Fluxus via Beck

Sometimes it's surprising how a random search, a click, a series of intriguing words can lead to an unexpected place. This is what led me to discover the Fluxus Movement, oddly enough, by way of recording artist Beck.

I've always been a Beck fan (saw him live once in Vegas) and decided to find out if that rumor -- the one where Beck is purportedly the older brother of the all-in-the-family, teeny-"mmm-bopper" group Hanson -- is actually true. As it turns out, he's not a Hanson brother although his surname is Hansen (tiny difference there, eh, like the difference between Swedes and Norwegians). Beck is, however, the progeny of a quietly heralded but influential artistic family.

Chicago Gat by Al Hansen, 1966
Hershey bar wrappers, painted wood, 11 3/4 x 11 3/4
photo credit: banffcentre.ca

Beck's grandfather, Al Hansen, while not credited as a co-founder, was one of the early artists to join George Maciunas, who is credited as the founder, in establishing and disseminating the essential vibe of the largely "d.i.y." Fluxus movement. Beyond that, Beck has said that his grandfather Al was a talented jive-talker and who better to spout-off, in slick but sometimes archaic, street-wise lingo, the virtues of this new, experimental movement. Until recently, Allen Bukoff, a founding member himself, was the most active mouthpiece for Fluxus; check the "Dear Fluxus" link below to find out if that's still the case.

To define Fluxus is a bit tricky; not even the founders could really tell you what it was (is). Good ol' Wikipedia describes the beginnings of the movement in terms of "event scores and Fluxus boxes" the latter of which were diorama-type assemblages of found materials (nothing too complex allowed -- no gold leaf, Gustav!). They may also have simply pointed to the top of a building just as a grand piano was sent careening to an explosive death by gravity. However it looked or sounded or felt, most agree that Fluxus was riding a wave that composer John Cage set in motion with his avant-garde works on mysterious, invented instruments. So, you see, looking into Fluxus becomes a kind of Pandora's Box -- watch out below!

photo credit: museum.mit.edu

You can easily find out more about the Fluxus Movement if you only try:

Audio interview ca. 1977 with Allen Bukoff & George Maciunas -- fascinating, bizarre ramblings from the founders themselves.

The Manifesto is here and now and has been since Maciunas birthed it in 1963.

Fluxus' home in the 21st century.

Dear Fluxus open letter to "the founders" -- Bukoff is off and done and gone according to these only slightly cynical, severely scathing sentiments! Please, let us not grow old and bitter.

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