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A Brief Historical Overview of Fylkingen's Journals

 

Sachiko Hayashi

 

In the early 1960s, the philosopher Hubert Dreyfus started to formulate his objections to the then-predominant school of Artificial Intelligence research. Based on his knowledge of phenomenology, especially derived from Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty, he introduced a series of disagreements on the assumptions which the early AI researchers had taken as their premise.

At the height of blind optimism for what computers would be able to do in the near future, the AI scientific community ignored Dreyfus' critique with ridicule and at times with hostility. However, the complexity of the human mind proved to be more unpredictable than these AI researchers had anticipated. By the 1980s many of Dreyfus' perspectives had been rediscovered by researchers of robotics, and by the early 1990s several of his radical opinions had become more or less mainstream. "[T]ime has proven the accuracy and perceptiveness of some of Dreyfus's comments"(Daniel Crevier: Historian and AI researcher). (1)

Serving as an anecdote, this story highlights the narrow-mindedness and even arrogant self-righteousness that the mainstream hegemony exhibits at times. It also witnesses the invincibility of human complexity which emphasises that such oddness and incorrectness, rather than expertise of a straight path, can sometimes provide an answer closer to the truth. Cross-examination and re-evaluation of values from various perspectives seem not to be a burden but an asset that enriches human thought processes.

In many ways Fylkingen(2) symbolises the very space in which this enrichment of cross-field fertilisation can occur in a natural organic way. With members from vastly different backgrounds, Fylkingen has over the years been a unique meeting place for various art practices in Sweden, often yet-to-be-established and yet-to-be-defined. This richness is hopefully reflected in Fylkingen's online journal Hz, for which I have served as its editor since 2003.

 

Fylkingen Bulletin and International Bulletin

Hz's history begins in the 1990s, when Fylkingen, on the initiative of Carl Michael von Hausswolff and Bo Rydberg, published the then-non-virtual magazine Hz in 1992. The intention was to revive the tradition of Fylkingen's own journal Fylkingen Bulletin. Fylkingen Bulletin had been in circulation between 1966–69, the purpose of which was explained in its first issue as follows: "The aim of this publication is to disseminate ideas which are developed or supported by Fylkingen; discuss that part of reality which primarily concerns emotions, needs and evaluations in technologically-advanced societies; establish a stronger integration between art, research and culture planning; inform artists about possibilities offered by modern science and technology."(3)

Fylkingen Bulletin reflects the unique position Fylkingen held during the 1960s: namely, Internationalism and Technology. Already in its first issue, a translation of John Cage's text "Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse)" from 1965 was included.

 

John Cage during "Variations II" at a Fylkingen concert, 1963. Photo: Stig A. Nilsson. Appeared in the first issue of Fylkingen Bulletin (1:1966)

David Tudor performing John Cage's "Variations II" at a Fylkingen concert, 1963. Photo: Stig A. Nilsson. Appeared in the first issue of Fylkingen Bulletin (1:1966)

 

Nam June Paik at a Fylkingen Concert at Liljevalchs, Stockholm, 1961. Photo: Lütfi Özkök. Appeared in the first issue of Fylkingen Bulletin (1:1966)

 

A still picture from Robert Morris' "Site" at a Fylkingen performance, 3 September, 1965. Included in both Fylkingen Bulletin 1:1966 and International Bulletin 1:1967. Although the English caption from the 1:1967 reads "11 September 1964," after consultating the list of concerts in Fylkingen Bulletin 1:1966, the Swedish caption "1965" (in Bulletin 1:1966) appears most accurate.

 

A still picture from Steve Paxton's "I would like to phone" at a Fylkingen performance at the Museum of Modern Art, Stockholm, 13 September 1964. Included in Fylkingen Bulletin 1:1966 and Fylkingen International Bulletin 1:1967. Photo: 10 fotografer

 

Robert Rauschenberg performing "Shotput + Elgin Tie" at a Fylkingen concert at the Museum of Modern Art, Stockholm, 13 September 1964. From Fylkingen Bulletin 1:1966. Photo: Hans Malmberg/Tio

 

Max Neuhaus, who later became one of the pioneers in sound art, here photographed performing Morton Feldman's "King of Denmark" as a percussionist. At a Fylkingen concert, 28 January, 1966. From Fylkingen Bulletin 1:1966.

 

Closely entangled with this internationalism was Fylkingen's concern with new technology in art of that period. Starting with Knut Wiggen's "Memorandum 1965" which declared "the foundation for Fylkingen to engage in 'Art & Technology' problematics,"(4) Bulletin's second issue (1:1967) was a result of Fylkingen's legendary festival "Visions of the Present" that had taken place at the Swedish National Museum of Science and Technology the previous year. Presented in the issue were the texts by the festival participants who examined the theme from various fields: John R. Pierce/engineer and information theorist at Bell Labs (USA), Sven Fagerberg/author (SE), Anthony Hill/visual artist (UK), Oscar Hansen/architect (PL), Carl Lesche/philosopher of science (FI/SE), and Yonda Friedman/architect (HU). This issue also led to the birth of another publication, Fylkingen International Bulletin, which published the same content in French and English under the subtitle Stockholm Festival on Art and Technology I. A later publication from the same year, Fylkingen Bulletin International (2:1967) with its subtitle Stockholm Festival on Art and Technology II, was a multi-lingual publication, in which the original texts by the 1966 festival participants, Iannis Xenakis, Nam June Paik, Alvin Lucier, Kostas Axelos and Gunnar Hellström, were complemented with Pierre Schaeffer's "Musique et acoustique," and all the texts in foreign languages translated to Swedish and vice versa.(5)

Fylkingen International Bulletin continued publishing texts in French and English, whilst Fylkingen Bulletin continued in Swedish. In total, between 1966 and 1969 Fylkingen published seven Bulletins, three International Bulletins and one combined. Although some individual articles appeared in both Bulletin and International Bulletin, except for the above examples from 1967, no issues between the two publications were identical in their content.

 

John R. Pierce from Bell Telephone Laboratories whose article "Science, Technology and Art" appears in Fylkingen International Bulletin 1:1967 and Fylkingen Bulletin 1:1967.

This today-legendarily-famous picture (called "Nude") by Ken Knowlton and Leon Harmon from Bell Labs (1966) appears on p. 18, within the article "Sceience, Technology and Art" by John R. Pierce, in Fylkingen International Bulletin 1:1967, and on p. 11 in Fylkigen Bulletin 1:1967. No credit nor caption is inserted.

Stills from a computer-movie by Dr. Bela Julesz of Bell Labs, found within Pierces' article "Science, Technology and Art" in Fylkingen International Bulletin 1:1967 and Fylkingen Bulletin 1:1967.

 

It is worth mentioning that two other texts by Schaeffer are to be found in Bulletin. In the second issue of 1968, Bulletin introduced "Machines for Communicating" (translated to Swedish as "Kommunikationsmaskiner"), a reprint of the lecture held by Pierre Schaeffer in Stockholm on 13 March, 1968. Note that the year of publication for this article is dated two years prior to the publication of the first volume of Machines à communiquer (Machines for Communicating). While this most probably depended on the fact that "[t]his first volume, which was given the subtitle Genèse des simulacres [(Genesis of Simulacra)], consisted of several essays and articles that Schaeffer had published over the years"(6), it demonstrates yet another example of Fylkingen's competence in evaluating relevant contemporary knowledge and information. Also included in the same number was the first chapter of La musique concrète, "Que sais-je?" (translated to Swedish as "Det konkreta äventyret"). The latter was to be reprinted 24 years later in Hz's first issue.

Bulletin and International Bulletin from the 1960s are not only ambitiously up-to-date periodicals of their time but also a testimony to the uniqueness and importance of Fylkingen as a society in Swedish art history. Bulletin resurfaced in 1983 in conjunction with Fylkingen's 50th anniversary but this edition was to be the last. In 1992 Fylkingen introduced its successor Hz.

 

Hz: Fylkingens Bulletin

The non-virtual Hz was, as its subtitle Fylkingens Bulletin indicated, an undertaking to revive Fylkingen's own journal. However, its intention was radically different from its predecessor: "[Hz-] Bulletin aims to spread information on Fylkingen and the activities of its members."(7) Hz's format, one single A2 sheet of paper folded into A4, also revealed a departure from Fylkingen Bulletin. Containing two to three articles in each number, Hz's bulletin could be literally posted on a bulletin board like a poster, and if posted with the front and back pages of the same number together, the whole issue could be read on the spot, even on a city street. It could also be taken aboard to be read on the seat of a tube train, in a much easier manner than Metro, the freesheet newspaper for commuters that came into existence in Stockholm three years later. This adaptation to our modern living is not only clever but also probably the strongest achievement of Hz, which, through its design, sets its profile apart from other publications from the same period. Content-wise, each number consisted of one to two articles, an announcement of activities of Fylkingen, and juxtaposed with them one historical article, such as the aforementioned Pierre Schaeffer, Luigi Russolo or Dom Sylvester Houédard, which together revealed historical threads within the society's activities.

 

A2 format of Hz, when unfolded completely from A4.
Hz's front (upper right) & back (upper left) pages when folded to A4.
Unfolded from A4 to A3, the bottom half becomes its first opened page.
Furthermore when unfolded completely to A2, this becomes the back side of Hz's "inside pages" as below.

Hz's "inside pages." When unfolded completely, i.e. to its largest size A2, these two pages appears almost as a center spread.

The first number of Hz from 1992. A single sheet of hard paper of size A2 folded into A4 to be unfolded and read in different sizes: a format that persisted throughout all three non-virtual issues between 1992 and 1993.

 

 

Hz-Journal (Online Hz)

The keen awareness of our time has always been one of Fylkingen's strong assets, and Hz's move into the online arena in 2000, an initiative taken by Thomas Liljenberg after three issues of non-virtual publication, was no exception. Hz adopted in 2003 the domain name hz-journal.org as well as Fylkingen's Net Journal as its description. Since the online No.3, in order to adapt further to the global perspective of our time, the content of Hz has been intentionally redirected to the areas of interests of Fylkingen members rather than based on Fylkingen as a venue. To compensate this shift, Fylkingen's history and its significance was introduced in the informative article "Fylkingen.org: Visions of the Present in Retrospect" in No.4 in 2004, written by Teddy Hultberg in conjunction with Fylkingen's 70th anniversary.

With new possibilities the Internet brings, the present Hz (hereafter Hz-Journal to distinguish from the non-virtual Hz) is intended to serve as a forum for both national and international practitioners of yet-to-be-established art forms to share thoughts and ideas that originate from their pursuit of art practices. This first priority is complemented with articles by theorists, critics, and curators, whose fields of main interest correspond to the above position. The range of articles stretches from such rarities within Hz-Journal's context as Photo Essays, on Black US Performance Art, Identity, and Manga, to more common Hz-content on EAM, Sound Art, Audio-Visual Performance, Game, Virtual World, Social Web, etc.(8) Between 2003 and 2009 it also included Net Gallery where international net artworks were introduced.(9)

It is my intention that Hz-Journal, with a focus on sharing, gives room for in-depth texts by resisting reporting journalism, reviews, art criticism, or texts with political intentions. As such, it has been able to publish texts of a more philosophical nature as well as to reprint MA theses, book chapters, and such earlier published milestone texts as Kim Cascone's "The Aesthetics of Failure: 'Post-Digital' Tendencies in Contemporary Computer Music" (No.3:2003), Pauline Oliveros' "Quantum Improvisation: The Cybernetic Improvisation" (No.16:2011), and Roy Ascott's "Moistmedia, Technoetics and the Three VRs" (No.16:2011). Another important aspect of Hz-Journal is that, instead of aiming at highly specialised discourses within a particular genre based on scientific alternatively academic merits, it proposes various individual perspectives within the fields of concern. Hz-Journal can therefore be read as a trace of those human thoughts and activities.

Receiving roughly 4000 readers per year, the demography of readers of Hz-Journal is literally spread all over the world. Out of 61 countries that visited the site between 23 August–11 November 2012, 27 % came from USA, followed by 26% from Sweden. Another 26 % consisted of other European countries, and the rest comprised Canada, Australia, South Africa, and countries from the Middle East, Asia and Latin America. Over the years Hz-Journal has also been linked from several universities in USA and Sweden as reference literature for their students.

By engaging aesthetic discussions relevant to our time, my hope for Hz-Journal is to continue Fylkingen's tradition of playing the role of cutting-edge interface between the artists of Sweden and those abroad.

 


Thanks to Jan W. Morthenson, Lars-Gunnar Bodin, Teddy Hultberg, Bill Brunson, Sten Hanson, Carl Michael von Hausswolff, Bo Rydberg and Thomas Liljenberg for providing me with valuable information as well as verifying some facts in this article.

 

Sachiko Hayashi, November 2012

 

 

Arrangement of TV-sets by Nam June Paik at Fylkingen in 1966, included in Fylkigen Bulletin International 1967:2

 

Anthony Hill's "Relief Construction" 1965, in Fylkigen International Bulletin 1967:1. The caption continues to read: "Courtesy Kasmin Gallery, London (Photograph: Hugh Gordon)."

 

 

An ad which appeared in the 1968:1 issue of Fylkingen International Bulletin, listing three previous issues. A complete list of Fylkingen Bulletin & International Bulletin publications can be found at www.hz-journal.org/historical

 

An ad in three different languages, each on a separate page, calling for participation of informed artists, scientists and technicians. Fylkingen Bulletin International (1967:2).

 

 

NOTES

(1) ^ "Hubert Dreyfus's views on artificial intelligence." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hubert_Dreyfus's_views_on_artificial_intelligence) Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Retrieved 20 July, 2012.

(2) ^ Fylkingen is a non-profit art and music society in Stockholm. Established in 1933, Fylkingen has been known for introducing yet-to-be-established art forms throughout its history. Nam June Paik, Stockhausen, Cage, Stelarc, etc. have all been introduced to the Swedish audience through Fylkingen. Its members consist of leading composers, musicians, sound artists, dancers, performance artists and video artists in Sweden. This journal Hz is also published by Fylkingen. For more information on Fylkingen, please visit: http://fylkingen.se/about and http://hz-journal.org/n4/hultberg.html

(3) ^ In Swedish: "denna tidskrift vill sprida ideer som utvecklas och undersföds av fylkingen; belysa den del av verkligheten som främst omfattar känslor, behov och värderingar i en teknologiskt avancerad tid; skapa en ökad integration mellan konst, forskning och kulturplanering;informera konstnärer om de nya möjligheter som modern vetenskap och teknik kan erbjuda." (Fykingen Bulletin 1966:1) The English translation here is the one which appears in Fylkingen International Bulletin 1967:1.

(4) ^ See Wiggen "Memorandum 1965." Swedish version in Fylkingen Bulletin 1967:1 pp. 2-4 and its English version in Fylkingen International Bulletin 1967:1 pp. 2-4. In both versions, there is a-page-long introductory text prior to the article. This prologue text explains Fylkingen's engagement with Art & Technology in the form of an international festival, a decision taken in fall of 1965 and realised one year later, in September 1966.

(5) ^ List of Fylkingen's historical journals (1966-1993) and their article titles can be found at:http://hz-journal.org/historical/

(6) ^ Ieven, Bram. "Pierre Schaeffer and the Medium of Modernism" (http://bramieven.org/post/41862736672/pierre-schaeffer-and-the-medium-of-modernism) Accessed 27 June, 2014.

(7) ^ Description found in all three issues of the non-virtual Hz.

(8) ^ Hz's back numbers can be found at http://hz-journal.org/bn.html. The articles published on Hz can also be found through its article directory at http://hz-journal.org/atcl.html

(9) ^ Some notable artists who have been introduced via Hz Net Gallery are: MOUCHETTE, jimpunk, Stanza, David Clark, Annie Abrahams, only to name a few. The complete list of works introduced in Hz Net Gallery can be found at: http://hz-journal.org/netg/gF.html Hz Net Gallery should be seen as a continuation of my effort to introduce the practice of net art to a wider audience, which had started four years earlier as the founder and producer of DIAN (Digital Interactive Artists' Network) while still being an art student. DIAN came to be listed at and linked from Whitney Museum's Artport at one point, which continued for some ten years until the update of their website in recent years.

 

List of Fylkingen's historical journals (1966-1993):http://hz-journal.org/historical/
Back numbers of online Hz-Journal: http://hz-journal.org/bn.html
Hz article directory at http://hz-journal.org/atcl.html

 

This article was written for the 80th Anniversary book of Fylkingen, planned to be published during 2014, where the original text will appear together with its swedish translation. This text is a revised version for the publication on Hz.

 

Sachiko Hayashi, originally from Tokyo, holds an MA in Digital Media (UK) and a BA in International and Cultural Studies (Japan). After additional two-year post-graduate studies in Computer Art at the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm, she has been actively pursuing art practices in the intersection between New Media and Contemporary Visual Art. Seeing art as crystalisation of perspectives and communication thereof, her work is born out of and often deals with her own experience as minority (gender, racial, ethnic, and aesthetic) and how to resolve issues surrounding identity within a highly developed technological, scientific, and/or media society. Her net art and video have been published in CD-ROM- and DVD-compilations by Rhizome (New York), Aspect (Boston) and the Experimental Television Center (New York), and her works exhibited at Transmediale (Berlin), the National Museum of Science and Technology (Stockholm), Saitama Museum of Modern Art (Japan), etc. She also edits this online journal hz-journal.org. More information: www.e-garde.net

 

 

 

 

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