Porter's multi-faceted life is rather difficult to summarize. However, Porter collaborator and fellow artist Mark Melnicove has managed a very helpful and concise introduction, quoted here from his bernporter.com site:
Bern Porter (1911–2004) was an artist, writer, philosopher, and scientist who was involved in the development of the cathode ray tube, the Saturn V rocket, and the Manhattan Project, which he renounced upon learning of the bombing of Hiroshima. Also a pioneer in the arts, he is known for his landmark work as an author and publisher. He was an early practitioner of mail art and found and performance poetry and experimented with typography, sculpture, photography, artists’ books, and collage throughout his life. Porter lived and worked in New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, California, Guam, Alabama, and Tasmania. He finally settled in his native Maine, where he ran for governor and established the Institute for Advanced Thinking. In 1979, Porter was given a major retrospective at Franklin Furnace in New York City, and a show of Porter’s work in the The Museum of Modern Art Library was shown at MoMA in 2010.
- Mark Melnicove, 2010
THE MANY BERNS
Joel Lipman, Professor of Art & English at the University of Toledo, Ohio, compiled this list of the many facets that together represent Porter and his life.
Bern the publisher, with all cost, quality & sales concerns.
Bern the antiacademic pacesetter, Miller, Nin, Patchen.
Bern the gadfly of public entities & community, Mainer, the community planner.
Bern the Doctor, both shipboard & during 1940s-50s science staff writing.
Bern the polymath, autodidact, renaissance man, omnivore.
Bern the appropriator, culler, gatherer of new associations, randoms, founds, artcrimes.
Bern the ladies' man, postal, home & foundation, raconteur, lover, husband.
Bern the cruise traveler, over & across oceans, datelines & equator, Wisconsin's Lake Geneva.
Bern the philosopher, the pamphleteer, the photographer.
Bern the salonista, gallery macher, the storefront, the home.
Bern the historifier, the mythologizer of self, the project of scrapbooks, reputation & archives.
Bern the goad, the mentor, the thread for others' realization, collaborator.
Bern the goof, preposterous, incanting, dressing the part, doodahing.
Bern the graduate, young man, artiste, European white suit, lanky Californ, posed for camera.
Bern the scientist, within government, cathode, space and rocketry, security clearances.
Bern the journalist, masthead associate editor, columnist.
Bern the heretic, iconoclast, edge of respectable custom & theory.
Bern the poet, oral, scribal, graphis, tonal, cut & paste.
Bern the midPacific resider, what happened in Guam.
Bern the pornographer, the cunty letters, slack & erect, literary & back of the yard.
Bern the philanthropist, endowments to libraries, colleges, posterity.
- Copyright, Joel Lipman, 2010