O U T E R   S P A C E  •   N O W  A N D  W H E N   

OUTER SPACE, original collage for sign. Mock-up for a “Fluxus Road Sign” ca. 1976. Collection: MoMA, NYC © Larry Miller, 1976/2024

There has been a lot of news about leaving Earth ‘s gravity to colonize the moon as a base on the way to Mars. There is even speculation about placing nuclear weapons in Spaceship Earth’s “local orbit”, joining the tens of thousands of pieces of loose space junk already circling us relatively nearby – still trapped in Earths gravity. Have we not seen this coming?

As a malleable idea that had many possible modes of expression, my OUTER SPACE sign medium variations of concept realizations originated as a childhood obsession with the effects that gravity has– not only upon our locality of personal movement – but upon all of life and apparently ultimately everything in the Universe. I was to eventually learn, after much research, some understanding by reading and physical, and even attempted paraphysical psychokinesis study. Most simply put, as a childhood preoccupation, it was “The Force” that prevented me from “flying”: being a mere physical creature of a certain evolutionary design, with the exception of freely flying or floating in dreams. I learned too, the obsession could have stemmed from an evolutionary, deeply imprinted concern about gravity from humans’ ancestral roots in primates that had to sleep in trees without falling while unconscious. As a producing artist, my particular interest in gravity, all sciences, and states of consciousness was otherwise expressed in a number of different ways and media over my career course.

The OUTER SPACE sign seen in this MoMA image (later produced differently as a vertical outdoor banner in 1990) was one from a series of numerous different “unexpected” and quizzically encountered highway road signs originally designed for George Maciunas as Fluxus edition objects. They were to be produced in a suitably thin metallic (or substantially heavy plastic) and installed on highway roadsides . Other sign designs had irrelevant “advisories” – such as depicting am upcoming spiral roadway, impossible “turns” ahead, unlikely animal crossings locally or simply imagery bearing wholly unrelated images to highway travel, e.g., a teapot in black silhouette. Although the OUTER SPACE image was illustrated in the 1976 special festschrift “V TRE Laudatio Scripto pro George”, no full sized actual renditions were ever produced. I also never received my mechanicals or drawings back, as events happened to unfold.

Maciunas had invited me to produce Fluxus ideas since I first met him, in early September of 1969 and I responded immediately with concepts for Flux Sports and other events he published. After working for him as a “Flux House“ carpenter and cabinet-maker starting in 1973, and spending time in many evening conversations about “art/philosophy”, he encouraged me more to be a willing participant “Flux-artist” in collaborations and idea production. I responded with designs for several products: including 2 Flux Boxes, proposals for Flux Chess, Flux Calendars –such as one which featured a different commercial advertisement for particular “models” of plain to fancy caskets to illustrate each month. These product proposals and submissions, first began in 1974 and continued at least through 1976. Of several “comps” and prototypes I made and left with him he produced only one I know of, called “Fast Clock and Slow Fan” (at first attributed to GM), now in the Getty collection and disappeared during his dramatic final years after he was severely beaten and soon effectively forced out of the city.

Somehow the “OUTER SPACE” road sign mechanical survived in the Maciunas Estate and wound up in the collection of MoMA. I designed the outdoor OUTER SPACE banner version that can be is seen in an installation image from the Vienna Mumok Museum’s 2022 exhibition “Collaborations”, which was fabricated in an edition of 3. The first one made is in Mumok’s permanent collection. One example, still in my collection, was shown in the 1992 “Fluxus: A Conceptual Country” exhibition, curated by the late Estera Milman, opened at Franklin Furnace, and traveled to many venues across the United States before returned.

Outer Space Banner in “Collaborations” exhibit at Mumok, Vienna, 2022