Fluxfilm No. 4 : “Disappearing Music for Face”
New York City, USA: ReFlux, 2002
 pp., 4 x 6.2 cm., staple-bound
Edition of 79
A work by Mieko (Chieko) Shiomi, performed by Yoko Ono, designed by George Maciunas, published by Fluxus, photographed by Peter Moore and re-published by his wife Barbara Moore (who ran Reflux Editions, and Bound and Unbound, among other things). The date and edition size of the original Fluxus work is unknown, but when Moore acquired the Maciunas estate she discovered enough vintage printed sheets to re-collate 79 copies as the Reflux edition.
In 1966, Maciunas got his hands on an expensive high-speed 'scientific analysis camera', which recorded film at a rate of 2000 frames a second. When the resulting films are projecting at the standard speed of 24 frames a second, it produced an extreme sensual slow motion effect. Having access to the camera for only a single day, he set up in photographer Peter Moore’s East 36th Street apartment and invited a number of Fluxus artists to submit projects that could be filmed in the short production session.
Shiomi's contribution was a work that she had originally presented as a performance piece in 1964 (see below). The original score for the performance simply reads: "Performers begin the piece with a smile and during the duration of the piece, change the smell very gradually to no smile". The eight seconds of footage shot that day of Ono moving from smile to no smile, became an 11 minute, 15 second film (though the duration of the piece changes and in Fluxus newsletters Maciunas advertises it as fifteen minutes in length in 1966 and ten minutes long in 1969).
Maciunas had hoped to turn many of the Fluxfilms into flip books, but only this title and Dick Higgins Invocation of Canyons and Boulders were ever produced.
“What happened was that Chieko Shiomi [...] had just left to go to Japan. Then this high-speed camera idea came up, and when George was saying, ‘Quick, quick, ideas,’ I said, ‘Well, how about smile’; and he said, ‘No, you can’t do that one.’ Finally, he said, ‘Well, OK, actually I wanted to save that for Chieko Shiomi because she had the same idea. But I will let you perform.’ So that’s me smiling. Later I found out that hers was a disappearing piece; the concept is totally different from what I wanted to do. Chieko Shiomi’s idea is beautiful; she catches the disappearance of a smile. At the time I didn’t know what her title was.”
- Yoko Ono
"I remember the Fluxfilms very clearly because I was friends with George at the time when that project came together. One day he told me with a broad laugh that he was going to rent a high-speed camera and that all the Fluxus artists were going to make films in one day, and that it would cost hardly anything. I think George loved being able to trample traditions and expectations; here
was a way for the Fluxus group to become star filmmakers with virtually no effort or expenditure.
John Cale had shot a little film, and he gave that to George, and other people made conceptual pieces that they executed using that high-speed camera. Yoko Ono did several, and Chieko Shiomi did the beautiful Disappearing Music for Face, a wonderful film."
- Tony Conrad
The flip-book is available at Printed Matter, here, for $150 US, and the original film can be viewed at Vimeo, here.