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Colin Marshall

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25. Eric Andersen's Opus 74 Version 2 (1966)
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Though Ubuweb offers no description specific to Opus 74, it comes as one of a collection of 37 short Fluxus films generously hosted there. But you dare cut me off right away with a question: "What's a Fluxus film?" Please enjoy the following blockquote:

"Starting in the early sixties, Fluxus followed in the footsteps of the Futurist and Dada avant-gardes, going against the established grain of Fine Art and Official Art and promoting imposture as an aesthetic dimension.

Fluxus interdisciplinary aesthetic brings together influences as diverse as Zen, science, and daily life and puts them to poetic use. Initially received as little more than an international network of pranksters, the playful artists of Fluxus were, and remain, a network of radical visionaries who sought to reconcile art with life.

These films (some of which were meant to be screened as continuous loops) were shown as part of the events and happenings of the New York avant-garde."

Of Andersen himself -- and, contra the many spelling variations around, the name seems to be c-Eric e-Andersen, not k-Erik and/or o-Anderson -- little information is available. Despite the impressive number of references listed below his Wikipedia entry, it's one of the oddest stubs I've read:

"Born in Antwerp 1940. Living in Copenhagen, Denmark. One of the first Fluxus artists. If the anti-art label can be attributed to anyone it's Eric Andersen. He tries through his actions and neologisms to disorientate the public as much as possible.

Andersen was often a guest in the former East Block countries. In 1966, he held a three-day event in Prague with the Fluxus artists Tomas Schmit and Milan Knízák. Those have been the first Fluxus events in Czechoslovakia. In Poland he exhibited in Galeria Akumulatory 2 in Poznan and in the Galeria Potocka in Krakow."

Despite how often I hear it name-checked, I admit to knowing shamefully little about the Fluxus group/movement/collective/aesthetic/sensibility/philosophy/whathaveyou, much less the specific place of Eric Andersen within it. So why not harness the awesome power of Internet to figure it out? The right time seems certainly to have come.

The Wikipedia claims, right off the bat, that Fluxus people were interested in "Neo-Dada" noise music (choice) and visual art (choice), literature (choice), urban planning (choice), architecture (choice indeed) and design (choice). Choicer still, they seem to have been into punching holes in the walls between those pursuits. "Interdisciplinary" has today met the sad end of the academic buzzword, but perhaps the concept itself held more credibility in the sixties, when Fluxus had its heyday.

Fluxus had roots in Europe, but, surprisingly for a Western artitude (as distinct from a "Raditude"), it grew out to Japan as well. This is perhaps just a representation of Fluxus' internal variety: it contained not just a wider artistic spectrum but a wider biological one. It claimed the membership of a lot more womenfolk than usual, for example.

These are the listed planks of Fluxus, some of which contradict the foregoing:

1. Fluxus is an attitude. [Again, see also "Raditude".] It is not a movement or a style.
2. Fluxus is intermedia. Fluxus creators like to see what happens when different media intersect. They use found and everyday objects, sounds, images, and texts to create new combinations of objects, sounds, images, and texts.
3. Fluxus works are simple. The art is small, the texts are short, and the performances are brief.
4. Fluxus is fun. Humour [sic] has always been an important element in Fluxus.

Eric Andersen's Opus 74 Version 2 has, I would to some degree argue, all these qualities. At one minute, 40 seconds, it unambiguously brings the brevity. What images it presents appear to be not original from the piece but "found" from other sources, some seemingly of the everyday. It does this with simplicity, only displaying those images unadorned and in a linear sequence. "Fun" mileage varies wildly from person to person, I realize, but did I have it? Yes indeed.

For a solid 1:19 of the film, white-on-black titles flash by, announcing the following:
FLUX
FILM
NO.
19
©
by
FLUXUS
1966

OPUS
74

ERIC ANDERSEN
Then we get a dizzying array of pictures that are pretty much unreadable without a finger hovering at all times over the pause button. I can pick out a pair of boots, shelves of books, vases, knotholes, spotlights, catatonic-looking people in spotlights, typewriters (maybe)... but by repeatedly freezing the fast-paced flipping to see what I can identify, aren't I just totally defeating the purpose of the film?



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