GEORGE MACIUNAS Charts, Diagrams, Films, Documents, and Atlases September 28 - October 28, 2006 Maya Stendhal Gallery

From: owen (email suppressed)
Date: Wed Sep 27 2006 - 10:22:37 PDT

Click to see the film about George Maciunas at

Charts, Diagrams, Films, Documents, and Atlases
September 28- October 28, 2006
Opening Reception: Thursday, September 28, 6pm-9pm

Maya Stendhal Gallery proudly announces the upcoming exhibition
George Maciunas 1953-1978, Charts, Diagrams, Films, Documents, and
The works on view are Atlas of Russian History, Prehistoric Chinese
Art (Shang and Chou Dynasties), European and Siberian Art of
Migration, Biography Chronicling Activity between 1939-1978, and
Diagram of Historical Development of Fluxus (incomplete). Created
between 1953 and 1978, these “cultural timetables” reveal Maciunas’
interest in visually displaying diverse information about historical
periods. Maciunas’ charts, diagrams, and atlases make clear his
desire to record artistic and sociopolitical chronological evolution.
With these charts, he introduced the 20th century as the era of “Art

Born to a Russian mother and Lithuanian father, Maciunas was an
artist, art historian, designer, architect, editor, producer,
genealogist, typographer, mathematician, musicologist, and leader of
the 1960’s international Fluxus movement. Influenced by Marcel
Duchamp’s use of art beyond painting and John Cage’s experimental
music, Fluxus deviated between the boundaries of art and non-art
through Maciunas’ vision of artistic collaboration in various
mediums. He combined music, performance, visual arts, and literature
to create one of the most influential philosophies and artistic
movements in modern art of the 20th century.

Maciunas did not spontaneously design his works, but rather preceded
them with eleven years of intensive studies at Cooper Union School of
Art, the Carnegie Institute of Technology and New York University.
His widespread interests and universalistic approach required a
suitable form of knowledge management in order for him to retain an
overview of the enormity of the material. Charts, diagrams, and
atlases allowed him to reduce complexities, define limits, and make
connections between data. Maciunas made some three dozen of these
historical diagrams between 1953 and 1978 which not only made clear
political, economic, poetic, and aesthetic relationships, but also
predetermined the geo-historical framework of Fluxus.

Maciunas believed that the evolution of art could not be understood
without an orientation of a particular subject in context of time and
space. In 1969, he developed his theory of the “Learning Machine”
which called for improvements in methods of transmitting information.
Maciunas criticized the rigid, linear-narratives of books, lectures,
or other traditional forms of learning for their lack of
communication of the layers and connections within history.
Networking thoughts into timesaving and efficient charts and
diagrams, these “Learning Machines” were also artistically and
scientifically interesting.

Space and time, and their dissolution into succession, played an
important role as well. By breaking up the factual scheme, the work
was extended into the third dimension. The linear order of time is
emphasized by Maciunas’ attempt to uncover the complexity of dates by
chronologically coding history. He depicts history with mathematical
precision through a theory that time runs in cycles, depicted in his
charts by a formulaic wave curve. His model of time consisted of four
phases; origin, prosperity, maturity, and decline. Within these
phases are both primary and secondary cycles of time consisting of
mathematical rules that systematize factual relationships. In
determining his time frame, Maciunas used dates and their
corresponding events to reduce history to technical means.

Maciunas titled his “learning machines” in a scientific way so that
his intention was not always immediately obvious. For instance, his
work entitled Preliminary Unfinished Form of the Proposed Index
Coordinate Graph actually explains the history of art from the
Visigoths to Metaphysical painting. Although Maciunas uses epochal
classifications such as Visigoth, Gothic, High-Renaissance, etc, as
clear conceptual definitions, he breaks down barriers between them by
clarifying sections of time. Maciunas left extra space in most of his
charts to allow for new ideas and new connections to be added, or to
extend the timeframe. In discovering new connections while he worked,
Maciunas thematically linked several charts together. He constantly
made technical corrections, additions, and extensions.

With these documents, Maciunas criticized the rigid, linear-
narratives of books, lectures, or other traditional forms of
accessing information. He felt that a linear series of dates did not
allow for the necessary communication of layers within history. He
therefore developed an accurate way to visually obtain knowledge and
quickly perceive themes. The dates, which make up his diagrams and
charts, take on a “Physiognomy”, creating a three-dimensional
reconstructed historical space.

Whether literally or symbolically, this idea of dimensions was
communicated while also limiting specialization. In learning,
Maciunas believed it was important to specialize only gradually. A
wider range of understanding and orientation of time, according to
Maciunas, was necessary for professional success of any specialist.

This show provides a unique opportunity to view a rare body of work
that has never before been published or exhibited. The exhibition
will run from September 28 – October 28, 2006

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.