This Friday, at the Portland Gallery, Moshi-Moshi, opening will be a show featuring the Rayguns of Ray Horneau. I would recommend anyone in the area to check out this amazing exhibit. Here is a brief intro written by Ray's archivist Brian Elliot and pictures of some of the rayguns:
I met Ray in Bolivia in the early 70's. He was operating a grimy old clock repair shop on Via El General in Santa Marta. He looked a little disheveled, chronically 40. I knew from the moment I met him that something was up. He had that look of someone who is holding back.
I wandered in to look at his stuff and we got to talking. When his Daughter, Xotil came out from the back room he introduced us. After that, I divided my attention between listening to Ray's story (which I did not believe) and watching the beautiful Xotil.
Ray had crash landed in Southern France on August 4th, 1405. The Spring that year had been unseasonably warm and wet, ideal conditions for the growth of a fungus that attacks wheat called, ergot. Apparently, the crop had been badly infected and most of it had been destroyed. Farmers were devastated so it was no surprise that some of the contaminated wheat slipped into the mills and was duly transformed into highly potent, hallucinogenic baguettes and pastries. So while the majority of the little village of Perigord were having ergot- induced psychotic episodes, Ray arced in overhead like some kind of sputtering meteorite and smashed into a field. As luck would have it, the ground underneath gave way and Ray's second crash deposited him safely at the beach of an underground river formerly hidden from the view of humans for some 4 million years. The owners of the dairy farm above him did not survive the three plus days of hallucinations. One of the cows fell into the hole- lucky for Ray and the rest wandered off to be claimed by the neighbors. The grass grew out and covered the hole. This is how Ray managed his undetected entry into the human race.
Ray spent several desperate months trying to raise the home office on his communications gear, but it had been sadly smashed beyond repair. He was able to deploy an observation satellite so he occupied his time observing 15th Century France, and learning to prepare and enjoy beef. He even tried his hand at painting on the cave walls.
By the time I met Ray in 1975, he was on his 14th alias as a clock repair man. He had moved every 40 years or so to avoid suspicion over his inability to age. He had been married about 4 times. It broke his heart to outlive his wives and each time he swore he'd never do it again, but aliens get lonely too every few hundred years or so.
Ray's gig back on the home planet had been as a kind of tech services guy. He specialized in a technology that could transform objects into a beamable signal and then back again, your basic Star-Trek transporter kind of thing. He was en-route to a repair when his little mishap landed him here.
Ray had always been a little distracted. While his aptitudes had placed him in his current occupation, he had always had these musings pulling his attention from the task at hand. Images, shapes color, texture, the desire to re- contextualize. Ray was an artist born into a culture without art. Back home, he was damaged goods. They tried to place him in an area where he'd make the most contribution and do the least damage, but the writing was on the wall.
Here on Earth, post crash-landing, Ray was the most technologically advanced biped walking upright- the proverbial big fish in a little pond. But that neither boosted his confidence nor inflated his ego. Ray realized early on that he'd have to blend to survive. So he did. And his natural caution and considered demeanor only helped with this.
Being curious and intelligent, Ray sought out like minded souls. His clock business often brought him into contact with many in the upper socioeconomic strata. Time and again, through each of his aliases, he managed to rub elbows, Zelig-like, with the notable of each generation. Along the way he developed this hobby of producing one-off "rayguns" for his famous friends. He was able to roll all his interests and skills into this labor of love; transporter technology, design, art and biography.
To call them guns is a bit of a misnomer. They have really always been transporters. Once fired, the victim of choice is transported instantly 150 miles to the right to the nearest population center. These are weapons to be used in a pinch, to buy their owners a little extra time. Because of technical limitations, they have only had the ability to fire once. The agreement has always been that once discharged, the instrument should be returned to Ray with an account of the incident, reason for firing, name of victim and any comments on its performance. If never fired, then Ray would show up at the wake or reading of the will to reclaim it once the subject passed on.
In return for the loan of the gun, Ray would get to spend some quality one on one time observing whom ever he found fascinating as a subject for a Raygun. He would take notes, sketch, sometimes he would ask for some small object from the subject to incorporate into the piece.
To see Ray's inventory of over 600 little boxes labeled with the names of every subject he has designed for is breathtaking. It is striking to see not only the names of the famous, but those of individuals invisible to history. I can't help but wonder about the genius and humanity of those whose names I do not recognize. Clearly they must have had some extraordinary qualities to have attracted Ray's attentions and efforts. It is a conceit of mine that since our meeting in Santa Marta 30 years ago, Ray is thinking of making a gun for me. As it stands, I am honored by his invitation to act as his agent and archivist.
As to Mae West's gun. According to the incident report written in her own hand, she had been drinking on the afternoon of September 15th 1936. Shooting had recently wrapped up on "Klondike Annie" She had just had an argument with the director who had stormed off the set, she used her weapon to steal/transport a grand piano off the sound stage and to her home 150 miles away in Palm Springs. In her comments to Ray she wrote, "I generally avoid temptation unless I can't resist it." This was one of the more novel uses of one of Ray's devices.