Note: If you see this text you use a browser which does not support usual Web-standards. Therefore the design of Media Art Net will not display correctly. Contents are nevertheless provided. For greatest possible comfort and full functionality you should use one of the recommended browsers.

Themesicon: navigation pathOverview of Media Articon: navigation pathPerformance
Action Lecture (Weibel, Peter), 1968YOU (Vostell, Wolf), 196424 Stunden Happening (Paik, Nam June; Moorman, Charlotte), 1965
Robot K-456 (Paik, Nam June), 1965Traitor, you left fluxus (Postkarte an Nam June Paik) (Paik, Nam June), 1964

icon: previous page

The intention was to transfer art, as a disruptive factor, into life, and vice versa. In London in 1966, for instance, Gustav Metzger organized the noted «Destruction in Art Symposion,» in which devastation was staged as a creative process. An essential element of this attitude was the constructive creation of environments and, to use the current term, open platforms. Art was what spectators and participants made it. In Peter Weibel's «Action Lecture» (1968), the audience interactively—over its own volume frequency—regulated the screening of a film. Some projects even dispensed entirely with the usage of preproduced content or technical media. There was a wealth of multimedia and immersive environments in the context of expanded cinema and experimental architecture that enabled the participants to move, so to speak, entirely within the medium.

While the happening was capable of taking on totalitarian character, as Al Hansen commented in reference to Wolf Vostell's happening «YOU» (1964), it was less the totalitarian aspect than the pluralism and parallelism of occurrences or non-occurrences that


characterized happenings in general (see the «24-Hour Happenings» staged by Rolf Jährlings at the Galerie Parnass in 1965). The gallery was venue to Europe's first public presentation of, among other things, Paik's Robot K-456, «the first non-human action artist.» Yet, according to Paik's illuminative and biting critique, the happening had to choose between «real experience» as a non-public individual or group process and the staged/media-conveyed concert variant.[21] Paik's soiling of his own nest was something that many artists associated with Fluxus could not forgive (see the postcard «Traitor, you left Fluxus»). As is obvious from Allan Kaprow's own equivocal attitude to the term «happening,»[22] the experience of equating art with life led to the increasingly calculated staging of actionist or performative processes that simultaneously paved the way for a return to the traditions of the theater and museum, although the intention had been a merging with «life» itself.[23] One way of sidestepping the alternative of either art context or real life was to use spaces outside the scope of the traditional art world.[24] Television offered one such possibility.

icon: next page