© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
2006.260
People
Robert Watts, American (Burlington, IA 1923 - 1988 Martins Creek, PA)
Title
A Flux Atlas
Classification
Multiples
Work Type
multiple
Date
20th century
Culture
American
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Mixed media
Dimensions
22.7 x 33.2 x 5.9 cm (8 15/16 x 13 1/16 x 2 5/16 in.)
State, Edition, Standard Reference Number
Edition
17/71
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Barbara Moore
Accession Year
2006
Object Number
2006.260
Division
Modern and Contemporary Art
Contact
am_moderncontemporary@harvard.edu
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Descriptions
Description
A 24-compartment transparent plastic box with printed label on lid. Each compartment contains a small stone and printed label identifying geographic locations.
Commentary
This is a larger version of the Robert Watts "Flux Atlas" already in the collection. As with so many other Fluxus editions, "Flux Atlas" was produced in serveral variants over the years. Unlike the version already in the collection, this object is a "ReFlux" edition. Maciunas tended to have a store of materials (boxes, labels, and--in this case--rocks) and would produce the theoretically unlimited Fluxus editions in batches as demand dictated. ReFlux was founded by Barbara Moore after Maciunas's death as a way to continue, in accordance with his wishes, to publish Fluxus editions using his existing stock of materials. Because there were many more labels and box "contents" than there were boxes, ReFlux editions often use new boxes obtained from Maciunas's original supplier in the same configurations as the vintage editions. In order to differentiate them from the "vintage" editions (a slightly perverse compromise, given Maciunas's attitudes), each piece of vintage material employed is stamped or blind-stamped "ReFlux." In traditional terms, such objects have the conceptual status of "authorized" posthumous impressions of the sort issued by artists' estates.

Like it's vintage counterpart, this edition is one example of how the members of the geographically-dispersed Fluxus community could work to each other's mutual benefit. In the April, 1973 Fluxnewsletter, Maciunas sent out a call for assistance: "We need about 50 pebbles...from specific and well described locations (country, town vicinity, which beach or shore, which sea, lake or river). This is for a large Geography box by Bob Watts, which will contain pebbles from various parts of the world....All contributors will receive a box in return." In its emphasis on collective artistic production and worldwide geographic distribution, it is closely aligned with works like Mieko (Chieko) Shiomi's series of "Spatial Poems" (M26472-M26475). Where Shiomi's works existed as coordinated but ultimately ephemeral actions, gaining their physical form through the gathering of information, Watts' edition gathers physical matter itself. As is often the case, much of the work necessary to transform the object from a "box of rocks" into a "Flux Atlas" is performed by Maciunas' label design. The compartmentalization of the designation "a flux atlas by bob watts" on the label mirrors the structure of the box's interior. The label's graphic association with a premodern cartographic tradition both indicates that this atlas is founded on actual experience rather than on rational, scientific principles, and participates in the longstanding Fluxus appropriation of outmoded graphic idioms.

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Modern and Contemporary Art at am_moderncontemporary@harvard.edu