This interview was done in 1995 by Ruud Janssen. It is possible to spread this information to others, but for publications you will have to get permission from TAM and the interviewed person! Enjoy reading this interview.
THE MAIL-INTERVIEW WITH HENNING MITTENDORF
Started on: 24-01-1995
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: 2-2-1995 (I)
HM: After having studied and practiced fine arts since 1959 (with interruptions), participated in shows and after having had some personal exhibitions since 1970, I decided to enter the network of mail art, i.e to become a conscious – networker in 1980.
During this year I made holidays for four weeks in the months of July and August together with my wife Angela and our two daughters in the Atelier Artistique International de Séguret (F). There I got acquainted with various European artists. One of them, the German artist Aloys Ohlmann, introduced me to mail art. In the meantime we made friends with another; our friendship lasts till today.
RJ : What was the reason for you to become a networker. What attracted you in the first place with this thing called mail art?
Reply on : 10-2-1995 (II)
HM: There has been a mixture of reasons, motives and emotions that caused me to get into the network. During my start with “mail art” I only knew this word meaning to me mailing art itself or ideas about art between artists and other creative persons. As an isolated creative person, artist, I was very fascinated by the possibilities opening before my eyes through art-communication and -exchange with other creative persons.
The word “networker” became accessible for me several years later when I dealt a bit with new sciences (among other with the change of paradigms, system- and communication-theory). Then I recognized mail art as a special alternative Fine art’s network among all the other networks and alternative networks within the big network called world, cosmos, totality. Then I accepted the net of mail art as my spiritual and emotional home and well of life.
Now networking attracts me especially for three reasons:
-It corresponds to the change of paradigms according to new sciences. This change teaches that world is no machine, that there exists no teleology and that one cannot recognize an objective reality. There only exists vagueness that one has to fill with viabilities constructed by cognition and communication, interactions, interconnected with the ones of the fellow-(wo-)men, fellow-creatures.
-It corresponds to the tendency of establishing alternative networks, i.e. networks corresponding to the change of paradigms. More and more (wo-)men struggle for their own matters by themselves. Concerned persons interconnect themselves to find out the best solution for their problems, viability, by interconnection and change of views and perspectives.
-It corresponds to the experiences, especially shocks, artists have got recognizing the commercialization of art and the human catastrophes-productions despite of developed culture, civilization during and after world-war II, i.e. killing of people, racism, holocaust, nature-devastation etc. It corresponds to all these experiences and the lessons the artists drew from them. They aim to make art as concerned persons for concerned persons, in a democratic-participative manner, i.e. not for money, but to enrich nature by enrichment of human culture. They aim at constructing fictional ambivalent up to “open” realities as part of everyday-reality, of micro-, meso- and macro-cosmos.
RJ : In the mail art I received from you from the beginning of our exchange until today you always used self-carved stamps. Did you use this media also before you got involved in mail art? What is so fascinating for you in the carved stamp?
Reply on : 23-2-1995 (III)
HM: Before I did mail art I used for making my fine art works several different techniques, especially drawing, painting, air-brushing, etching, pure and mixed, except among other stamping. I started with stamping, mostly using stamps self-carved out of erasers, when I got involved in mail art. Martina and Steffen Giersch, Dresden, former GDR, introduced me to this medium in 1980. Starting with mail art the range of my fine art’s techniques enrichened because I got acquainted to some more techniques for my art making like copying, faxing, making and using artistamps, postcards, stickers, and …..stamps. All these techniques – I think – intensified my art-work, especially strengthened its collaging and “open” character.
I think self-cut rubber stamps are very fascinating, appealing, for the following reasons:
-They are powerful miniatures. Rubberstamps combine big variety in small gracefulness. By self-sketching and/or self-cutting the stamps the artist can express him(her-)self by unfolding shaping power in respect to all themes on modest space with most insignificant means. Mostly the stamps’ images more or less originate from the reciprocal actions between official stamps of bureaucracy (state, firms, etc.), playthings (children’s mail), stimulations of the other stampers’ work and of other materials, media, as well as of the artist’s own fancy and skill, the tensions between one-sided authoritarian ratio, planning, and multidimensional, open, unplanned life and art leading to the altering of official symbols, signs and slogans up to the creation of alternative ones. Stamps are a bit original (design) and a bit mechanical (print) powerful miniatures.
-They are as art on a mass basis useful for real democratic-participative art. Primarily stamp prints of mail artists are no official “high level” art (“Hochkunst” – whatever that may be) produced as a single, unique art works to be sold as expensive goods on the art-market to collectors, respectively speculators. They rather are a poor and cheap art form multiplied to carry their short stylized, standardized up to unpersonal, stereotyped expressions as simple and quick as possible widespread into a broader public, especially whithin the mail art network, to let them work on a larger scale in the net and beyond that. So far the rubberstamp prints as art on a mass basis are useful for real democratic-participative art from concerned artists and creative people for concerned artists and creative people. Besides that stamps and their prints can be used – and I do so- in “high level art” too, not least to demonstrate the reciprocal effects between mail art and itself.
-They effect movement and improve cognitions. The gliding along stamp prints, that are repeated, put in a row, turned around, fading, interconnected with other stamp prints or other media etc., of one color or multicoloured (by means of one’s eyes and brains) causes despite the short static standardized forms and expressions of the prints, movements and intensifies cognitions, i.e. it strengthens the effects of the very art work. Stamps stirr respectively express intellectual and emotional, conscious and non-concious, verbal and non-verbal forms of self-observation, cognitions, within (wo-)men in a simple, cheap, but effective way.
-They create open (free) interaction and communication. Rubberstamps want to be printed on different things and materials like wood, bodies, cloth, paper (documents, envelopes, postcards, artistamps, books, boxes), etc. They want to be united with other techniques and media of the same artist or of other ones, in short to be used as collaging material for every thinkable purpose. They do have an inviting, asking, answering, signalizing, informing etc. dialogical character evoking reciprocal effects up to creating viability. They give impulses for participative dialoges within the single art-work itself up to the democratic dialogues within the network of mail art and beyond that. Stamps thus become a symbol of free borders transgressing interaction and communication fictionalizing, parodizing, criticizing, antiacting etc. against the so called realities, certainties of societies, especially of their ideologies, and thus pointing at the vagueness, openness of reality.
-They contribute to create viable human i.e. ecological and oecumenical, ethics. As non-commercial wide-spread art pieces of concerned (mail-) artists for other concerned (mail-) artists aiming at an interconnected view, perspective, through progress of communication uniting the various artists’ cognitions (variety, freedom) to find out contextual viabilities for a human living together with all fellow-(wo-)men, all fellow-creatures, (unity, order) even little stamp prints do help to create valid human, i.e. ecological and oecumenical, ethics and viabilities. As well the most humble and smallest thing, sign, expression can get as chaos-theory does show, respectively the paradigmshift, a bearing within instable networks, which state the societies of our globe with all their catastrophes’ productions do have reached by now. As a part of (wo-)men’s creativity small self-cut rubberstamps are not only beautiful, but even effective. They do transgress the special functions of official stamps of states, firms, etc. interpreting society’s processes in the interest of the ruling elites by breaking them open, to express more: a higher form of sociability saying and demonstrating at the same time that all can become a matter of communication, a matter of art, of communication as art.
-They contribute to create viability above the abyss of unperceivable reality. Rubberstamp prints like all art works at their best are means to participate in art’s communication-processes that are running together with all other communications-processes into the big process called world’s, totality’s process, i.e. life, evolution, creating viability by cognition and communication of (wo-)men above the abyss of unperceivable reality, always anew.
Single rubberstampprints on the one hand symbolize the wall up and isolation of the dynamical creativity by standardization and predomination, static pattern, order, of stampprints. On the other hand they symbolize creativity if used in an alternative way, especially to compose them in a sort of box-of-bricks-system with other stamps or art materials to a new whole, unit, as fanciful combination, metamorphosis, enigma, assemblage of beauty and shocks, as living unknown out of the -perhaps necrophile – known, as larger lifeful participative growing structures combining elements, that have been existing lonely, isolated, dominating before. This use of rubber stamps demonstrates that at first there is interest in open mixture and interchange of the mixed, viable. At second it shows too that there is interest in birth or death of unique individualities too, as provisional results and challenges of and in evolution’s processes.
The art-piece as collage becomes open, free. There doesn’t exist any more a central perspective that leads the onlooker through the work, but an accumulation of partial perspectives that lead to bewilderment of the onlooker, if (s)he doesn’t use his (her) cognitions and communications to get an interconnected view of viability. Within open collages including rubberstamp-prints, genesis, i.e. the composing and the growing apart, the union and the separation, is determined from totality and the numerous, the whole and its individuals. The process is ruled by a sort of ecological and oecumenical, i.e. symmetrical, powers balancing principle. Above all stands freedom (variety) for love (unity). All stamp-prints within the collaged work do represent the other too, quite different and alien, and as the other, together with the other, forming the whole.
Even if stampart becomes more mainstream I am not concerned that its popularity will discredit more serious rubberstamp artists. Rather its popularity can be used to make this art, art at all, more democratic. Whether a stampprint has effect or not depends on the fact if it is a dense expression or not, more decoration or more concerned interfering in life’s processes. New techniques (like for instance photography) never have set aside in principle older ones (for instance painting). The invention of new techniques has caused differentiation only. The challenge for the stampers will be to demonstrate the topicality of their stamping within the future.
Especially all these aspects formed by the spirit of Fine art’s networking form the background of my working as an artist with self-cut eraserstamps.
RJ : The communication with the help of computers is growing rapidly. It seems this has grown into an even bigger network (INTERNET, Bulletin Board Services, Fax-lines) than the mail art network. At the moment the two networks are touching each other because some mail artist (like myself) are a part of both networks. Will mail art survive in the computerworld of the future or will the traditional mail be there for many years to come?
Reply On : 11-03-1995 (IV)
HM: Men (men in the following always means women too) improve their interaction, communication and understanding between their selves, their autonomous cognitions, to find a common horizon for living together, i.e. for constructing a human holistic reality by operational consensi, among other things by differing out and evolving various media for direct and indirect communication.
Today the most effective communication-media are the electronic ones using the computers. The electronic media and appliances extend man’s normal common presence in an unexpected manner transgressing the mesocosmos, i.e. the world of the middle, “slow”, dimensions, that man is able to perceive without artificial expedients, to the world of velocity, speed, i.e. the microcosmos, macrocosmos and the fictions’ cosmos, the dimensions of which man is able to perceive only by expedients.
Todays electronic audio-visual mass-media for instance free (or seem to free?) man from abstract distance-keeping linearly thinking of writing and lead back by communicative interconnection and interaction like a revenge of sensuality “to a world of organic multidimensional sensuality”. On the other hand all electronic media lead to the strange and abstract sphere of theoretical knowledge and understanding mediated by symbols, words, numbers etc. and belong to the “universal space” of the “unbound spirit”, i.e. loosened from embodiment. They procure man with total omni-presence, i.e. global presence as “new time”, and with omnipotence, global-efficacy as “new creativity”.
Constantly more developed, more effective media of speaking, tones, writing and of pictures’ expression lead to always more complex knowledge’s organization and to pushes of achievements that on the other hand cause more advanced media, like for instance today’s electronic media including computers, newest ways of data processing and transfer, steering’s and control engineering interconnected through global networks of electronic memory’s and satellites’ technology. Selforganisation and accelerating changes fastening their speed and thus cause explosions of media, knowledge, technology and of results, products, of more developed media and so on and so on.
At that modern “information’s society” differs out, evolves, three big spheres of communication:
-Mass-communication for “social prices”, for instance TV, is the first sphere. In fact that is no real communication, but a public means of spreading informations and ideas indirectly and onesidedly, by one side as firm sender, to an anonymous dispersed audience, the members of which are not perceptible and effective for each other. Feedback comes into existence only by detours, like by reader’s letters or by viewing notes.
-Procuring, making available and mediating an unlimited mass of best quality information for market-prices is the second sphere. Herein communication doesn’t take place too
-Having ready communication’s channels for an “indirect direct” in principle confidential communication for market-prices is the third sphere. It is the place where real communication, i.e. with changing sender and addressee, takes place.
The mail artists, from my point of view better called “alternative fine art’s networkers”, networkers, according to my definition in the answer to question two, are not confined to the postal system’s traditional modes of dispatch, like letter, postcard etc. and the dealing with them. The postal system has been the first network being accessible for everybody in a simple manner and has been used in the name of the new alternative art movement. Today mail artists, networkers, can use all traditional and modern, poor and rich media fitting to their individual purposes, including new electronic media, computers and channels of worldwide technical networks.
At that the use of electronic media creates big dangers. As to the construction of reality by cognition and communication the “blind” use of electronic media, for instance television, contains the risk that the media push themselves between men, that the media become the message, that the media create, simulate, reality, that they overoll cognitive autonomy of man and his communicative competence and that reality can become manipulated or vanishes.
The electronic media cause floods of informations, the mixing of the on principle different, the splintering of one’s self- and world-experience, the pressure of time up to its annihilation, they lead to perception’s overpowering effects, to parasocial mute relations, to speechlessness, to addiction to the media and their novelties as well as to their amusements. There arises the risk that the individual is deprived of its autonomous synthetic conduct’s ability (self-observation, -knowledge, -determination, -description and self-assertion; cognitive autonomy) and of its coordination within the social integrated system (interaction, cooperation; communicative competence). Then the individual runs the risk of becoming a marionette hanging on the historic-ideological string of society’s culture, especially of becoming an appendage of the “universal machine” – spiritually alone, without a moral compass, without a sense of direction producing and consuming in a necrophilic way.
There arise deficits of informing, understanding, observation, reflection, power of judgement leading to false decisions and faulty conduct in respect of the whole. Man becomes overcharged for his cognitive and communicative slowness.
As to the commercializing of the very effective electronic information’s and communication’s systems – except the mass-media – the danger comes into existence that the gap between the rich informed knowing men and the poor uninformed “uncultured” men becomes broader and broader. And the risk arises that the unscrupulous rich individuals use their knowledge for their aims in an egoistic manner taking no regards to its effects violating the whole.
Presupposition of life efficacy of electronic media is that man perceives their special qualities and gets compatible to them. And man has to notice that the various media as standardized interfaces include decisions that he, using traditional media, would make himself. This is a big large field. Presupposition of life efficacy of electronic media is that the individual nevertheless preserves and cultivates its slowness of being, cognitions and communications, interactions etc. of its being, i.e. its social sphere of informing, understanding, oral proceedings, remembering, feelings, traditions and history, its world of commonness. Men have to construct reality socially as a mixed world using parasocial worlds of media of indirect communication and information and above all the social every-day-worlds and their direct experiences. At that they have to interconnect the permanent changes of perspective and alternative perspectives. And this can be realized in an optimum way by networking, for instance as artist, alternative artist, mail artist.
And a part of every-day-worlds, are and will be in future too the traditional means of communication of the postal system, of travelling, meeting, calling by phone etc. They can be controlled better, simpler, than electronic media, especially as face-to-face communication. And some say that some of the traditional media are more intense.
As part of the every-day-world the traditional media of the postal system will stay. Only if the postal system itself raises the prices to an amount that the use of these media become too expensive then they will vanish more and more. The use of the different media depends on the different purposes of the user, artist.
RJ : It seems you like to document the things that you find out. Do you also keep an archive of all the mail art you receive or do you recycle too?
Reply on : 25-3-1995 (V)
HM: Yes, I not only like to communicate by media and messages found, created, sent out by me, but I like to collect and document own and partners’ messages and media too. In so far I do like all communication’s means that represent quality for me, whatever quality may be. If the means speak to me, influence my cognitions, fascinate me as having – from my point of view – a rich, complex structure in respect to the process of the whole, then they are dense and of quality for me.
1980, fiveteen years ago, when I started with mail art, I intensified my collecting the different and various media of communication by collecting the communication’s media of the mail art network – my media and especially the ones I received from my partners.
Visual signs, expressions, media dominate my collection of meanwhile innumerable pieces, all being reciprocal effects of my kind of networking as a rule done by visual means too.
One part of my collection contains documents that I still do use directly for my current networking, like letters, copies of texts and drawings as parts of a running correspondence that I still have to continue, like an invitation for a project, for instance a show or a book, I want to follow etc. This part of my collection that directly is part of my actual networking and art production is strictly speaking my registry.
The other big part of my collection contains documents I received within the network being now remainders of concluded communication’s processes that I believe are important for me and the network expressing from my point of view my qualified relation to other networkers. This is my archive in the true sense of the word called by me “HeMiSphere-Archive”.
The problem of maintaining a collection, i.e. a registry and an archive, in self-government and self-help obliges in respect to the small own resources to minimize:
-The time spent for the administering of the materials as one needs time for one’s family, job and networking etc. too,
-The space for keeping the materials as one needs some space for one’s family too and to minimize.
-The utilization of funds as one needs some money for one’s family too.
My HeMiSphere-Archive consists of two main sections:
The one part contains the documents concerning my bilateral networking contacts that don’t anymore belong to my running communication, correspondence. In the beginning I tried to keep this material sorted under the names of the senders according to the character of the different types of media, like letters and pictures, envelopes, postcards, books and magazines, cassettes, records, documentations etc. To minimize the expenditures for the archive I changed the ordering system. Today I keep the material in postal boxes sorted chronically and then according to the size of the documents. Aim is above all to use the space I have in the best way.
The other part of my archive contains all the documents that deal respectively have to do with my personal (own) work and media. These materials are sorted chronically namely in different lines kept in boxes or files, like:
-personal art theory, like essays
-personal art works, like poems, statements, drawings, copies, books, prints, artistamps etc.
-personal shows and personal mail art projects (shows and book), like invitations, newspaper-cuttings, posters, photos etc.
-personal participations in projects, especially shows, books, artistampsheets, cassettes, like awards, catalogues, posters, lists, newspapers-cuttings and other documentations.
To work with my collection, to activate my registry and especially my archive, for instance for picking out pieces for a show, is not easy, especially for foreigners. The taking documents from my collection, archive, and to arrange it afterwards always is combined with big expenditure of time.
Seldom I recycle the received mail or single mail art pieces. If necessary I make copies.
All in all I am a “born collector” who doesn’t like to part from things he likes but who rather likes to keep them. Through collecting and processing documents of the own life mixing with signs of the others’s life I believe to create a bit self-duration.
Looking at the pieces of my collection from time to time it becomes a meeting point in spirit with my network partners and their ideas as well as with the other fellow-creatures repeatedly. This creates a bit self-duration by memory and historical sense and deepens the striving for a common horizon of living together by self-finding and self-expressing through daily communication, active networking, supporting the selection of the special, rich, complex, quality out of the ever flowing flood of novelties.
Mail art archives lead to accumulation of art, ideas, techniques, widening of cognition of the “seeing” men, of thinking and feeling, rationalization and emotionalization of knowledge, of a seeing thinking and feeling. Also the superfluous is handed down and the vote-against gets a chance to make itself heard, i.e. the horizon of social correspondence can become burst open. The own thinking, reflection comprises bigger regions and covers bigger sections of time – in slowness and life supporting duration.
The way of growing, evolution, is overlooked, circumscribed, added up, criticized, interpreted. Personal history, history of mail art, history of culture and of society are represented. An open capable of development structure is evolving within cognitive autonomy of the individual, consciousness of history, society, emotion, languages, media, in short: a richer structure of the individual and as reciprocal effect: of society.
RJ : Sometimes these personal archives get destroyed or sold after the mail artist stops with mail art, or when he dies. I know of Ulises Carion’s Archive that was sold and plundered for mail from ‘famous’ artists, I know of mail artists who have sold parts of their collection to enable them to travel or start with something new. What is the future you would like to see for these archives (including yours) and what will probably be the reality?
Reply on : 13-4-1995 (VI)
HM: My archive and registry, in the following in short: my archive, including my mail-artistic and non mail-artistic pieces represents as mentioned above my relations within the art-net, especially within the alternative artistic network, the Eternal Network.
Up to now I have not thought about my archive’s fate, especially after my death. In the moment I cannot imagine that my archive will remain in Frankfurt after my death, because no institution here is interested in mail art, let alone in my archive. But I hope I will live some more years to come doing mail art in Frankfurt. Perhaps the situation will change.
In any case I can imagine that my archive after my death will go to a central “mail art house” or “Eternal Net House” somewhere in Germany or in another country. Some years ago a postal museum of abroad already has shown interest in my archive. But I have not negotiated with it as I think that my archive belongs to me as long as I live as a networker.
To avoid for one’s archive the same fate that happened to Ulises Carrion’s archive one should negotiate with an interested institution in time. As to my archive I will leave my daughters above all some non mail art works. The rest of my archive should stay together.
Before my death I hope my archive will stay with me. But there can happen unfortunate events that can give the archive an unfortunate fate. For instance poverty can change all plans. My dreams for the storage of my archive is a special “Eternal Net House” I mentioned above. May be later another better name for this institution will be found.
As part of the network this house should show in an open experimental framework the self- and foreign-understanding of alternative artistic networking, its achievements, possibilities and its claims. It should contribute to the constructions and modeling of mail art culture, networking culture, as mechanism of survival and at that it should integrate the archives of the mail artist. The archives shouldn’t lose their functions within the network and shouldn’t get ends in themselves. The house should show and function according to the alternative systemic-evolutive paradigmshift being obliged to an interconnected, interactive, constructive, cooperative, pluralistic, discoursive, informed rational and thus life-effective, bibliophilic conduct based on experience and viability.
This house should be managed by self-government of networkers for networkers including producers (artists, creative individuals), organizers (mediators), onlookers (recipients) and critics (changers). The house should function according to the aims and rules of networking’s culture.
It should support artistic networking separated from economic reasons thus effecting radical popularity and democratization of art by inviting to participate in networking all creative individuals being concerned about alternative art through networking.
This house should become a meeting place, home, for the networkers, a symbol of the human task to get a world-wide time – and all other spheres transgressing holistic and interconnected orientation and construction (unity) of the world-views’ freedom and openness (variety) by creativity within a “higher form of sociability”, always anew (symmetry as flowing balance).
The Eternal Net House should serve for holding awake the mail art culture, to immunize it, by:
-creating common, communal life-horizons between the individuals within the net and by transgressing it to achieve understanding, tolerance and peaceful living together (creation of simultaneity; network culture’s synchronic dimension). At that it should serve for interaction, communication, cooperation, reciprocal effects, experiments, co-sensibility, co-fun, combining the past, the presence and the futures’ dreams to construct more complex and richer structures and relations in and for the network.
-making possible orientation to the past through hindering arbitrary suppression of past events, informations of the past, so that every mail artist and every generation of mail artists doesn’t have to start again from the beginning (creation of continuity, duration; network culture’s diachronic dimension).
-making possible orientation to the past through hindering involuntary suppression of past events, informations of the past, by screening off the storing of the informations about the past (creation of double-time dimension; network culture’s doublechronic dimension).
These aims could become effected by three functional spheres in the Eternal Net House:
-Some rooms and their tools (means, media) should serve for interaction and communication, like for discussion, shows, performances, readings, music, picture shows, workshops, teaching, intermedial interconnection etc. within the house, to other houses, to networkers’ homes and studios, to other institutions etc. At all they should not serve for artistic conduct as consecration within special ideal rooms for isolated introverted consideration.
-Some rooms and tools should serve for the storing of archives and informations. It should be possible to activate the informations at any time right away, for instance to allow researching, showing them and working with them as mentioned above. At that they should not be final stores, final deposits, cemeteries of useless artefacts. The archives should be given as gifts from the networkers to the Eternal Net House.
The bringing together of many networkers’ archives in so far leads to a concentration of mail art works of all periods and all nations and regions and to the construction of a new common, communal denominator listening to such different names like style, beauty, mail art respectively networking history, form etc. one could call “aesthetic function”. Besides there opens a treasure and source of artistic knowledge and artistic teamwork and interconnection as heritage to the networkers, yes to mankind that it has not known till now. Especially the networker faces this stock, takes it in, puts it in order and changes it within the context of his alternative artistic model of totality, networking, mail art. The mail art, networking art kept in archives gets an “art-historical function”, yet “historical function”.
-Some rooms and tools should provide service for visitors and lodging for visitors from distant places.
All in all the Eternal Net House should integrate itself into its surroundings and environment, open outward and should make its functions a subject in the discourse of the net. At that in respect to the fact that mankind and biosphere are moving to the abyss and in respect to the new paradigmshift providing the possibility to avoid the failure of the experiment called mankind all this has to do with the self-understanding of culture and art and of the human task to enrichen nature by evolving a human culture aiming at an improving living together of mankind as well as the living together of mankind and the other fellow-creatures.
Winners of such a development would be, I think, the networkers, mankind, biosphere, totality. And society as the bigger and more comprehensive network within the network of totality has to sacrifice fancy and money for the support of the net, especially the Eternal Net Houses too, guaranteeing, however, self-government.
RJ : Your art and also your texts indicate that you have strong believes in environmental issues, religion issues, etc…. Where do these believes originate from?
Reply on : 28-4-1995 (VII)
HM: The historian Golo Mann, son of the author Thomas Mann, has written I think in his world-history: “The separation of the personality from its time belongs to the sphere of pathology, more simply said, to the sphere of biology. The very young person knows not yet anything of its fates’ epoch, the very old person gives up, does not understand anymore the world, as one says. Only the persons in the middle of their lives have to understand it, for it is their world and there is no other one for them.”
Every person standing in the middle of its life wanting not to be separated from its time to avoid becoming a case of pathology has no choice but to deal with the leading thoughts, patterns, of its time. It has to try to find out the leading thoughts and to try to integrate them in its life, especially if the person strives to operate, to live, exemplarily as an artist too. In the artists’ works one always can find a dispute with the actual knowledge of their time.
In my endeavour to take part in life as dealing with reality, world, with all my doing, including my work, art work and mail art, I came across the so called paradigmshift already mentioned above as the most outstanding phenomenon, knowledge, of our postmodern time, especially our postmodern sciences. At that I didn’t find a comprehensive completed description of the paradigmshift up to now, but only descriptions of an approach to it.
In the end, I think, the paradigmshift deals with new knowledge of systemic kind found to rule the evolution of the world, reality. It deals with intersubjective cognitions and communications that organize the human knowledge and thus the social systems. The paradigmshift replaces the “classic” in the meantime partly destructive world-view of “naive rationalism, functionalism and determinism” saying that world and its acting units, like for instance man, are similar to machines. It is alternative to the classic world’s model. In so far its main aspects from my point of view are the following (in some respect I mentioned them partly already above in other connections):
-Man for several reasons is not able to perceive an objective reality, world, but he only can construct by cognition and communication a (social) viability as reality, always anew.
-The pattern of reality, world, is a model of unity as flowing symmetry consisting of a big changing variety of complex systems, acting units, interlocked and interconnected. According to the respective viewpoint of the onlooker it begins in the more “material sphere” with the quantum-fields of elementary particles passing the ecology of biological systems up to the evolution of sociology, economy, art etc. in the more “spiritual sphere”.
-All development, evolution, in all spheres of the world’s totality is open; there exist no teleology, no right and no wrong from the scientific point of view.
-The open evolution’s process of the relations between the parts, acting units, systems within every system and within world, is ruled by certain principles, especially by autonomy, interconnection, self-reflexion, self-organization, spontaneity, multidimensionality, irreversibility, differentiation, selection, self-similarity.
-During the history science has destroyed every special role of man within the universe (so called “insults” of man). In the meantime he has become a little part of the whole. However because of the combination of his qualities, especially including his very effective “tool rationality” that he uses now as ends-in-themselves for egoistic purposes neglecting the whole he has become the biggest danger for the world and for himself today.
-In respect to its efficacy all human doing, all cognitions and communications, become important for the whole; every man is responsible for his and the other’s doing as all men together construct world as it is by their conduct. Said in another way: Man is unique and indispensable to the creation and preservation of our world and its (human) values.
-On the base of this new knowledge and independent of the fact that there -scientifically seen – exists no teleology, a new conduct, doing, arises, i.e. a new ethics combined with a new myth: Man has to change himself in his and the world’s interest. He has to overoll his genes’ programmes, his genes’ and personal (individual) egoisms, egocentrisms etc. as end-in-themselves leading to the abyss. He has to integrate himself, his qualities, doings, i.e. cognitions and communications, in the whole, he has to interact, communicate and to coordinate his conduct. At that he has to be easy to get along especially with society, the generations to come and ecology. Naive rationalism has to become replaced by “enlightened rationalism”.
-Presupposition for this change of human conduct is the strengthening of human individual’s cognitive autonomy and communicative competence.
-An optimal strategy for successful holistic cognitions and cooperation (by communication) is the intersubjective networking with like-minded persons. It offers its services to find out the viable as (social) reality by interconnected perpectives’s changes, always anew.
-A special contribution to this task is the contribution of the artists, the artistic contribution. And a very special contribution in the field of art is the one of the mail artists, the one of networking within the network of mail art.
My respective thoughts I have fixed in essays from time to time. The last relevant essay with the theme “The End of Dreamtime?” dates from 1994.
My practical experiences with networking I got by my participation in the net of mail art. Here among other I try to make public my thoughts, including to give impulses for a discourse about paradigmshift too.
My readiness for interconnection, systemic thinking, I guess, reaches back to my childhood and youth. Base has been my (inherited?) liking for the mysterious in all forms, including the religious and the philosophical as well as the nature’s phenomena, I found expressed and could express myself best: by all kinds of fine arts (aesthetic) subjects, making pictures, hearing music, reading. TV has not existed at those times. Especially my parents supported my liking to a certain extend. In so far my childhood and youth have been determined by something like a mysterious religious-philosophical-artistic unity of emotion.
The first conscious impulses in respect to my systemic thinking and to the paradigmshift I got near the end of the 1980-ies by the exhibition in Darmstadt (D) named “Symmetrie” (1986) and the musics- and texts-broadcasting-programms by J.E. Berendt, Germany’s Pope of Jazz in those days, as well as his respective books having the same titles, namely “Nada Brahma – The world is Sound” and “The Third Ear – The Hearing of the World” (about 1988). These two events impressed me deeply and my aim since then is to get more and more knowledge about systemic-evolutive theory and the paradigmshift. The problem is to find texts about these topics written in a way I can understand.
Up to now the following spheres have been of special meaning for my research: Post-classic physics (quantum theory, holoflux respectively holomovement, complex theory of relativity, fractals theory, chaos theory, evolution theory, cybernetics etc.), theory of systems (ecology etc.), neuro-physiology, psychobiology, postmodern psychology, theory of cognition and communication (radical constructivism, massmedia etc.), postmodern anthropology, theory of postmodern art (giving up the cult of the genius and the notion of avant-garde etc.) etc,
Besides my research helped me along others to get on with a very special, personal, problem too, namely why I did choose a “rational job in a bank” despite of my artistic liking throughout my life. I learned that every person consists of different qualities forming an active unit and that there is no basical contradiction between the different spheres where men are working and expressing themselves, that all spheres of society are open and can be transformed into a more extensive, more viable, life-effecting form of sociability and that all things can become a free conscious and responsible artwork. The challenge is to change tensions into creativity, artistic work, artwork, mail art work, society art.
RJ : What mail art project are you currently doing yourself?
Reply on : 11-05-1995 (VIII)
HM: From 1985 till 1995 I did eight international mail art projects including seven shows (dispatched 13 times) and one book.
One can divide my projects into three groups:
-The first group deals with my interest in life, its creative and destructive phenomena. It concerns with questions like: Are you still alive? Why are you still living? What is your life’s aim? What dominates life? What to do to survive? The single projects have been: “If still alive, express it to me!” (1985, Frankfurt-Bornheim) , “”Where do you find encouragement?” (1987, Eeklo, Belgium) , “Where leads the voyage?” (1988-90, Murr near Stuttgart, Frankfurt-City; Schloß Ragny, France) , “Who eats whom and why?” (1993/95 , Neu-Isenburg near Frankfurt, Dresden, Murr near Stuttgart) , “Lachen/Laughing” (Book, 1986).
-The second group works at anniversaries, i.e. at the “importance” of the person respectively the institution that is celebrating the jubilee for the network, i.e. for the relations, communication, in the network. There have been two single projects:
– “Happy Birthday! – HeMi’s 50th birthday” (1988, Frankfurt-Eschersheim)
– “Happy Birthday! – Frankfurt am Main 1200 years old! Frankfurt -Er-Leben ’94” (1994/95 , Neu-Isenburg near Frankfurt, Frankfurt-Bockenheim, Frankfurt-Sachsenhausen)
-The third group consists of one project I did together with the Versorgungsamt Heibronn having the theme “The Disabled” (1990/91 , Heilbronn).
For the participation in my projects I mostly distributed white sheets of paper (DIN-A4) through the net to the mailers stamped with the entreaty to send back the sheet after interference. As to the project for Frankfurt’s birthday I called for happy birthday postcards and as to the project I did cooperation with the Versorgungsamt in Heilbronn the media have been free. The works are usually shrink-wrapped in clear kitchen-film-strips for exhibition purposes.
The mail art project I did last has been the one for the celebration of Frankfurt’s 1200th birthday. In the moment the happy birthday cards are shown for the third time. After that I will try to make the documentation despite the chance that the project will be shown some more times.
In my invitation for this last project I wrote among other: “Accordingly big events, especially various historical exhibitions, cultural activities and festivals, will take place in Frankfurt in celebration of its 1200th birthday during the whole year 1994. These events will be a challenge in a time of upheavals expressing – despite the so called technical progress with self-accelerating techniques’ , informations’ and goods’ explosions – increasing human loss of communicative competence especially entailed with rising disappearance of self- and world-experience and at the same time with growing human catastrophes’ productions, e.g. with increasing problems of ecology, of new poverty, of anti-alien feeling, of wars and armed conflicts more and more in European regions too – and especially for Germany: of problems concerning its unity. That’s why not least mail art should be represented in this big birthday-party by an exhibition on this subject giving the celebrations real world-wide openness, full-ness and joy of life and global attraction….” And according to this are the works that (still) arrive at my home. If the onlooker leafs through the hanged up film-strips and gets involved in the works then they help to find unusual experiences one wouldn’t have made otherwise, i.e. affectionate, critical, surprising, even rejection provoking in-sights. In short: They help to find adventures. After all the project is expression of the dynamic interaction and communication demonstrating that in the world: Europe, Germany, Frankfurt am Main are fatefully combined with all spheres of civilization and their human beings as interaction, i.e. after all blurredly differentiated, as steadily changing parts of the evolving networks: Of the world, of Europe, of Germany, yes of Frankfurt. The project is manifestation of commonness, participation, fullness of life’s signs, greetings from human beings to human beings, fullness of life-efficiency. The works provide for Frankfurt’s birthday-celebration real world-wide openness, full-ness, life-width, identity, global attractivity and create emotional community between the ones who get involved in the project and get touched by its expressions.
A special concern of one of my contributions, namely of my series of happy birthday-cards sent to myself as a monologue now made public by the shows, expressing that besides dialogues and “multilogues” (discourses) also monologues are essential for communication, has been the tactless and unworthy treatment of the invitation and disinvitation to the official birthday celebration of the Dalai Lama by the city of Frankfurt. On the picture-side of my cards I show -partly critical- motives of Frankfurt and on the correspondence-side – in reduction – my correspondence with the official representatives: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Lord Mayor of Frankfurt, the German Chancellor and the German President as well as with the Dalai Lama.
My attempt to integrate the project within the official celebration programme was a failure. The answering letter of the Frankfurter Projekte GmbH, Frankfurt am Main, dated 01-11-1994 says: “We are sorry, but we are not able to support such a project financially as our budget is spent already by existing projects”.
After the conclusion of my preparations for the first show of my project in Neu-Isenburg the artists’ group named “Klosterpresse im Karmeliterkloster” and I we noticed that both of us organized separately a mail art project in celebration of Frankfurt’s 1200th birthday and we decided to cooperate as to coming shows. Thus we dispatched both our birthday-projects together beginning with the second show.
In the first show in Neu-Isenburg I dispatched my project together with some of my “extra mail art” collages including own artistamps and with some of my first day covers partially created especially for Frankfurt’s birthday. I like to demonstrate the reciprocal effects between the mail art net and its products and the other art-sphere and its creations.
During all shows there have been readings of authors. The opening of the show in Frankfurt-Bockenheim was combined with the 25 years jubilee of existence of the Hessian Authors’ Federation including readings about Frankfurt. Also there has been jazz-music during the second show. I like it when the different arts do meet and mix.
RJ : Do you still answer all the mail art you get or do you select?
Reply on : 29-05-1995 (IX)
HM: My wish is to answer every from my point of view intensely asking, inviting, signalizing, in short: sincere incoming mail art. But as I get a big mass of mail, I have to accept that I really have to select more or less what mail I will answer because of the limitations of my resources, especially of my spare time, money and spiritual-physical energy. Consistently this means that I have to develop standards for selection and that from all the incoming mail some I will answer perhaps never. At the last analysis I think your question leads to the well-known quality-mass-resources-problem of mail art that every mail artist has to solve for himself earlier or later.
According to the change of values caused by the paradigmshift the notion of quality has to be defined in a new manner: Networks, like the one of mail art, are more than the sum of their creative elements, like networkers. The more of every network are the relations between their creative elements, here: The relations between the networkers. These relations characterize and determine the quality of the network. In other words: As spontaneous idea of spirit, cognitions and communications, quality doesn’t exist in any isolated structure, like for instance in a networkers head or in any isolated mail art work, but within the open reciprocal effective process of perception, thinking and doing, the network’s process that organizes itself. Quality procures for the whole and at the same time for its single elements, reciprocal effects, parts: Greatest freedom, intensity, variety and attractivity aiming at the development of new placed above situations, states, of life, survival, surplus, creation, growing, cognitions, communications, sociability, living together. In the last analysis it is highest quality that creates and develops all the variety of structures and relations, complexity’s evolution, richness of the system as a flowing balance, unique symmetry in progress. In so far quality is not absolute, but relative. In other words: Decisive for the quality’s rank is its practical proof, viability, and not the theoretical absence of contradiction following a teleology.
This knowledge makes responsible the artist for all his doing, all his cognitions and communications, and causes him to develop more and more quality within his structure and his relations.
Therefore my aim is to enrichen the living together – as networker especially in Netland – by creating and strengthening an interconnected sight through improving the artistic communication’s process, enrichen the process of mail art, including its products, the mail art works.
The qualified mail art works invite the partners by their attractivity to participate responsibly in the mail art’s communication process to help to construct by its means a pattern, model, formula of the in the last analysis incomprehensible reality, always anew. In accordance with the paradigmshift this purpose cannot be gained art-immanently neither by aesthetic self-healing of art nor by negation of art-traditions and perpetual renewal of art’s languages, but only from a set over point of view from outside the art-sphere and from the understanding of man as a non reductable social creative unit and uniqueness. Aesthetics, the doctrine of the valuing experiences-orientated senses’ perceptions, have to change as well as the strategies to create a qualified art-work. This has to aim at an interconnected sight, so that it primary becomes a social and secondary a visual task and problem. It has to be holistic, comprehensive, co-responsible, co-operative, co-sensible, co-evolutive etc.
At that art-works should not be mere informations’ media, because there exist better new informations’ media than art today. They should not be mere media of eccentricity too, because then their production would need steadily outbidding that would destroy the producing artist finally. Art-works rather should be works of fiction. Then they have at disposal free capacities of all cognitions from thinking to feeling by which -together with the various communications- the incomprehensive reality, vagueness, openness, freedom of all subjects can be expressed and at the same time the attempt can be made to overcome this situation – fictionally, always anew. Fictional art gets a chance of influence even vis-à-vis mass-media, especially TV, if it doesn’t veil its fictional character like the simulating mass-media do, but if it demonstrates openly its fictionality, that it embodies an attempt to construct fictionally reality, or if it is not able to do so, to help to endure the vagueness of reality. The fictional character of artistic reality’s construction shows openly what otherwise is veiled: The vagueness of reality, that there exists no certainty. If fictionality in comparison with simulation makes possible distance, critic, fancy, in short: Relativity as “breath for living”.
And if the construction’s process is successful by qualified models, patterns, formulae, in short: Qualified art-works, then the networker masters the unperceivable reality and at the same time becomes himself mastered by the unperceivable reality.
From the mass of mail waiting in my box to be answered I considering my scanty resources (especially time, money and spiritual-physical energy) select those mail-pieces that are qualified for me: Attracting me to participation, interference, because they give me (additional) “breath for living”.
If there are several mail art pieces of the same rank in quality I select considering the character of the mail art partner, the respective deadline, the needed time, energy and costs:
-At the first place stand the mail art friends to whom I already have qualified relations.
-At the second place the mail follows where I have to take into account a deadline.
-At the third place in the rank stands all the remaining mail.
The order of selection can become altered as to my resources that are available, for instance if a new qualified work has to be developed, but I don’t have enough time or energy, or if the costs are too high for me in the respective moment. In these cases the production and sending out of not large-scale mail art can move up in the rank. Not large-scale mail art means that it is easily produced because I can use works already available in my store, or that its cost are lower by comparison.
Quite another thing is the fact of getting out of the communication’s process of mail art for a certain time to reflect about one’s situation. Here is the place for Teilhard de Chardin’s sentence: “To try all and to push forward all till the end in direction to the greatest consciousness: That is in a universe being in the condition of mental changing – as one has recognized – the general, universal and highest moral law; to limit strength (unless this is done to get more strength) is sin”.
I already noticed that I don’t produce so many mail art pieces as in the beginning of my networking. This has nothing to do with diminishing enthusiasm as it, I think, rather intensifies, but with the fact that my production aiming at expanding my freedom of evolution changes from a quantity’s growth to a quality’s growth as to organization, i.e. structure and relations, and form, semantics, practice. This corresponds to the natural law: The higher the function, the less the quantity’s growth. The interconnection moves its center of gravity more and more from the quantity to quality. It thus meets the cancerous quantity’s growth in the whole networker’s interest. A more doesn’t be a better!
RJ : You are quite optimistic about the potentials of networking. Are there also negative sides to it?
Reply on 21-6-1995 (X)
HM: Dear Ruud, first I want to thank you for your new question and all the patience you take to understand my answers and thoughts as well as to put the texts in the computer. Thanks a lot. And now my answer to your new question.
Certainly my previous answers concerning networking can give the impression that networking itself contains predominantly positive potentials (see especially answers VII and IX). And that is my conviction and intention – from a certain point of view, from the new holistic point of view. And this needs some more explanations as I do see. Here is my new attempt of explaining:
– The notion of networking as well as its principles and mechanisms like all other notions – according to new science and the paradigmshift – are no representation, reflection, of a perceivable separate “objective” thing, actual (partial) reality, but it is respectively they are always a construction of human spiritual networking. If one searches for the meaning of networking one therefore finds different meanings of this notion. But they are standing in close relation:
– According to new science totality of world is a network itself of interconnected and interlocked entities being mostly networks themselves as partial networks of the whole. Networking is working together on a scale as broad and deep as possible, i.e. oriented at the whole, in respect to a certain circle of problems in so far constructing viabilities by trial and error through cognitions (self-determination and -observations) and communication (intersubjective understandings) in the widest sense. Concerned people like mail artists and other creative networkers for instance do concentrate world-wide upon certain problems from the mail-artistic point of view and thus form consciously an own partial network. At that the borders of a partial network can be transgressed and partial networks can cooperate or separate, grow together or differ out new networks. Between the partial networks there exists an overlap taking care that the bigger respectively entire big network has at its disposal a common knowledge, spirit, that is more than the sum of all the partial knowledge.
At that networking at one hand is ruled by the above mentioned (life-) effective principles of creativity (see answer to question VII)
On the other hand networking contains extremely effective methods, techniques, means, mechanisms, in short strategies of creativity, for instance strategies of interaction and of communication aiming at interconnected reciprocal (ex-)changes of perspectives like discoursive learning, social cooperation and coordination, common orientation etc. In so far networking means a rational, partly cybernetic-systematical use of (partial technical) interactive and communicative systems for the very effective transmission of informations. Networking in so far means a very powerful potential to transmit informations and make possible understanding. Examples of technical networks are the various world-wide postal systems.
Networking as complete process, i.e. ruled by the various principles of creativity and using its various most effective strategies – which are both in a process of corresponding reciprocal evolution too – is the creative, namely very special all penetrating and filling mysterious holistic self-similar self-organizing nature of the world. It leads especially to the production and reduction of quantities (reproduction and death), to varieties (variation and selection), to local intensity of variation (aiming aimlessness), to intensity of reciprocal effectiveness (attraction and isolation) etc. Within the network, its partial networks and their networking there are dissymetrical as well as asymmetrical entities of effectiveness and one can notice breakings of entities, symmetries and of partial networks. All this processing, networking, happens – scientifically seen – without a teleology, without determination, without salvation, but breakings, dissymmetries and asymmetries are only comprehensible and effective with a hidden symmetry in the background.
As totality is a network of processing networks every conduct influences one, two, many, eventually all networks and thus the whole. From the human point of view it influences at the same time especially three levels of “reality’s” construction:
– On the FIRST LEVEL, the one of the unperceivable structural coupling order of actual reality every conduct changes actual reality’s organization, i.e. its structures and their relations. Coordinated understanding, balanced conduct in so far means new viable structures and structural states of unperceivable reality.
– On the SECOND LEVEL, the one of the coupling spirit i.e. of cognitions, especially of human cognitions within interconnecting communication(s), every conduct stipulates by a basic order constructing act within the cognitive sphere of the recognizing partner (subjective) cognitions influenced by the individual cognitive structures, experiences and expectations. That means that at the beginning of every communication and understanding stands ambiguity. But reciprocal discoursive learning between the communication’s partners in the end creates – “by miracle” – viabilities and understanding and that as result can bring consent, refusal or sometimes the common experience of vagueness.
– On the THIRD LEVEL, the social one, every conduct is related to the social context. The conduct and its result are commonly discussed, socially structured, prepared, organized, selected, accepted or not and normed; they are rationalized to give orientation for common, social, living together constructing (social) realities, better viabilities, as substitute of unperceivable actual reality. Social reality, viability, slips between the subject and actual – incomprehensible – reality.
Living and living together means to solve existential respectively common existential problems at that inevitably influencing unperceivable actual reality and inevitably constructing perceivable viabilities as social realities.
This means that every single or common conduct, conscious and subconscious cognition and communication, interaction etc. , including the networking of the mail artists and other creative networkers, contributes to the creation of our world; it means that we all together create the world how it is today.
– According to the basic principle valid for every existing entity, including world’s totality and all its partial systems, namely to gain duration and therefore to construct a common horizon of simultaneousness for understanding between the fellow-creatures, especially between men, to enable protected creative living together within a stable milieu, in the end within the stable whole, a new utopia of enlightened-rational creativity arises, a new sense creating myth. Networking so far stands for the efficient guarantee of the new myth, i.e. of the new ecological-ecumenical-economical world view and values’ order too.
– According to the fact that in respect to human conduct there are no longer limitations within the possibilities of technology in the meantime making possible nearly everything and that the limitations of human conduct are now exclusively in the heads, brains, cognitions and communications, of man, networking is an effective strategy of new ethics too. If the material-ethical principle of totality’s keeping is generally guilty, provided, suggested, accepted, then networking becomes a powerful strategy to keep man’s milieu, in the end to preserve the whole world, not least to save his survival too. At that seeing the explosions of man-made global catastrophes’ productions man’s freedom of choice concerning his conduct narrows to life-effective viabilities. Networking thus is a strategy to strengthen the common life-effective, evolutive symmetry-keeping, systemic reciprocal living together of all creatures within the holistic system of totality.
The notion networking defined, constructed, corresponding to paradigmshift and to new science, to new myth and to new ethics contains after all prevailingly positive potentials. Networking in the true sense of the word then is the productive ecological-ecumenical-economical process of interconnected self-organization characterizing the world and aiming in tendency at the preserving of the whole, its partial networks and all its entities – as long as possible.
THE ACTUAL INDIVIDUAL CONDUCT : HOLISM AND EGOISM
The individual decision and conduct, for instance to communicate in the form of conscious networking as a mail artist or creative networker, after all can, however, contradict the new order of values and the principles of the new ethics. For instance individual networking can follow only partial egoistic aims and forget the damage it causes for the whole. Then man conducts, networks, malignantly, and if consciously then culpably malignantly. If the conduct corresponds to his liking then he is evil. Here one can think of the abuse of the for instance technical networks and networking (see answer IV). The malignant aims can result of for instance all sorts of ideologies, for example of economical, political, religious character. Naive-rationalistic, “blind” egoistic networking leads to the well-known global catastrophes. Many developments seen for themselves, as end in themselves, seem to be in order, correct, but in the context of the network they disturb the processing balance, symmetry, and thus themselves too, as they as a reciprocal effect of the network by oversteering or elimination of counter-reactions have an uncoupled from the network’s process wrong goal-directedness, wrong goal-orientation. Such disturbing and disrupting processes threaten to intensify and lead – if the correction of the wrong goal-directedness fails to come – to the collapse of the network. Here one can find the negative sides of a naive blind (wrong) networking and conduct.
In contrast to this the single man conducts, especially networks, communicates, etc., well, positively, correctly, if he orientates all his conduct, doing, to the new order of values, i.e. after all to the welfare of the whole. And the networker for instance then is a good man if his liking in so far corresponds to his doing. Here one can find the positive sides of the “enlightened seeing”, networking and conduct.
In so far all networking, interacting, conduct have to be studied, classified and judged, assessed (see my answer VII). Holistic life-effective – conscious and subconscious – networking, conduct, is the task of man in respect to his responsibility for world’s fate and his survival. It is true that all realities, better viabilities, are constructed, created, inter-subjectively, by intersubjective communications, but always, however, by individual cognitions. Thus it becomes clear that misunderstanding and failure are the normal in the process of communication, also in the form of networking, and that understanding and success are miracles.
Research therefore no longer has to focus on the failure of communication and its strategies like networking, but on the miracle of successful communication, networking, understanding, living together, coexistence. Today at that one has to see that nobody is able to predict if mankind will establish a balance of interests between economics, society and nature as the change will demand highest competence, cause very high costs and will influence deeply everyone’s life. Nobody knows if self-control and self-restriction will come before or only after the big catastrophe. The question is: How to manage to persuade mankind to agree to its own survival?
And as a modern optimum strategy to gain viable consistent holistic perspectives of sight and positive common conduct there for me comes into question conscious networking with like-minded, concerned creative people. At that the most effective influence on networks always happens by the change of the own person.
RJ :Since the beginning “the Network” has grown a lot. How many networkers are there nowadays? Is it possible to give an estimation?
Reply on 28-07-1995 (XI)
HM:The notions “network” and “networker” are blurred for me as I mentioned above.
– Every effective, creative, i.e. “living” in a wider sense, entity that has “knowledge” and can conduct correspondingly according to the above mentioned basic principles and basic methods of totality’s creativity (see answer X), is a reciprocal effect, networker, in totality’s network. Every effective entity gets its right to exist always anew only through its character as reciprocal effect, i.e. through its changing by learning reproduced conduct, like its symmetries, its reproduction, its steering, caused by inner knowledge, conduct’s models, leading in practice to survival, viability. The quantity of networkers and their composition within totality steadily change. I think that for instance the number of networkers in totality’s “more subtle” spheres, like for instance in the fields of artificial intelligence, increase. Altogether the quantity of effective entities, networkers, within the cosmos is infinite.
– Within the network of totality all human beings are networkers too. They cannot stop networking till their end creating altogether their common network called the ‘human’ world being a partial – at that most effective – network of the whole totality. There are so far billions respectively thousands millions of networkers, i.e. so many networkers as there are human beings on earth in the moment. And their number will grow – unfortunately. Maybe the increasing of human life’s quality can stop this growth.
– Within human world, the only world we do have, there are quite a lot of networks. Among them there are more alternative networks coming into existence as I mentioned above. Concerned people interconnect to solve through improved knowledge by interconnected perspectives’ changes their problems in tendency by themselves. Artists and artistic-creative people do so by art means of communication, as communicative and medial concept. Nobody can say, I think, how many of these alternative artistic consciously and responsibly interconnecting networkers do exist. Nobody is able to estimate approximately their number. Nobody has a total survey about the steadily changing situation: In some regions on Earth, especially in the “poor” developing countries or the ones, where authoritarian regimes strictly rule among other by controlling communication, one hardly finds networkers, perhaps underground networkers. As to my last project, the Frankfurt-1200-years-project, most contributions came from Germany (75), from the USA (37), from Italy (24), from Belgium (15), from Brasil (15) and from the UK (14). Some new networks differ out, some vanish. Some networkers define themselves as networkers, others deny their character as networkers, for instance the stampers only working with commercial stamps are contested. I would call them networkers too. Some networkers start, others stop (consciously) networking. Then besides every networker can have close and intense contacts, “exchange” his ideas, media, works, only with a few networkers and can participate only in some projects. And his contacts decrease when his working intensifies its quality (see especially answer IX). But that should not lead to working only with oneself and to a stop of communication within Netland and transgressing its borders, always anew, because this would cause narcissism and an inhuman living together without understanding.
Sometimes, for instance when organizing an attractive project, one becomes interconnected with quite a lot of networkers. I have had more than 300 participants from up to 35 countries in my projects on an average. Other organizers have had quite a bigger number of participants. For instance the contact’s net of Peter R. Meyer from Sweden consisted of around 4000 artists in 1986 (see the catalogue “Mailed Art in Uppsala – Choosing Your Partner, 1994/5 , page 8). When traveling the networker meets other networkers personally. Personal non-mediated, direct, face-to-face communication intensifies understanding by animation, inspiration. The networkers with the probably most personal, direct, face-to-face contacts, I think, are Angela Pähler and Peter Küstermann, the congress ’92 post(wo-)men (personal delivery). But this form of communication is costly, takes more of the resources than indirect forms of communication – especially across large distances. The networkers should know what they do to environment when steadily going by air from continent to continent.
Gianni Broi from Italy estimates that mail art has grown into a network consisting of about 10.000 participants during the past three years (see the book “Creativita Alternativa E Valori Umani – Free Dogs in the Galaxy, 1995, page 47). This can be correct. Perhaps Guy Bleus can tell more about this figure as he has the best organized archive in the network, I think. Or?
Against the background of the human-made catastrophes’ productions the network is growing according especially to its uneconomic and radical-democratic character calling on and welcoming every concerned creative human being to interconnect to help strengthening the new utopia, new ecological- ecumenical- economical myth, and to participate creating – directly or indirectly – a human world, our world, according to paradigmshift. But all in all the quantity of networkers is not important. Meaningful rather is their quality, the creative will and conduct of the networkers – within an instable, nearly – by human catastrophes’ production – “groggy” whole, like chaos-theory teaches. In such a situation even little causes can have big effects.
RJ : Well, I think it is time now to end this interview. Maybe there is something I forgot to ask you?
Reply on 17-8-1995 (XII)
HM: Dear Ruud, as answering always is blurred and therefore is inclined to cause new questions as expression of living and as asking thus is the more essential part of communication, there will be no end of asking and answering – till death. But one has to interrupt the flow of communication from time to time to think over its results, to learn and to get new experiences to make steps to newland. And therefore interviews must have an end.
As to you as interviewer, I thank you very much for your sympathetic patient questioning. And I can assure you that from time to time during this interview caused by your questions I was occupied personally with special aspects, regions, experiences of Netland first time. And I will have to think them over in the future.
All in all I was glad to have got this opportunity to speak a little about my thoughts concerning artistic networking. In so far I even had fun, sometimes in the sense of “serious fun”.
At the interview’s end I wish: Keep in touch! – as the networkers say. And as to the future of Netland, yes of world, I want to end with questions of the futurologist Robert Jungk that mankind, networkers, we should take to heart: “Do we truly want these new techniques and media? What are really the contents we do want? Are these new techniques and media qualified for our contents?”
RJ : Dear Henning, thanks for the interview!
Address mail artist:
RUUD JANSSEN – TAM
4801 BB Breda