LARRY MILLER is an intermedia artist whose work has been presented extensively in global venues. He was active in the development of multi-media and performance-based works in SoHo’s earliest alternative spaces, and was associated with developing new configurations in the period that gained critical currency in being described as “installation art.”
Miller’s early work is characterized as much by his provocative approach to subject matter and telling humor as by his uses of unconventional means and materials not familiar to the territory of traditional art. To explore the invisible biology of the mind, he worked with professional hypnotists, “psychic” mediums, healers and ritual magic. He has implemented novel strategies to address ambiguities of inner experience and its outward manifestation. Drawing upon a background in music, theater and the visual arts, he composes configurations that merge diverse media and participatory elements, cutting across disciplines to blend ironic humor and poetic contemplation.
Maintaining his spirit of art-as-experiment, Miller was in the forefront of artists focusing on the potentials of DNA and genetic technologies. Following his exhibitions and performances concentrating on issues of human lineage, identity and the coding of DNA, his pioneering work became an essential component in a series of exhibitions concerning the “Genetic Revolution.” Starting in 1989, his public action urging that individuals copyright their unique genomes was proliferated in galleries and online by the distribution of his Genetic Code Copyright Certificate, offered in 8 languages to date – available on this website or from the Creative Time DNAid website.
As a kindred spirit to artists who view their work less as a profession than as a form of conceptualism and research, Miller was to become a core associate of the group of artists known as Fluxus, concurrent to his individual practice. He has participated in numerous Fluxus events, beginning with his collaborations with George Maciunas on Flux Sports and the Flux Mass in 1970, the Flux Harpsichord Concerts in 1975, and the Flux Labyrinth in Berlin in 1976. In subsequent years he organized and presented numerous Fluxus events, touring extensively with the Fluxus Collective in the U.S. and in international venues. Beyond an essential video interview with George Maciunas in 1978, he has videotaped a multitude of intense conversations with Fluxus and adjacent artists, accumulating rare, documentary evidence of the individuals and their activities, which may expand as well as challenge investigations of the group.
Miller is known for his wide-ranging, energetic investigations of personal as well as cultural topics. Knives, his renowned installation casting an acute focus on the homeless population of New York’s Bowery (1973), consisting of found objects and documentary photographs, was included in New York ca. 1975, an exhibition of defining works from the period at Zwirner Gallery, New York, in 2001. Also at Zwirner, Miller’s Carrot Piece (1970) was reprised for the exhibit “112 Greene Street: The Early Years” in 2011, and documented in a short film by Canadian artist Leslie Johnson called The Carrot Maker.
For the opening of George Brecht – A Heterospective at Museum Ludwig, Cologne in 2005, Miller organized an opening night program to be performed along with Alison Knowles, Ben Vautier and other original Fluxus performers to demonstrate the scope of Brecht’s concept of “Events”; the following day he organized a rare performance of Brecht’s 1960 Motor Vehicle Sundown (Event) For John Cage, which featured more than 40 vehicles in Cologne’s historic Dom Platz. A large public audience attended, and the event spectacle was broadcast live on German television.
In 2008 Miller was commissioned by the TATE MODERN to present Fluxus concerts for three days in the Turbine Hall, and to revitalize George Maciunas’s proposal for a Flux Olympiad. The TURBINE FLUX OLYMPIAD transformed the Turbine Hall into a massive stadium of lanes and courts. It was the most significant upscale of Fluxus concepts, and for three days the London audience participated in immersive Fluxus festivities and concert performances.
The DNA Cups project and the Genetic Code Certificates were shown in two versions of the exhibition “Baneful Medicine” in 2018 (Cooper Union Gallery) and 2019 (John Jay College Gallery). More recently, during 2020-2021, another piece that originated at 112 Greene Street Gallery, the installation of Mom-Me, with hypnotically-induced drawings and a videotape document that shows the session in which Miller is hypnotized to take on the alternate-identity of his mother, was shown in Hypnose at Nantes Museum of Art. (see also Mom-Me at The Guggenheim Museum).
For the major exhibition Fluxus Means Change, in 2021-2022 at The Getty Research Center, Miller’s Very Slow Fan, Very Fast Clock was installed within a section of mechanized objects. The early kinetic work was originally produced for the Jean Brown Collection at Shaker Seed House. Also in 2022 Outer Space Banner was shown at MuMOK, Vienna in the exhibition Collaborations.
Whether presented as live performance, specific site installation, or gallery exhibition, Miller considers all of his works — as well as himself — to be “performing objects.” In this view, there are no fixed boundaries between objects, events, time and space, or between definitions that societies offer for science, art, and religion and identity.
Photos in top panel, from left:
Discourse on All and Everything, Lafayette College, 1991. Photo © George Panichas.
Flux Winding for Lower Manhattan at the Clocktower, NYC. From Delayed Flux New Years Event. Photo © Sara Seagull, 1976/2022.
Name of Piece by George Brecht. Photo © Dorte Krogh.
Rainbow for Orchestra by Ay-O, 1962. Photo © George Panichas.
Sky Piece for JC by Yoko Ono, performed by Larry Miller with Joan Jeanrenaud. Photo © George Panichas.
Insert: Dream, Don’t Dream, mechanized illuminated prop-sculptures, presented in Eclipse at Franklin Furnace (1980), and several other performances including Discourse on All and Everything.
All photos copyright the individual photographers, All Rights Reserved.