Introduction to the "HistoRay" project by György Galántai
The launching of the "HistoRay" project at the Artpool P60 is the antecedent event of the Budapest Spring Festival dimensionist research exhibition, featuring Ray Johnson's works in its focus.
I am obviously delighted that, after twenty years, I was able to get in touch with the photographer who was recommended to me by Ray Johnson, through one of his hand-made stamps, in a letter from September 1987 (PHOTO BY JOAN HARRISON). The content of the letter reveals Joan's first photograph taken of Ray (Lattingtown Beach Corner Portrait), which was later revived by the mail-art network thanks to Ray's "add to..." method, through a drawing of a bicycle seat entitled "Bill de Kooning Bicycle Seat". Joan also made another portrait of Ray (Lattingtown Beach Portrait) which he later "recycled", but it was launched only ten years later on the network. Later on, the dispersed fragments were returned in surprisingly disparate versions.
Among the letters to Joan, there is one in which Ray asks..."how is mr. ach?" and continues the text, "LONG TIME NO SEE", with a drawing. In this letter, only by taking a quick glance at Michael E. Ach's coarse, 30 piece portrait sequence of Ray ("30 Expressions"), it becomes obvious to us why Ray's correspondence art was called, New York Correspondence School.
It is due to the effect of my observations, and these powerful photographs that I am compelled to re-think Ray Johnson's artistic endeavour from an up-close dimension. The work in question has lead to the further development of the Artpool Fluxus web-site by adding a new Fluxus/Johnson page. Furthermore, within the parameters of the "HistoRay" project web-site, we also set out to correct and refresh a site from 1997, entitled: "Correspondence Art of Ray Johnson".
I am content that I was given the opportunity to further expand the ‘virtual habitat' of Marcel Duchamp's congenial spirits, where "Through their free (random) movement, the objects, texts etc., like molecules in the ‘primordial soup', seek their proper, poetically speaking, ‘geometrical place'." (Miklós Erdély) "If we abolish the paradigm of historical time and opt for a new concept, whereby time flows towards us from every direction, and all things coming from the future are brought into being in the present, then through these things, the present is divided into two parts: that which can be downloaded, i.e., memory; and that which is impossible to download, i.e., the forgotten." (Vilém Flusser) [link: PREHISTORIC POST by G. Galántai, Arizona 1990]
Ray Johnson is the permutator of telematic art: his artworks are exceptional information particles that can only be correlated through the temporality of our lives. His invention, the "moticos" (particle), addresses a new concept of computative reading. The "moticos" is a real invention, because he did not invent it, he only noticed that it already existed, and this is how it came into being. According to Ray, it is his own temporality that determines his artistic attitude: "...I think that the New York Correspondence School was truly communicative simply because I was able to wheel the ping-pong paddle and to keep the ball on the move..."