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Media Utopia: Art and Advocacy of Paul Ryan

October 8 - December 31, 2008

In 2008 the Archives of American Art acquired the papers of Paul Ryan (b. 1943), a pioneering video artist, writer, teacher and theoretician who works and lives in New York City.

Ryan’s work appeared in the groundbreaking exhibition TV as a Creative Medium at the Howard Wise Gallery in New York 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” as well as the Earthscore Notational System which draws upon video to address issues of ecological sustainability.

The Paul Ryan papers contain primary source materials on Ryan’s individual contributions as well as documentation on the video movement in New York during its germinal phase. The collection is an important addition to the Archives’ research holdings relating to the history of video first formed through the acquisition of the Howard Wise Gallery records in 1971 and augmented more recently through collections such as the Leo Castelli Gallery records and oral history interviews with artists such as Bill Viola, John Baldessari, and Vito Acconci.

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.

Donated by Paul Ryan in 2008. Special thanks to Stephanie Wuertz, graduate student in Media Studies at the New School.

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