GAME ON (30)


TIME TRAVELER





ONE


At the end of last month I was sent a short email ('FYI' is all it said) that contained as an attachment the following photos of a glorious object, front and back:

1paghdmpsauudtut0025yh7qq_thumb_10320 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

So I did a bit of research and responded:

Dear Michael Wynne,
Thanks for this. Some detail coming up… John Evans was sent quite a few of the pre-New York ‘I GOT UP’ cards by On Kawara, that is from May 1968 to March 31 1969. When Kawara was putting together the complete ‘I MET’ in 2007 or 2008, he included three to John Evans, one from September 1968 and two from March 1969. He also included seven ‘reconstructions' of John Evans' cards from March 1969, including March 23, 24 and 25. For March 26 he showed the card sent that day to Kasper König (no doubt you know that On Kawara sent out two cards each day, and at this early stage in his project the first card always went to Kasper König). Interesting (to me) that it's not the same picture and that the card entered the postal system in a different way (postmarks are not the same):

xnz29dbgscewnxeep49bbw_thumb_f2f6 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

I’m assuming that in 2007/08 O.K. didn’t have access to the J.E. card of March 16, 1969. I’ve seen the March 24, 1969 card on Twitter, so I’m supposing the cards sent to John Evans were given away or sold to various people, possibly at different times.

Best wishes,
Duncan

Michael Wynne got back to me soon enough:

'Thanks for the info. I always wondered if both cards sent each day were the same. The card is part of my mail art collection. John Evans passed it on to another artist giving it his own “Avenue B School of Art” and date stamp in 1978. I can’t remember which artist it was, off-hand. Not a well known one. He mailed it along with a Ray Johnson that he drew and water colored on, and a couple other items. All in the Ray Johnson mail art tradition of adding to and forwarding things. If you would like to receive my on mail art please send me your mailing address.'

My turn:

'That’s generous of John Evans - to circulate the cards he received. Generous too of the artist who gave the On Kawara card to you, or did it not have much market value at that stage? I did find one example of an On Kawara card sent to John Evans that soon ended up in another artist’s collage. You can see that about a third of the way through my 1968 page. Yes, I would love to receive (and get my head around) whatever it is you are sending out.'

Over to Michael, who was opening up a bit:

'I bought the On Kawara years ago for very little. I never could afford one now! Nobody cared about mail art until recently. My first Ray Johnson postcard was 3 dollars. With a rabbit head drawing on it! Not surprised some were re-used into other artworks. It’s seems a bit of a tradition to re-use, add to and forward work. More wound up in trash cans or in boxes in basements eaten by rats. It seems crazy now how casually such great art was treated but I guess it was the nature of the work and the times.

'I know two others artist that have done a take on On Kawara's I GOT UP. Eric Doeringer and George Horner. I’ll send images of them when I find the files. I’ll also send my most recent post card which is a take on Jonathan Monk. I also think I’ll soon revisit my location postcards which were inspired by On Kawara.'

This is all good. I wonder how long it will take Michael to do the last thing mentioned.





TWO

Things are beginning to warm up. I've received three cards from Michael. Which arrived in the following order.

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So what is happening? Michael may be suggesting that any time traveller could use the precise co-ordinates given (time and space) in order to download Michael Wynne as he was in the process of buying the above postcard. Let's hope the time travellers can tell the difference between an artist buying a postcard and a cowboy bringing down a steer. Otherwise they might get something more (or less?) interesting than they'd bargained for.

Second card:

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How do I interpret this? Or rather, how would the time traveler interpret it? Which I imagine to be either future humans or aliens from another galaxy.

The time traveler might indeed be attempted to follow the time and space co-ordinates in order to download Michael watching the eclipse from his backyard. Would they be expecting yellow flowers and cactii? Would full eclipse be all cactii and no yellow flowers, or vice versa?

In some ways it would be good to know more about the hypothetical time travelers. But I'm not sure I'm going to get that information.

OK, with this third one, we are looking at a postcard that Michael Wynne has created himself.

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Again I'm trying to see things from the time travelers' perspective. No sign of Michael Wynne making a ham and cheese sandwich. So either they would assume he was inside the building pictured, making the sandwich. Or the building pictured was the post office and had nothing to do with the ham and cheese sandwich that Michael was making for himself or somebody else.

Having got as much as I can from the postcards, I email the artist.

Hi Michael,
Thanks for the three cards, two of which arrived today.
I’ve looked at your addresses (Palmer, Plano and Kirvin) and it seems you’re not too far from Houston where Hiroko took a photo of On Kawara in a Holiday Inn that I’ve now placed on my Home Page. Also, I’m about to revise On Kawara’s 1974-75 road-trip which took him to Texas.

Time Travelers
Download Me
On the Trail of On Kawara

Best wishes,
Duncan

The main reason for sending that email was to acknowledge receipt of something idiosyncratic, artful and generous. If he wants to say more about his project I will listen carefully. It's the least I can do.

Next day:

I hope you enjoyed them. I started doing the time travelers/location around ten years ago. My take on On Kawara’s 'I Got Up' series. I didn’t know he did a longitude/latitude painting in 1965 when I started but wasn’t surprised when I saw it. (More surprised when I found it wasn’t his location!). Anyway I mailed you seven postcards. I don’t know if they will all arrive. My studio is between Houston and Dallas. I spend half the time there and half in Dallas with my wife. Are you visiting in Dallas? Lunch when you are in town?

Over to me:

The cards are building up a picture that I hope will intrigue me more and more as the others arrive. When I say I’ll be in your neck of the woods, I will only be there virtually, so lunch is not an option, not even a ham and cheese sandwich! But thanks for the invite. By the way, were you in Dallas when the magnificent On Kawara show was there? I’ve made a particular effort to do it justice on my 2008 page.

I suspect that the postcards are making fun of an artist's desire for immortality through their art. Little notes to the future time travelers to come and get Michael Wynne and download him into a robot or something. But it is also a list of the mostly mundane things life really consists of. It's possible that the A.I. Michael Wynne will still be doing the same things in 5723’s virtual world.

Two more cards come in the next three days, both on the home-made card whose picture shows the metal-roofed post-office, including a particularly strikingly stamped signature card. It seems like a complete set already.
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It seems that the first two cards were bought postcards and the remainder were home-made ones showing the post-office. Though the dates posted suggest that there may be an early one that hasn't got to me yet.

This next one, the signature card, looks like the last one, but might not be.

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On this basis, the Time Travelers would be able to download Michael buying a postcard, download him watching a partial eclipse from his backyard, download him eating a ham and cheese sandwich and then download him buying a black coffee at a service station. Though the coffee postcard was sent the day before the sandwich one. The order of composition of the postcards by the artist is more important that the order of receipt of them. That must be the first rule of postcard art!

What could possibly complete the human picture? I will eagerly await the post over the next few days and hopefully enlightenment will be forthcoming.





THREE

All right, let's clarify where we've got to. A couple of days ago, the sixth card turned up.

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I thought that would be it, but remained hopeful that the last card would arrive. And so it did this morning, October 30, 2023.

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This card was posted on October 10. Which makes it the second one sent. Time travelers note: first card, the artist buying the postcard; second card, the artist mailing the previous postcard.

The completion of the art work: seven postcards sent from Texas to Scotland between the dates of October 8 and October 21, 2023, has triggered a celebration. That is, the making of a Date Painting.

First, I've laid on a coat of raw Sienna. I've come to the end of the tube so that the sides of the canvas have been painted in Burnt Umber. Which is a first for me, but I think On Kawara would accept both colours link back to the Cave Paintings of 30,000 years ago that so impressed him.

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The fact that I've placed the postcard on the painting-in-progress clearly means that it's dry. I can put the second coat on as soon as I wish. So let's do that…

And while that dries let me get on with this text. I want to get it finished today. I've a feeling that if I don't get it finished by midnight the time travelers won't be interested in downloading me.

So here goes. The following map shows where Michael Wynne was when he wrote me postcards. That is, two from Plano, two from Palmer and three from Kirvin. It also shows On Kawara's exact location in the Holiday Inn, Houston, when he Date Painted on January 1, 1975. And his location at the Holiday Inn, Dallas, where he painted on January, 6, 7 and 8, 1975.

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Almost a straight line from On Kawara's bedroom (red circle) in Houston, through Kirvin and Palmer, reaching Dallas (second On Kawara bedroom) and Plano. Now the fact that the Plano location where Michael Wynne lives with his wife is slightly off the straight line, may be because I just put 'Plano' into Google Maps. I should have put 33 ' 2' 38' North and 96' 46' 54' West, the co-ordinates from the October 14, 2023 postcard. But I don't have time to correct that now. Instead, I'll plough on with this text.

Hang on, I need to check if the first coat of Payne's Grey is dry. It is…

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So we have On Kawara Date Painting in Texas in 1975. And Michael Wynne making his On Kawara tribute in Texas in 2023. But postcards were also involved for On Kawara on both JAN 1, 1975 from Houston and a week later from Dallas. And I know On's exact co-ordinates. In Houston: Holiday Inn, 2100 Memorial Drive. And in Dallas: Holiday Inn, 1015 Elm Street.

5cu8eel5s1q2tghs00250025dahg_thumb_10331.1qgqyhrdrsi56xh9c3jbig_thumb_10334 Reproduced from the Michelle Didier volumes thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

Researching this essay means that I don't get the letters of my Date Painting drawn before lunch. So from 2pm until 4pm becomes the time of day I have to get my head down and graft. I try to get the spacing of the letters right. And I try and be as meticulous as possible with the white-infilling of the letters. But it takes time. And it takes concentration. And I still have stuff to do. Still, I'm quite pleased.

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It's at this point I can time travel back to Houston, thanks to the photo that On Kawara's wife, Hiroko, took in their Holiday Inn room. On didn't allow photos of himself to circulate in the public realm, because he knew that would made things too easy for the Time Travelers (time bandits and time fools). But this photo does make it into the catalogue that was put together in the last year of his life, 2014.

8bbxiipnqlgcgl6zzmeqtq_thumb_d270 Reproduced thanks to the understanding of the One Million Years Foundation.

So what do we have here? We have three artists who share space co-ordinates (Michael Wynne and On Kawara) and time co-ordination (On Kawara and me) and so we have a triangle of significance. If my calculations are right, then at midnight something special is going to happen. I'm not saying that On Kawara is going to materialise in my room in Blairgowrie, Scotland. That would be too much to hope for. And I'm certainly hoping that the steer that was lassoed in that first postcard of Michael Wynne's doesn't turn up. All I have to do, is to stay in the moment and get closer to perfection with my Date Painting.

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God, if this doesn't get On Kawara turning up at midnight, here at 35 Reform Street, nothing will do the trick!

Stay calm, stay calm. Believe in my process. Keep working on those letters in the context of the postcards.

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Maybe On Kawara won't turn up. Maybe he will not be won over by me teaming up with Michael Wynne. Maybe he'll be unimpressed with the prospect of watching a partial eclipse from Michael's backyard or watching him make a cheese and ham sandwich. And as for that zero in my Date Painting - am I having a laugh? It's more like a screaming, ghostly mouth than a polished, perfect nought. A six-year old could do better by rubbing some plasticine between its hands and then looping it round.

Oh, my God, it's happening. That hand coming through the mirror, like one of the last scenes in Twin Peaks. It has to be the hand of On Kawara.

o0025wthkh1qvakj002bo3o8ut3w_thumb_10335 Reproduced thanks to the forbearance, I hope, of the copyright holder and One Million Years Foundation.

Me: "Sorry, On. But I thought it was better than nothing."

On: "Relax. I am here to better the nothing."

Me: "Hang on. Am I hallucinating? I feel that nearly 50 years are coming and going. Is that you, Michael?

I realise I need to step back from my desk. So I do that. It's still only ten pm and I've got this phone in my hand. Why don't I contact Michael? He should be in on this on the day itself. I can be the time traveler, in a sense. I've made this day my own but it needs to be shared.

Hi Michael, Got all 7! Have been writing a text about them as I’ve been doing a Date Painting today. All finished now but uploading will take me to tomorrow morning. It was at about 10pm that I noticed you’d been adjusting your own postcard. Distracting marks from the postal service had disguised this. Hang on, I’ve just seen another photo I must add to the mix. Will send you the link to the text tomorrow. Any changes you suggest will be made. Thanks for an exhilarating day! Best, Duncan

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And let's send this next image to Michael right now as well. He'll get the idea - postcard so hot it bursts into flames outside the post-office where it was posted!

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It is now October 31, 2023. I see that the new web page has been viewed nearly 30 times already. Michael may have alerted his mail art group as to its existence. That's fine but I need to correct the text in a few places and end with these views of an ordinary post office in the cold light of a Texan day:

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Do you see them? Who would have thought that those long-awaited time travelers chosen form of transport would be the humble parachute?

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Jesus. This is serious. I'm out of here!





POSTSCRIPT

The next day, Michael gets in touch:

'I’ve really enjoyed reading your response!

'A quick note: when I said 7 cards I meant Time Traveler cards. I wasn’t counting the signature card. So I've sent you one that may be lost. I send myself 3 or 4 in case that happens. The US postal service sucks and is not dependable Let’s give it some time and see. Also I’ve mailed an 8th since then and I’ll send you one now and then over time. But those 7 I consider a grouping. I’m waiting for the new cards to send more. I’m not real happy with the new Texas tourist cards I bought and they may go towards something else. Attached is the journal page for the un-arrived 6th card.'

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Cut to November 7, 2023 (today), when a seventh Time Traveler card arrived in Blairgowrie:

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It's not the missing card as outlined in Michael's journal. He does mention an eighth card in his email, so perhaps this is it. I like the ambiguity as to whether I have the complete set or not.

There is also the possibility that this eighth card is the creation of AI. What a depressing thought that time travelers from the future will be AI. This AITT simply scanned Michael Wynne's genuine cards and came up with this one by extension. But sometimes AI gives itself away. As if the real, all-too-human, Michael Wynne - of the ham and cheese sandwich and the partial eclipse fascination - would ever wish to be seen at IKEA buying a chair!

Blast! - that is nonsense. AI is quite right in thinking that Michael would have needed the IKEA chair in order to sit eating his sandwich in comfort while watching the partial eclipse in amazement. Though if it was me I would have been happy enough just to park the chair in front of the post-office and wait for the pyrotechnics to begin.