By Beef Witch, 2017-03-03
Ray Johnson was a mystery wrapped in an enigma who lived his life like a Pop Art performance piece. His final masterpiece may well have been his own death, in January 1995. This enthralling documentary – edited and directed by John Walter, photographed and produced by Andrew Moore – is at once playful and haunting, an in-depth portrait of an iconoclastic artist who was fundamentally unknowable even to his closest friends.
Dubbed “the most famous unknown artist in America” in his time, Johnson is a prime example of the underground, eccentric genius who remains unknown to the public at large, while being legendary among his peers and others “in the know.” Many luminaries of the modern art world counted themselves fans and friends of Johnson, and “How to Draw a Bunny” features priceless interviews with such masters as Roy Lichtenstein, James Rosenquist, Chuck Close and Christo. Some marvel at the elusive complexity of Johnson’s art – a series of increasingly intricate letters to agent Mort Janklow is one example – while others conclude that he was most likely from another planet altogether. But none can separate the man from his work – his whole existence was his art, and his concepts of what an artwork could be were an (uncredited, of course) influence on the acknowledged father of Pop Art, one Andy Warhol. As Warhol Factory denizen Billy Name opines, “Ray wasn’t a person, he was a collage or a sculpture…he was Ray Johnson’s creation.”
In the late ’80s, Johnson fortuitously added video to his palette. Some of that footage is included here, though much of it consists of Johnson going to a cocktail party, putting the guests on, making all of them part of his ongoing biographical “piece.” Johnson always seemed to have a sense of humor about what he was doing, and in the film he never once comes across as pretentious (as so much of the New York scene at the time did).
This enigmatic whimsy extended to Johnson’s death, likely a suicide. His body was found floating under the Sag Harbor bridge, by buoy number 13. It was the 13th of January, and Johnson had stayed the night before in a motel, room number 247 (which adds up to 13). He was 67 at the time of his death (which also adds up to 13). In astounding video footage shot after his death, we see that Johnson had deliberately arranged his entire house to be discovered as his last great artwork, a meticulous warehouse of his ideas, his obsessions.
Then again, maybe “How to Draw a Bunny” itself is really Ray Johnson’s final testament, created with a mischievous wink from beyond the grave. After watching this extraordinary documentary, one has no doubt that such an act is well within Johnson’s creative powers.
By blindmime, 2017-03-03
By Beef Witch, 2017-03-02
“He sang away from the microphone, mumbled and whispered, all with a sense of precariousness and doom. “It was like being at the bedside of a dying man who wants to tell you a secret, but who keeps changing his mind at the last minute.” -Brian Cullman
Band Camp interviews several bands on the impact Nick Drake had to them. Very interesting read.
By blindmime, 2017-02-24
Blind Mime has been recording music for many years. It's probably only with the perspective of having done it for 35+ years and living 55 that calling it "absurd" has true meaning.
The recordings here are mostly one-off recordings, never meant to be collected into an album, really. But albums happened as musicians are wont to do.
And now hearing it here it seems as if there was a plan all along, which itself makes it even more absurd.
So here we are exploring an absurd world that we've found ourselves immersed in, and the more we explore, the more absurdity we find and we find it absurd that more people don't see it.
But a few of you will and become friends and share in our pointless quest. You'll find a forum where we shall discuss such matters and more.
Life is funny.
By blindmime, 2017-02-23
By blindmime, 2017-02-23
By blindmime, 2017-02-23
By blindmime, 2016-12-24
I really enjoyed this program. Well done!
By blindmime, 2016-12-23
I was searching the web for information about some of the past work I had created in collaboration at Tapegerm Collective, typing in "Herr Elsewhere," a composition I recorded in 2002 ish.
The phrase is not a common one. It's a play on words, having lost a good portion of my hair. Google turns up on a reference here from blindmime.com and then comes up wanting.
But sometimes an interesting idea floats to the surface of a search and provides some insight into a tangential thought and takes you somewhere else. I guess that's the idea of the Internet being a world wide web.
The tangent this search led me toward was the Theater of the Absurd in the form of a book of the same name written by Martin Essline and published by Pelican in 1963 whose complete text is now housed on archive.org.
The following is from the preface:
"Moreover, an understanding of this kind of theatre, which is still misunderstood by some of the critics, should, I believe, also cast light on current tendencies of thought in other fields, or at least show how a new convention of this sort reflects the changes in science, psychology, and philosophy that have been taking place in the last half-century. The theatre, an art more broadly based than poetry or abstract painting without being, like the mass media, the collective product of corporations, is the point of intersection where the deeper trends of changing thought first reach a larger public. There has been some comment on the fact that the Theatre of the Absurd represents trends that have been apparent in the more esoteric kinds of literature since the nineteen-twenties (Joyce, Surrealism, Kafka) or in painting since the first decade of this century (Cubism, abstractpainting) . This is certainly true. But the theatre could not put these innovations before its wider public until these trends had had time to filter into a wider consciousness. And, as this book hopes to show, the theatre can make its own very original contribution to this new type of art. This book is an attempt to define the convention that has come to be called the Theatre of the Absurd ; to present the work of some of its major exponents and provide an analysis and elucidation of the meaning and intention of some of their most important plays; to introduce a number of lesser-known writers working in the same or similar conventions; to show that this trend, sometimes decried as a search for novelty at all costs, combines a number of very ancient and highly respect- able modes of literature and theatre ; and, finally, to explain its significance as an expression - and one of the most representative ones - of the present situation of Western man*"