Take a look at this youtube vide on Ray Johnson's "what is a moticos"?
Could a Haapening have any relevance today? Thinking about the social media, and its ability to mobilize peole. Are we now to apathetic to be mobilized into action other than posting on our phone or computer,anything beyond flashmob. Like the fluxus movement, this seems to be more about an event that was more for and about the performers, moreso than audience.
Life is messy and non-linear. We meander. Two steps forward, one step back. Turn. One step forward, two steps back. Stumble. Try again. Ten steps forward, never look back. Start over.
And so it goes.
However, the art world historically reflects something completely separate from real life: Idealism. Perfection. Utopia. These disconnects are what spurred the art movements known as the Futurists, Dadaist, and Fluxists, as they challenged both the cultural art domain (juries, curators, critics) and their audiences alike, forcing them to consider art that was noisy, unpracticed, and unperfected. More like real life.
Learning about these movements has expanded my view about personal ability to make art. I recognize that I’ve been clinging to a few ideals of my own. I’ve often considered myself at a disadvantage in this program because I have no skilled art training; this has been my ‘reality.’ I’ve allowed this void to hold me back from pursuing certain ideas or projects that I consider because I simply don’t know how to do them.
But the sentiments of these art movements, and in particular, George Macuinas's "Manifesto on Art/Fluxus Art Amusement" offer content that causes me to ruminate. In part, his manifesto states:
Comfort! Relief! Anticipation! Zing! Zwompf! Pow!
Like all matter in the universe, I’m in a state of flux. Flowing, shifting, morphing, expanding, changing. It’s time to start meandering through art production. Two steps forward, one step back. Turn. One step forward, two steps back. Stumble. Try again. Ten steps forward, never look back, working on art that reflects the web that connects us all in its endless permutations, twists, turns, and baffling contradictions.
This is a video made by a group in the UK. Their intention was to make a fluxus video that combines reenactments of well known fluxus performances from the 60's. There is some criticism that it is too "over done" to be truly fluxus. Either way, it is interesting. It also makes me want to figure out which parts match original performances. Anyway, here it is. (Hopefully this works)
Tried to embed, but had to resort to a link instead.
Although Merce Cunningham, Ann Van den Broek and Meredith Monk seem to have similar avant garde multi-media and/or intermedia work, each artist is unique and independent of each other, and remain true to the spirit of avant-garde intentions. Cage had an impact on all three artists, primarily Cunningham, since they worked together professionally and personally for fifty years. Cage's theories on music and creativity seemed to have slowly seeped into these artists looking to explore outside the boundaries of their disciplines. It takes a boldness to continue to explore the Fluxus and experimental ideas. Although the Avant-Garde seemed confined to the cities and academic institutions, this group's impact is still prevalent in contemporary artist's work as Monks and Van de Broek.
Monk, Van de Broek and Cunningham used multi-media, intermedia and then multimedia again which for me represents the transformation of these states in many of their work. I have watched videos of each of these artist's work and can see Cage and the Fluxus influence in their intent and products. Its extraordinary how well known these artists are in the US major cities, academia, global arena. Cage and Cunningham made an impact on artists since the 60s, but outside of these pockets, these artists are still a foreign entity.
Merce Cunningham was quoted in one of my recent articles on Fluxus artists as one of the most consistent artists to adhere to the Fluxus criteria of chance and intermedia. His work was considered 'baffling and beautiful' at the same time. His dance work embraced just the movement as stated in the following excerpt:
His work questioned the essence of dance,“What interests me is movement,” Cunningham said in a 2005 interview with Bloomberg News. “Not movement that necessarily refers to something else, but is just what it is. Like when you see somebody or an animal move, you don’t have to know what it’s doing.”
I like that I am off the hook to find meaning. I can relax and just watch for the movement alone. I found the lack of meaning comforting. We are always thinking there is a right answer for everything and when there is no answer, its even better. The next excerpt indicates how the audience was tested by his work.
Cunningham never made things easy for his audience. His dances shunned narrative and character. They were simply about dynamic human bodies moving in space. Occasionally the work assaulted the spectator. The 1964 “Winterbranch,” with its Sisyphean movement, its darkened stage from which lights shone full blast into the viewers’ eyes and its abrasive La Monte Young score had people exiting the theater in droves.
I am not sure I would be able to make the grade after being assaulted by lights. Audiences had to endure and be patient, and I think that in our fast-paced society this would be an additional challenge.
Cage collaborated with artists, Warhol, Rauschenberg, Stella, mixing up the media and dancers. The following excerpt provides a glimpse into these forays:
“Summerspace” (1958), with its dancers streaming past Rauschenberg’s pointillist backdrop in leotards that match it; the exuberantly athletic “How to Pass, Kick, Fall and Run” (1965); “RainForest” (1968), where the dancers move like jungle creatures among Warhol’s silvery helium-lofted pillows; “Sounddance” (1975), which seems to launch its performers into a violent intergalactic world; “Points in Space” (1986-1987), which takes its title from Einstein's declaration that there are no fixed points in space; and “Ocean” (1994), a magisterial piece that has its dancers framed by concentric rings -- the spectators and, behind them, the musicians.
He described “Ocean” this way in a November 2008 interview with Bloomberg’s Muse TV: “It’s like being in a bath of sound, because it comes from every source around you. In doing it, you find out something else about dance, something that you never thought of before. I always look forward to seeing what that will be.”
I love the last line in this quote. Chance is a major element in his work and even he has no idea what it will become in each production.
In creating a dance, Cunningham sometimes turned to the “I Ching,” the Chinese system based on rolling dice. Injecting an element of chance into his work, he said, expanded his choreographic choices that might otherwise be limited by habit. Zen philosophy, with its emphasis on the present moment, and a keen sensitivity to nature also informed his work.
I like that he also did his dances in site specific locations. Change and chance were the cornerstones of both Cage and Cunningham's work, and the I Ching was used as a template. Cage has conjectured that the purpose of his work was not to bring order out of chaos but to embrace the chaos and live it.
The following two internet sites show the Merce Cunningham dance troupe on You Tube.
The first piece is called Mercat de la Flors, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGU2QQpQlD8
This is a site specific dance in a public building. The dancers are in red leotards and the music is like clanging barges on a port. The dancer's light movements clash with the harsh sounds. Although the dancers are all dancing isolated movements, there is symmetry in the entire piece- which is probably why it is successful.
The next Cunningham dance, Nearly Ninety, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wpV5ZY9N-bg&feature=related is a dynamic production on a stage with enormous screens overpowering the dancers. The images on the screen are huge industrial platforms or machines The music plays to the images- discordant sounds and the movements reacting to the sounds. Cunningham would have had all the players in a performance work in isolation until the rehearsal. So improv, adaptability and flexibility of thought was an essential element leaving a lot to chance.
John Cage's music portrayed the inner sounds of the mind or everyday sounds of life. Sort of playing with the duality in life and sound perception. Cage's ruminations with perception and sound is similar to Meredith Monk's work on music. Monk's piece, Dolmen Music for 6 voices and percussion (1979) www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNacNzhcNZI is haunting and far beyond any a cappella I have heard. The performers seemed to be listening to each other then answering each other back in pure voices. I did not think I would like it, but I really did. It was relaxing and hypnotic, taking me to a medieval environment. The performers just performed noises, clear clear notes. I am not sure if it was intermedia or multi-media, yet since it was a performance, based on criteria and several elements, I am leaning towards intermedia. Monk's vocal innovations have been coined as her extended techniques, which extends to Cage and his forays into random sounds and methods.
The next Monk piece is called the Book of Days, (1988) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMFLct2laqw
It starts off literally with a blast in a colored brick wall and moving to a black and white performance from the Middle Ages. Its a combination performance, song, dance, opera and mythic drama. The performance seems like a morality play of deep, dark cultural secrets against the rhythm of a children's song. There are contrasting emotions working to form this strange past and future piece somewhere in an isolated world where the two realities converge.
The last artist I would like to highlight is Ann Van de Broek. Van de Broek is a Flemish/Dutch artist who has truly been a cutting edge dance choreographer and performance artist. In the following art piece entitled Co(te)lette,(2007) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJWYYa7nu6o&feature=endscreen&NR=1 she teams up with the American director, Mike Figgs who filmed this performance. The interesting thing is how he creates an audience and how the audience is forced or not to participate in this performance. This work is very edgy, physically and emotionally demanding for the dancers and the audience. The official synopsis states:
THE CO(TE)LETTE FILM is Mike Figgis' cinematographic adaptation of the dance performance by Ann Van den Broek.
Women and flesh, beauty and perishableness, raw and fragile. A delirious desire overwhelms the dancers. A desire for physical and mental satisfaction. The dancers go from appeal to sensuality, over lust, fleshness, fame, success, reflection and control, to silence. They are slaves of their own desires while trying to get in control of them. Female bodies in a frenzy.
In THE CO(TE)LETTE FILM, three female dancers are shown in a rather intimate atmosphere, in a chicken-and-egg situation between desire and satisfaction. There is no confrontation, nor rivalry. No story-telling, no solution and no ending. Co(te)lette's story is restless and... empty.
The dance and the way it is filmed feels voyeuristic and personal at the same time. A dualism of toughness and glamour. The women are naked and bruised, and as the Los Angeles Times wrote it was “55 minutes of an unrelenting portrait of nakedness and erotica”. Ann Van de Broek stated that:
I am also inspired by contemporary society: a sign of the times, a recent phenomenon or a universal motif. In that sense, my work is also a critical reaction or rebelling against things that go unquestioned, are ignored or are generally assumed to be the norm. I feel the need to fight against conformity. However, this does not mean that there is a clear political, social or ideological message in my work.... "Co(te)lette," — literally "a piece of meat" — was also inspired by French feminist writer Colette.I have never intended to make a loud statement. It is only a subtle undertone in my work. These behavior patterns, impressions, signs of the times and phenomena from my surroundings are the basis of the core concept of every new production and each time they are linked to the general underlying themes that are characteristic of my work: restlessness, struggle, resistance, compulsion/control, fanaticism, nihilism and activity/passivity.
Music and sound play an integral part in the creative process of the choreography.
Through my work and characteristic dance idiom, I want to touch people, to make them think. I allow room for doubt and interpretation for the spectator, as well as for me. Everyday activities are placed in a new context: movement and dance. the selected core concept to movement is done through an in-depth and broad analysis. You could call this process a clinical analysis.
This piece by Van de Broek seems initially like a multi-media work until Figgis adds another element of film and the work takes on another dimension. The oblique angles. The birds-eye view and intimate views juxtaposing the audience's emotions. The film is startling in capturing the raw energy of the dancers against the stillness of the audience. The work is transformed into an intermedia performance that fuses all the elements into 55 minutes of three women dancers. Although Van de Broek's work is not a clear extension of Cage, Cunningham and Monk, the intention is worthy of the Fluxus. The elements and everyday activities that propel the themes and stories. Although this work seems to have definite themes, it is very abstracted so not one message is directed. Each audience participant extracts the meaning of this dance in the context of their persona.
When I think of Cage I see how he provided the fodder for Cunningham, Monk and Van de Broek. They found the elements in his work to transform into their own work. The work of all these artists encompass a certain boldness of spirit and a challenge to the viewer. I was surprised how accessible the work was for a lay person like me. I somehow got the sense I would have to study more stuff to understand the intentions and final products. I thought it would be difficult to discern the good, bad and the ugly of avant-garde work if one was a novice audience participant. I think you just have to take it as it comes and intuit each piece- that was probably the intent.
Wed, 18 Oct 2000 05:03:10 -0700
Tue, 17 Oct 2000 23:33:47 -0700
March 17, 2010 | 1:30 pm
HANOI -- Every night in this city of 10 million people crammed into a super-thick urban stew is an amazing display of color and noise, of dirt and mysterious glamour. As always, swirling, swerving motorbikes define the movement.
On Friday night, some of those Vespas and Hondas and cheap Chinese knockoffs scooted over to L’Espace, a French cultural center near the Metropole Hotel, the elegant gathering place of French intellectuals and artists in the Indochine era. L'Espace advertised, among other attractions, “video, am nhac thu nghiem va body painting.”
At first, three discreetly covered slender models tottered self-consciously on very high heels. Seated at a table was Vu Nhat Tan, Vietnam’s leading avant-garde composer, there to provide an electronica background as Phuong Vu Manh began to systematically apply a wash of color to each model -- one red, one blue, one green. Along with a player of the dan bau (the wonderfully whiny one-stringed Vietnamese instrument) and two singers, Tan gradually built a wall of elaborately inventive sound while Manh elaborately decorated his ladies into "Avatar"-like beings.
It was a happening. A sizable audience of hip art types and gawking adolescent boys crowded the gallery and drank beer or gin-and-tonics. This kind of performance/installation is not uncommon in art centers around the world, but here such freedom of expression is relatively new. And Hanoi may be the only place where you can follow experimental art with dinner in a snake restaurant -- where the pulsating snake heart is brought to the table as an appetizer, which is, for the squeamish, just about the most shocking performance art there is.
Arts-world assists for new music are nothing new. American avant-garde music, for instance, pretty much began with John Cage’s New York debut concert at the Museum of Modern Art in 1943. Minimalist composers may never have gotten off the ground without the help of sympathetic Manhattan art galleries in SoHo during the '60s.
Now it’s Hanoi’s turn. Over the past week, while following the Pasadena-based Southwest Chamber Music’s Ascending Dragon Music Festival in Vietnam, I’ve gotten a glimpse of how Hanoi is striving to become a modern art center. This is a developing city which after long years of wars, deprivation and political insulation has only in the past two decades come out of the artistic cold. And not until the late 1990s, when the Internet became widespread, have musicians here had access to recent musical developments elsewhere.
The Southwest cultural exchange brings American and Vietnamese composers together for the first time on a significant scale. In the formal Hanoi concerts thus far, Vietnamese and American musicians have enthusiastically collaborated in John Cage’s “Atlas Eclipticalis,” a disembodied music of the spheres, and Toru Takemitsu’s “Archipelago S.” Both sounded marvelous in the acoustically vibrant small concert at the Vietnam National Academy of Music.
But since the academy emphasizes traditional music (be it Western or Vietnamese), audiences here tend to be incurious even about their own masterful senior composers -- the eloquently Buddhist Ton That Tiet and the flamboyantly original Nguyen Thien Dao -- who now live in France and are seldom performed in their homeland.
If Southwest has been giving a gentle nudge to the academy to think beyond Bach, Beethoven and Chopin, three composers who are particularly revered here (as are the Russians), it has been nudging elsewhere in town as well. The galleries are an easier sell for new music, whether foreign-sponsored venues such as L’Espace and the Goethe Institute, or smaller, edgier local galleries that have a more underground vibe and occasionally hold concerts, new music or rock, that suit their mildly subversive agenda.
Southwest, however, held a reception Wednesday night at the graceful, upscale Thang Long (Dragon) Gallery in the chaotic Old Quarter. A crowd munching on watermelon and French pastries heard an art historian and critic, Bui Nhu Huong, describe how Vietnamese modern art is so diversified that just about anything goes, be it decorative, landscape or something more contemporary.
Amid Buddhas, seductive nudes and Cubist sculpture, Tan (who is turning out to be a composer of a many intriguing sides and who is ready for major international recognition) led an inspired improvisation with four Southwest players. Tan’s instruments this time were three Vietnamese wooden flutes, and he began by playing slow, meditative tones. Violinist Shalini Vijayan, cellist Peter Jacobson, bassist Tom Peters and percussionist Lynn Vartan provided soulfully appropriate responses, until Jacobson had had enough and jazzed things up. A rhythmic dance came out of nowhere and rocked the gallery.
But nothing could quite match another kind of happening the previous night. America’s ambassador to Vietnam, Michael W. Michalak, invited the American and Vietnamese players and composers to his handsome residence, which is decorated with Asian art and paintings by Christopher Cousins, a Californian. And there Vartan performed Cage’s “Child of Tree.” Written for plant material, the score thrives on local vegetation, and Vartan managed to come up an indigenous cactus, which she amplified and on which she went to town.
The ambassador seemed to think this was one of the coolest things he had ever heard. Perhaps he was just being a good sport. But if Southwest really did win over an American politician with “Child of Tree,” then I have little doubt the Vietnamese resistance will have met its match.
-- Mark Swed
above from: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/culturemonster/2010/03/southwest-chamber-musics-further-adventures-in-hanoi-.html