Moticos.

March 10, 2005

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I was mesmerized by a documentary I saw on IFC called How to Draw a Bunny.


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It was the story of Ray Johnson, an artist I always found mysterious, because there used to be a memorial to him, rumored to have been painted by Kenny Scharf, on Ludlow Street. It was a cartoon bunny’s head and the text RAY JOHNSON 1927-1995. For years, I had no idea who Ray Johnson was.
The memorial was painted on the only standing wall of a collapsed building; it was wrecked in favor of condos a few years ago.
I don’t have the space to go into his story, which I found fascinating, but there is one component of his art/life that appealed to me immensely; he did these small pieces called moticos, small collages that he mailed to other artists. (He was a pioneer of mail art, and called his circle the New York Correspondance [sic] School.
Quote from Ray Johnson:
“I’ve got a big pile of things at home which will make moticos. They’re really collages – paste-ups of pictures and pieces of paper but that sounds too much like what they really are, so I call them moticos. It’s a good word because it’s both singular and plural and you can pronounce it how you like.”
I’ve read in various places that “moticos” is an anagram of “osmotic.” Who knows if that’s true? I want to make some musical moticos.