Community at a Distance: The Networked Art of Ray Johnson


Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowships in American Art


Art History


This dissertation focuses on the networked art of Ray Johnson (1927-1995) and the model of community-at-a-distance he constructed. Concerned with a decentralized understanding of the self that emerged in the US in the latter half of the twentieth century, it analyzes Johnson’s radical assertion of interconnection and network position as central to the construction of subjectivity. Johnson’s work deconstructs the modern subject, as it confronts new forms of liberation and domination that emerged with the expansion of global capitalism and communication technologies during the 1960s. Building a community based on long-distance communication, rather than inherent commonality, Johnson’s networked art provides a key model for contemplating issues of our increasingly globalized society.