Voluntary vs. Involuntary Ego – John S. Paul 2021

Auto Bodywork
Involuntary Painting
John S. Paul
August 2020

Voluntary vs. Involuntary Ego
an essay in the form of a letter to Paul Conneally from artist John S Paul

As founders of Involuntary Painting you and Millree have started an interactive art movement. This is no small accomplishment, prompting some older followers to pause and ask: why have a community of searchers come forward and fanned out across the globe? The group’s proposition opened the floodgates, directing focus to the hyper-mundane. Why did the suggestion catch fire, now sustained by over eight thousand contributors, culminating in that bold Mexico City exhibit in Hidalgo Station?

Unlike other art movements, nothing singular is claimed for its content and timing: but in our agitated political climate, IP gives the relief of Alka Seltzer.

Even during calmer times, practicing artists need to step away from the judgments involved in making art as personal objects. And there’s your joke: the location of an IP find can be listed as evidence, an invitation to visit, like a tourist location or blue plaque on a celebrity’s door – ubiquitous as the continuous video mapping of the world’s streets by Google.

There appears to be no self-aggrandizement in your humble, jumbled proposition. That being said I have often asked myself what’s the lure? Why doesn’t IP peter out and die? There is no ego in the photos posted. No incentive or contest to be won (although some posts still bear precious copyright signatures). The last word seems to come from the patina, the unseen hand of time and weather – the accident of paint blistered by the sun.

Max Stirner, a German thinker near the time of Marx, investigates the phenomenon of ego. In Ego And His Own, the focus is the concentration of political power by zealots and dictators. We are in such a moment with Trumpism, (conservatives and extremists from the alt right fear those same tactics amplified by the so-called Deep State). Fear and civic impatience have managed to attract blind obedience from huge populations, not unlike the unfocused subjectivity and dependencies of children. Stirner argues that by divesting your own personal ego to join the popular surge (Hitler, Stalin, Il Duce, Trump) you are an involuntary accomplice. The voluntary artists in the failed Weimar Republic were labeled decadent and condemned (involuntarily) by the gathering ignorance.

As esoteric commentary about art, and as a substitute for voluntary art in the blank mind of the alien visitor, IP is voluntary ego, and very far from being useful to any annoying or dangerous cause. Nothing remotely purposeful is enacted in these images. A stubborn abstraction, refreshed in real-time, updates a mute content. The scrolling activity of IP, like readers of comic strips, affords a subversive and creative relaxation.

As editors and administrators, you and Millree exercise a duty to your concept with voluntary ego, a far different thing from the involuntary ego Stirner warned about.

John S. Paul
Brooklyn, 2021

Involuntary Painting
John S Paul

Universal Penis

Universal Penis
Paul Conneally, 2020

Universal Penis is an involuntary painting on the exterior wall of Dronfield Woodhouse Scout Hut. It has been there for years resisting periodic attempts to clean it off. It has never been subject to a paint-over.

I’m sure that involuntary painting versions of the universal penis exist around the world. I look forward to seeing them.


Paul Conneally
Dronfield Woodhouse, UK
September 2020

‘You Need Hands’ – Anna Kolosova

The Involuntary International return to ‘Threads’ .. screenshots of our Facebook pages following a particular thread of comments .. each screenshot might be seen as a work in itself a piece of wallpaper ready to be pasted up on the gallery (wherever and whatever that might be) wall.

Paul Conneally Millree Hughes Aldo Flores

September 13th September 2020

Speech Bubble – The Return of The Involuntary International

‘Speech Bubble’, Paul Conneally, June 2020
As lockdowns around the world begin to ease The Involuntary International too splutters back into action. We have not been totally still but have been thinking about how the worldwide COVID 19 pandemic affects how and when SUBSTANCE will eventually manifest itself and we assure you that it will.
It’s difficult to say when at the moment but we will inform you as soon as we know. In the meantime we encourage all members and future members of The Involuntary International to actively re-attune to their surroundings and go to work discovering, photographing and posting Involuntary Paintings, Sculptures and Music to The Involuntary International’s suite of Facebook groups – Involuntary Painting, Involuntary Sculpture and Involuntary Music respectively.
We will also be posting images, sounds and information here so keep visiting back.
All that’s best,
Paul Conneally
Millree Hughes
Aldo Flores
and super producer Yaya Flores
June 9th 2020

The Issue of Adherence

“If I announce on this bright morning that I am a member of The Involuntary International it is not because I find the slightest need for, or importance in, a doctrine of any sort, it is only for the convenience of myself and a few others that I take up the issue of adherence.”


….and remember SUBSTANCE is coming!

Paul Conneally – Millree Hughes – Aldo Flores – Yaya Flores

March 12th 2020

Quote is an Involuntary International upcycled extract from THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING “DADA” – Marsden Hartley 1921

Nestor Quiñones to show in SUBSTANCE México City

We are pleased to announce that Nestor Quiñones will be showing in SUBSTANCE the next gallery show from The Involuntary International.

To support the show and receive perks from THE INVOLUNTARY INTERNATIONAL click HERE

Ideas – Involuntary Painting Budapest

Involuntary Painting
Paul Conneally
Budapest 2020

One man has a triangle
One man has a square
They might not agree
But they’re both aware
Of each other’s ideas
And that’s good!

from IDEAS by Wow Federation 1978/79 feat. Involuntary International founders Millree Hughes and Paul Conneally.


To support our next show SUBSTANCE in México City click HERE.

Listen to Wow Federation with Dum Dum Dum playing live in 79/80 ‘GOOD TIMES’

John Stipling to show in SUBSTANCE México City

Involuntary Painting, John Stipling, UK

We are pleased to announce that John Stipling will be showing in SUBSTANCE the next gallery show from The Involuntary International.

To support the show and receive perks from THE INVOLUNTARY INTERNATIONAL click HERE