Thursday, April 08, 2010

collab fest 43

From: Jim Leftwich
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Date: Tue, Apr 6, 2010 at 1:45 PM
Subject: collab fest 43 (after ray johnson), as a letter-poem to matt ames

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Jim Leftwich

to Matt
Mar 31 (5 days ago)

1.) - zen for television, after nam june paik (blank screen, silence, 3hrs)
2.) - richard hell's "blank generation" repeated on a 3-hour loop
3.) - the hopscotch aporia machine (intermittent arbitrary discontinuities of variable lengths: approx. 3 hrs)
4.) - mustard-covered dimes under a sun lamp (3 hrs)
5.) - nailing a folded pay phone to a bored (3 hrs)
6.) - no talking (3 hrs)

We will not do any of these things. Come by and see for yourself, or commune with us in the comfort of your own home.


To quote Mark Bloch: "When all of us but Elvis are dead and gone, some sleuth inquiring "who WAS the first Pop artist, anyway?" will undoutedly unearth Johnson's celebrity collages of James Dean, Shirley Temple and the King himself. It will also be discovered that the legendary Johnson did the first happenings (he called them "nothings") when he carefully arranged those collages on the street. Or sat under a sun lamp until somebody told him he might get burned. Or nailed a folded Larry Poons painting to a board. Or dropped mustard-covered dimes into a pay phone. Need I go on?"

From: Jim Leftwich
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Date: Sun, Apr 4, 2010 at 2:07 AM
Subject: 13 - B: Prolegomena to Budanoke Unniversity

Johnson was legendary for pulling pranks like killing his New York Correspondence School in a "New York Times" obituary (April 5, 1973) and then instantly rebirthing it as "Buddha University."


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A new decision was next: For the upcoming "ARTPOOL'S RAY JOHNSON SPACE", I would invent a background institution, the "BUDA RAY UNIVERSITY" (modeled on the Buddha University).


floor roll

a ray johnson poem


Ray copied a poem onto a photograph of an egg that is just beginning to be cracked open by a chick. He does not name an author. With total uncertainty, I venture the hypothesis that the poet is Antonio Machado.
I do feel certain that the date is 1954-55. The last line, "Will carry me forever/ towards somewhere else," seems so apt for Ray's disappearing and evaporating that many people who read the poem both saw its bearing on his final event, mailing himself into the sea, and judged that he had written it.


Nam June Paik interviewed Ray Johnson by submitting ten handwritten questions which I typed and mailed to Ray. He then typed out those ten questions, but wrote responses to thirteen questions. He wrote: "13. I wait, not for time to finish my work, but for time to indicate something one would not have expected to occur."


When Ray saw one object that seemed autonomous or self-contained, he looked for a seam where he could split the object into two parts.

He attended to possible matching between the unmatched, and to possible unmatching between the matched.


statements taken from texts by mark bloch, gyorgy galantai, and bill wilson.

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Date: Mon, Apr 5, 2010 at 2:51 AM
Subject: Fwd: 13 - B: Prolegomena to Budanoke Unniversity
To: Matt Ames

this is a poem in which the video (not included) has footage of spaceships
flying around roanoke. it is a hypertext poem with links like holes in the
membrane opening to parallel dimensions. aliens and metaphors enter
through the link-holes and invade roanoke. the floor-roll becomes an event
score and we perform it at a collab fest. we have to avoid the predictable
question: "what happens if we do this?" when we ask that question we
create too large of an opening for a uselessly dismissive "nothing". we
must ask: "what is happening when we do this?" "nothing" is not a
thoughtful response. refusal to give the question any thought is a probable
response, one which might tell us quite a lot about what is happening when
the alien floor-roll event invades roanoke: (1. i have no sense of humor; 2.
i am interested in uninteresting things; 3. folks really do have better things
to do; 4. what is interesting to one person is not necessarily interesting
to another; 5. people are rarely given sufficient credit for making informed,
considered decisions to be different or indifferent). we should do this twice:
once, i am willing to roll the length of the water heater, out the door, down
the sidewalk and into the alleyway in front of the "arts district" mural. then,
again, i am willing to carry a ladder (the ladder-carrier photograph also having
morphed into an event-score) from the back of the water heater to the front,
out the door and down the sidewalk to the alley. i will do these things if you
will collaborate with me by videoing the performance(s). (i'd like to suggest
richard hell's "blank generation" for the soundtrack.) what is happening
when we do this? for one thing, "something one would not have expected to
occur" - johnson's response to (unasked) question #13 (to which the title of
my poem refers, as an appendix) is happening. also: "possible matching
between the unmatched" is happening. ray johnson and roanoke? buddhism
and roanoke? budapest and roanoke? what is "unniversity"? i think it refers
to an anti-university, or at least a non-university, but i am probably only partially
right. it could refer to the UN - or it might refer to an important anniversary. i
suppose i could make signs to hold up in front of the arts district mural, or i
might even make them while standing (or sitting) in front of the mural:
0) Black Mountain College
1) The New York Correspondance School
2) Buddha University
3) Buda Ray University
4) The Institute for Study and Application in Kohoutenberg
5) Budanoke Unniversity
6) Bent Mountain Collaege
then hold them up to the camera, in sequence, 0 through 7. i could fold them
into paper airplanes and fly them out over 5th street when i'm finished. alien
hovercraft could fly through the alley and disappear down 5th street.
according to bill wilson part of johnson's interest in the number 13 came from
the fact that with a slight shift of the 3 towards the left the number 13 becomes
the letter B. 13 - B, then, is at least potentially B - B, which is, in roanoke, at
a collab fest (which is at least potentially a kind of miniaturized marginal arts
festival): Bill Beamer, Be Blank, Between Both, Both Both... what is happening
when we do this? maybe "nothing" is a thoughtful response... but not simply
"nothing"... and not simply "something"... not either "something" or
"nothing"... what is happening when we do this is both "something" and
"nothing". it is perhaps a playful kind of "nothing", which is simultaneously
"something one would not have expected to occur"... we create something,
call it "art" or call it "nothing", and in the process we create connections -
again, at least potentially - matching the unmatched, connecting the
unconnected - by triangulation - by placing a new dot on the map...
something to consider, even if we choose to consider it "nothing" - which,
when all is said and done, will be entirely alright with me - because this kind
of "nothing" is something i find interesting...