THE MAIL-INTERVIEW WITH DANIEL PLUNKETT
41 – unfinished
Started on: 19-05-1995
RJ : Welcome to this mail-interview. First let me ask you the traditional question. When did you get involved in the mail-art network?
Reply on 7-10-1995 (internet)
DP : Ruud ‑ I thought I had sent this off already, but looks like I didn’t. Anyway ‑ I started becoming involved in mailart via cassette trading during the late 70’s. After the punk explosion there were lots of people trading tape letters, compilations, music, sounds etc. on tape. And from this network I started to receive news about mailart shows etc. So one day I just sort of started into it all, not knowing what I was getting in for! Each week would bring in new mail, artwork, and contacts which has continued today. I was already a big letter writer and wrote to several “pen pals” already, and to me mail art was great as I could now write people that were interested in some of the same things as I was, plus it was always exciting to see what arrived in the mail. Ok, well that is a brief answer anyway!
RJ : Most people know you from you magazine N D. When did you start that and what is the magazine about?
Reply on 10-10-1995 (internet)
DP : The first issue of N D appeared in 1982. At first it was planned that artists, musicians, etc would each send in a page of artwork or information. The first issue was mostly that; different pages of artwork from various networkers. Then beginning with N D 2, I did a couple of interviews (one with filmmaker Kurt Kren) and included those, along with a few reviews of magazines and audio releases. The magazine started out as a contact resource for mailart shows, audio projects and addresses.
Each issue has been the same kind of format with interviews, and then as much information and reviews as possible. So basically it started out as a networker tool, and still is, but probably now there is more focus on the interviews and trying to provide a history behind some of the artists.
I started the magazine with a lot of the ethics and rules that have been on‑going withing the mailart world, by that I mean I would mention every thing that was sent in, everyone would receive a copy etc. But now, that has proved impossible, otherwise each issue of N D would be 2500 pages! We still cover a large majority of what we get in the mail (cassettes, shows, etc) but we simply dont have the time or room to mention it all.
Plus there are other excellent resoures such as Global Mail and Factsheet Five that are exhaustive in what they cover.
RJ : Is almost all the mail art you do connected to your magazine N D, or did you organize some other projects too?
Reply on 17-10-1995 (internet)
DP : Well, more and more over the years the mail art I do is connected with N D. Either by mailing the magazine to shows, or using the magazine to cover interviews and articles on mailart. The lines get pretty blurred anyway, it all becomes one on‑going project. We did organize a show a few years back called “Undercurrents” which was a month long exhibition at a local museum. This was an exhibit of over 1000 cassette tapes from around the world, and we organized it in many ways like a mailart show. We tried to present a rough histoy of the cassette network since the 70’s and we also had guest speakers (John Held Jr, and Robin James) and artists who performed during the event. So although we focused on the cassette medium ‑ we tried to connect it to the larger networker activity going on too. Other projects we have done have been a couple of exhibitions of visual artists, performance art exhibition and events, and several concerts of touring musicians and groups.
RJ : Why and when did you start to use the e-mail for your communication?
Reply on 15-7-96 (e-mail)
DP : I started using email a little over 2 years ago now. I had been introduced to it before, but always sort of avoided it ‑ just what I needed was more mail! But actually it has worked out well. More and more people that I know have email accounts and it is a quick and cheap way to stay in touch. Also it has been interesting to see people discover all of this kind of underground activity via the net. People that would never really come across this world unless they wrote letters, found a magazine at a shop, etc.
So anyway, I just started using email once I finally felt “oh well, what the hell” and have slowly jumped into it. Of course, Michael Northam should be given credit for giving me the push to get the nd.org site set up and also he is the one who has designed the N D webpages.
RJ : You new N D #20 is about to come out. How does the process go of finishing one issue? Is there a fixed concept or is every new magazine a completely different undertaking?
Daniel Plunkett – ND
AUSTIN , TX 78765