Thirty Years of Fluxing Around - Cecil Touchon 2005
There are those things which artists often do as their ‘serious work’ and then there are all of the other things they do when they are playing and messing around in the studio or when hanging out with other artists. That range of other things tends to be fluxus-like in nature. More concept based, experimental, contemplative, humorous, and expressed in a kind of private short hand. When translated into a more public language you have work that may appear unfinished, tentative, and with a lot of open ended and very loose ends.
I think of this kind of art making as more conversational than lecture-like in nature, more private, informal, ephemeral and downright immaterial. This kind of art activity is the product of a shared mercurial mind world where unfettered creativity, lucid imagination and the immediate cognition of a deeply intuitive mind are of the greatest value.
I think this is why some like to relate Fluxus to Zen. I think Zen has a strong interest in this same range of mental activity in search of those moments of creative release and intuitive cognition of the spiritual world – a more fluid state that we are normally not cognizant of. Not that I can claim to know anything about Zen or for that matter Fluxus.
A lot of the well known Fluxsters are well known in part because of their interest in performance, theatre and experimental music/sound. These things tend to be done live and in public via scheduled performances, festivals and the like.
I am primarily a visual artist. While I have engaged in the occasional performance, they have always been in the form of a personal ritual accomplished for my own internal reasons and have required no one other than myself as their witness with the location usually being my studio or out in nature.
It was never my fortune or misfortune to ever meet up with any well known Fluxus people in person. I have never been that interested. I have never been very interested in meeting anybody that didn’t find their way naturally into my life. Artists are happy to admire and interact from afar and across time and with the internet we are able to interact right in the contemporary moment with each other all over the world.
So anything of mine that could be regarded as Fluxus-like over the years was developed in relative isolation until coming across the fluxlist gang on the internet around 1998-99. When I did I was amazed to find a family of people still working who shared a very strong affinity with my way of seeing the world.
I spend a lot of time with Fluxus after that and was especially moved by Ken Friedman’s amazingly clear headed way of looking at things. He may or may not be altogether right in all of his ideas – I really couldn’t say - but he is definitely clear headed about them and you have to admire that. I consider him an inspiration in my work since about the year 2000.
My main Fluxus-like activities since that time are in the realm of collage poetry and collage sound works. I have also been compiling early works that fit the fluxus profile that go back to as early as 1975 meaning that this year 2005 represents a thirty year mark.
Aside from these things, a broader activity of mine has been working to short circuit the idea that an art movement has a beginning, middle and end usually of a very short duration and involving a very small circle of associates. With the internet and mass communication I do not believe that movements have such a cut and dry history or that they involve so few people.
I notice that things, especially ideas and the influence of objects that contain ideas, live in a continuum and spread like a virus into the minds of artists all over the world and across many generations. I do not believe historians want to deal with the fact that all art movements are still being played out by whatever artists decide to embody them. This spread across barriers I think is especially notable in Fluxus history with its use of an international mail network and the continued life and influence Fluxus clearly still has on the current internet generation.
Art, since it is not fashion that is here today and gone tomorrow, moves in large multi generational waves and any artist is, at any given time, a conduit for one or several artistic trends. Artists embody the ideas that are still being played out and the tug is always between fresh, new adaptation and a love of nostalgic regress. Both have their place and should be experienced as pleasantly coexisting impulses.
So, as the old Fluxus starts to dry out a bit and wrinkle, new blood should feel free to pick up anything anywhere and continue happily along. Let no one stop you, time is a sharp blade, the field always remains freshly plowed.