideology” that Beuys, who favored the “active neutrality” resulting
from the overthrow of both capitalism and communism, saw the greatest danger for
Fluxus.243 For a countercultural activist such as Maciunas, such an assessment of the situa-
tion was irrelevant. He was confident of the audience’s ability to think for itself.

Instead of doing complex theoretical work à la Beuys, Maciunas cultivated his phenomenal
memory capacity as a factographer. He loved facts—pure, unadorned facts such as years,
names, historical places, and events, stripped of their theoretical trappings. Maciunas’ en-
cyclopedic knowledge consisted of key words and numbers, of information in its most com-
pressed form, gleaned from all the manuals and reference works he had pored over during
his many years as a student of general knowledge. Maciunas had always just the historical
facts in mind, and less the pertaining circumstances, or the dominant views of the time, the
atmosphere, the possibilities, or the limits of historical constellations. Pure facts were also
the dry matter out of which he would later develop his history charts and diagrams.

=[eh][ CWY_kdWiÊYWb[dZWh"EYjeX[h Nowhere on these data superhighways were facts driven to the brink of chaos. No matter
((ÅDel[cX[h(+"'/-)$<[bj#j_f_daWdZ how tiny, every unit of information painstakingly ferreted out in the course of years of
XWbbfe_djedfWf[h"**$* × +.$*Yc
research was subjected to this same ordering principle. This forced Maciunas to constantly
reread and revise his knowledge charts and to reorganize the data they contained, even
though these later corrections, elaborations, and additions pushed the limits of what was
practically possible. Using a scalpel, he had to cleanly excise tiny units of information,
often no more than a few square centimeters in size, so as to be able to install new units in
their place. Yet each one of these changes cast doubt not only on the encyclopedic diagram
itself, but also on the exactness of the data on which it was premised. The exterritorializa-
tion of historical memory in diagrams and charts obliged Maciunas to constantly reorga-
nize, rearrange, and reconnect his stupendous stock of factual knowledge. The theory

evolved as if of its own accord as the diagrams took shape. Indeed, it is an implicit compo-
nent of the diagrammatic visualization process.

As crucial as Maciunas’ contribution to the development of diagrammatic networking was,

the ascendancy of networked knowledge began long before him.244 The pioneers here were
the great taxonomists of the eighteenth century, such as the Swedish botanist Carolus Lin-
naeus, who sought to classify plants on the basis of their similarities and affinities. Whereas
Linnaeus has gone down in history as the great Enlightenment botanist, his scientific mag-
num opus Systema naturae of 1735 is remarkable not only for its content, but also for its
method, which basically entailed the descriptive, comparative naming of the entire plant
and animal kingdom. Linnaeus doggedly promoted this very static style of observation in
his publications and in doing so developed a systems theory of the living world, as espoused
in his countless taxonomic plates.
9WhebkiB_ddW[ki" Ioij[cWdWjkhW[
Maciunas got down to work taking a similarly rigorous approach to classification. The total B[oZ[d'-)+"d$f$

dominance of administration over life posited by Adorno was second nature to Maciunas.
Whether the task in hand was the ordering of his everyday life, the arrangement of Fluxus
concerts, the creation of a typology of his friends’ restrooms or of animal excrement, he was
an obsessive systematist, notorious for his passion for ordering both art and life. However,
this drive to lend shape and order to everything is at its most clearly apparent in his


In addition to countless drafts and sketches, Maciunas essentially designed three diagrams
with which he wrote the history of Fluxus: Fluxus (Its Historical Development and Relationship
to Avant-Garde Movements), the Expanded Arts Diagram, both of 1966, and the Diagram of
Historical Development of Fluxus and Other 4 Dimentional [sic], Aural, Optic, Olfactory, Epithelial
and Tactile Artforms of 1973 (pl. 16–17, 20/1–4). To these can be added the two Time-Space Charts
of 1961 and 1962 plus a version of the same translated into German which, although they
never once use the term Fluxus, can certainly be regarded as Fluxus diagrams (pl. 12–13, 15).
The Notations for a Diagram of 1973 can also be counted as part of this diagrammatic oeuvre
(pl. 23). What all of these diagrams have in common is their vision of Fluxus as a network,
as a supranational system of references in which American and Western-European Fluxus
versus Eastern-European and Asian Fluxus are no longer opposite poles but rather have
commingled to become a single worldwide network.

This guiding vision of Maciunas, itself a new facet of avant-garde claims to totality, exposes
the political character of Fluxus-style internationalism, which was above all a response to the
nationalist chauvinism that had plunged Europe into World War II. Maciunas’ Fluxus-East
doctrine was an attempt to tear down borders, to expand the experiential horizons of the
individual so that national divides could be seen in perspective and questioned. Although =[eh][CWY_kdWi" <bknJe_b[j"Y$'/-&$
such a plea for transnationalism stood little chance of winning popular support in the Cold F^ejeYefo"(-$/ × ('$,Yc

War era, Fluxus artists, with their radically global aspirations, never tired of drawing atten-
tion to the dangers posed by propaganda that was based, or even centered, on nationality.
Their professional traveling was likewise cast as an attempt to actively reconcile geopolitical
opposites. The Iron Curtain did not come crashing down, however, and as time progressed
most of their traveling was motivated by career rather than ideological considerations.

The network of relationships between individual artists that Maciunas developed in his
Fluxus diagrams implies an unequivocal verdict. Because his charts were intended to eluci-
date and enlighten, he risked having his comparisons and contrasts dismissed as mere opin-
ion, all the more so since he repeatedly loosened the bonds that he himself had tied only to
tie them again elsewhere. The subtle distinctions drawn between the artists’ extremely het-
erogeneous relationships were based on the set of criteria that Maciunas applied to both

himself and his fellow artists. The twenty members Maciunas mentioned in October 1964
had dwindled to fifteen one month later and then down to ten by the end of the year, as a
comparison with the Expanded Arts Diagram makes clear (pl. 17).245

Maciunas’ declared goal was to continually redefine the hardcore of Fluxus and to render
visible the varying degrees of affinity between the artists themselves and this particular
version of the avant-garde. To do this, he drew a distinction between pre-Fluxus artists,
loyal “Fluxus” activists, “independents,” and that visibly growing circle of further artists
that was attracted by the “outlets”—Fluxus events and publications. Lurking behind the
method of classification which Maciunas developed in his diagrams, however, was a poten-
tial schism, which in the course of time caused the group to split in half. This in turn led
some Fluxists such as Dick Higgins to conclude that Fluxus as a “functioning organism” had
ceased to exist.246 For what the diagrams sought to show was not just the relevance of twen-
tieth-century artists and art history to Fluxus, but their relevance to Maciunas as well, as
Emmett Williams complained.247 Many Fluxists shared this view. But Maciunas could be
neither moved nor intimidated by such critique. He liked things to be clear cut. And this
meant that bringing personal differences out into the open should be regarded as one of the
strengths of the Fluxus diagrams. Ultimately, however, it was not the concept of the collec-
tive, but rather emphatic individualism that triumphed in the end; which is why Maciunas’
attempts to produce network-like taxonomies in the form of a diagram in fact express noth-
ing more than the growing crisis of a flimsy artists’ network held together by nothing more
substantial than the scintillating concept of “Fluxus.” 248


Maciunas had prepared himself thoroughly for the job of chronicler of Fluxus. He began by
collecting all the most important information, references, and documents, and carefully
compiling an orderly text and image archive. He literally translated his many and varied
experiences with Fluxus into masses of data. This mania for collecting all things relating to
their own person is well-known from other artists. Like them, Maciunas belonged to that
category of people who act as custodian of their own posthumous reputation right from the
start—even if this did not prevent him from launching into diatribes against celebrity cul-
ture and threatening to take whatever draconian measures were necessary to stamp it out.
Anything worth knowing was collected, sorted, and neatly stored in boxes. An index was
created to facilitate swift access. Researchers would no longer need to waste hours of their
time sifting through the material, as Maciunas would have done the work for them. The
story goes that after Maciunas’ death, the brown boxes containing the Fluxus archives
ended up in the trash, and were only partly retrieved; yet the documents were never really
lost.249 What certainly remained was a photograph documenting the intact Fluxus archive
and storage system at Maciunas’ apartment on 349 West Broadway in New York, taken by
the German collector Hanns Sohm on January 3, 1970. Maciunas had taken all his informa-
tion from this store of knowledge. It follows that the charts and diagrams, at least up to a
point, were simply graphic summaries of documents.

Instead of engaging in historical analysis, Maciunas preferred the task of collating his mate-
=[eh][CWY_kdWi" ;nYh[jW<bknehkc" rial and generating factual clusters. The compilation of data from general reference works,
'/-)$LWh_eki[nYh[c[dji_dfbWij_YXen" whether in encyclopedic form or strictly chronologically, lent the information-laden look of
(( × ))$+ × +$.Yc
his works an “aesthetic of administration.” 250 Maciunas remained true to this bookkeeping

7hY^_l[WdZZ[fej_d=[eh][CWY_kdWiÊ principle. New data were supplied together with comparative material whose epistemic
WfWhjc[dj")*/M[ij8heWZmWo"D[m value it was up to the viewer to determine. Maciunas’ diagrams are what McLuhan called
Oeha"@WdkWho)"'/-&f^eje]hWf^0>Wddi “hot media” in the sense that they are highly informative. On the other hand they are also
Ie^c$IjWWji]Wb[h_[Ijkjj]Whj"Ie^c “cold media,” since they demand active interpretation from the viewer. It is to Maciunas’
credit, however, that most of the maps, diagrams, and charts were not initially intended for
publication, but were instead conceived first and foremost as a private source of knowledge
which the artist-historian could then order and verify.

It was in the course of Maciunas’ musings on a “3-Dimensional System of Information Stor-
age and Presentation” in the late 1960s that the diagrammatic documents were first appre-
hended as a coherent group of works.251 The clearest indication of this is a small scrap of
paper with glue marks on the back that link it conclusively to the Greek and Roman History
of Art Chart (pl. 7/A4). The recto, meanwhile, features a general title followed by a brief com-
mentary, both of which Maciunas typed on his IBM typewriter—just as he did for his Atlas
of Russian History (see also illustration on p. 23): “Fragments of a History of Art (Time-Space)
Chart. Preparation is still in progress. Later to be incorporated and expanded into a 3D sys-
tem of information presentation & storage.” The last sentence is programmatic. Maciunas
was planning to combine all his diagrams from those dating from his early student days to
the later Fluxus diagrams in a single knowledgescape. In pursuit of this, he drew on ideas
from the world of design, including Oswald Ungers’ furniture series and Charlotte Perriand’s
exceptionally simple storage systems, both of which he saw as providing models of “very,”
and in the second case “extremely” good storage units.252 Maciunas had discovered pictures

of these grid-like shelving systems in the French art and architecture magazine Aujourd’hui =[eh][CWY_kdWiÊ][d[hWbj_jb[WdZ
and had considered getting in touch with Ungers and Perriand through the publisher. His Yecc[djWhoed Q=h[[aWdZHecWd
critical engagement with furniture design became manifest in the Modular Cabinets, which
Jof[iYh_fj"+$* × '+$,Yc
Maciunas adorned with laminated photographs of medieval works of art. In line with
Maciunas’ way of thinking, these Modular Cabinets were themselves learning machines.253
This is the interpretation followed by Barbara Moore, who defines the learning machine not
as a purely diagrammatic concept, but also as a physical ordering system “based on cabi-
nets with drawers full of file cards, including one on art history and one that recategorized
the fields of knowledge”—in other words as a “storage and retrieval system.” 254 Maciunas
explicitly developed the History of Art 3 dimentional [sic] Chart (1958–1966) according to
these criteria.255

Mapping knowledge was Maciunas’ raison d’être. The atlases, charts, and diagrams became
so essential that he soon regarded them as a body of works in their own right within his
oeuvre. Not only did Maciunas’ own output of charts continue long after his student days
were over, but he also took care to archive selected samples. He was so scientifically thor-
ough in his compilation of information that toward the end of his life he even saw himself
as an art historian, as in fact would certainly have been possible, given his gift for chrono-
logical memory.256 Thus, in 1976, Maciunas the “art historian” applied for a grant from the
John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation to work on his project Diagram of History of
the Avant-Garde, Particularily [sic] its Development from Futurism, Dada, Duchamp, Surrealism, EimWbZKd][hi"I^[b\ioij[c"_d
John Cage to Happenings, Events and Fluxus. This was an ambitious project that had been 7k`ekhZÊ^k_07hj[j7hY^_j[Yjkh["
maturing since 1966 and implemented—although admittedly “incomplete”—in 1973 with

the Diagram of Historical Development of Fluxus and Other 4 Dimentional [sic], Aural, Optic, 9^Whbejj[F[hh_WdZ":hWm[hioij[c"
Olfactory, Epithelial and Tactile Artforms, and which now was to be finished with a flourish _d 7k`ekhZÊ^k_07hj[j7hY^_j[Yjkh["
(pl. 20/1–4).257 Jonathan M. Brown, Director of the Institute of Fine Arts at NYU, the Fluxus leb$("de$-'/+,"f$-*
collector Jean Brown, and John Cage supported him by providing letters of recommenda-
tion. Maciunas intended to use the grant to devote a whole year—1977—to working out a

“detailed diagram showing in coordinates of time and form” the relationship between his-
torical avant-gardes and “recent avant-garde forms such as happenings, events, environ-
ments, concept art, action music, multimedia, inter-media etc. with particular emphasis to
Flux-group activities.” 258 The data compiled were to be supplemented to take account of art-
ists such as John Cage, Daniel Spoerri, Arman, George Brecht, Robert Filliou, Simone Forti,
Trisha Brown, the Zaj Group, Dick Higgins, Stuart Sherman, Nam June Paik, and Ben Vau-
tier. It was with this end in mind that Maciunas envisaged doing research in the archives of
Jean Brown, Hanns Sohm, and Peter and Barbara Moore. His plan also envisaged adding
this extra information in the “existing diagram format”—he meant the Big Chart—and
then sending the “complete version” to print. The grant application was rejected, however. 259
Around the same time, Maciunas was advised by friends to apply for financial support from
the National Endowment for the Arts, but this time as an artist. This application was suc-
cessful and enabled Maciunas to remain the “Mr. Fluxus” he had always been.


Maciunas’ learning machines are made mainly of paper and adhesive tape and are struc-
tured either chronologically or synchronoptically. The chronologies are in essence an ac-
count of the events that took place—a quantitative view of history that does not permit any
qualitative conclusions regarding the past. For such an additive listing of facts to have in-
terpretative potential, the causal relations between the individual facts, the intentions be-
hind them, and other processes first have to be exposed. Only then can these “plain narra-
tives” become “significant narratives,” to use William Henry Walsh’s distinction; the
chronological events listed first have to be causalized, so that they can then serve to explain
what happened and give meaning to the events.260

Arthur Danto was one of those critics who strongly rejected Walsh’s distinction between
plain and significant narratives. In order to highlight one of its weaknesses he drew on
theoretical works in the social sciences and studies on business cycles, which contained nar-
rative parts but could in no way be deemed “significant narratives.” 261 Because these studies
were more devoted to presenting than explaining, they constituted a wholly different genre
for which the definition of “plain narratives” was also not appropriate. Referring to Walsh’s
interpretation of tabular lists in art history as a “mere skeleton of history,” Danto denied
that lists of names of famous artists and dates of their works in a particular epoch had any
narrative potential. In his view, a list was not a narrative. But because a table may nonethe-
less free up “historical imagination,” it does contain all the preconditions for the generation
of significant narrative.262 Rudimentary details are sufficient to transform a list into a nar-
rative. If the documentary evidence is used effectively for historiographic construction,
then history-as-record becomes a “plausible narrative.” 263

It was this “documentary evidence” that Maciunas sought to generate in his diagrams. He
did this by using arrows to assert the existence of historiographic correlations. The arrows
that make these connections are a conceptual aid inasmuch as they demand a relational way
of seeing on the part of the viewer and so generate a deductive truth. In any case, they un-
derscore the elucidatory potential of schematic presentations of history. Maciunas placed
his faith in the persuasive strategy of explanatory diagrams.

=[eh][CWY_kdWi" CeZkbWh9WX_d[ji Like abstract paintings, the diagrams, too, produce narratives and hence meaning. W. J. T.
<bkn\khd_jkh["'/,-$?dijWbbWj_edl_[m" Mitchell compared the art historical diagram with a visual machine for generating lan-
=[eh][CWY_kdWi0 :[hJhWkcled<bknki"
guage.264 The generation of meaning in the diagram works with what are literally visual
means, one of which is text. In keeping with the “logic of images,” however, the power of the
iconic extends logos beyond the confines of mere verbality, and in doing so transforms it.265
It follows that although the meaning of diagrams can always be understood by looking at
them, they can never be meaningfully read out loud. The text elements in Maciunas’ history
diagrams would amount to nothing more than a series of years, names, and catchwords,

Meb\Leij[bb" Fh[#<bknkiD[mOehaX[\eh[

Meb\Leij[bb" Fh[#<bknki9ebe]d[X[\eh[

Meb\Leij[bb" <bknkiM_[iXWZ[d'/,("d$Z$

the connections between which are visualized, but not verbalized in the graphic matrix. For
that to happen, the intermittent localization of information would have to be expanded,
with the aid of narrativity, to create a space—space being the domain of action.266 Only
when the diagram as a visual machine grinds into action, to extend Mitchell’s metaphor,
can single names and events be meaningfully linked together in a narrative.

Maciunas attempted to break the silence of facts and to transform them into diagrammati-
cal discourse on history, which meant preparing them graphically to make historical inter-
pretation possible. Maciunas was not a storyteller like Wolf Vostell, who had transformed
the individual paths taken by Fluxus artists crossing in New York, Cologne, and Wiesbaden
into arabesques. What Maciunas wanted was to explain Fluxus, for despite his bookkeeper’s
mentality, he was basically an analyst, interested in the what, the when, and the where. The
sequential events of history are translated into spatial order, and take on symbolic form in
the grid. This geometrical figure, whether in rigid form or as a graphic matrix, was the basic
structuring element of all of Maciunas’ knowledgescapes.267

The early Chronologies already show that Maciunas wanted to put artistic and sociopolitical
eras and periods down on paper. He could not have known just how much this made him a
part of the trend known as the diagrammatic turn.268 Nevertheless, Maciunas did not have
any binding models for his charts. He drew ideas and inspiration from a variety of sources
and then either developed or discarded them.

C_]k[b9elWhhkX_Wi" J^[Jh[[e\CeZ[hd At first glance, Maciunas’ deductive diagrams have more in common with the famous flow
7hjFbWdj[Z,&O[Whi7]e"_d LWd_jo<W_h" chart of Alfred H. Barr Jr. than with the family trees of art by fellow artists Miguel
Covarrubias, Nathaniel Pousette-Dart, and Ad Reinhardt—and not just because Maciunas

DWj^Wd_[bFeki[jj[#:Whj" 7Jh[[9^Whje\ copied out Barr’s chart as part of his own studies. Barr, the first director of New York’s
9edj[cfehWho7c[h_YWd7hj"_d 7hjWdZ Museum of Modern Art, had printed his chart on the dust jacket of the catalogue for the
7hj_ijie\JeZWo"leb$'"de$,'/)."f$( Cubism and Abstract Art exhibition of 1936, and had thus given Maciunas a model to follow.
 Taking the founding years of the various avant-gardes as his starting point, Barr produced
7ZH[_d^WhZj" >emjeBeeaWjCeZ[hd7hj
_d7c[h_YW"_d F$C$"leb$-"de$(//@kd[("
a genealogy of the twentieth century’s various -isms. In his Big Chart, Maciunas countered
'/*,"f$') this macrohistorical structure with a microhistorical system in which every event of rele-
vance to Fluxus was dated not just by year, but by an exact date (pl. 20/1–4).

The idea of polarity comes to the fore in the Barr Chart, in which concepts such as “non-
geometrical abstract art” and “geometrical abstract art” are used to split the post-1930
avant-garde into two opposing camps in keeping with the conceptual dialectic posited by
Heinrich Wölfflin in his Principles of Art History (1915). This same polarity is clearly reflected

in many of the drafts Maciunas produced for his Fluxus diagrams. Like Barr, Maciunas
thought in contrasts such as “verbal theatre”—meaning bourgeois art—and “anti-art”; in
antinomies such as “neo-baroque theatre” and “neo-haiku theatre”; in distinctions such as
polymorphism and monomorphism; in short, in oppositions such as happenings and Fluxus.
Yet Maciunas did not consider himself bound by these simplified polarities. He staked out
the area between these extremes and defined them with analytical acuity (pl. 16–18).

Whereas Barr was analyzing avant-garde art over a period of forty-five years and made out
two distinct currents which, after passing through various phases and way stations, became
two basic categories, Maciunas was trying to map out a decade of Fluxus history. The direc-
tion in which it was developing is not always clear. Some strands suddenly break off like the
branches of Reinhardt’s satirical family tree How to Look at Modern Art in America. Other
developments which for many years remained marginal, on the other hand, continue with-
out interruption and ultimately become the center of the action. Yet Maciunas’ approach
goes far beyond these genealogical models. By expressing Fluxus’ polycultural and interme-
dial prerequisites in the form of charts, Maciunas made known his opposition to the Ameri-
can tradition of formalism. For him, schematizing the autonomous laws of modernism was
no more than art for art’s sake.


Maciunas’ diagrammatic work, which he worked on and refined for more than two decades,
marks a major contribution to the history of diagrams and the dissemination of informa-
tion about avant-garde art. The fact that during Maciunas’ own lifetime only his closest
friends and family knew of the diagrams of European and Russian history does not dimin-
ish his achievement in the slightest.269 Together with the later Fluxus charts, all of these
diagrams also occupy a special place within his own oeuvre, and not just because he took
such pains with their creation. Aware of their conceptual import, Maciunas even accorded
them a section of their own in his resume. In the last years of his life, having had to look on
as one project after another ran aground despite his own unflagging efforts, Maciunas
began to stake all his hopes and aspirations on his diagrams in the belief that these at least
would bring him the recognition he had failed to achieve elsewhere.270 That the recognition
he longed for was accorded him only posthumously is just one of the many tragic facets of
this artist’s biography.

Few of Maciunas’ contemporaries understood immediately the historical value of his dia-
grammatic oeuvre. One who did was Richard Kostelanetz, who also offered Maciunas an
opportunity to publish his works in his pioneering anthology Essaying Essays: Alternative
Forms of Exposition (1975).271 As a critic, artist, and writer, Kostelanetz had engaged not only
in social critique but had grappled with theater, music, and above all with visual poetry, or
rather the visualization of literature. Essaying Essays brings together the most diverse forms
of text and visual practices in circulation outside the literary and art-gallery establish-
ment.272 Yet Essaying Essays was more than just an attempt to hone public awareness of this
very heterogeneous genre; it also cleared a path for diagrammatics.
7b\h[Z>$8Whh@h$" :_W]hWce\Ijob_ij_Y
In addition to classical essays, Kostelanetz also included in the anthology numerous schemes ;lebkj_ed\hec'./&kdj_b'/)+"Zkij`WYa[j
e\j^[[n^_X_j_edYWjWbe]k[ 9kX_icWdZ
and diagrams which he defined as “conceptually resonant charts” and regarded as a genuine
alternative to the critical essay that he himself had hitherto preferred: “Though necessarily 
simplifying, a chart offers the compensating advantage of vividly documenting the entire =[eh][CWY_kdWi" Q8Whh9^WhjS"Y$'/-&Å-)$
picture—a concise image of the whole that reveals contrasts and connections that would ?daWdZ]hWf^_j[edfWf[h"(, × (&$)Yc
not be so apparent if spread over many pages of prose. A chart is particularly useful in docu- 
=[eh][CWY_kdWi" QDejWj_edi\eh W
menting multiple relations among several discontinuous elements. Since charts tend to lack :_W]hWcS"'/-)$8Wbbfe_dj_daedfWf[h"
explicit beginnings or definite ends, they cannot be read in the conventional way—steadily +.$* × **$*Yc
in one predetermined direction, at an even speed. Instead, charts must be read around and
about, indeterminately, much like geography maps which are, after all, visual essays of a

different sort; for a rich chart offers many levels of meaning, generalization and related-
ness. (One reason why charts can pack so much perception into so little space is their avoid-
ance of superfluous language; another is their allowance for sequential discontinuity.) Both
maps and charts oblige the reader to draw his own lines between fixed points (e.g. to write
his own connecting sentences, usually in his head), and both pack signposts that tell the
reader when he has finished receiving the available message. Indeed, charts resemble the
front pages of newspapers in that the whole is usually perceived before the parts are selec-
tively examined. Evidence suggests that some charts are already too familiar for artistic use
(e.g. box scores, financial statements) and that some kinds of perceptions and information
are more conducive to charting than others. Nonetheless, there is no doubt that an effective
chart is worth more than a thousand words. (In my judgment, some of the charts reprinted
here distill whole books into a few pages.) Precisely in their emancipation from oral speech,
essays in this graphic form realize a mediumistic integrity indigenous to printed communi-
cation.” 273 The talk in Essaying Essays is not yet of what today would be called “diagrammat-
ics.” Inspired by Chomskyan linguistics, Kostelanetz instead spoke of semiotic structures
which by intervening in the semantic sphere of language redefine not just the genre essay,
but critique as well.

When selecting illustrations for his book, Kostelanetz had to take account of the fact that
the development of the diagram was largely an American-dominated field. By early May
1973, the project had matured to such an extent that he felt able to ask Maciunas for a con-
tribution: “I am currently compiling an anthology entitled Experimental Essays . . . it will
contain a variety of visual/verbal pieces that are essays, in genre, rather than poetry or fic-
tion, and yet move decisively beyond, in style and/or form, currently familiar kinds of ex-
pository non-fiction . . . I hereby request your permission to use the following material: Your
chart of influences and tendencies in the non-literary theatre.” The really crucial question,
however, was the one which the astute Kostelanetz put inside parentheses: “Do you have
any comparable charts of recent art?” 274 The reply could only have been “no,” since from
1966 Maciunas had been devoting all his energies to the Fluxhouse Cooperative Building
Project, a pioneering urban development work in New York.275 During this period, he uti-
lized what little time he had for his diagrammatic work solely for the Big Chart, which he
completed in November 1973.

Yet Kostelanetz’s question did inspire Maciunas to produce an outline of a contemporary

art chart—even as his work on the Fluxhouse Cooperatives was at its most intense. This
outline differs significantly from the other Fluxus diagrams in that it rests on a new dia-
grammatic concept influenced largely by the Barr Chart. The Notations for a Diagram (1973)
appear to have been borne of the wish for a more up-to-date depiction of the art scene
(pl. 23).276 Following Barr’s lead, therefore, Maciunas began to think in terms of genera-
tions of artists, as is evident from a note scribbled on the verso. Maciunas differentiates
four generations of artists: the founding fathers Duchamp and Cage, followed by the Cage
School (Allan Kaprow, Henry Flynt, Ben Vautier, George Brecht, La Monte Young, Walter
De Maria, Robert Morris, Dick Higgins, Ray Johnson, Robert Watts, Jackson Mac Low,
Ben Patterson, Robert Filliou, Arthur Køpcke, Emmett Williams, and Alison Knowles,
1956–1963), Yoko Ono, the Flux group, and Milan Knížák (1963–1968), and finally the ex-
ponents of new genres like body art, concept art, and land art (1969–1973)—which is his
segue to the contemporary art scene.277 This division into four groups is not apparent on
the chart itself, however—except in Maciunas’ use of the term “4th Generation” to repre-
sent the contemporary art scene, which is cut off from previous generations by several
horizontal strokes and lines. While Maciunas was pondering compositional factors, his
pen was busy adding ornamental details here and there, producing what Hans van der
Grinten, in his definition of Fluxus drawing, would have called interpolated, clustered,
or serial “graphic data without any aesthetic judgments.” 278

For some reason, Maciunas seems not to have been entirely satisfied with the generational
concept; nor was he completely convinced by the diagrammatic visualization ensuing from it.

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That he never advanced beyond the draft stage may have had to do with the fact that this
was not an original work, but rather a “mere” adaptation of an existing diagrammatic model.
Kostelanetz was thus asked to wait and did not approach Maciunas again until the end of
May: “Yes, I’d like to see more charts, esp. 1950–72.” 279 What he then received were the two
diagrams from 1966: Fluxus (Its Historical Development and Relationship to Avant-Garde Move-
ments) and the Expanded Arts Diagram, which were thereupon included in Essaying Essays.
=[eh][CWY_kdWi" <bknki?ji>_ijeh_YWb
Talking about Maciunas’ diagrammatic work twenty years later, Kostelanetz pithily re- :[l[befc[djWdZH[bWj_edi^_fje
marked that “the work must be a classic” and at the 1993 In the Spirit of Fluxus exhibition at 7lWdj#=WhZ[Cel[c[djiWdZ ;nfWdZ[Z
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the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis actually went into raptures over it: “Looking at the 7bj[hdWj_l[<ehcie\;nfei_j_ed"[Z$
recent large Fluxus exhibition, I still think him [Maciunas] the strongest artist, with the H_Y^WhZAeij[bWd[jpD[mOeha'/-+"
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beyond anything like it, is, of course, the Expanded Media [sic] diagram that also becomes
a charting of Fluxus history . . . Not only is the whole brilliant, but the details are rich as
Maciunas makes the viewer become involved in figuring out why certain examples are in-
cluded and then why they are placed where they are in the chart, rather than somewhere
else. The work must be a classic because no one since has done anything comparable in any
field known to me. It also reminds us that George was trained in art history and that this
education, along with architectural studies, gave his mind a particular cast.” 280 And as if
that were not praise enough, he then added: “Had I installed the exhibition, I would have
enlarged the diagram to fill the wall.” 281 The curatorial improvement suggested by Kostel-
anetz was clearly aimed at the symbolic.


Even if Maciunas’ learning machines have an ingenious antecedent in the form of Barbeu-
Dubourg’s chronology machine from the age of the Enlightenment, they are certainly with-
out parallel in twentieth-century art history.282 The Fluxus charts thus proved stimulating
for both artists and art historians alike, as a number of contemporary examples illustrate.
The Lithuanian performance group Slave Pianos adapted Fluxus (Its Historical Development
and Relationship to Avant-Garde Movements) as a humorous image design by rewriting the
chart for self-advertising purposes and updating it beyond the turn of the millennium.
Marietheres Finkeldei’s cursory Scheme of Development (2004) in the form of a folder, on the
other hand, is an ironic take on Maciunas’ grand narratives; its effect is based on an assault
on conventional diagrammatic narrative patterns and witty parodies of standard ordering F_[hh[H[ijWdo" =hWf^e\I[cWdj_Y
systems. Arndt von Diepenbroick, to name a further example, interprets literally the leitmo- <_ii_edie\j^[:[l_Wdj<kdYj_ed"_d
tif of the family tree that provides the conceptual underpinning for all of Maciunas’ charts :ecki"de$+-.'/-."f$+(
and lends it a third dimension. Alongside these works and the many others that pay straight 
Eb_l_[hBkiiWY" =[d[Wbe]oe\>Wff[d_d]
homage to Maciunas, there are others that engage critically with his diagrammatic practice, WdZ<bknki" _d BkiiWY">Wff[d_d]
among them Lutz Dammbeck’s installation What If He Had Arrived? (2004), featuring repro- <bknki0Febo[nfh[ii_l_jƒ[jfhWj_gk[
ductions of street plans, maps, lists, charts, and graphs. An excerpt from the Expanded Arts YedYh„j[Z[iWhjiFWh_i(&&*"f$''

Diagram is here seen alongside an early visualization of Arpanet and documents on Jack
Burnham’s concept of Software—the former a first decentralized network of a new US mili-
tary strategy and the latter a mythical structure of art with a clear tendency toward concep-
tualism and significant points of convergence with information technology. The Expanded
Arts Diagram thus now functions as a further precarious contemporary document of an
emerging data-based “society of control”—to use Deleuze’s term. Wolfgang Hainke, mean-
while, worked Maciunas’ Fluxus diagram into a lecture performance in 2008. Among a mass
of hung visual material, Maciunas’ diagram was highlighted by a wall chart on the subject of
Germany’s economy that Hainke placed in front of it. He cut large holes in this chart, so that
not much of it was recognizable and Maciunas’ Fluxus diagram could be seen through and
behind it, thus inviting viewers to see the avant-garde through a template of economics and
politics. Ward Shelley’s adaptation of the Big Chart in Extra Large Fluxus Diagram (2010) rests
on an assumption of difference that could serve as a fundamental critique of the model, de-
spite Shelley’s explicit characterization of his work as a homage. The sequential narrative
style of his timeline drawing is ironically undercut by his appropriation of the language of
comics, while the sheer weight of information conveyed is rendered more bearable by re-
course to painterly effects. The use of a pop aesthetic to conceptualize art history forces in-
formation to take a back seat. On the other hand, this work by Shelley presents data in such
a way as to render explicit the continuity, coherence, and contingency of the history of Fluxus
for a contemporary audience.283

The long-term potential of Maciunas’ oeuvre is evident in the wide range of citations, adapta-
tions, paraphrasings, and diagrammatic concepts which it has since spawned. The signifi-
cance of his works, however, does not increase with their spatial expansion, as was suggested
by the monumentalized Big Chart displayed at the Fama Fluxus, Mythos Beuys exhibition in
Sindelfingen, Germany, in 2005–2006. The factual bigness achieved by such a blowup may
prove overwhelming for the viewer, whereas the charts’ true greatness resides not in their
size, but in their conceptual design. And this is much more in evidence in what the French
anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss called the “small-scale model.” Irrespective of whether
reduction affects the scale or the individual features of an object, said Lévi-Strauss, the re-
sult is invariably a reversal in the process of understanding: “To understand a real object in
its totality, we always tend to work from its parts. The resistance it offers us is overcome by
dividing it.” Lévi-Strauss compared this analytical process to the effect of miniatures: “Re-
duction in scale reverses this situation. Being smaller, the object as a whole seems less for-
midable. By being quantitatively diminished, it seems to us qualitatively simplified. More
exactly, this quantitative transposition extends and diversifies our power over a homologue
of the thing, and by means of it the latter can be grasped, assessed and apprehended at a
glance.” 284 To put it another way, only when large areas of abstract knowledge are miniatur-
ized to give them diagrammatic shape do the overarching structures and interrelationships
binding them together become visible. It was in this, and in this alone, that Maciunas was
interested. His marked preference for ultra-fine pens and a miniscule hand combined with
his heightened economic consciousness proved a great asset to him in this respect. 285 Through
miniaturization, the aesthetics of mapping the past becomes a way to grasp the complexity
8[dFWjj[hiedWdZ;cc[jjM_bb_Wci of history. Yet Maciunas would not be Maciunas if he did not drive the idea of the small-scale
mWba_d]edj^[[dbWh][Z 8_]9^WhjXo model to the limits of the possible with his “miniscript manuscript” (Emmett Williams). His
instructions for a barely legible reproduction of his Expanded Arts Diagram in the magazine
Z[hIjWZjI_dZ[b\_d][d"I_dZ[b\_d][d Art and Artists were simply: “Use magnifying glass to read this.” 286

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1 See O que é Fluxus? O que não é! O porquê / What’s Fluxus? What’s Not! Why, ed. Jon Hendricks (Brasilia
2 The exact number of Fluxpeople varies in the literature depending on author and point of view. The nar-
rowest definition was that applied by Maciunas himself. In October 1964, by which time the spectacular
Fluxus festivals were long since over, he described the inner circle as consisting of “about 20 (loyal) mem-
bers.” Just one month later, this number had been reduced to fifteen. The outer circle was much less easier
to control since anyone who wanted to could claim to belong to it: “Today [1975] there are thousands of
artists all over the world whose work is virtually indistinguishable from that of the Fluxus artists.” See
letter from Maciunas to Emmett Williams, October 1964, The Getty Research Institute, Special Collections,
Santa Monica, and letter from Maciunas to Wolf Vostell, November 3, 1964, Sohm Archive, Staatsgalerie
Stuttgart, both quoted in Mr. Fluxus: A Collective Portrait of George Maciunas 1931–1978: Based upon Personal
Reminiscences Gathered by Emmett Williams und [sic] Ay-O, ed. Emmett Williams and Ann Noël (New York
1998), pp. 111–13 (p. 112), pp. 41–42 (p. 42); Spanner, no. 3: Fluxus Fluxshoe Fluxes (May 1975), p. 30.
3 See Yoko Ono, “Summer of 1961” (2008), in Fluxus Scores and Instructions: The Transformative Years: “Make
a Salad,” ed. Jon Hendricks, Marianne Bech, and Media Farzin (Roskilde 2008), pp. 38–40 (p. 40).
4 See Charles Dreyfus, “From History of Fluxus,” in Flash Art, no. 84/85 (1978), pp. 25–29 (p. 26); Petra
Stegmann, “Fluxus East,” in Fluxus East: Fluxus Netzwerke in Mittelosteuropa / Fluxus Networks in Central
Eastern Europe (Berlin 2007), pp. 5–52 (pp. 8–10).
5 See Thomas Kellein, The Dream of Fluxus: George Maciunas: An Artist’s Biography (London and Bangkok
2007), p. 44.
6 For the prehistory of the term, see Mats B., “Birth of Fluxus: The Ultimate Version.” This brief essay was
published on the cover blurb of the reprint of the Diagram of Historical Development of Fluxus and Other 4
Dimentional [sic], Aural, Optic, Olfactory, Epithelial and Tactile Artforms (1973), which the Swedish publish-
ing house Kalejdoskop Åhus first published in 1979 and republished in 1981.
7 See Mr. Fluxus (n. 2), p. 42.
8 See Owen F. Smith, Fluxus: The History of an Attitude (San Diego 1998).
9 See Maciunas’ own explanation in his chart Fluxus (Its Historical Development and Relationship to Avant-
Garde Movements), c. 1966 (pl. 16).
10 See Gilles Deleuze, “A New Cartographer (Discipline and Punish),” in Deleuze, Foucault, trans. Seán Hand
(London and New York 1999), pp. 21–38 (original French edition: Paris 1986).
11 Hungarian translation: Maciunas Learning Machines: A művészettörténettől a Fluxus-kronológiáig (Budapest
12 Some maps from the Atlas were shown for the first time in the exhibition George Maciunas 1953–1978:
Charts, Diagrams, Films, Documents, and Atlases, held from September 28 to October 28, 2006, at the Maya
Stendhal Gallery in New York.
13 George Maciunas is not mentioned at all in the “Catalogue of Map Artists” by Denis Wood. See Denis
Wood, “Catalogue of Map Artists,” in Cartographic Perspectives, no. 53 (2006), pp. 61–67.
14 See Robert Storr, “The Map Room: A Visitor’s Guide,” in Storr, Mapping (New York 1994), pp. 5–23; Atlas
Mapping: Künstler als Kartographen, Kartographie als Kultur, ed. Paolo Bianchi and Sabine Folie (Vienna
1997); Orbis terrarium: Ways of World-Making: Cartography and Contemporary Art (Antwerp 2000); Katharine
Harmon, The Map as Art: Contemporary Artists Explore Cartography, with essays by Gayle Clemans (New
York 2009). For more on the critical approaches taken by recent cartography, see Else/Where: Mapping –
New Cartographies of Networks and Territories, ed. Janet Abrams and Peter Hall (Minneapolis, MN, 2006).

15 The author is currently preparing a detailed study of the Carte chronographique, for which the following
work has proved a valuable resource: Stephen Ferguson, “The 1753 Carte chronographique of Jacques
Barbeu-Dubourg,” in Princeton University Library Chronicle, vol. 52, no. 2 (1991), pp. 190–230. An earlier ver-
sion of this chapter was published under the title “Barbeu-Dubourgs Lernmaschine: Geschichtsdiagram-
matik im Zeitalter der Aufklärung,” in Bildwelten des Wissens: Kunsthistorisches Jahrbuch für Bildkritik,
vol. 7, no. 1, 2009, pp. 9–18.
16 In the eighteenth century, the Carte chronographique could be obtained either from Barbeu-Dubourg him-
self or from two Parisian dealers. Only one copy of the machine version has survived, now housed in
Princeton University Library. There is a bound copy in the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris.
17 Jacques Barbeu-Dubourg, Chronographie, ou Description des tems; Contenant toute la suite des Souverains de
l’Univers, & des principaux événemens de chaque Siécle, depuis la Création du Monde jusqu’à présent; En trente-
cinq Planches gravées en Taille-douce, & réunies en une Machine d’un usage facile & commode (Paris 1753). Two
editions of this work were published in 1753: a shorter edition and an edition enlarged by an “Approbation,”
“Avertissement,” and list of symbols.
18 Whether A. Cosmant the engraver is identical with Antoine Cosmant the bookbinder has yet to be
19 For example in the Journal de Trévoux ou Mémoires pour servir à l’histoire des sciences & des arts, no. 53 (1753;
reprint: Geneva 1969), pp. 1898–1902 (p. 1901).
20 See Barbeu-Dubourg, Chronographie (n. 17), p. 4.
21 Ibid., p. 13.
22 Ibid., p. 5.
23 Ibid., p. 4.
24 Ibid., p. 8.
25 See Jean Le Rond d’Alembert, “Discours préliminaire des éditeurs,” in Denis Diderot and Jean Le Rond
d’Alembert, Encyclopédie, ou Dictionnaire raisonné des Sciences, des Arts et des Métiers, par une Société de Gens
de Lettres, vol. 1 (Paris 1751), pp. i–xlv.

26 Barbeu-Dubourg, Chronographie (n. 17), p. 4.
27 See Christian Zwink, Imagination und Repräsentation: Die theoretische Formulierung der Historiographie im
späten 17. und frühen 18. Jahrhundert in Frankreich (Tübingen 2006), pp. 317–27.
28 See the review of the Carte chronographique in Mercure de France (Dec. 1753), pp. 103–12 (p. 111).
29 See Ferguson, “The 1753 Carte chronographique of Jacques Barbeu-Dubourg” (n. 15), pp. 198, 211, 226.
30 On the complex history of editions of the Atlas historique, see Aubrey Rosenberg, Nicolas Gueudeville and
his Work (1652–172?) (The Hague 1982), pp. 79–91, 164–66, 253–59.
31 Barbeu-Dubourg, Chronographie (n. 17), p. 4.
32 See Mercure de France (n. 28), pp. 107, 111.
33 Barbeu-Dubourg, Chronographie (n. 17), p. 8.
34 See Denis Pétau, Abregé chronologique de l’Histoire universelle sacrée et profane: Nouvelle Edition continuée
jusqu’à présent, 5 vols. (Paris 1715); Claude Delisle (alias Claude de L’Isle), Abregé de l’Histoire universelle, ed.
Antoine Lancelot, 7 vols. (Paris 1731); Claude Delisle, Tables généalogiques et historiques des patriarches, des
rois, des empereurs et des autres princes . . . (Paris 1718).
35 Barbeu-Dubourg, Chronographie (n. 17), p. 13.
36 See Mercure de France (n. 28), pp. 107–8.
37 For more on the media archaeology of the vision machine from the point of view of its cinematographic
properties, see Blickmaschinen oder wie Bilder entstehen, ed. Nike Bätzner, Werner Nekes, and Eva Schmidt
(Cologne 2008); Ich sehe was, was du nicht siehst! Sehmaschinen und Bilderwelten: Die Sammlung Werner Nekes,
ed. Bodo von Dewitz and Werner Nekes (Cologne 2002).
38 Barbeu-Dubourg, Chronographie (n. 17), p. 8.
39 Mercure de France (n. 28), p. 104.
40 See Barbeu-Dubourg, Chronographie (n. 17), p. 13.

41 The fact that the first charts by Maciunas can be dated to the spring of 1950 does not alter this. See Estate
of George Maciunas, Dossier John Cage (photocopies), Sohm Archive, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart.
42 For more on the early days of atlases of history, see Walter A. Goffart, Historical Atlases: The First Three
Hundred Years, 1570–1870 (Chicago 2003); Arthur H. Robinson, Early Thematic Mapping in the History of
Cartography (Chicago and London 1982).
43 George Maciunas, “Biographical Data” (c. 1976), photocopy, The Getty Research Institute, Special Collec-
tions, Santa Monica.
44 Among them was Barbara Moore, although her assertion that the Atlas continued right up to the Russian
Revolution remains mere supposition. See Barbara Moore, “George Maciunas: A Finger in Fluxus,” in Art-
forum, vol. 21, no. 2 (Oct. 1982), pp. 38–45 (pp. 43, 45, n. 13).
45 I would like to thank Jennie Benford and J. Dustin Williams of the Carnegie Mellon University Archives
Pittsburgh for having so speedily furnished me with a copy of The General Course Catalogs of the Car-
negie Institute of Technology, College of Fine Arts, College of Engineering and Science, and Margaret
Morrison Carnegie College for the period 1952 to 1954, from which the quotations here and following are
46 For more on this subject, see Jeremy Black, Maps and History: Constructing Images of the Past (New Haven,
CT, 1997), pp. 1–26.
47 See Leokadija Maciunas, “My Son” (1979), Russian manuscript translated into English, The Museum of Mod-
ern Art, New York (The Gilbert and Lila Silverman Fluxus Collection Gift), quoted in Mr. Fluxus (n. 2), p. 30.
48 For more on the diametrically opposed cartographic vantage points “top and bottom,” see Oskar Negt and
Alexander Kluge, Geschichte und Eigensinn, vol. 3 (Frankfurt am Main 1993), pp. 788–91.
49 According to Harry Stendhal (e-mail to the author, July 18, 2008), the cover of the drawing pad which was
“a brownish, redish [sic] color with black stripes” is in Vilnius. A query addressed to the Jonas Mekas Visual
Arts Center unfortunately did not result in its being located in time for going to press.
50 In conceptual terms, the Atlas refutes Stefan Römer’s Manichaean perception of geographical maps as an
instrument of control and as symbolic of imperialism and colonialism, as opposed to artistic maps, which
he sees as a form of critical reflection on this determinism. See Stefan Römer, “Die Kunst der Kartografien
und Diagramme,” in Jahrbuch 2000 für Künste und Apparate, ed. Kunsthochschule für Medien (Cologne
2000), pp. 152–65 (p. 164).
51 See Sybille Krämer, “Operative Bildlichkeit: Von der Grammatologie zu einer Diagrammatologie? Reflex-
ionen über erkennendes Sehen,” in Logik des Bildlichen: Zur Kritik der ikonischen Vernunft, ed. Martina
Heßler and Dieter Mersch (Bielefeld 2009), pp. 94–122.
52 See the chapter “Map Projections,” in Mark Monmonier, How to Lie with Maps (Chicago 1991), pp. 8–18.
53 For more on how history is represented in contemporary art from the 1970s onward, with a special focus
on film, video, and photography, see Mark Godfrey, “The Artist as Historian,” in October, no. 120 (Spring
2007), pp. 140–72; Susanne Leeb, “Not Quite Embracing Failure: History in Contemporary Art,” in Texte zur
Kunst, vol. 19, no. 76 (Dec. 2009), pp. 100–108; Questioning History: Imagining the Past in Contemporary Art,
ed. Frank van der Stok, Frits Gierstberg, and Flip Bool (Rotterdam 2008).
54 See Mario Erdheim, Die gesellschaftliche Produktion von Unbewußtheit: Eine Einführung in den ethnopsycho-
analytischen Prozeß (Frankfurt am Main 1984), pp. 271–368.
55 Printed graph paper was first produced in the eighteenth century, and for a long while was distributed
exclusively to statisticians. Another hundred years would have to pass before it became widely available.
See H. Gray Funkhouser, “Historical Development of the Graphical Representation of Statistical Data,” in
Osiris, vol. 3 (1937), pp. 269–404 (p. 359); H. Gray Funkhouser, “A Note on a Tenth Century Graph,” in Osiris,
vol. 1 (1936), pp. 260–62 (p. 262, n. 5).
56 See Odo Marquard, “Temporale Positionalität: Zum geschichtlichen Zäsurbedarf des modernen Menschen,”
in Epochenschwelle und Epochenbewußtsein, ed. Reinhart Herzog and Reinhart Koselleck (Munich 1987),
pp. 343–52.

57 See Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire (Cambridge, MA, 2000).
58 See Europa und Rußland: Texte zum Problem des westeuropäischen und russischen Selbstverständnisses, ed.
Dmitrij Tschižewskij and Dieter Groh (Darmstadt 1959); Isabel Wünsche, Harmonie und Synthese: Die rus-
sische Moderne zwischen universellem Anspruch und nationaler kultureller Identität (Munich 2008).
59 Gregory Bateson, Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity (Cresskill, NJ, 2002; original edition New York 1979),
pp. 44–45.
60 The Chronology: 1881–1934 contains a misspelling by Maciunas himself: the date “1981” instead of “1881”
which is retained right up to “1988”; see pl. 2/A.
61 For more on the history of the grid as a cartographic aid to orientation, see Hannah B. Higgins, The Grid
Book (Cambridge, MA, 2009), pp. 79–97.
62 For more on the concept of “Russian space” which is so often cited to justify the “Russian way,” see Felix
Philipp Ingold, Russische Wege: Geschichte, Kultur, Weltbild (Munich 2007), pp. 13–125.
63 Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, trans. Steven Rendall (Berkeley, CA, 1984), p. 117 (origi-
nally published as L’Invention du quotidien, vol. 1, Arts de faire, Paris 1980).
64 See Edward R. Tufte, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information (Cheshire, CT, 2004; original edition
1983), p. 107.
65 See Daniel Rosenberg and Anthony Grafton, Cartographies of Time: A History of the Timeline (New York
66 For more on the use of space and time coordinates as a system for ordering historiographic knowledge, see
Astrit Schmidt-Burkhardt, “Gezeichnete Geschichte: Im Koordinatenraum der Faktographie,” in Räume
der Zeichnung, ed. Angela Lammert, Carolin Meister, Jan-Philipp Frühsorge, and Andreas Schalhorn
(Berlin and Nuremberg 2007), pp. 25–37.
67 See Maciunas, “Biographical Data” (n. 43). The whereabouts of this chart are unknown.
68 See Walter Goffart, “The Map of the Barbarian Invasions: A Longer Look,” in The Culture of Christendom:
Essays in Medieval History in Commemoration of Denis L. T. Bethell, ed. Marc Anthony Meyer (London and
Rio Grande 1993), pp. 1–27 (p. 26).
69 See Jürgen Habermas, Communication and the Evolution of Society, trans. Thomas McCarthy (London 1979),
p. 171 (originally published as Zur Rekonstruktion des Historischen Materialismus, Frankfurt am Main

70 See Schmidt-Burkhardt, “Gezeichnete Geschichte” (n. 66), pp. 25–37.
71 For more on the “ornamental” quality of scientific diagrams, see letter from Paul Valéry to André Gide,
November 27, 1893, in André Gide and Paul Valéry, Correspondance, 1890–1942, ed. Robert Mallet (Paris
1955), p. 191.
72 For more on what John Cage demanded of his students and on his teaching methods, see Richard
Kostelanetz, Conversation with Cage (New York 1988), p. 20.
73 On Maciunas’ predilection for “nice pens” and small writing, see a letter from Maciunas to Emmett
Williams, February 13, 1963, The Getty Research Institute, Special Collections, Santa Monica, quoted in
Mr. Fluxus (n. 2), p. 70.
74 On the table as a spatial matrix made up of vertical columns and horizontal rows, see Jack Goody, The
Domestication of the Savage Mind (Cambridge 1977), pp. 52–73.
75 For more on the intellectual productivity of lacunae in knowledge production, see Parasiten und Sirenen:
Zwischenräume als Orte der materiellen Wissensproduktion, ed. Bernhard J. Dotzler and Henning Schmidgen
(Bielefeld 2008).
76 Nam June Paik on the relativity of historical periods: “The 40-year rule of communism doesn’t matter to
the long history of Lithuanians, whose state stretched well into the Russian continent in the Middle Ages.”
Nam June Paik, “Volume One,” in Nam June Paik: Beuys Vox 1961–86 (Seoul [1990]), pp. 9–79 (p. 47).
77 See Dick Higgins, “Auszug aus Postface” (1964), in Happenings: Fluxus, Pop Art, Nouveau Réalisme: Eine
Dokumentation, ed. Jürgen Becker and Wolf Vostell (Reinbek near Hamburg 1965), pp. 179–92 (p. 179);
Jackson Mac Low, “How Maciunas Met the New York Avant Garde” (1980), in Art & Design, no. 28: “Fluxus
Today and Yesterday,” ed. Johan Pijnappel (1993), pp. 37–49 (p. 47).
78 For more detail on the two categories of “poetry” und “prose” as an implicit and rather apologetic narrative
of the rise of Stalinism, see Cuauhtémoc Medina, “The Kulturbolschewiken II: Fluxus, Khrushchev, and the
Concretist Society,” in Res: Anthropology and Aesthetics, no. 49/50 (Spring–Autumn 2006), pp. 231–43
(p. 234).
79 See letter from Maciunas to Tomas Schmit, January 1964, in Fluxus etc.: Addenda II: The Gilbert and Lila
Silverman Collection, ed. Jon Hendricks (Pasadena 1983), pp. 166–67; George Maciunas, “Conditions for
Performing Fluxus Published Compositions, Films & Tapes” (c. 1965), in Fluxus etc.: Addenda I: The Gilbert
and Lila Silverman Collection, ed. Jon Hendricks (New York 1983), p. 158.
80 Quoted in Emmett Williams, My Life in Flux — and Vice Versa (Stuttgart and London 1991), p. 168.
81 As a contrast to the politically unsettled period treated by Maciunas in the chart, the verso features biblio-
graphical references to the teaching of harmony in music:
 t "MWJO#BVNBO Elementary Musicianship (New York 1947)
 t "OHFMB%JMMFS First Theory Book (New York 1921)
 t 1BVM)JOEFNJUI Elementary Training for Musicians (London 1948)
 t Paul Hindemith, A Concentrated Course in Traditional Harmony: With Emphasis on Exercises – and Minimum
of Rules (New York 1944)
 t 8BMUFS1JTUPO Harmony ([New York] 1944)
 t "SOPME4DIPFOCFSH Theory of Harmony (New York 1948)
The inaccurate references, obviously gleaned from notes taken during a lecture, are presented here as cor-
rected and complete. It is still not known if the list originates from Maciunas’ visit to Richard Maxfield’s
composition class in electronic music at the New School for Social Research in 1961.

82 For more on Maciunas’ motives for excluding Fluxus members, see letter from Maciunas to Emmett
Williams, October 1964, The Getty Research Institute, Special Collections, Santa Monica, quoted in Mr.
Fluxus (n. 2), pp. 111–13; George Maciunas, “For Press Release: Statement from Fluxus Committee Re-
garding so Called Fluxus Concerts Recently Presented at Warshaw, Prague, Budapest, Kiew, Moscow
and Leningrad by 4 Fluxus Renegades and Impostors” (c. October 1964), in Mr. Fluxus (n. 2), p. 124.
83 See Henry Flynt, “George Maciunas und meine Zusammenarbeit mit ihm” (February 1978), in 1962 Wies-
baden Fluxus 1982: Eine kleine Geschichte von Fluxus in drei Teilen, ed. René Block (Wiesbaden and Berlin
1983), pp. 104–9 (p. 109).
84 See letter from Maciunas to Wolf Vostell, November 3, 1964, Sohm Archive, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, quoted
in Mr. Fluxus (n. 2), pp. 41–42.
85 See letter from Maciunas to Tomas Schmit, January 1964 (n. 79), p. 166.
86 Ibid.
87 Maciunas took the slogan “art into life” from Camilla Gray’s seminal study The Great Experiment: Russian
Art 1863–1922 (London 1962), p. 244, as Medina, “The Kulturbolschewiken II” (n. 78), p. 235, has pointed out.
88 Alfred Salmony’s death in April 1958 put paid to this ambition, as Maciunas’ mother recalls: “In the spring
when his favorite professor died right before the exams, Yurgis went to the exams out of spirits.” After
failing a French examination, Maciunas decided to abandon his studies altogether, his aim having always
been the pursuit of knowledge rather than a degree certificate. See Maciunas, “My Son” (n. 47), p. 30.
89 The Jonas Mekas Visual Arts Center, Vilnius, houses two cycles of work consisting of more than eighty
text-picture montages tracing the development of prehistoric Chinese art and of migration art in Eurasia.
The extent to which the first cycle of forty-four montages is identical with the Atlas of Prehistoric Chinese
Art—first mentioned in Maciunas’ “Biographical Data” (n. 43) and dated 1958—has yet to be ascertained.
90 The Sketch-Map of South Russia was photographed from Michael I. Rostovtzeff, Iranians & Greeks in South
Russia (Oxford 1922; reprint: New York 1969), opposite p. 222; the Map of the Evolution of the Fibula, the Belt-
buckle and the Agrafe from Solange Lemaître, Les Agrafes chinoises jusqu’à la fin de l’époque Han (Paris 1939),
pp. 20–21. The source of the map of the Soviet Union has not yet been found. For more on Maciunas’ study
of nomadism in general, see Kellein, The Dream of Fluxus (n. 5), pp. 21–26.
91 Salmony must also have aroused Maciunas’ interest in the exotic motif of the “long tongue” and its apo-
tropaic character. See Alfred Salmony, Antler and Tongue: An Essay on Ancient Chinese Symbolism and its
Implications (Ascona 1954), pp. 30–48. Around 1964 and 1965, the extended tongue which can be seen on
the Aztec calendar stone or sun stone came to be regarded as a meaningful emblem of Fluxus (see illustra-
tion on p. 54). Later, at the height of the student unrest, Asger Jorn and Noël Arnaud devoted a whole book
to this finger-long muscle-organ: La Langue verte et la cuite: Étude gastrophonique sur la marmythologie mu-
siculinaire ([Paris] 1968).
92 For more on the migrations that took place in Asia, see Alfred C. Haddon, The Wanderings of Peoples (Cam-
bridge 1911; reprint: New York 1980), pp. 12–37.
93 Here and in what follows, I refer to the as yet uncatalogued notes by Maciunas preserved at The Museum
of Modern Art, New York (The Gilbert and Lila Silverman Fluxus Collection Gift).
94 See Astrit Schmidt-Burkhardt, Stammbäume der Kunst: Zur Genealogie der Avantgarde (Berlin 2005),
pp. 276–81.
95 Louise Bourgeois was among the illustrious guests who attended the Flux Wedding of George Maciunas
and Billie Hutching on February 25, 1978. The wedding ceremony was planned by Maciunas himself. See
Billie Maciunas, The Eve of Fluxus: A Fluxmemoir (Orlando, NY, 2010), pp. 44, 56.
96 See “Development of Western Abstract Chirography as a Product of Far Eastern Mentality: A research
essay by George Maciunas in fulfillment of the requirements of the Seminar Course at NYU Institute of
Fine Arts given by Dr. Goldwater” (1959), typescript, The Museum of Modern Art, New York (The Gilbert
and Lila Silverman Fluxus Collection Gift).
97 See chapter “Die Zyklen des Westens und die Rhythmen des Ostens,” in Louis Emrich, Wohin steuert die
Welt? Was wird aus Europa? Die kommende Entwicklung im Spiegel der Zyklen und Rhythmen (Bündingen-
Gettenbach 1954), pp. 99–110.
98 Positive feedback from his lecturers may have encouraged Maciunas in his choice of career. Dr. Harry
Bobers, for example, wrote the following comment on Maciunas’ research essay “Capitals and Abaci of the
Merovingian Period in France” (1956): “This is a painstaking & conscientious work which could become
the basis of a good analytical study of the material. You may wish to discuss this with Prof. Krautheimer
after his return in fall.” Maciunas took his advice. His papers from his university days are held at The
Museum of Modern Art, New York (The Gilbert and Lila Silverman Fluxus Collection Gift).
99 This three-part chart could also have been intended as part of another history of art chart.
100 This was the comment that Maciunas pasted onto the verso of the Greek and Roman History of Art Chart
(see illustration on p. 72; pl. 7) around 1969.
101 Whether Pierre Restany ever saw the diagram is open to doubt. Not only is the exact location of the chart
unknown, but his essay “George Maciunas: L’archiviste et le catalyseur d’une situation, celle des années
’60,” in Domus, no. 590 (Jan. 1979), pp. 51–52 (p. 52), merely paraphrases Maciunas’ “Biographical Data”
(n. 43): “1955–60: History of Art Chart (incomplete) a giant 6ft. × 12ft. time/space chart.” In Maciunas’ own
handwritten chronology, this “giant chart – fragment (roll)” is more precisely dated 1958. See illustration
showing the manuscript in The Avant-Garde: From Futurism to Fluxus (Vilnius 2007), p. 78.
102 The relevant entry in Maciunas’ “Biographical Data” (n. 43) reads as follows: “1958–66: History of Art 3
dimentional [sic] Chart (1st category on drawer faces, 2nd category on horizontal drawer interior surface
and 3rd category on vertical multiple surfaces of drawer interior-faces of filing cards).”

103 See Maciunas’ Provisional plan of FLUXUS contents and FLUXUS festival / Fluxus tentative plan for contents
of the first 6 issues (c. December 1961), illustration in Fluxus: Selections from the Gilbert and Lila Silverman
Collection, ed. Clive Phillpot and Jon Hendricks (New York 1988), p. 34 (leporello).

104 American art historians like to date the term “Neo-Dada” to the mid-1950s in reference to Jasper Johns’
Target with Plaster Casts. See, for example, Susan Hapgood, “Neo-Dada,” in Neo-Dada: Redefining Art 1958–62,
ed. Susan Hapgood (New York 1994), pp. 11–65 (p. 58, n. 1). The conceptual origins of the term date back to
the 1920s, however. In 1922, Theo van Doesburg announced that his magazine Mécano would be an “Inter-
nationaal tijdschrift voor geestelijke Hygiëne, mechanische Esthetiek en Neo-Dadaïsme.” See De Stijl,
vol. 5, no. 4 (1922; reprint: Amsterdam 1968), n. p.; Maria Müller, Aspekte der Dada-Rezeption 1950–1966
(Essen 1987), p. 67.
105 The Sohm Archive at the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart contains a copy of the catalogue with marginalia and
underscorings by Paik. See Rainer Wick, “Nam June Paik: Musik, Fluxus, Video,” in Kunstforum Interna-
tional, no. 18 (1976), pp. 206–37 (p. 208).
106 See Brochure Prospectus for Fluxus Yearboxes (Wiesbaden 1962; reprint: Cologne 1988).
107 For details on the events of that evening, see Jon Hendricks, “Fluxus: Kleines Sommerfest / Neo-Dada in
der Musik / Fluxus: Internationale Festspiele Neuester Musik / Festum Fluxorum Fluxus,” in Stationen der
Moderne: Die bedeutenden Kunstausstellungen des 20. Jahrhunderts in Deutschland (Berlin 1988), pp. 493–517
(pp. 494–95).
108 The information on the number of visitors present was kindly provided by Henar Rivière Ríos, who is
currently preparing a dissertation on the origins of Fluxus and its critical reception in Germany at the
Universidad Complutense, Madrid. See also the anonymous newspaper article “Unter den alten Bäumen
im Garten: Das Sommerfest der Galerie Parnaß: Bekanntschaft mit moderner Kunst,” a photocopy of
which is housed in the Zentralarchiv des internationalen Kunsthandels e. V., Cologne (with no newspaper
source named). The article mentions “over a hundred guests.”
109 See George Maciunas, “Neo-Dada in Music, Theater, Poetry, Art” (c. 1962), in Fluxus: Selections from the
Gilbert and Lila Silverman Collection, ed. Clive Phillpot and Jon Hendricks (New York 1988), pp. 25–27;
George Maciunas, “Neo-Dada in den Vereinigten Staaten” (1962), in Happenings (n. 77), pp. 192–95. A talk
on “Neo-Dada in New York” was mentioned in the invitation to the Kleines Sommerfest. Changing the title
to “Neo-Dada in den Vereinigten Staaten” made it seem more like a national phenomenon, thus lending
this event in the provincial town of Wuppertal all the more importance.
110 Maciunas, “Neo-Dada in den Vereinigten Staaten” (n. 109), p. 192. Owing to various slips of the tongue and
interpolations by Caspari, the text actually delivered differed slightly from the written version. See George
Maciunas, “Neo-Dada in den Vereinigten Staaten,” presented by Arthus C. Caspari at the Kleines Sommer-
fest in Wuppertal on June 9, 1962, tape recording, 12 mins., The Museum of Modern Art, New York (The
Gilbert and Lila Silverman Fluxus Collection Gift).
111 Tomas Schmit, who was present at the Kleines Sommerfest, responded to my question on the whereabouts
of this diagram by suggesting the following scenario: “the scene i imagine is as follows: the morning after
the sommerfest, someone or other puts all the remains into the garbage: the paper cups, the paper plates,
the contents of the ashtrays—and the maciunas diagram too. . . :
if some angelic person had been on the scene and said: stop! stop! in forty or fifty years, photos of this
diagram and this sommerfest will be published in dozens of books all over the world, a certain jon hendricks
of new york would be willing to pay thousands, if not tens of thousands of $$ for it, a certain astrit
schmidt-burkhardt of salzburg will express a keen interest in it, and so on and so forth . . . :
then that same person would have met with mystified stares and downright incredulity—and might even
have found himself being referred to the nearest psychiatric clinic . . .” Tomas Schmit in a letter to the author
dated November 10, 2005.
112 See letter from Nam June Paik to Rolf Jährling, May 21, 1962, 4 pages, The Museum of Modern Art, New
York (The Gilbert and Lila Silverman Fluxus Collection Gift). Reproduced in Sediment, no. 9 (2005), p. 60,
in which Maciunas is introduced as the “chef-redacteur des [sic] neuen Künste-Zeitschrift Fluxus” (the
diction and underscoring are Paik’s)—a project that never got off the ground. On the Galerie Parnass as
a hotbed of opposition in the 1960s, see Treffpunkt Parnass: Wuppertal 1949–1965, ed. Will Baltzer and Al-
fons W. Biermann (Cologne 1980); Rolf Jährling, “Der Amateur und sein Parnass: Der Wuppertaler Archi-
tekt und Galerist Rolf Jährling im Gespräch mit Heinz Linnerz: Auszüge aus einem Gespräch im WDR am
26.12.1981,” in Sediment, no. 1 (1994), pp. 33–36.
113 See the typescript of Jean-Pierre Wilhelm’s introductory speech at the Neo-Dada in der Musik event in
Düsseldorf on June 16, 1962, in the Sohm Archive, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart. See also Owen Smith, “Devel-
oping a Fluxable Forum: Early Performance and Publishing,” in The Fluxus Reader, ed. Ken Friedman (Lon-
don 1998, 2nd print 1999), pp. 3–21 (p. 3).
114 Maciunas, “Neo-Dada in Music, Theater, Poetry, Art” (n. 109), pp. 25–26.
115 “Fluxus Diagram.
a) I was thinking of Jackson’s pieces for audience which tends [sic] to depend considerably on theatrical or
on eye rather then [sic] ear. Then he has of course straight theatre pieces too.
b) I thought of Dennis Johnson. Is David Johnson really any good? I just heard one electronic piece (at
Cooper concert) which I thought was quite mediocre, but then I would rely on your judgement for the dia-
gram, since you are more familiar with his + others’ work.
c) Isidore Isou will be in European diagram.
d) By Varese I only meant as transmitter of Futurist + Dada bruitisme from Paris to U.S. like John Cage.
No direct influence meant. (This only concerns noises, nothing else) Theatre, theatrical music, I would
have attributed to some Dada theatre – happenings’ influence. I did not attribute indeterminism to any-
one in particular, but your ideas [sic] of placing Charles Ives is good.
Your suggestions were most constructive. Maybe now the diagram begins to look a little better.” Letter
from Maciunas to Dick Higgins, presumably dated January 18, 1962, in Fluxus Codex, ed. Jon Hendricks
(New York 1988), p. 350.
116 See Maciunas, “Neo-Dada in Music, Theater, Poetry, Art” (n. 109), pp. 25–26. Maciunas’ concept of concre-
tism was directed against obscurantist, magical, ritual, existential, and self-referential art. The term was
coined in reaction to abstraction. See Larry Miller, “Transcript of the Videotaped Interview with George
Maciunas” (March 24, 1978), in Fluxus etc.: Addenda I (n. 79), pp. 11–28 (pp. 20–21, 23–26); and further Ina
Conzen, “Vom Manager der Avantgarde zum Fluxusdirigenten: George Maciunas in Deutschland,” in Eine

lange Geschichte mit vielen Knoten: Fluxus in Deutschland 1962–1994, ed. René Block and Gabriele Knapstein
(Stuttgart 1995), pp. 18–31 (p. 22); Thomas Kellein, “I Make Jokes! Fluxus Through the Eyes of Chairman
George Maciunas,” in Fluxus, ed. Thomas Kellein and Jon Hendricks (London 1995), pp. 7–26 (p. 18).
117 See Maciunas, “Neo-Dada in Music, Theater, Poetry, Art” (n. 109), p. 25.
118 Maciunas, “Neo-Dada in den Vereinigten Staaten” (n. 109), p. 195.
119 At the Fluxus concert in Wiesbaden in September 1962, Maciunas gave copies of the text to several of the
journalists present, who then cited it in their write-ups. See, for example, F. St., “Bricht die Anti-Kunst im
Westen aus? Nach Wiesbaden kommt möglicherweise auch Düsseldorf dran” (1962), from the reprint of the
press roundup in Décoll/age, no. 3 (Dec. 1962), n. p.
120 See Richard Huelsenbeck, Mit Witz, Licht und Grütze: Auf den Spuren des Dadaismus (Wiesbaden 1957),
pp. 25–26.
121 See letter from Raoul Hausmann to Tristan Tzara, September 30, 1962, in Adelheid Koch, Ich bin immerhin
der größte Experimentator Österreichs: Raoul Hausmann: Dada und Neodada (Innsbruck 1994), p. 228.
122 See Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, “The Primary Colors for the Second Time: A Paradigm Repetition of the Neo-
Avant-Garde,” in October, no. 37 (Summer 1986), pp. 41–52 (p. 43).
123 See Raoul Hausmann, “Aussichten oder Ende des Neodadaismus” (c. 1962), typescript, 89 pages, Raoul
Hausmann Archive, Limoges, Musée départemental, Rouchechouart, published in Koch, Ich bin immerhin
der größte Experimentator Österreichs (n. 121), pp. 229–316 (pp. 290–92).
124 Raoul Hausmann’s letters to Maciunas of November 4 and 18, 1962, are housed at The Getty Research
Institute, Special Collections, Santa Monica. Quoted here is the letter of November 4. See Michel Oren,
“Fluxus-Kästen und Dada-Konstruktionen,” in Sinn aus Unsinn: Dada International, ed. Wolfgang Paulsen
and Helmut G. Hermann (Berne and Munich 1982), pp. 277–93 (p. 277).
125 See letter from Raoul Hausmann to Maciunas, November 4, 1962, quoted in Kellein, The Dream of Fluxus
(n. 5), pp. 65–66, n. 47.
126 See Dick Higgins, “In einem Minensuchboot um die Welt oder Einige Bemerkungen zu Fluxus,” in 1962
Wiesbaden Fluxus 1982 (n. 83), pp. 126–35 (p. 127).
127 See Emmett Williams, “An Anti-History of Fluxus” (1980), in Williams, Schemes & Variations (Stuttgart
and London 1981), pp. 32–37 (p. 35).
128 See Raoul Hausmann, “Der Neodadaismus, von einem Dadaisten gesehen” (c. 1964), five-page typescript,
Raoul Hausmann Archive, Limoges, Musée départemental, Rouchechouart, quoted in Koch, Ich bin im-
merhin der größte Experimentator Österreichs (n. 121), p. 146.
129 See Hausmann, “Aussichten oder Ende des Neodadaismus” (n. 123), pp. 229–316.
130 See letter from Maciunas to Joseph Beuys, early January 1963, Sohm Archive, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart,
quoted in Mr. Fluxus (n. 2), pp. 67–68.
131 Paik, “Volume One” (n. 76), p. 19.
132 “George Brecht,” also written in Gothic type, called to mind his German namesake Bertolt.
133 See Simon Loxley, Type: The Secret History of Letters (London and New York 2004), pp. 75–77.
134 See Thomas Kellein, “Zum Fluxus-Begriff von Joseph Beuys,” in Joseph Beuys-Tagung, Basel 1.–4. Mai 1991,
ed. Volker Harlan, Dieter Koepplin, and Rudolf Velhagen (Basel 1991), pp. 137–42; Joan Rothfuss, “Flux-
Beuys,” in O que é Fluxus? (n. 1), pp. 57–65.
135 On Beuys’ perception of Fluxus as an expansion of the concept of art, see Thomas Kellein, “Zum Fluxus-
Begriff von Joseph Beuys,” in Joseph Beuys-Tagung (n. 134), pp. 137–42.
136 See Joseph Beuys: Fluxus: Aus der Sammlung van der Grinten (Kranenburg 1963).
137 Hans van der Grinten, “Fluxus zeichnen,” in Joseph Beuys (n. 136), n. p.
138 See Joseph Beuys (n. 136), p. [5].
139 See the pamphlet written by Henry Flynt with a graphic design by George Maciunas, Communists
Must Give Revolutionary Leadership in Culture (1965), reproduced in 1962 Wiesbaden Fluxus 1982 (n. 83),
pp. 105–8.
140 See letter from Maciunas to Vytautas Landsbergis, February 1963, in Fluxus East (n. 4), pp. 65–66.
141 See Eric Andersen, “The East Fluxus Tour 1964,” in Fluxus East (n. 4), pp. 53–62 (p. 54).
142 See Did Someone Say Participate? An Atlas of Spatial Practice, ed. Markus Miessen and Shumon Basar (Frank-
furt am Main 2006).
143 Letter from Maciunas to Ben Vautier, March 16, 1964, quoted in Hendricks, Fluxus Codex (n. 115), p. 133. On
the difference between “je signe tout” (signing everything) (Duchamp, Yves Klein) and “signer tout” (signing
everything) (Vautier) as the appropriation of anything at all for art and with it the depletion of the artist’s
own ego, see Ina Blom, “Boredom and Oblivion,” in The Fluxus Reader (n. 113), pp. 63–90 (pp. 83–86).
144 See letter from Maciunas to Wolf Vostell, November 3, 1964, Sohm Archive, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, quoted
in Mr. Fluxus (n. 2), p. 42.
145 A copy of the undated draft for a letter or circular that Maciunas is thought to have sent to Nikita
Khrushchev or the Soviet cultural authorities is held at The Museum of Modern Art, New York (The
Gilbert and Lila Silverman Fluxus Collection Gift). See reproduction of this draft in Fluxus East (n. 4),
p. 15. On Maciunas’ intensive interest in Soviet cultural and economic policy during the Krushchev era
see Medina, “The Kulturbolschewiken II” (n. 78), pp. 237–40.
146 Flynt, “George Maciunas und meine Zusammenarbeit mit ihm” (n. 83), p. 104.
147 “Realistic art,” as understood by Maciunas, had to be “concrete.” For more on the concept of “concretism”
see Miller, “Transcript of the Videotaped Interview with George Maciunas” (n. 116), p. 20.
148 See n. 145.
149 See Dorothée Brill, “Shock of the Void: The Senseless as Strategy in Dada and Fluxus” (Ph.D. dissertation,
University of London 2007), pp. 119–76.
150 The claim that “as improbable as it sounds,” Maciunas had received “a not entirely discouraging reply from
the president,” made in Jean-Pierre Wilhelm’s opening address on Neo-Dada in der Musik at the Kammer-
spiele Düsseldorf on June 16, 1962, is almost certainly an instance of hyperbole. The manuscript of the
speech is held at the Sohm Archive, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart. In the spring of 1963, Maciunas was still con-
fident: “We must postpone East Europe Fluxus, to 1965 maybe. Chrushchov [sic] is not hot on Fluxus at
this very moment, although he agrees with us in being against abstract art.” Letter from Maciunas to

Emmett Williams written in the spring of 1963 and quoted in Williams, My Life in Flux (n. 80), p. 167. See
also Mac Low, “How Maciunas Met the New York Avant Garde” (n. 77), p. 47.
151 Nam June Paik’s comments on the end of the Soviet Union are a superb example of the kind of falsification
of history that went on in the name of Fluxus. According to Paik, it was Maciunas’ erstwhile schoolfriend
Vytautas Landsbergis who, together with Sajūdis—the Lithuanian opposition which he himself founded
and which in English translates as “movement” (although Paik referred to it as the “Fluxus party”)—
brought down the communist regime first in his own country and then in the Soviet Union. Fluxus, in
other words, is credited with having been actively involved in the breakup of the USSR. See Florian Matzner,
“A Short Trip on the Electronic Superhighway with Nam June Paik” (interview), in Nam June Paik: Eine Data
Base, ed. Klaus Bußmann and Florian Matzner (Ostfildern-Ruit 1993), pp. 117–33 (pp. 132–33).
152 George Kubler, The Shape of Time: Remarks on the History of Things (New Haven, CT, and London 1962),
p. 123.
153 See letter from Maciunas to Dick Higgins dated August 22, 1966, in O que é Fluxus? (n. 1), pp. 175–77 (p. 176).
“Incidentally, the red . . . sheet was done about 8 months ago for a Czechoslovak magazine & had very
limited dissemination elsewhere.” The red sheet refers to a printout of the diagram on a sheet of red
154 See George Maciunas, “Fluxus (Jeho historický vývoj a vztah k avantgardním hnutím),” in Slovo, písmo,
akce, hlas: K estetice kultury technického věku: Výběr z esejů, manifestů a uměleckých programů druhé poloviny
XX. století, ed. Josef Hiršal and Bohumila Grögerová, vol. 63 of the “Otázky a názory” series (Prague 1967),
pp. 234–38.
155 In 1971, the organizer of the Fluxshoe exhibition David F. Mayor asked Maciunas: “Do you have a copy of
your Fluxus (Its Historical Development and Relationship to Avant-Garde Movements) that I could read, as we
have it only in Czech, which I can’t?” Letter from Mayor to Maciunas, May [20], 1971, Sohm Archive,
Staatsgalerie Stuttgart.
156 Film Culture, special “Expanded Arts” issue, no. 43 (Winter 1966), p. 7.
157 Letter from Wolf Vostell to Maciunas, c. April 1967, photocopy (underlined by Vostell), Sohm Archive,
Staatsgalerie Stuttgart.
158 For more on these concepts, see also Thomas Kellein, “Fluxus – eine Internationale des künstlerischen
Mißlingens,” in Europa/Amerika: Die Geschichte einer künstlerischen Faszination seit 1940 (Cologne 1986),
pp. 325–36.
159 That Maciunas’ attempts to draw distinctions were not always easy to follow is evident from an example
from Germany. Friedrich Wolfram Heubach, publisher of the magazine Interfunktionen, still had no real
grasp of Fluxus or of its objectives even in the late 1960s. That Maciunas’ own name was frequently mis-
spelled is symptomatic of the very vague picture of the Fluxus movement that Heubach sought to convey
to his readers. While the “anti-art affect” he credited it with was indeed an aspect of Fluxus, the Fluxus
movement itself was certainly not an “important group within the happening,” but rather its sworn ad-
versary. Friedrich Wolfram Heubach, “Happening und/oder Wirklichkeit,” in Interfunktionen, no. 3 ([1969]),
pp. 37–54 (p. 44).
160 George Maciunas, “Comments on Relationship of Fluxus to so called Avant-Garde Festival” (c. 1964), man-
uscript (underlined by Maciunas), Estate of George Maciunas (inv. no. 86), Sohm Archive, Staatsgalerie
Stuttgart. Reproduced in Mr. Fluxus (n. 2), pp. 120–21.
161 For more on the strong emotional pull that Red China exerted on the Fluxists in those years, see Higgins,
“Auszug aus Postface” (n. 77), p. 189.
162 Ken Friedman, “Wer ist Fluxus?” in Kunstforum International, no. 115 (Sept.–Oct. 1991), pp. 189–95
(pp. 189–90). The reproduction of the lower half of the diagram Fluxus (Its Historical Development and Re-
lationship to Avant-Garde Movements) which introduces this article (p. 188) is wrongly captioned “Fluxus
163 Ken Friedman, “Fluxus and Company” (1989), in The Fluxus Reader (n. 113), pp. 237–53 (pp. 240–43).
164 See Henry Flynt, “Mutations of the Vanguard: Pre-Fluxus, During Fluxus, Late Fluxus,” in Ubi Fluxus ibi
motus 1990–1962, ed. Achille Bonito Oliva (Milan 1990), pp. 99–128 (p. 114); Hannah Higgins, Fluxus Expe-
rience (Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London 2002), pp. 71–78.
165 There were widely differing opinions of this scandal. Kaprow and Maciunas, for example, never saw or
spoke to each other again. See Allan Kaprow, Essays on the Blurring of Art and Life, expanded edition, ed.
Jeff Kelley (Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London 2003), p. 245.
166 See three-page letter from Dick Higgins to Maciunas, August 17, 1966, The Getty Research Institute, Spe-
cial Collections, Los Angeles. On Higgins’ categorization of the Fluxus artists into a hardcore, second
wave, third generation, and post-1970 members, see René Block, “Von einem der auszog das Fluxen zu
lernen,” in 1962 Wiesbaden Fluxus 1982 (n. 83), pp. 326–71 (p. 351).
167 Letter from Maciunas to Dick Higgins, August 22, 1966, in O que é Fluxus? (n. 1), pp. 175–77 (p. 175), in which
he responds to Higgins’ “Auszug aus Postface” (n. 77), p. 191.
168 See Mac Low, “How Maciunas Met the New York Avant Garde” (n. 77), p. 48.
169 See George Maciunas, “I Proposed Propaganda Action for Nov. Fluxus in N.Y.C. (during May–Nov. period),”
in Fluxus News-Policy Letter, no. 6 (April 6, 1963), reprinted in Fluxus etc.: Addenda I (n. 79), p. 156. Maciunas’
counter cultural activism (he himself spoke of “anti-art terrorism”) was a radical means of Fluxus proga-
ganda. Henry Flynt provided intellectual and political support. The most concise presentation of the ideo-
logical background to one of the extreme projects of the twentieth-century avant-garde is Cuauhtémoc
Medina’s, “The Kulturbolschewiken I: Fluxus, the Abolition of Art, the Soviet Union, and Pure Amusement,”
in: Res: Anthropology and Aesthetics, no. 48 (Autumn 2005), pp. 179–92.
170 La Monte Young, “Why I Withdrew from Fluxus,” in Fluxus Scores and Instructions (n. 3), pp. 52–54.
171 See Mac Low, “How Maciunas Met the New York Avant Garde” (n. 77), p. 48.
172 See Higgins, “Auszug aus Postface” (n. 77), pp. 190–91.
173 See Flynt, “George Maciunas und meine Zusammenarbeit mit ihm” (n. 83), p. 109.
174 Hannah Higgins, for example, linked the expulsion of Jackson Mac Low, Tomas Schmit, and Emmett
Williams in 1962 and 1963 with the Fluxus News-Policy Letter controversy of 1963. See Higgins, Fluxus
Experience (n. 164), pp. 75–78.

175 A press release issued in fall 1964 declared Eric Andersen, Arthur Køpcke, Tomas Schmit, and Emmett
Williams to be renegades and impostors. See Maciunas, “For Press Release” (n. 82), p. 124.
176 Ibid.
177 See Ken Friedman with James Lewes, “Fluxus: Global Community, Human Dimensions,” in Visible Language,
vol. 26, no. 1/2 (1992), pp. 154–79 (pp. 161–79).
178 This is a paraphrase of Ben Vautier and not Shakespeare. See Fluxus Subjektiv, ed. Ursula Krinzinger (Vienna
1990), n. p.
179 Emmett Williams, “St. George and the Fluxus Dragons,” in Upheavals, Manifestos, Manifestations: Concep-
tions in the Arts at the Beginning of the Sixties: Berlin, Düsseldorf, Munich / Aufbrüche, Manifeste, Manifesta-
tionen: Positionen in der bildenden Kunst zu Beginn der 60er Jahre in Berlin, Düsseldorf und München, ed. Klaus
Schrenk (Cologne 1984), pp. 19–38 (pp. 28–29). In his comparison with the Soviet practice of censorship,
Williams referred to what he had already stated in “Happy Birthday, Everybody!” (1981–1982), in 1962
Wiesbaden Fluxus 1982 (n. 83), pp. 83–88 (p. 87).
180 See Williams, My Life in Flux (n. 80), p. 177.
181 See Miller, “Transcript of the Videotaped Interview with George Maciunas” (n. 116), p. 12.
182 Two-page letter from Dick Higgins to Maciunas, August 23, 1966, p. 2, The Getty Research Institute,
Special Collections, Los Angeles: “But Fluxus means too much (and I insist on that) to allow any indi-
vidual person to reduce it to a means of confinement of peoples’ [sic] work on the basis of your own
personal taste, the way Breton has done with surrealism for example.” See also Williams, My Life in Flux
(n. 80), p. 33.
183 See Schmidt-Burkhardt, Stammbäume der Kunst (n. 94), pp. 231–62.
184 See three-page letter from Chieko Shiomi to Maciunas, after 1968, p. 1, Sohm Archive, Staatsgalerie
185 Ibid., p. 3.
186 Emmett Williams made a crucial contribution to “Fluxus George’s” negative image by remarking on how
he liked to play the tyrant, great dictator, general, or God. See Williams, “Happy Birthday, Everybody!”
and “Heimkehr oder Die Nicht-Bewegung, die sich einfach immer weiterbewegt,” in 1962 Wiesbaden Fluxus
1982 (n. 83), p. 87, and pp. 308–13 (p. 310); Williams, My Life in Flux (n. 80), p. 33; Williams, “Zwölf Porträts,”
in Fluxus da capo: Wiesbaden 1962–1992 (Wiesbaden 1992), pp. 148–55 (p. 155).
187 The incredible time invested in the Big Chart is referred to briefly in Maciunas’ “Biographical Data” (n. 43),
which were probably compiled in 1976: “1966 – present: History of Avant-garde, particularily [sic] its devel-
opment from Futurism, DaDa, Duchamp, Surrealism, John Cage, Happenings, Events and Fluxus, with
particular emphasis on documentation of Fluxus. 23" × 80". (still in progress).”
188 George Maciunas, “Fluxnewsletter April 1973,” in Fluxus etc.: Addenda I (n. 79), p. 234.
189 Letter from Ken Friedman to Maciunas, c. 1973, Sohm Archive, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart.
190 Letter from Maciunas to Ken Friedman, c. 1973, The Museum of Modern Art, New York (The Gilbert and
Lila Silverman Fluxus Collection Gift).
191 See letter from Maciunas to Gino Di Maggio (publisher), October 9, 1973, photocopy, Sohm Archive, Staats-
galerie Stuttgart.
192 See Gislind Nabakowski, “Spiele & Widersprüche,” in Jenseits von Ereignissen: Texte zu einer Heterospektive
von George Brecht (Berne 1978), pp. 85–99 (p. 92).
193 Letter from Gino Di Maggio to Maciunas, December 18, 1973, photocopy, Sohm Archive, Staatsgalerie
Stuttgart: “P.S. We are waiting for the definitive chart and, possibly, the 1000 copies. Tell us which is
the amount that you need and remember that we must send it only in little amounts, through different
194 See letter from Maciunas to Gino Di Maggio, October 9, 1973, photocopy, Sohm Archive, Staatsgalerie
Stuttgart. Whether or not the diagram was ever exhibited is not clear. The catalogue entry number 7,
Historical Chart of the Flux-Activities, relates only to a reproduction of a section of Fluxus (Its Historical
Development and Relationship to Avant-Garde Movements); see Contemporanea: Incontri Internazionali
d’Arte (Rome 1973), pp. 171, 188. On the exhibition, see Achille Bonito Oliva, “Contemporanea, Rome
1973/74,” in Die Kunst der Ausstellung: Eine Dokumentation dreißig exemplarischer Kunstausstellungen dieses
Jahrhunderts, ed. Bernd Klüser and Katharina Hegewisch (Frankfurt am Main and Leipzig 1991),
pp. 230–37.
195 See Film, Avantgarde, Biopolitik, ed. Sabeth Buchmann, Helmut Draxler, and Stephan Geene (Vienna
196 See Dieter Daniels, “Fluxus: Ein Nachruf zu Lebzeiten,” in Kunstforum International, no. 115 (Sept.–Oct. 1991),
p. 100; Sean Cubitt, “From Internationalism to Transnations: Networked Art and Activism,” in At a Distance:
Precursors to Art and Activism on the Internet, ed. Annmarie Chandler and Norie Neumark (Cambridge, MA,
2005), pp. 424–36 (pp. 428–29). For more on the wordplay “rear-guard,” which is contained in Maciunas’
“Comments on Relationship of Fluxus to so called Avant-Garde Festival” (n. 160), see Mari Dumett, “George
Maciunas and Fluxus Rear-Guard,” in The Avant-Garde (n. 101), pp. 114–20 (p. 114).
197 See Fluxshoe (Cullompton, Devon 1972), and Simon Anderson, “Fluxus, Fluxion, Fluxshoe: The 1970s,” in
The Fluxus Reader (n. 113), pp. 22–30 (pp. 25–29).
198 The handwritten draft diagram with brief typed entries pasted onto it is now in The Museum of Modern
Art, New York (The Gilbert and Lila Silverman Fluxus Collection Gift), while the montage sheets are pre-
served at the Jonas Mekas Visual Arts Center, Vilnius.
199 See letters from David Mayor to Maciunas, June 14 and October 12, 1972, and the letter from Maciunas to
Mayor, c. 1972, photocopy, Sohm Archive, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart (reprint in Fluxshoe [n. 195], p. 69).
200 See Friedman, “Wer ist Fluxus?” (n. 162), p. 190.
201 For general information on chronological, historiographic “event lists,” see Goody, The Domestication of the
Savage Mind (n. 74), pp. 90–93.
202 This information stems from the handwritten text sketches for another still unpublished Note on Chart
which is in The Museum of Modern Art, New York (The Gilbert and Lila Silverman Fluxus Collection
203 See Miller, “Transcript of the Videotaped Interview with George Maciunas” (n. 116), p. 26.

204 The bibliography drawn up in preparation for the Atlas of Russian History lists titles such as Arthur
Waley, Zen Buddhism and its Relation to Art (London 1922), and Hoseki Shin’ichi Hisamatsu, Zen and Fine
Arts (Kyoto 1958), which Maciunas saw in the New York Public Library. Of Hisamatsu’s book, he wrote:
“Zen – flash of sudden Enlightment [sic], vision of tao.” See George Maciunas, “Chinese Aesthetics &
Technique,” n. d., manuscript, 5 pages, The Museum of Modern Art, New York (The Gilbert and Lila
Silverman Fluxus Collection Gift). For more on other aspects of Zen which resonate within Fluxus, see
David T. Doris, “Zen Vaudeville: A Medi(t)ation in the Margins of Fluxus,” in The Fluxus Reader (n. 113),
pp. 91–135.
205 See Restany, “George Maciunas” (n. 101), p. 52.
206 The Dada Painters and Poets: An Anthology, ed. Robert Motherwell (New York 1951, reprinted in 1967).
207 In the early 1960s Maciunas was one of the first postwar artists to refer to the Soviet avant-garde as an
essential point of reference, but it would be naive to therefore assume that he had a clear picture of the
subtle differences within the movement. Among his most important sources of information at the time
were Camilla Gray’s overview The Great Experiment: Russian Art 1863–1922 (n. 87), and Ilya Ehrenburg’s
memoirs titled First Years of Revolution 1918–21, vol. 2 of Men, Years – Life, trans. Anna Bostock and Yvonne
Kapp (London 1962). See Medina, “The Kulturbolschewiken II” (n. 78), pp. 233, 236.
208 After careful scrutiny of modernist art trends such as “rayonism,” “constructivism,” “suprematism,” and
“non-concrete art,” Maciunas decided that they were without any authoritative significance for Fluxus. See
his series of notes on this subject in The Museum of Modern Art, New York (The Gilbert and Lila Silver-
man Fluxus Collection Gift).
209 See Ann-Katrin Günzel, Eine frühe Aktionskunst: Die Entwicklung der “arte-azione” im italienischen Futuris-
mus zwischen 1910 und 1922: Ein Vergleich mit Happening und Fluxus (Frankfurt am Main 2006), p. 295. For
chronological reasons, Günzel should have said that research on the history of action art corroborates
Maciunas’ diagram, and not the other way round.
210 See Ben Vautier, “Der Vater von Fluxus ist Cage, seine Großväter sind Duchamp und Satie,” quoted in 1962
Wiesbaden Fluxus 1982 (n. 83), p. 306. The Fluxartists saw Duchamp’s role as a pioneer quite differently,
however. At the ninetieth annual conference of the College Art Association in Philadelphia from February
20 to 23, 2002, the section “Fluxus and Duchamp” arranged by Geoffrey Hendricks, in which Larry Miller
and Alison Knowles also took part, re-elected Duchamp as the “Fluxus family” patriarch.
211 See Miller, “Transcript of the Videotaped Interview with George Maciunas” (n. 116), p. 12.
212 Ibid.
213 Ibid., pp. 11–12; see also Fred Truck, George Maciunas: Fluxus and the Face of Time, vol. 2 (Des Moines, IA,
1984), pp. 127–29.
214 See Williams, “St. George and the Fluxus Dragons” (n. 179), p. 23.
215 Williams, “An Anti-History of Fluxus” (n. 127), p. 32.
216 Ellsworth Snyder, “John Cage Discusses Fluxus” (interview), in Visible Language, vol. 26, no. 1/2 (1992),
pp. 59–68 (p. 60).
217 Cage identified himself with the ambivalent symbol of the “tree” elsewhere too. See John Cage, I–VI
(Cambridge, MA, and London 1990), pp. 419–20.
218 See Miller, “Transcript of the Videotaped Interview with George Maciunas” (n. 116), pp. 11–12.
219 See Henry Martin, “Ein Gespräch mit George Brecht,” in Jenseits von Ereignissen (n. 192), pp. 5–33 (p. 30).
220 See Stephen C. Foster, “Historical Design and Social Purpose: A Note on the Relationship of Fluxus to
Modernism,” in Visible Language, vol. 26, no. 1/2 (1992), pp. 35–44 (pp. 40–42).
221 The state of the new to which Fluxus aspires is reclaimed with the term “difference.” Dick Higgins, “Fluxus:
Theory and Reception” (1982–1997), in The Fluxus Reader (n. 113), pp. 217–36 (p. 228): “Fluxus . . . is qualita-
tively different from almost all other art, occidental or oriental.”
222 See Estera Milman, “Fluxus History and Trans-History: Competing Strategies for Empowerment,” in The
Fluxus Reader (n. 113), pp. 155–65.
223 See Rosalind E. Krauss, The Optical Unconscious (Cambridge, MA, 1993), pp. 179–80.
224 See Jon Hendricks in the documentary film The Misfits: Thirty Years of Fluxus (Denmark 1993) by Lars
225 In his Note on Chart, a copy of which John Lennon and Yoko Ono received, Maciunas assigns the Beatle to
the category of “composers-artists.”

226 Another famous example is George Brecht, who doodled a tree diagram in his college block during a lec-
ture by the Italian sociologist Giorgio Tagliacozzo at the New School for Social Research in New York in
early October 1958. For more on the conceptual grafting of his rootstock and Tagliacozzo’s Tree of Knowl-
edge, see Astrit Schmidt-Burkhardt, “Wissen als Bild: Zur diagrammatischen Kunstgeschichte,” in Logik
des Bildlichen: Zur Kritik der ikonischen Vernunft, ed. Martina Heßler and Dieter Mersch (Bielefeld 2009),
pp. 163–87 (pp. 172–78).
227 George Maciunas, “A Preliminary Proposal for a 3-Dimensional System of Information Storage and Pre-
sentation,” in Proposals for Art Education: From a Year Long Study Supported by the Carnegie Corporation of
New York 1968–1969 (San Francisco 1970), pp. 24–26 (p. 24). Proposals for Art Education is an exemplary
study of creative collaboration between artists and students.
228 See Letter from Maciunas to Gino Di Maggio, October 9, 1973, photocopy, Sohm Archive, Staatsgalerie
Stuttgart: “I think it is my best piece.”
229 For more on the periodic table, see James Elkins, How to Use Your Eyes (New York and London 2000),
pp. 118–25.
230 Letter from Maciunas to Christos M. Joachimides (c. October 15, 1973), photocopy, Sohm Archive, Staats-
galerie Stuttgart.
231 Letter from Christos M. Joachimides to Maciunas, October 24, 1974, Sohm Archive, Staatsgalerie

232 See Hubert van den Berg, “Übernationalität der Avantgarde – (Inter)Nationalität der Forschung: Hinweis
auf den internationalen Konstruktivismus in der europäischen Literatur und die Problematik ihrer litera-
turwissenschaftlichen Erfassung,” in Der Blick vom Wolkenkratzer: Avantgarde – Avantgardekritik – Avant-
gardeforschung, ed. Wolfgang Asholt and Walter Fähnders (Amsterdam and Atlanta, GA, 2000), pp. 255–88.
233 Richard Huelsenbeck, “First German Dada Manifesto” (1918), in Art in Theory 1900–1990: An Anthology of
Changing Ideas, ed. Charles Harrison and Paul Wood (Oxford and Cambridge, MA, 1993), pp. 253–55
(p. 255).
234 See the Brochure Prospectus for Fluxus Yearboxes (n. 106), p. [2], which was the first to list forthcoming
Fluxus publication projects.
235 The theoretical possibility of a rotating chair floated by Maciunas was never actually put into practice. See
letter from Maciunas to Wolf Vostell, November 3, 1964, Sohm Archive, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, quoted in
Mr. Fluxus (n. 2), pp. 41–42 (p. 42).
236 Maciunas at times exploited the medium of the letter to the full—a practice which gave rise to some capri-
cious side effects, as when he used one of the ultra-fine pens he was so fond of to squeeze a message onto
a postcard and then added: “I use a magnifying glass, I am saving postage.” See letter from Maciunas to
La Monte Young, March 7, 1962, The Museum of Modern Art, New York (The Gilbert and Lila Silverman
Fluxus Collection Gift), quoted in Kellein, The Dream of Fluxus (n. 5), p. 41.
237 See Roy Ascott, “Art and Telematics: Towards a Network-Consciousness” (1983), in Art Telecommunication,
ed. Heidi Grundmann (Vienna and Vancouver 1984), pp. 24–67 (p. 30).
238 See Tatiana Bazzichelli, Networking: The Net as Artwork (Århus 2008), pp. 33–37 (originally published as
Networking: La rete come arte, Milan 2006). For more on the Fluxus networks in Central and Eastern Europe,
see also Fluxus East (n. 4).
239 “His Marxist background originating from a small country, I bet, helped him to conceive the Fluxus as a
truly international movement stretching from Asia to Eastern Europe.” Paik, “Volume One” (n. 76), p. 49.
240 Geoffrey Hendricks is in possession of a copy of this text.
241 For more on the productive application of McLuhan’s media theory in “extended art history,” under-
stood here as a mixed discipline, see Nam June Paik, “Norbert Wiener und Marshall McLuhan,” in
Paik, Niederschriften eines Kulturnomaden: Aphorismen, Briefe, Texte, ed. Edith Decker (Cologne 1992),
pp. 123–26.
242 See Götz Adriani, Winfried Konnertz, and Karin Thomas, Joseph Beuys: Life and Works, trans. Patricia
Lech (Woodbury, NY, 1979), p. 86 (originally published as Joseph Beuys, Cologne 1973).
243 See Volker Harlan, Rainer Rappmann, and Peter Schata, Soziale Plastik: Materialien zu Joseph Beuys (Ach-
berg 1976, 3rd, extended edition, 1984), p. 55; Joseph Beuys, Aktive Neutralität: Die Überwindung von Kapi-
talismus und Kommunismus (Düsseldorf 1985).
244 For more on the history of networked knowledge, see Sebastian Gießmann, Netze und Netzwerke: Archäolo-
gie einer Kulturtechnik 1740–1840 (Bielefeld 2006).
245 See n. 2.
246 See Higgins, “Auszug aus Postface” (n. 77), p. 181.
247 See Emmett Williams, “Happy Birthday, Everybody!” in 1962 Wiesbaden Fluxus 1982 (n. 83), pp. 83–88 (p. 87).
248 Fluxus was much too heterogeneous to be described as a group of artists in the narrower sense of the term.
Maciunas won respect for bringing together “a respectable group of people” in a kind of artists’ network
that transcended not just national, but even continental boundaries. See Higgins, “Auszug aus Postface”
(n. 77), p. 189; Nina Zimmer, SPUR und andere Künstlergruppen: Gemeinschaftsarbeit in der Kunst um 1960
zwischen Moskau und New York (Berlin 2002), p. 294.
249 See Al Hansen, “How We Met: Notizen zu einem Heft mit dem Titel Maciunas und Fluxus” (1989–1990), in
Kunstforum International, no. 115 (Sept.–Oct. 1991), pp. 120–23 (p. 122). All that we know for sure is that in
Ay-O’s Romantic Piece for George Maciunas (1978), some of Maciunas’ own “things” were thrown onto the
pyre in honor of his “own view of high art.” See Maciunas, The Eve of Fluxus (n. 95), p. 73. As Hanns Sohm
confirmed during a conversation I had with him in February 1998, the traces of the then Fluxus archive
have been wiped away. It cannot be completely discounted that parts of the archive were lost during
Maciunas’ move from New York City to New Marlborough, Massachusetts, in 1976. In February 1978, just
a few weeks before his death, Maciunas gave six boxes containing the most important documents to Bar-
bara Moore for safekeeping and further research. In April or May, Moore received another box. Using this
material she compiled a preliminary inventory of the estate which was completed in January 1980. Of the
seven boxes entrusted to her, one box full of correspondence went to Maciunas’ widow, Billie Maciunas,
who gave it to a collector. See Barbara Moore, Appraisal for the Estate of George Maciunas, Estate of George
Maciunas, Sohm Archive, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart.
250 See Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, “From the Aesthetic of Administration to Institutional Critique (Some As-
pects of Conceptual Art 1962–1969),” in L’art conceptuel: une perspective (Paris 1989), pp. 41–59.
251 See Maciunas, “A Preliminary Proposal for a 3-Dimensional System of Information Storage and Presenta-
tion” (n. 227), p. 24.
252 The citations are from unpublished notes by Maciunas, now in The Museum of Modern Art, New York
(The Gilbert and Lila Silverman Fluxus Collection Gift).
253 See Maciunas’ “Biographical Data” (n. 43): “1969: Re-categorization of fields of knowledge, completed 2
dimentional [sic] diagram & tabulation, intended as the first surface of 3 dimentional [sic] storage and
retrieval system, called a learning machine.”
254 Moore, “George Maciunas: A Finger in Fluxus” (n. 44), p. 43. Ken Friedman’s remarks in his e-mail to the
author of August 11, 2003, have much the same tenor.
255 See n. 102.
256 On art history as chronological memory, see Ben Vautier, “Manifeste” (1960), in Vautier, Textes théoriques:
Tracts 1960–1974 (Milan 1975), pp. 11–20 (p. 14).
257 See n. 187. Maciunas must have begun sketching out his application for a grant in fall 1975, as shown by
the “chart” notes of October 1, 21, and 27, and of November 3 in Maciunas’ documentation of the “Flux-
house Cooperative” in The Museum of Modern Art, New York (The Gilbert and Lila Silverman Fluxus
Collection Gift).

258 See Maciunas’ grand application to the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, Estate of George
Maciunas, Guggenheim Foundation, photocopies, Sohm Archive, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart.
259 See letter from James F. Mathias (vice-president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation)
to Maciunas, March 11, 1977, photocopy, Sohm Archive, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart.
260 See William Henry Walsh, An Introduction to Philosophy of History (London 1951), p. 31.
261 Arthur C. Danto, Narration and Knowledge (New York 1985), pp. 116–20.
262 For more on the “historical imagination” caught between fictive narrative and plausible narrative, see
ibid., pp. 121–24.
263 Ibid., pp. 125–26, 226.
264 See W. J. T. Mitchell, “Ut Pictura Theoria: Abstract Painting and Language” (1989), in Mitchell, Picture
Theory: Essays on Verbal and Visual Representation (Chicago and London 1994), pp. 213–39 (pp. 232–34).
265 See Gottfried Boehm, “Jenseits der Sprache? Anmerkungen zur Logik der Bilder,” in Iconic Turn: Die neue
Macht der Bilder, ed. Christa Maar and Hubert Burda (Cologne 2004), pp. 28–43 (p. 30).
266 See Römer, “Die Kunst der Kartografien und Diagramme” (n. 50), p. 159, who draws on Michel de Certeau’s
Arts de faire (Paris 1980, English: The Practice of Everyday Life, 1984).
267 See Miller, “Transcript of the Videotaped Interview with George Maciunas” (n. 116), p. 11. On the grid as
the emblem of modernity, see Rosalind E. Krauss, “Grids” (1979), in Krauss, The Originality of the Avant-
Garde and Other Modernist Myths (Cambridge, MA, and London 1985), pp. 8–22. On the history of the grid
in Western culture see Higgins, The Grid Book (n. 61).
268 See Schmidt-Burkhardt, Stammbäume der Kunst (n. 94), pp. 25–41.
269 Henry Flynt: “I knew that Maciunas had the charts [on Russian history], I may have seen them on the bed
at 359 Canal St. He did not display them in his residences as I remember. We never discussed them.”
Flynt in an e-mail to the author dated May 18, 2010. In a telephone call with the author on May 6, 2010,
Maciunas’ sister Nijole Valaitis recalled seeing a large history of the world chart of about one square meter
hanging on the wall at 80 Wooster Street. Presumably this was an excerpt from the Chronologies on Euro-
pean and Russian history.
270 See Moore, “George Maciunas: A Finger in Fluxus” (n. 44), p. 45, n. 13.
271 Another was Larry Miller, who used the Big Chart as an opportunity for an interview with Maciunas,
conducted six weeks before his death. See Miller, “Transcript of the Videotaped Interview with George
Maciunas” (n. 116), pp. 11–28.
272 Although Henry Flynt’s pamphlet Communists Must Give Revolutionary Leadership in Culture (1965) was not
included in Essaying Essays, the layout designed by Maciunas “on two broadsides which were folded and
sandwiched between slabs of materials” can be said to illustrate “Kostelanetz’s idea of a new book format,”
as Henry Flynt has claimed. See Flynt, “George Maciunas und meine Zusammenarbeit mit ihm” (n. 83),
pp. 107–8.
273 Richard Kostelanetz, “Innovations in Essaying,” in Essaying Essays: Alternative Forms of Exposition, ed.
Kostelanetz (New York 1975), pp. 1–9 (pp. 6–7).
274 Letter from Richard Kostelanetz to Maciunas, May 3, 1973, Estate of George Maciunas, Sohm Archive,
Staatsgalerie Stuttgart.
275 In 1974, Kostelanetz himself moved into a Flux cooperative. See Richard Kostelanetz, Soho: The Rise and
Fall of an Artists’ Colony (New York 2003), a book which is dedicated “To the memory of George Maciunas,
our founder, and for my partners in Good Deal Reality Corp.”
276 It follows that Notations for a Diagram can no longer be described as a “tiny segment” of the Big Chart, as
has been suggested by Emmett Williams and Ann Noël. See Mr. Fluxus (n. 2), p. 205.
277 See illustration on the back of Notations for a Diagram in Fluxus etc.: The Gilbert and Lila Silverman Collection,
ed. Jon Hendricks (Bloomfield Hills, MI, 1981), p. 153.
278 See van der Grinten, “Fluxus zeichnen” (n. 136), n. p.
279 Note from Richard Kostelanetz to Maciunas, May 25, 1973, Estate of George Maciunas, Sohm Archive,
Staatsgalerie Stuttgart.
280 Letter from Richard Kostelanetz to Emmett Williams, August 20, 1993, in Mr. Fluxus (n. 2), pp. 328–29; see
also Richard Kostelanetz, A Dictionary of the Avant-Gardes: Second Edition (New York 2000), pp. 384–85. For
more on the exhibition, see In the Spirit of Fluxus, ed. Janet Jenkins (Minneapolis, MN, 1993).
281 Letter from Richard Kostelanetz to Emmett Williams, August 20, 1993, in Mr. Fluxus (n. 2), p. 328.
282 See Annamária Szöke, Diagram, Diagramok: Gondolat-térképek (Budapest 1998); Schmidt-Burkhardt, Stamm-
bäume der Kunst (n. 94).
283 For more details on Shelley’s diagrammatic work see Astrit Schmidt-Burkhardt, “Plötzlich diese Über-
sicht: Kunst unter dem diagrammatischen Imperativ,” in Materialismus der Diagramme in der Kunst des
20. und 21. Jahrhunderts, ed. Susanne Leeb (Berlin, forthcoming).
284 Claude Lévi-Strauss, The Savage Mind (Chicago 1966), p. 23 (originally published as La Pensée sauvage, Paris
285 “Write smaller, you can save paper.” Maciunas quoted in Williams, My Life in Flux (n. 80), p. 164.
286 “10 Fluxleadanniversary Contents,” ed. George Maciunas, in Art and Artists, vol. 7, no. 7 (1972), pp. 23–27
(p. 23).

?D:;N Benjamin, Walter 32, 79 College of Fine Arts, Carnegie Institute of
Benton, Morris F. 49 Technology, Pittsburgh 19, 202 (n. 45)
Page numbers in italics refer to illustrations. Berg, Hubert van den 67 communism 33, 49–50, 68, 203 (n. 76)
Beuys, Joseph 48–49, 53, 68–69 computer 65, 67
abolition of art 35–36, 35, 51–52 blank space, void 22, 24, 33, 42, 203 (n. 75) ’ Arpanet
’ art into life blowup 81, 81, 84 ’ network
abstract art 40, 46–47, 75, 116, 206 (n. 150) ’ miniaturization Comte, August 38
action music 60–61, 73 Bober, Harry 204 (n. 98) conceptual art 51, 73, 77
action painting 61 Boccioni, Umberto 62 concretism 46–47, 50–51, 61, 205 (n. 116), 206
Adorno, Theodor W. 46, 70 body art 77 (n. 147)
AG Gallery, New York 9, 35, 60 Bonito Oliva, Achille 59 Constantine I 41
agriculture 33, 35, 53, 115–20 Bourgeois, Louise 40, 204 (n. 95) constructivism, constructivist 35, 209 (n. 208)
Alaska 21–22 box 61, 71, 210 (n. 249) consumerism 31
Alemannics 42 Brecht, Bertolt 206 (n. 132) Cooper Union School of Art, New York 19, 65,
Alexander I 25 Brecht, George 32, 47, 49, 52, 55, 61–62, 65, 68, 205 (n. 115)
Alexander II 27 73, 77, 193, 206 (n. 132), 209 (n. 226) coordinates 14, 19–20, 20–21, 27–28, 31, 42, 46,
Alexander III 22, 27 Breton, André 58, 67–68, 208 (n. 182) 73, 154, 203 (n. 66)
Alexander the Great 51 Brochure Prospectus for Fluxus Yearboxes 45, 45 Cornell, Joseph 61
American Type Founders Company 49 Brown, Jean 72–73 Corner, Philip 49, 56–57
ancestors 46, 62 Brown, Jonathan M. 72 Cosmant, A. 13, 201 (n. 18)
’ genealogy Brown, Trisha 73 Courbet, Gustave 51
ancien régime 15 bruitism 46, 205 (n. 115) Covarrubias, Miguel 57, 57
ancient art 43 budget 33, 35, 53, 115–20 cyclical theory of history 38–40
’ Greek art ’ money cylindrical projection 14, 21
’ Roman art Burnham, Jack 81
anonymity 36, 50 Byzantine art 40 Dadaism 29, 45–48, 55–56, 61, 61, 63, 67–68,
anti-art 46–47, 49, 53–54, 61–62, 76, 207 Byzantine iconoclasm 55, 60 205 (n. 115), 208 (n. 187)
(n. 159) ’ Neo-Dada
’ art into life Cage, John 32, 45, 49, 52, 55, 60–62, 72–73, 77, Dalí, Salvador 58
’ non-art 205 (n. 115), 208 (n. 187), 209 (n. 210) Dammbeck, Lutz 79, 80
anti-individualism 36, 50 calendar 23, 59, 60, 69 dance 9, 55, 60
’ collective ’ Aztec calendar Danto, Arthur 73
’ kolkhoz California 22 Debord, Guy 58
anti-music 48, 48 calligraphy 40 de Certeau, Michel 28
’ music ’ handwriting De Forest, Julia B. 42
Apelles 41 capitalism 34, 36, 68 Deleuze, Gilles 10, 32, 81
Après John Cage 44, 45–48, 45, 47, 185 Carnegie Institute of Technology, Pittsburgh 19, Delisle, Claude (De L'Isle, Claude) 16
architecture 7–8, 19, 32–33, 35, 41–42, 65, 72 37, 65, 202 (n. 45) Delisle de la Croyère, Louis 22
Arman 73 cartography, cartographic 19–22, 24–25, 27–38, De Maria, Walter 77
Arnaud, Noël 204 (n. 91) 31, 34 design 9, 14, 35, 72, 72
Arpanet 81 Caspari, Arthus C. 45–46, 47, 185, 205 (n. 110) ’ graphic design
arrow, vector 24–25, 27, 37, 41–42, 47, 60, 73 Castro, Fidel 36 De Stijl 56
art history 4, 6, 9, 11, 37–38, 40–42, 42–43, 51– Catherine II 25 Deulofeu, Aleandreo 38
52, 63, 65, 68, 71–73, 80–81, 152–53, 155–83 Celant, Germano 31 Dewey, Ken 8
art into life 36, 57, 204 (n. 87) Châtelain, Zacharias 15 diagrammatical act 46
art of migrations 37, 204 (n. 89) chemical elements 66, 66 diagrammatics 75–77
’ migration China 13, 32, 37, 43, 54–55, 106, 108, 110 Diepenbroick, Arndt von 78, 80
art program 65–67 ’ Great Cultural Revolution Diller, Angela 203 (n. 81)
arte-azione 61 ’ Red Guards Di Maggio, Gino 208 (n. 193)
arte povera 31 Chinese art 40, 204 (n. 89) Dine, Jim 47
Ascott, Roy 67 Chomsky, Noam 77 documentary evidence 73
asterisk 21, 23, 28, 47, 59 Christian art 41 Doesburg, Theo van 205 (n. 104)
audience participation 60–61 Christianization 20, 23–24 drawing 19, 33, 49, 66, 77, 81
Augustus 41 chronicle 60 Duchamp, Marcel 47, 52, 55, 60–61, 72, 77, 206
Austria 65, 106–7 chronography 12, 13–17, 13–15 (n. 143), 208 (n. 187), 209 (n. 210)
avant-garde 34, 36, 38, 42, 46, 50–52, 59, 61–63, chronology 12, 13–16, 13–16, 24, 27–29, 31–34, Düsseldorf Art Academy 48
67–68, 70, 73, 75–76, 207 (n. 169), 208 (n. 187) 37, 40–42, 54, 60, 63, 73, 75, 106–32, 204
’ rear-garde (n. 101), 208 (n. 201) East – West 34, 43, 50–52, 70
Avars 24 ’ calendar ’ Slavophilism
Ay-O 210 (n. 249) ’ Maciunas, George: Chronologies ’ Westernism
Aztec calendar 204 (n. 91) chronology machine 12–13, 16–17, 80, 201 (n. 16) economic interest 22
’ learning machine ’ money
B., Mats (Mats Rindeskär) 59 church procession 60 Egypt 13
Balkans 32, 106, 108–9 cinema 49 Ehrenburg, Ilya 209 (n. 207)
Baranov, Alexander 22 ’ expanded cinema Emrich, Louis 38
Barbeu-Dubourg, Jacques 12, 13–17, 13–15, 80 ’ film encyclopedists 14
Barclay de Tolly, Michael A. 25 cinema railroad car 49 engineering 35, 55
baroque 42 classicism 51 England 25, 32, 63, 106–7, 110
baroque ballet 55 Clements, Frederic E. 38 environments 45–47, 58, 73
baroque mimicry 60 Cold War 19, 21, 34, 51, 70 epoch 16, 22, 28, 42–43, 73
Barr, Alfred H., Jr. 75–77, 76 collage 35, 42, 46, 61 epochal borders 42
Bateson, Gregory 27 collective 8, 36, 49–50, 57, 67, 71 Erasmus 61
Bauhaus 53, 56 ’ anti-individualism essay 76–77
Bauman, Alvin 203 (n. 81) ’ kolkhoz events 10, 36, 55, 72–73, 208 (n. 187)
Bazzichelli, Tatiana 68, 210 (n. 238) College Art Association, New York 209 (n. 210) ’ natural events

exhibitions Germany 32, 106–10 intermedia 9, 10, 46, 73
Contemporanea (Rome 1973–74) 59, 66 Gesamtkunstwerk 55, 61 ’ expanded arts
Cubism and Abstract Art (New York 1936) 75, 76 Ghenghiz Khan 24 ’ multimedia
Dada: Dokumente einer Bewegung (Düsseldorf Gilbert and Lila Silverman Fluxus Collection 11, Internationales Colloquium der experimentel-
1958) 45 57 len Künste, Berlin 59, 66–67
Fama Fluxus, Mythos Beuys (Sindelfingen globalization 11, 34, 67 internationalism, international 9, 34, 49–50,
2005–06) 81, 81, 84 ’ internationalism 67, 70, 210 (n. 239)
Flux-Folk in Potsdam (Postdam 2008) 78 Gmelin, Johann G. 22 ’ globalization
Fluxshoe (Falmoth, Exeter, etc. 1972–73) 59, Golden Horde 23, 25 ’ traveling
207 (n. 155) Goldwater, Robert J. 40, 204 (n. 96) intonarumori 61
Schrift, Bilder, Denken: Walter Benjamin und die Gothic 42–43 Iron Curtain 51, 70
Künste der Gegenwart (Berlin 2004–05) 79 graph paper 23, 202 (n. 55) -isms 9, 51–52, 75
In the Spirit of Fluxus (Minneapolis 1993) 80 graphic design 9, 19, 35, 43, 49, 53, 56, 62, 65– Isou, Isidore 205 (n.115)
expanded arts 53, 55, 59 66, 80, 206 (n. 139), 211 (n. 272) Ivan III 25
expanded cinema 55 ’ typography Ivan IV 25
expedition 22, 28 graphics 45–46, 184–85 Ives, Charles 46, 205 (n. 115)
Gray, Camilla 204 (n. 87), 209 (n. 207)
Festum Fluxorum 48–49, 48, 53 Great Cultural Revolution 54–55 Jährling, Rolf 45–46
Filliou, Robert 73, 77 Greek art 41, 72, 134–47 Janko, Marcel 47
film 7, 16, 49, 60, 65, 209 (n. 224) grid 8, 14, 21, 27, 31–32, 35, 69–71, 72, 72–73, 75 Japan 32, 37, 106–8
’ cinema group 9, 24, 49, 52, 55–58, 62, 71, 210 (n. 248) Joachimides, Christos M. 66
Finkeldei, Marietheres 78, 80 ’ collective John Simon Guggenheim Memorial
five-year plan 36 ’ Gutai Group Foundation 72
flipbook 27 ’ kolkhoz Johns, Jasper 205 (n. 104)
Fluxfest Sale 53, 54, 186 ’ LEF Johnson, David 205 (n. 115)
Fluxfurniture ’ Maciunas, George: Modular ’ REF Johnson, Dennis 205 (n. 115)
Cabinets ’ SPUR Group Johnson, Ray 67, 77
Fluxhouse Cooperative Building Project 8, 10, ’ Zaj Group Jones, Joe 8
63, 77, 211 (n. 275) Gutai Group 61 Jones, Spike 55
Fluxkits 10, 36, 53, 53, 61 Jorn, Asger 204 (n. 91)
Fluxnewsletter 52, 57–58, 207 (n. 169) Habermas, Jürgen 29 journals 11
Fluxus News-Policy Letter 56–57, 207 (n. 169, Haiku 55 Art and Artists 81
174) Hainke, Wolfgang 78, 81 Aujourd'hui 72
Fluxus (concept) 9–10, 34–36, 38, 45–46, 45, Halprin, Ann 61 cc V TRE 57
48–49, 51–57, 60 handwriting 20, 32, 42, 50, 77, 81 Film Culture 53, 56
Fluxus archive 71, 210 ’ calligraphy Flash Art 59
Fluxus concerts 8, 49–50, 57, 60, 63, 70, 206 Hansen, Al 32 Fluxus 9, 205 (n. 112)
(n. 119) happening 47, 54–55, 60–61, 72–73, 76, 80, 205 Interfunktionen 207 (n. 159)
’ Après John Cage (n. 115), 207 (n. 159), 208 (n. 187) LEF 35
Fluxus festivals 45, 48–50, 57, 63, 201 (n. 2) ’ painting-happening Mécano 204
Flux Wedding 204 (n. 95) Hardt, Michael 33 Mercure de France 17
flyer 53–54, 56 Hausmann, Raoul 47–49 Novy LEF 35, 53
Flynt, Henry 56–57, 77, 206 (n. 139), 207 Hegel, G. W. F. 38
(n. 169), 211 (n. 269) Hendricks, Geoffrey 57, 209 (n. 210) Kalinin, Mikhail 49
forests – steppes 23–25 Hendricks, Jon 7–8, 11, 63, 205 (n. 111) Kamchatka Expedition 22
Forti, Simone 73 Heraclitus 49 Kant, Immanuel 32
Foster, Stephen C. 62–63 Heubach, Friedrich W. 207 (n. 159) Kaprow, Allan 32, 56, 77, 207 (n. 165)
France 106–10, 204 (n. 98) Higgins, Dick 9, 10, 32, 46–47, 55–57, 61, 71, 73, Khazars 24
Franks 42 77, 207 (n. 166) Khrushchev, Nikita S. 51, 206 (n. 150)
Friedlaender, Walter 37 Higgins, Hannah 207 (n. 174) Kievan State 24–25
Friedman, Ken 55–58 High Renaissance 42 Kirkeby, Per 55
functionalism 53, 61 Hindemith, Paul 203 (n. 81) Kirov, Sergey M. 36
futurism 29, 35, 46, 61, 67–68, 72, 205 (n. 115), Hirsch, Moritz 81, 84 kitsch 51
208 (n. 187) history painting 29 Klein, Yves 58, 206 (n. 143)
historiography 10, 13–14, 16, 28, 31–33, 38, 40 Kleines Sommerfest 45, 205 (n. 109, 111)
gag 55, 60 L'Honoré, François 15 Knížák, Milan 55, 77
’ humor Huelsenbeck, Richard 47, 67 Knowles, Alison 55–57, 77, 209 (n. 210)
Galerie Parnass, Wuppertal 44, 45–46, 45, 47, humor 36, 60–61 kolkhoz 36, 50
185 ’ gag ’ anti-individualism
galleries humor value 51 Køpcke, Arthur 55, 77, 208 (n. 175)
’ AG Gallery, New York Hungarians 24 Kostelanetz, Richard 76–77, 80, 211 (n. 272,
’ Galerie Parnass, Wuppertal Huns 37 275)
’ Maya Stendhal Gallery, New York Hutching, Billie ’ Maciunas, Billie Kosugi, Takehisa 49, 56–57
game 60–61, 66 hyperlink 20–21 Krasheninnikov, Stepan P. 22
garden spectacles 52 Krauss, Rosalind E. 63
Gauss, Karl F. 39 iconoclasm ’ Byzantine iconoclasm Krautheimer, Richard 204 (n. 98)
Gay, Edwin F. 38 Inber, Vera 36 Kubler, George 28, 51
genealogy 12, 13, 13, 15, 15, 42, 51, 56, 60–63, indeterminacy, indeterminism 46, 61, 205
62–63, 65, 75–76, 75–76, 80, 209 (n. 210) (n. 115) Lancelot, Antoine 16
’ ancestors individualism 49–50, 53, 71 land art 77
generation 14, 55, 57, 77, 207 (n. 166) industry 33, 35, 52, 115–20 Landsbergis, Vytautas 207 (n. 151)
geography, geographical 13–15, 20–28, 31–32, innovation 51, 62 language 65, 73, 77
37–38, 40 ’ new learning machine 8, 10–11, 13, 17, 72–73, 80,
’ map interface 33, 41 194, 210 (n. 253)
Georgel, Gaston 38 ’ chronology machine

LEF (Left Front of the Arts) 35, 53, 61 Time-Space Chart (German version of ’ Time Napoleon I 25
Novy LEF 35, 61 projected in 2 dim. space . . .) 44, 45–46, 45, narrative 22, 63, 73, 75, 80–81
Lennon, John 63, 209 (n. 255) 47, 54, 70, 185, 205 (n. 111) nation state 21, 29, 32, 50
lettrism 29 Mac Low, Jackson 32, 46, 49, 56–57, 77, 205 National Endowment for the Arts 73
Lévi-Strauss, Claude 27, 81 (n. 115), 207 (n. 174) natural events 52, 61
Lewes, James 57 Maderna, Bruno 49 Negri, Antoni 33
Ligeti, György 49 magnifying glass 81, 210 (n. 236) neoclassicism 42
linguistics 77 Magyars ’ Hungarians Neo-Dada 45–48, 47, 184, 205 (n. 104)
Linnaeus, Carolus 70, 70 mail art 67 network, networking 13, 65, 67–68, 70–71, 81,
liquidation list 58 Man Ray 60 210 (n. 238, 248)
list 8, 25, 42, 57–58, 65, 73, 80 manifesto 45–48, 47, 57, 61, 67, 185 ’ computer
list of names 49, 52–53, 55, 60, 73 Mao Zedong 55 new 51, 209 (n. 221)
literature 9, 33, 36, 45–46, 76 map (geography) 20, 20–21, 27, 34, 37, 76, 202 ’ innovation
Lithuania 25, 34, 203 (n. 76) (n. 50) ’ tradition
logic 65 Marinetti, Filippo T. 67–68 New Marlborough 210 (n. 249)
long tongue 204 (n. 91) Marx, Karl 36 New School for Social Research, New York 32,
Lussac, Olivier 80 Marx Brothers 56 203 (n. 81), 209 (n. 226)
Lysippus 41 Mathieu, Georges 61 New York City 74
Matsudaira, Yoriaki 7 New York Correspondence School 67
Maciunas, Billie (Hutching, Billie) 204 (n. 95), Maxfield, Richard 203 (n. 81) New York Public Library 209 (n. 204)
210 (n. 249) Maya Stendhal Gallery, New York (now: Stendhal New York University (Institute of Fine
Maciunas, George Gallery) 201 (n. 12) Arts) 37–38, 41, 72, 65, 204 (n. 96)
Atlas of Prehistoric Chinese Art 11, 37, 60, 204 Mayakovsky, Vladimir 35, 35, 53 News Gothic 28, 49
(n. 89) Mayor, David F. 59, 207 (n. 155) ’ typography
Atlas of Russian History 11, 18, 19–29, 26, McCarthyism 35 noise 61, 205 (n. 115)
33–34, 37–38, 50, 72, 86–105, 201 (n. 12), 202 McLuhan, Marshall 68, 71, 210 (n. 241) ’ sound
(n. 44, 50), 209 (n. 204) media theory 68, 210 (n. 241) nomadism, nomads 20, 24, 37, 49
Barr Chart 11, 76 Mekas, Jonas 56 ’ migration
Big Chart ’ Diagram of Historical Development Mendeleev, Dmitri I. 66, 66 ’ traveling
of Fluxus . . . Merovingians 42, 204 (n. 98) non-art 9–10, 46, 52, 61
Chronology: 1881–1934 27–29, 31–34, 37, 41, 75, metaphysical painting 41 ’ anti-art
106–10, 203 (n. 60), 211 (n. 269) migration 24, 27, 27, 37, 40, 67 non-concrete art 209 (n. 208)
Chronology of Russian History: 867–1950 27, 29, ’ nomadism
31–37, 41, 75, 121–32, 211 (n. 269) ’ traveling Ono, Yoko 9, 49, 77, 209 (n. 225)
Chronology of Russian History: 1896–1917 29, Miller, Larry 57, 209 (n. 210), 211 (n. 271) operative pictoriality 20
31–32, 34–35, 37, 41, 75, 111–14, 211 miniaturization 81, 211 (n. 285) Originale (Stockhausen) 56–57
(n. 269) ’ blowup Ortelius, Abraham 14
Chronology of Russian History: 1917–1934 29, ’ magnifying glass
31–35, 37, 41, 53, 75, 115–20, 211 (n. 269) Mitchell, W. J. T. 73, 75 Paik, Nam June 34, 44, 45–46, 45, 49, 53, 55,
Curriculum Plan 65–66, 196 modernism 10, 36, 42, 61–63, 76 56–57, 68, 73, 203 (n. 76), 205 (n. 105, 112),
Diagram of Historical Development of Moholy-Nagy, László 40, 40 207 (n. 151)
Fluxus . . . 11, 55–56, 58–59, 59, 60–63, 70, money 31, 36, 48, 50, 53, 59–60, 73, 205 (n. 111), painting-happening 61
72–73, 75, 77, 81, 81, 84, 190–93, 201 (n. 6), 208 (n. 193), 210 (n. 236) Panofsky, Erwin 37
208 (n. 187), 211 (n. 271, 276) ’ budget Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York 60
Diagram of History of the Avant-Garde 11, ’ economic interest Patterson, Ben 55–57, 77, 81, 84
72–73 ’ price Penderecki, Krzysztof 49
Excreta Fluxorum 71 Mongols 20, 24–25, 37 performance 9–10, 49, 58, 61, 80
Expanded Arts Diagram 53–57, 54, 59, 70–71, monomorphism, monomorphic 54, 60–61, 76 lecture performance 78, 81
80–81, 80–81, 186 ’ polymorophism periodic table of the elements 66, 66
Flux Toilet 8, 8, 70 montage 43, 204 (n. 89) Perriand, Charlotte 72, 72
Fluxus (Its Historical Development . . .) 49, Moore, Barbara 72–73, 202 (n. 44), 210 (n. 249) Pétau, Denis 16, 16
52–55, 52–53, 57, 70, 80–81, 80, 186, 207 Moore, Peter 73 Peter I 23, 25
(n. 153, 155, 162), 208 (n. 194) Morris, Robert 47, 77 photograph 37, 42, 72
Greek and Roman History of Art Chart 41, 72, Motherwell, Robert 61 physiology 65
72, 134–47, 204 (n. 100) Müller, Gerhard F. 22 Picabia, Francis 63
History of Art Chart 4, 6, 41–43, 53, 155–83 multimedia 55, 73 Piston, Walter 203 (n. 81)
History of Art Chart (incomplete) 29, 41, 53, ’ intermedia plane chart 21
204 (n. 101) multiple 57 poetry 33, 35, 45–48, 53, 68, 77, 115–20, 184–85,
History of Art 3 dimentional [sic] Chart 41, 43, museums 203 (n. 78)
53, 72, 204 (n. 102) Jonas Mekas Visual Arts Center, Vilnius 11, sound poetry 46
Learning Machine 65–66, 194 202 (n. 49), 204 (n. 89) visual poetry 76–77
Literate Man vs. Post-Literate-Man . . . 30 The Museum of Modern Art, New York 11, political culture 54
Modular Cabinets 72, 73 75 Pollock, Jackson 60
Notations for a Diagram 70, 76, 77, 198–99 Walker Art Center, Minneapolis 80 polymorphism, polymorphic 54, 60, 76
Notations for Sinusoidal Cycle 39–40, 39 music 9, 33, 35, 45–49, 55, 68, 76, 184–85, 205 ’ monomorphism
Notes on Art History 42, 42–43, 152–53 (n. 115) pop art 31, 51
Preliminary Unfinished Form of the Proposed experimental music 32, 61 pop music 63
Index Coordinate Graph 41, 53, 154, poster 2 harmony in music 203 (n. 81) postmodernism 10, 51, 68
Roman History of Art Chart 41, 148–51 ’ action music Pousette-Dart, Nathaniel 75, 75
Sketch(es) for a Fluxus Chart 60, 187–89 ’ anti-music Praxiteles 41
Space projected in time . . . 32, 46, 70, 184 ’ pop music price 22, 36, 53
System of Evaluation of Apex of Activity 40, 40, ’ sound ’ money
133 musicology 19, 65 Proletkult 35
Time projected in 2 dim. space . . . (’ Time-Space prose 33, 35, 53, 76, 115–20, 203 (n. 78)
Chart) 32, 46–47, 70, 184–85, 205 (n. 115) psychology 65, 67

publishing houses spatial practice 34, 50 Vikings 24
Kalejdoskop, Åhus 59, 201 (n. 6) Spoerri, Daniel 73 Vilnius 49
Multhipla, Milan 59 sport 60 Visigoths, Visigothic 41–42
SPUR Group 58 visualization 10–11, 13–14, 16, 20, 70, 76–77, 81
rayonism 209 (n. 208) Stalin, Joseph 19, 36 Vogt, Joseph 38
ready-made 52 Stalinism 203 (n. 78) vorticism 42
realism 51 Steller, Georg W. 22 Vostell, Wolf 47, 54, 74, 75
realistic art 51, 206 (n. 147) Stendhal, Harry 202 (n. 49)
’ Socialist Realism Stockhausen, Karlheinz 56 Wagner, Richard 55
rear-garde 59 style 29, 40, 40, 42–43, 51, 77 Wagnerism 55, 60
’ avant-garde sun stone ’ Aztec calendar Walsh, William H. 73
Red Guards 54–55 suprematism 209 (n. 208) Watts, Robert 8, 49, 52, 55–56, 61, 77
REF (Revolutionary Front of the Arts) 61 surrealism 58, 61, 67–68, 72, 208 (n. 182, 187) Westernism 26–27, 34, 36
Reinhardt, Ad 42, 75–76, 75 symbol 14, 15, 21, 28, 201 (n. 17) ’ Slavophilism
Restany, Pierre 43, 61, 80, 204 (n. 101) Whitman, Robert 47
revolutions Tagliacozzo, Giorgio 209 (n. 226) Wiesbaden 74
’ Great Cultural Revolution Tartars 20, 24–25, 37 Wilhelm, Jean-Pierre 46, 51, 206 (n. 150)
’ Russian Revolution television 60, 65 Williams, Emmett 36, 55–58, 62, 71, 77, 81, 81,
Richter, Hans 47 theater / theatre 35, 41, 45–49, 47–48, 76–77, 84, 211 (n. 276)
Ripa, Cesare 15 184–85, 205 (n. 115) Wölfflin, Heinrich 75
Roman art 41, 72, 72, 134–51 acoustic theatre 55 Wood, Denis 201 (n. 13)
Roman circus 60 baroque theatre 52, 55 World War I 32, 48
Römer, Stefan 202 (n. 50) baroque multi-media spectacle 55 World War II 33–34, 67, 70
Rosenberg, Harold 51 futurist theatre 61
Russia 19–29, 32, 34, 37, 203 (n. 76) kinesthetic theatre 55 Young, La Monte 47, 53, 56, 77
Russian history ’ Maciunas, George: kinetic theatre 55
Chronologies neo-baroque theatre 54–55, 76 Zaj Group 73
’ Siberia neo-haiku theatre 54–55, 76 Zen 34, 55, 60, 68, 209 (n. 204)
’ USSR verbal theatre 54–55, 76
Russian-American Company 16 theory 9, 34, 36, 68–69
Russian Revolution 29, 34–36, 49, 202 (n. 44) three-dimensional diagram 32, 35, 43, 72, 80,
Russolo, Luigi 61 204 (n. 102)
three-dimensional system of information 27,
Saint Paul 62 29, 43, 65, 72, 209 (n. 227), 210 (n. 253)
Saito, Takako 8, 57 time 14, 22–23, 28–29, 31–32, 38–42, 46, 73,
Salcius, Almus 60 184–85
Salmony, Alfred 37, 204 (n. 88, 91) ’ space
Sankt Petersburg 22, 25 time arts 29, 32, 45–47
Sanouillet, Michel 61, 61 ’ space arts
Schmit, Tomas 55–57, 68, 205 (n. 111) timeline 13, 17, 28–29, 38, 52, 54, 81
Schoenberg, Arnold 203 (n. 81) Tolstoy, Aleksey N. 36
Schwitters, Kurt 46, 61 tongue ’ long tongue
Scythians 20, 24 Torres-García, Joaquín 20
sensationalism 55, 60 tradition 35, 51, 55, 62
sense of possibility 33 traveling 25, 50, 60, 62
Shakespeare 208 educational trips 50
Sharits, Paul 8 professional traveling 70
Shelekhov, Grigory I. 22 ’ internationalism
Shelley, Ward 81, 82–83 Tufte, Edward 28
Sherman, Stuart P. 73 Turks 24, 37
Shiomi, Mieko (Chieko) 58 two eyes of history 14
Sholokhov, Mikhail A. 36 typewriter 28, 53, 56, 72
Siberia 22, 50 typography 23, 28, 35, 41, 48–49, 65
Silverman, Gilbert 11, 57 ’ graphic design
Silverman, Lila 11, 57 ’ News Gothic
simultaneity 55, 61 Tzara, Tristan 48, 58, 68
sinusoidal cycle 39–40, 39
Slave Pianos 78, 80 Ungers, Oswald 72, 72
Slavophilism 26–27, 34 urban development 10, 63, 77
’ Westernism USA 32, 34, 46–47, 49, 106, 110, 205 (n. 115)
Socialist Realism 51 U.S. Army 50, 60
society of control 81 user 17
Sohm, Hanns 58, 71, 73, 210 (n. 249) USSR 19, 21, 29, 34–35, 37, 49–51
SoHo 10 breakup of the USSR 207 (n. 151)
sound 49, 62, 206 (n. 150) ’ Russia
sound collages 62
’ intonarumori Valaitis, Nijole 211 (n. 269)
’ music Van der Grinten, Franz J. 49
’ noice Van der Grinten, Hans 49, 77
’ poetry Varèse, Edgard (Edgar) 46, 205 (n. 115)
space 14, 20, 24, 28–29, 31–33, 40, 46, 75, vaudeville 55–56, 61
184–85 Vautier, Ben 50, 52, 64, 73, 77, 206 (n. 143)
’ time Versailles 52, 55
space arts 29, 45–47 Vertov, Dziga 49
’ time arts Vietnam War 63

Astrit Schmidt-Burkhardt, Department of History and Cultural Studies, Free University, Berlin, Germany.

Astrit Schmidt-Burkhardt, Maciunas’ Learning Machines, 1st edition / Originally published by the Gilbert and
Lila Silverman Fluxus Collection, Detroit, in association with Vice Versa Verlag © 2003 / Vice Versa Verlag /
Berlin, Germany.

This work is subject to copyright.

All rights are reserved, whether the whole or part of the material is concerned, specifically those of trans-
lation, reprinting, re-use of illustrations, broadcasting, reproduction by photocopying machines or similar
means, and storage in data banks.

Product Liability: The publisher can give no guarantee for all the information contained in this book.
The use of registered names, trademarks, etc. in this publication does not imply, even in the absence of
a specific statement, that such names are exempt from the relevant protective laws and regulations and
therefore free for general use.

© 2011 Springer-Verlag/Wien
© 2011 Astrit Schmidt-Burkhardt
Printed in Austria

SpringerWienNewYork is part of
Springer Science+Business Media

All reproductions of George Maciunas’ works are printed courtesy of Billie J. Maciunas.

All reproduced charts and diagrams, unless otherwise mentioned, are from The Museum of Modern Art,
New York, The Gilbert and Lila Silverman Fluxus Collection Gift.

Cover illustrations: George Maciunas, [Chronology of Russian History: 1917–1934 (Industry / Agriculture / Budget /
Poetry / Prose)] (detail), c. 1953–54. Ink and graphite on lined paper, several sheets glued together,
41.8 × 39.5 × 11.8 cm (max.).

This book includes two posters:

George Maciunas, [Chronology of Russian History: 1917–1934 (Industry / Agriculture / Budget / Poetry / Prose)],
c. 1953–54.
George Maciunas, Preliminary Unfinished Form of the Proposed Index Coordinate Graph, c. 1955–60.

Editor: Gerti Fietzek

Translation: Bronwen Saunders,
Copy editor: Greg Bond,
Photographs (unless otherwise acknowledged): Herman Seidl,
Graphic design: Knut Bayer,
Printing: Holzhausen Druck GmbH, 1140 Wien

Printed on acid-free and chlorine-free bleached paper

SPIN: 12551613

With 224 figures

Library of Congress Control Number: 2011920813

ISBN 978-3-7091-0479-8 SpringerWienNewYork

Poster 1: George Maciunas, [Chronology of Russian History: 1917–1934 (Industry / Agriculture / Budget / Poetry / Prose)],
c. 1953–54. Ink and graphite on lined paper, several sheets taped together, 41.8 × 39.5 × 11.8 cm (max.). The Museum
of Modern Art, New York (The Gilbert and Lila Silverman Fluxus Collection Gift). © Courtesy of Billie J. Maciunas
(photograph: Herman Seidl). This poster is published with Astrit Schmidt-Burkhardt, Maciunas’ Learning Machines:
From Art History to a Chronology of Fluxus, second, revised and enlarged edition (Vienna and New York: Springer, 2011).
Poster 2: George Maciunas, Preliminary Unfinished Form of the Proposed Index Coordinate Graph, c. 1955–60. Ink, red
felt-tip ink, and graphite on lined paper, 6 sheets originally taped together, 50.6 × 54.6 cm. The Museum of Modern
Art, New York (The Gilbert and Lila Silverman Fluxus Collection Gift). © Courtesy of Billie J. Maciunas (photograph:
­Herman Seidl). This poster is published with Astrit Schmidt-Burkhardt, Maciunas’ Learning Machines: From Art
History to a Chronology of Fluxus, second, revised and enlarged edition (Vienna and New York: Springer, 2011).

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