Wednesday, October 12, 2011

response to 10/5/11 lecture [ray johnson]

ray johnson seemed legitimately insane, and not in the taboo, homicidal way. his habits betray a man with a type of introversion that, in my opinion, is rare among artists. he seemed to keep the majority of his work to himself, neatly piled away. the work that he did exhibit, sell, or circulate was tempered with a bizarre sort of perfectionism. he made icons. he distributed them to people who were in no position to reject him, critique him, or converse with him. he alienated audiences in his "nothings," where his goal seemed less to build a relationship with patrons than to confuse them.

how totally and completely neat. nobody knew what he was about. johnson lacked the air of pretentiousness that artists cultivate by explaining their process, inspiration, or method. he just made it, and he just liked it. i mean how many times have you broken up with an artist after reading a published interview, or something, and finding out that they're totally absorbed with "making a flesh of the canvas," for example? you want to know that an artist is considerate of their work, but not to the extent that they can wax metaphorical about it for 10 pages. maybe that's my personal beef.

 i liked that ray johnson was always "turned on." he could make associations with images by going through the alphabet. as a collage artist, he probably looked at everything with a creative eye. he pulled images from stickers and garbage and advertizements. i'm not anything like that. everything that i draw tends to come from an idea that i've had, not something i've seen. that's why, sometimes, it's so difficult for me to produce something: i just can't think of anything interesting. but johnson saw interesting things all the time.

actually, the only part of that film that really made me connect with a dead man was his hotdog stunt. really? he dropped hotdogs on people? from a helicopter? he hit a box wit a towel, or whatever, while concerned patrons watched, searching the act for meaning? that's pretty funny.

i can relate to that type of method, but more personally and less artistically. i make fun of myself at my expense, without suffering blows to my self-esteem, because i know that i'm not discrediting myself. i'm just contributing to the ridiculousness of a situation, or whatever. 

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