Subject: Re:Reading as work
Mon, Jan 6, 2014 at 4:17 PM

From: Bill Wilson
To: Sofia Kofodimos

JACKSON POLLOCK could not without guilt and shame participate as his desires directed, so he focused observation on participation in the Cosmos, within gravities, which he was already participating in as observer­-partiicipant. The model of thuth became tought about the truth available through participation in that which was observed. Jackson Pollock observed his society from outside, and he observed his Cosmos from within his gravitational field. Pollock was alienated from his advertised American society by his sexuality. His desires did not allow him to participate in the masculinist society which he observed as a non­participant, as though outside it. But he had the sky and he could fling paint. His use of gravitational force rendered him a painter who was participating in cosmic gravity which he was observing in the Universe and using to get paint onto a canvas (linen). Jackson Pollock belonged to the Cosmos the way he combined within the forces which moved the sun and other stars. He used the weight of paint into an aesthetic illusion of wholeness, which, as illusion, is weightless.

Art as a mental focal plane is an aesthetic illusion – non-­material and weightless. Aesthetic illusions, qua illusions, are exempt from gravity, as are ideas, ideals, numbers and gods (numbers are not numerals). Pollock painted a popular image from a comic – “The Little King” – a comic about power and powerlessness of a man as sovereign of himself within the social/political world. But Pollock was not authentically at home in this society – because as an erotic error he was a misfit and outsider. He focused a plane outside this society ­­–the Cosmos. Pollock over­painted “The Little King” as “Galaxy.” Pollock participated in gravity – letting stuff fall into the paint, in an American transcendentalist mood of “I accept the Universe.” His actions while painting were him validating himself as star­child.

Pollock isn’t getting the observer to participate as Ray does – I go case­-by-­case, drip­-by-drip, acknowledging different values and different meanings. Some of these
meanings are not visual, but one can learn them and know them, just as with a 15th century Madonna one already knows that it is a painting – quite complex knowledge – and that the image is the Madonna and her Son.

The pours and drips are manifest qualities of paint on a surface within a gravitational field. The material qualities of paint are in tensions with aesthetic illusions, which as illusions, are not tangible and material. These themes reach Henri Matisse and the drips or runs of paint he allowed in “Young Catalan Fisherman,” a moment of paint qua paint, not pictural illusion. The drips call attention to the illusions qua illusions. Then in painting throughout the 20th century variations in drips, pours and runs are variations in meanings, as materialities take different relations to images and ideas. Ideals which have seemed non­material get explained in terms of material cause and qualities of physical matter in a cosmic field. Artist have different ideas of the relations between ideas and matter, as with various idealisms in tensions with Marxist dialectical materialisms. A tiny example of the issues is that a painter, Melissa Meyer, includes drips running upside down, serving purposes within a coherent composition, but such a misrepresentation of physical forces must claim “Formalist” autonomy from worldly forces. The formalist autonomy of a painting outside gravity must explain itself. I see the Formalist claims overwhelmed by a conflict between gravity and narcissism. Who has the power? Yet drip­-by-­drip: to each his own. Robert Motherwell, the morning after a session of painting, fixed the blurry drips which lacked intense articulation (Mel Bochner, studio assistant, reporting on his employer).

What are the relations between aesthetic illusion and gravity?

A great theme emerges with drips in paintings ­­ a claim or a hope ­ an experiment or a hypothesis ­­ that aesthetic wholeness can be achieved within the gravitational field ­­ that an aesthetic illusion is consistent with the materiality of both the canvas and drips of paint – which is the claim that illusion of wholeness is consistent with gravity and any physical forces which govern materials. A painter (Polke?) used pigments which responded to qualities in the atmosphere, so that a painting which was green in New York might be blue in San Francisco.

Cezanne left patches of unpainted canvas (linen), subsuming unpainted canvas within the aesthetic illusion of an image and within the illusion of aesthetic wholeness. As a Catholic attending Mass and taking Communion, Cezanne had to have a philosophic interpretation of raw matter. By including the materiality of canvas within the aesthetic illusion, he was redeeming matter. He was getting material to serve the purposes of spirit, with its non­material images and weightless ideas. Oil paint and canvas are materials which both have weight, but Cezanne got them within aesthetic illusions which are weightless. The theme becomes redemption from the weight of sin. The process is analogous to communion in that a material object becomes an idea. Belief in the physicalities of canvas and gravity yields to the process of faith. The aesthetic illusion exists the way objects of faith exist (hence the naturalism in painting consistent with Christian faith).

Andre Derain used the raw canvas (linen) to represent the canvas or linen of a sail for a sailboat. The raw canvas was transformed by becoming a representational meaning.

Robert Rauschenberg clarified the themes of runs, pours and drips with “Factum I” and “Factum 2” ­–which Ray saw in Bob’s studio in 1957. This pair ­– two paintings which are almost identical ­­ –changed the world of art. The “almost” of “almost identical” is not a fault or a weakness, it is a meaning about the conditions of thought, with relations to themes of identity. Does A = A? “Is Ahab, Ahab?” “Is Marianne Moore Marianne Moore?” Which “Factum” was painted first? Or is one “Factum” a model for the other, a criterion­image? After Bob sufficiently duplicated drips with calculations of identity and difference, drips of paint could no longer convey an artist’s sincere impassioned commitments to paint qua paint. The plane of the artist’s sincere commitments had to recede from images and appearances, becoming less available to visual experiences, yet somewhere somehow such a plane existed. A (sincere) commitment had to be there for the sake of meaning at whatever depth from the visual surface. Even a cynic about moral values within aesthetic values had to have a commitment to the cynicism – had to have a plane of values, even if a plane far from (remote from) visual planes.

A chronology of drips would be useful – I merely have anecdotes. In a studio I saw a painting which was being worked on. The drips ran sideways, which put the painting and the painter superior to gravity, among irresponsibilities which I doubted the artist was committed to, although she was at that time meditating on the necessities in her life, and testing (calculating) her freedom from the weight of a difficult marriage. The painter did not finish that painting, that is, she did not commit herself to an image which, as a weightless illusion exempt from gravity, misrepresented the actual force of gravity on paint. The drips and runs had been vertical at the beginning of the process of painting. Then, with the abstract operation of rotation, she turned the painting. Such an abstract operation is reversible, she could have turned it back again. Such rotation is not like a spontaneous impassioned gesture with a hand; it represents a decision.

The rotation can represent will and pride, as though a person (artist) could decide what was real. The will of the artist had turned the painting as a physical object, as though the effects of gravity on paint were imaginary and so could be contravened. The issues include the power of the artist over the meaning of images which that artist has constructed. The truth of images can have relations with the will of the artist within illusions, or with the inescapable physical forces like gravity. With drips going sideways, a claim is made for the powers of the artist – for mind over matter. The drips would prove (demonstrate) a personal subjective power of will superior to the powers of physical forces. Within a weightless illusion, a human figure might levitate or ascend into Heaven. The experience would be in the realm of faith, as in faith that an impossibility is actual (real). The contrast is with belief which knows nothing that cannot someday be explained by a science. Then with belief dissociating from faith, the aesthetic illusion of drips running sideways would become an experience of a delusion.

The act of painting a painting can be an education in realities. Each different artist proves a different reality with paint, and reveals a different relation between the powers of the artist and the powers of materials within a gravitational field. Given the mythic history of a falling apple in the understanding of gravity, Isaac Newton sitting under a tree, Paul Cezanne’s apples represent thoughts about acceptance of the physical universe wherein apples fall. Then the image of apple can be conveyed in a weightless illusion within a whole painting. The dense weight of an opaque material object like an apple can be alleviated by an idea. The moral is that Cezanne’s soul can be saved. The history of art is that which has always not yet begun to be properly installed. Much, Sofia, remains to be uninstalled…


Subject: Re:Reading as work
Tue, Jan 7, 2014 at 9:38 AM

From: Bill Wilson
To: Sofia Kofodimos

Sofia: One of Ray’s axiomatic moves was to bring a personage out of official uniformed formalities and indifference associable with technologic relations. He coaxed personage toward person (and personality). Here are impressions, not verifiable facts: Clive Phillpot, a “somebody,” a personage as librarian of MoMA, was an observer of art. Ray mailed to Clive items which Clive, as librarian would catalog objectively, yet, in a Johsonian “also,” Clive as a gentleman would respond “subjectively”: “What a guy!” Clive as a personage outside the contents of the library became a person participating in the library. Objectivity has subsumed subjectivity ­–the unreal personage has been realized as a person. Ray wanted observers to become participants. His wit was to get Clive the observer to catalog himself as Clive the participant (already an observer). The relation between artist and ordinary collector is not a playful to and fro, with the feedback in which effects affect causes. Feedback among parts of a formalist composition constructs “organic unity” and “organic wholeness.” Frustrations of feedback become thematic in works by Robert Morris and Robert Smithson et alia. Feedback within a work of art was a value in an objective work of art which the viewer did not participate in. Feedback between a person and an aesthetic process was a governing value for Ray. Clive became a cause of effects upon the library which then affected the personage who was revealed to have been a person the whole (even if English).

Responses: the very process of life and of the semblance of “livingness” in a work of art. Robert Frost: “The Most of It”: “He would cry out on life, that what it wants,/ Is not its own love back in copy­-speech,/ But counter­-love, original response.” Thus I use a poem to demonstrate that a meaning of art [for me] emerges with my use of the art to think with. A collector/observer as an impersonal personage was indifferent to the processes which were the origins of “life” of a person and indifferent to of the “life” of the universe in which personalities have evolved amid reciprocities. Ray got Wynn Kramarsky to become a participant in his game. I’m starting an induction, listing Clive and Wynn as evidence for an inductive generalization about participations as a condition for adequate observations.

People whose values were fame and money (profit) figured that Ray’s motives were fame and profit, and reduced him to their level (thus problems with dealers and “agents” who take a percentage). Many collectors are investors who sell art to make a profit. Wynn Kramarsky was not known to attempt to profit from the work of an artist. Ray’s game, as he worked to get people into his game ­–to play his game ­–was primarily to get an observer to become a participant. I am aware that people decided that Ray was fawning over the rich and famous. I did not experience that from my perspective. In my specific slant of light, I saw Ray drawing a personage who was stylized within a system out of that system which had objectified, and if not falsified then at least distorted, communication. He did not approach a “movie­-star” sitting on the beach to fawn or to get an autograph, but to get a human response. A version of his criterion was available in a book which reshaped experience: Martin Buber, I­-Thou. A personage, as stylized within a system, was a coded person. A task was to get a personage to set aside codes. A code was visible in wearing a uniform – with rules and instructions imposed upon communication with another person.

Part of the meaningfulness of the penis is that it changes its signals without changing in itself – it’s nature is to change, so that change is not a destruction of an essence or of a standardized form. In communion, wine can change to blood without changing in appearance, at least in transubstantiation. In a different communion, a change can come through a change in designation, with wine designated as blood, and bread designated as flesh. The model is child’s play, as in a tea­-party when a cracker can become a cake. During “The Last Supper,” Jesus designates the wine as his blood, and the bread as his flesh. If one object can body forth and convey the meaning of a different object in a transcendental religion, then during a process of secularizations, an opaque object might become translucent with a meaning which did not require negativizations of a material/physical object. The sun setting in the sky could become a wafer without ceasing to be the sun

The filmic text is “Croupier,” in which a man is confronted with three women, each with a different relation between observing people in events and participating in the events. The croupier himself does not gamble. A profound film ­­–different from Ray’s values, but thinking through the meanings. He was less concerned with stating conclusions than with experiences.
Whatever he wanted Clive to know or to thnk. he’d rather he said it to himself…

Did you observe installing as a participation?

458 West 25th St
New York New York
212 989 2229


Subject: Re:Reading as work
Tue, Jan 7, 2014 at 11:29 PM

From: Bill Wilson
To: Sofia Kofodimos

d that REJ did not have special requests about cataloguing his mailings to the library. Received by mail order “From BMC to NYC.”

Subject: Re:Reading as work
Wed, Jan 8, 2014 at 11:05 AM

From: Bill Wilson
To: Sofia Kofodimos

Ray’s thinking was more peculiar to him than I have conveyed ­­ his values were minutely specific ­­ and inconsistent ­­ He did not need Clive to understand what he was changing about Clive’s circumstances ­­
Clive could go on being Clive, but he was now also a participant ­­ BOTH… Now: “Is Clive Clive?” I’ll know now to say some other things…”Dear Reader: Ray was not your uncle!”


Subject: Re:Reading as work
Wed, Jan 8, 2014 at 8:55 PM

From: Bill Wilson
To: Sofia Kofodimos

Maybe I sent something like this, but meanings and uses change. Librarians classify; Ray opposed classifications and being classified. I don’t look to librarians to appreciate subversions of classifications, but they could catalogue HYBRID ­­ one of Ray’s axiomatic images. Ray Johnson wrote to Wynn Kramarsky specifying prices for two collages: $550.00 and $750.00. Ray understood a price as a phantom, as with a “sale.” The sum of the two figures is $1300.00. Ray had dedicated himself to neutralizing the power of the numeral 13. His motive in combining (key Ray concept) two prices into one price is to render an observer, Kramarsky, into a participant­-observer, becoming a cause of effects which would affect him. The model was Jackson Pollock, whose use of gravitational force was to render a painter a participant in cosmic gravity, a force which aesthetic illusions, qua illusions, are exempt from. Pollock focused beyond the society (“The Little King”), where he was an error, onto the Cosmos, “Galaxy,” where he bodied forth cosmic forces. The history reaches Henri Matisse and drips or runs of paint he allowed in “Young Catalan Fisherman,” a moment of paint qua paint, not pictural illusion; with then variations in drips and runs, as with Melissa Meyer having drips upside down (a conflict between gravity and narcissism), and Robert Motherwell, the morning after a session of painting, fixing the drips which lacked intense articulation (Mel Bochner, sudio assistant, reporting). Robert Rauschenberg clarified the themes of runs, pours and drips. Johnson’s drips in “Oedipus” are representational, entering the collage of an aggrieved Oedipus/Elvis into the gravitational field. Ask for show&tell about YIN/YANG drips & B,M.C. Clive Phillpot as librarian of MoMA was an observer of art. Ray mailed to Clive items to which Clive would, as a gentleman, respond, so that Clive as a personage outside the contents of the library became a person participating in the library. Ray’s wit was to get Clive the observer to catalog himself as participant. The relation between artist and collector is subject-­object, not a playful to and fro, with the feedback in which effects affect causes ­–but feedback was a governing value for Ray, the very process of life and of the semblance of “livingness” in a work of art. For Ray Johnson, a collector/observer as an impersonal personage was false to the processes which were the origins of “life” of a person and of the “life” of the universe in which personalities have evolved amid reciprocities. Ray got Wynn Kramarsky to become a participant in his game, BUT DIDN’T EXPLAIN THAT TO HIM– ­­ NOR DID HE TELL CLIVE WHAT HE WAS DOING. His game was primarily to get an observer to become a participant ON HIS TERMS AND IN HIS TERMS. A hybrid. But what happened happened, which Ray accepted as sufficient That’s another and different complex theme which goes into Ray’s Buddhisms ­­– about which silence seems best…. Here is the point today: when Ray wrote “Please send to,” then mailed an item to be relayed to another person ­­–PLEASE ADD TO AND SEND.. ­­ –he could not know what happened. What then of feedback? But every point is a cross­ roads for Ray… Thus I pause at this triple crossroad, recalling where Oedipus killed his father…


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