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SeOUL NYmAX and FLUXFEST Anthology Film Archives Daryl Chin In the winter of 1965, the Film-Makers' Cinematheque, the forerunner of Anthology Film Archives, presented a three-month festival of multimedia artists. From Saturday, October 8, to Sunday, November 6, 1994, Anthology Film Archives presented SeOUL NYmAX A Celebration ofArts Without Borders, another extensive multimedia festival. Organized principally by Robert Haller, Hong Hee Kim, Jonas Mekas, and Nam June Paik, the festival included performances , lectures, panel discussions, installations, films, and videotapes. In terms ofthe scope of the festival, Jonas Mekas remarked, "While the 1965 event was semi-local in scope, the current one is semi-global, bringing together far Asia and the farWest." The sponsorship of the Korean Cultural Service and Korea Society provided one of the foci of the festival. To quote from the program: The artworks on view in this Celebration are often multimedia, and in many cases embody the aspiration for freedom ofexpression. Broadly, these artworks can be grouped as 1) the arts of Korea, especially modern dance, film, the electronic arts ofvideo, computers, and interactive installations; 2) classic and new multimedia, ranging from a 1960s piece byTakehisa Kosugi to interactive 1990s computer art; 3) an international Fluxus reunion (20 artists in person, 5 in absentia). . . . All three floors of Anthology will be used to house this extraordinary gathering with guests from Lithuania ... Austria ... Korea, Japan, and the United States. ... Certainly, SeOUL NYmAX has proven to be one ofthe liveliest events presented at Anthology Film Archives during the past five years. In writing about the first multimedia festival in 1965, Mekas had noted that the "success" ofindividual pieces wasn't as important as the exploration which the pieces represented. Finished artworks (performances, films, installations) aren't the issue; what's at stake is the spirit ofadventure to be found in the art. This is apparent in the cacophony ofworks in the present festival. Confronting the lobby and gallery spaces at Anthology, the initial experience is an immediate media overload. But once an adjustment is made, it becomes easier to focus on specific installations, and to try some ofthe interactive works, such as David Geshwind's 3D Virtual Sculpture (you U 53 Samul Nouri and White Wave Rising entering Washington Square Park, New York, for the opening of the series. Photo: Courtesy of Anthology Film Archives. Sponsors of the Festival: Jonas Mekas of Anthology Film Archives; Hyon Hong Lee, Consul General of the Republic of Korea; and Vytautas Landsbergis, first president of the Republic of Lithuania. Photo: Courtesy ofAnthology Film Archives. 54 N PERFORMING ARTS JOURNAL 48 put on special 3D glasses, and the image on the video monitor does move in space), Alan Berliner's Audiofile (when you open a drawer of a filing cabinet labelled with a specific description, you hear the corresponding sound as played on an audiocassette), or the Internet Project of SeOUL NYmAX Fluxus Online (where you can flip through a CD-ROM of works by Fluxus artists). The amusing quality of these installations is that they're very user-friendly; it's a far cry from the period when electronic media installations had an element ofhostility, the hostility resulting from the seeming inaccessibility of media to audience interaction. Now, the changes in the technotronic environment are such that personal computers, fax machines, and VCRs are ubiquitous; that has made media interaction relatively commonplace. The Fluxus Reunion concerts brought up a number of issues in terms ofart history. Most of the works were meant to be evanescent, throwaways deflating the pomposity of creating monumental art. Yet here they are, these little pieces, being revived. Most of these works are short gags, blackout skits. What was engaging about the concerts was that the artists recognized the inherent modesty ofthe works. There was little inflation of the material, no attempt to reach for significance. A lot of the works are "unimportant," in the sense that they're not concerned with grandiose themes on a literary level. But the studied insignificance of Fluxus is starting to become its own reward. As electronic memory seems to expand, actual memory seems to be getting smaller and smaller. Recent art becomes instant art history; American art from...


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