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Robert Filliou and George Brecht, The Eternal Network

Robert Filliou invented the notion of ‘The Eternal Network’ in the early 60’s along with George Brecht who helped develop the concept, and the artistic practice of telepathy. Telepathy was central to the Eternal Network, especially for Filliou whom also developed a related series of Telepathic Music artworks. Brecht and Filliou developed the idea of an eternal network of co-operating artists, as part of their involvement in Fluxus. In summer 1965, Filliou and Brecht set up a workshop called Cedille de Sourit as “an international center of permanent creation.”[1] March 1968 was an opportunity to consolidate The Eternal Network:

“[. . .] over the month, we had developed the concept of Fête Permanente, or the Eternal Network as we chose to translate it into English, which, we think, should allow us to spread this spirit more efficiently than before…in April we announced our intentions in a poster and sent it to our numerous correspondents…In practical terms, in order to make artists, first, realize they are part of a network and, therefore, may as well refrain from their tiresome spirit of competition, we intend, when we do perform, to advertise other artists’ performances together with our own. But this is not enough. The artist must realize also that this part of the wider network, la Fête Permanente going on around him all the time in all parts of the world.”[2]

This 1968 crystallisation of The Eternal Network was reviewed five years later by Filliou in FILE magazine’s September 1973 issue. This work involved interacting with an audience with playing cards. In 1973 Filliou created (or ‘suggested’) another Telepathic music artwork dedicated to Canadian members of the Eternal Network: “Ve’hicule, Montreal; General Idea, Toronto; W.O.R.K.S., Calgary; Image Bank, Vancouver, and to Arman and Corice, 380 W. Broadway, N.Y.C., R. Filliou.” Welsh’s book shows a photograph of Telepathic Music No. 3, performed in New York City in 1976, which is shown along with some other Filliou Telepathic Music works in the image section of this chapter.
 
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[1] Chuck Welsch et al., Eternal Network, ed. Chuck Welsh (Calgary: U of Calgary P, 1995); Robert Filliou, “Teaching and Learning as Performing Arts,” (Cologne: Verlag Gebr., 1970) 205. For discussion of Filliou as an important figure within the broad historical frame of Fluxus and Happenings see also Art of the 20th Century, eds. Ruhrbeg, Schenkenberg, Fricke, Honnef (Koln, London, Madrid, NY, Paris, Tokyo: Taschen, 2000) 589. This historical text book contrasts Filliou to Joseph Beuys, who had a much longer life as an artist. It describes how Filliou created a Permanent Creation Tool Shed in which he intended that the artist need not work with a wide and complex selection of tools, but need only possess the childlike qualities of imagination and innocence:“He was the epitome of casual and wrote above his door: “Le vagabond de l’art est toujours en voyage. Laissez nom et (‘et’ was the crossedout and replaced with ‘sans’) adresse, il vous touchera un jour sans doute. (par telepathie).” Anyone trying to get in touch with the vagabond of art was kindly requested to leave behind their name without address and, no doubt, one day, Filliou would touch them, if only by telepathy.”

[2] Welsch, 20; Robert Filliou, “Teaching and Learning as Performing Arts,” (Cologne: Verlag Gebr., 1970) 205.