(b New York, 19 June 1934; d Wiesbaden, 9 Feb 1993). American composer, artist and instrument builder. Brought up in Brooklyn, he attended the Hartnett School of Music in Manhattan and studied composition with Earle Brown. In the late 1950s he was a student in Cage’s experimental music class at the New School for Social Research. Associated with Fluxus, an international avant-garde art movement, he became famous for his kinetic sculptures, which range from single instruments to mechanical orchestras.
Jones built his first automatic mechanical musical instruments in 1962. Fluxorchestra consisted of self-playing whistles, reeds, horns, violins, bells, gongs and other instruments; Mechanical Violin (1968) used both traditional instruments, toys and other suspended objects driven by electric motors. Several of Jones’s smaller instruments were included in ‘Fluxus Yearboxes’, mass-produced collections of Fluxus art, music and other materials. These sometimes contained short film-strips called ‘Fluxfilms’ that could by seen through eye viewers. Several films by artists such as Jones, Yoko Ono and Mieko (Chieko) Shomi are minimalist, slow-motion depictions of everyday activities. In Smoking (Fluxfilm no.18), for example, Jones exhales smoke from a cigarette. In 1969 Jones opened the Music Store in Manhattan, a shop in which his self-playing mechanical instruments could be activated by visitors or passers-by. Several Fluxus events featuring John Lennon and Yoko Ono took place in this venue. Jones left New York in 1972, eventually settling in Wiesbaden. A retrospective exhibition of his work was held at the DAAD Galerie, Berlin in 1990.