Paul Ryan was an assistant to Marshall McLuhan when he was at Fordham University as the Albert Schweitzer Professor of the Humanities in 1967-1968, and a couple of years later went on to become a pioneer in the video art movement.
Media Utopia: The Art and Advocacy of Paul Ryan
Exhibition: October 8 – December 31, 2008
Archives of American Art
New York Research Center
1285 Avenue of the Americas *
New York, NY 10019
The exhibition Media Utopia: The Art and Advocacy of Paul Ryan showcases selections from the archive of Paul Ryan (b. 1943), a pioneering video artist, writer, teacher and theoretician who works and lives in New York City. In 2008, Ryan donated his papers to the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, including a large number of early video studies - a first for the Archives.
Ryan’s work appeared in the groundbreaking exhibition TV as a Creative Medium at the Howard Wise Gallery in 1969, and he was a member of the Raindance media collective as well as contributor to its seminal video journal Radical Software. Much of Ryan's theoretical work focuses on triadic behavior - the interrelation of three units or persons - codified by Ryan into the concept of "threeing" and the Earthscore Notational System which incorporates video to address issues of ecological sustainability.
This important collection offers primary source material both on Ryan’s individual contributions as well as the video movement in New York at its germinal phase. The collection strengthens the Archives’ research holdings relating to the history of video formed first through the donation of the Howard Wise Gallery records in 1971 and augmented more recently through major collections such as the Leo Castelli Gallery records and oral history interviews with artists such as Bill Viola, John Baldassari, Morgan Fisher and Joan Jonas.
The Paul Ryan papers total 29.4 linear feet including correspondence, drafts of writing, photographs, printed material, sketches, notebooks, and a selection of original video studies, excerpts which are on view in the present exhibition.
Media Utopia is curated by Stephanie Wuertz, graduate student in Media Studies at the New School under the direction of Charles Duncan, collections specialist for the Archives of American Art. Selections from the exhibition are available on-line at: www.aaa.si.edu/exhibits/index.cfm/fuseaction/projects.projectitems/projectID/165
* Directions: 1285 Avenue of the Americas is the UBS Building at 51st Street and the west side of 6th Avenue. The Archives of American Art is on the lobby level to the rear of the building through glass double doors. Be careful not to mistake the main lobby area exhibition (the UBS galleries) for the Archives.