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Critics Page In Conversation

Excerpt from Benjamin Patterson with Kathy Goncharov


Any art history?


Any art history?

No, no. I stayed away from that.


You know, that was the past.

The excerpt below is from an oral history transcript of a recorded interview with Benjamin Patterson on May 22, 2009. According to the Smithsonian Archives of American Art website:

The interview took place at Patterson's home in New York, NY, and was conducted by Kathy Goncharov for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Funding for this interview was provided by the Brown Foundation, Inc.

Benjamin Patterson reviewed the transcript and made corrections and emendations. The reader should bear in mind that they are reading a transcript of spoken, rather than written, prose.”


MS. GONCHAROV: I have a better idea—

MR. PATTERSON: —the kind of text that is similar to what I’ve done for this, so it’s concise but hits all the major points. And then there’s a little intro: one, two lines for each piece, that’s already written up. And I have, of course, the scores for all of them, so it could be complicated. It could be also—

MS. GONCHAROV: It could be, or it could be simple.

MR. PATTERSON: It could also be simply put together, yes.

MS. GONCHAROV: How about getting a game programmer to do a Fluxus game?

MR. PATTERSON: Oh, where is it? You won’t believe this—

MS. GONCHAROV: A video game.

MR. PATTERSON: A video game, but let me show it to you first.

MS. GONCHAROV: Oh, okay.

MR. PATTERSON: It came out of their personal collection that they decided I should have it, a gift from Randy and Kate.

MS. GONCHAROV: Oh, look at that.

MR. PATTERSON: It’s a card game called Flux, in which—

MS. GONCHAROV: Where did they find this?

MR. PATTERSON: —in which the rules constantly change. [Laughs] So you think—I haven’t read it through yet; they just explained it to me—

MS. GONCHAROV: “ Our mission is to multiply.” [Laughs] This has to be Canadian. What do you think?

MR. PATTERSON: Oh, it could be, could be.

MS. GONCHAROV: I bet it is.

MR. PATTERSON: Yes. And so you think you have this strategy and a hand of cards that’s going to win, and then the rules change and you’re, you know, completely wiped out or whatever.

MS. GONCHAROV: Oh, this is great. I have to ask him where he got this, or who did this. But a video game—

MR. PATTERSON: Yes, that’s also a possibility.

MS. GONCHAROV: I mean, that’s what kids are interested in now Grand Theft Auto Fluxus style.

MR. PATTERSON: Well, Christine, she saw this cover that I have made with the White House floor plan and the heads all lined up in that with the—she said, “You know, it looks like a video game.” [Laughs]

MS. GONCHAROV: Well, see? Maybe you have—

MR. PATTERSON: And I didn’t even know it. I don’t play them. I hate them.

MS. GONCHAROV: Yes, me too.

MR. PATTERSON: But, you know, it’s—I’m infected.

MS. GONCHAROV: But it’s kind of the perfect next step.

MR. PATTERSON: Step, yes, I know. Well, that’s—hmm. Yes, that’s—

MS. GONCHAROV: Some young, geeky programmer.

MR. PATTERSON: A young, geeky programmer and—yes, it could take the classic works in this miniature form and, you know, geeky program it into a game format, yes.

MS. GONCHAROV: And it can be in a limited edition.

MR. PATTERSON: Yes, yes.

MS. GONCHAROV: Okay, let’s do that.




MS. GONCHAROV: I’ll find a geeky programmer.

MR. PATTERSON: I’m up for whatever is the newest of the newest of the newest.

MS. GONCHAROV: That is the newest of the newest, yes.

MR. PATTERSON: That’s what keeps one younger than they seem to be, and alive. Yes, sure. The golden—

MS. GONCHAROV: I’m digressing. I keep forgetting about the tape but we’re digressing here. [Laughs]

MR. PATTERSON: The golden age of flux, the video game.

MS. GONCHAROV: Yes. [Laughs]

MR. PATTERSON: Well, I’m glad that many of our colleagues are dead so that they won’t be able to argue with me about it. [Laughs] Oh, yes, that’s one of the advantages of being one of the last; nobody contradicts you. Now you get the real version. [Laughs] Anyone want to contradict me? Were you there? [Laughs] Oh, maybe we want to turn this off for this little note. You know John Hendricks—

Contact Information
Reference Department Archives of American Art Smithsonian Institution

Washington. D.C. 20560


Sam Vernon

Sam Vernon (she/they) is an artist living in New York.


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