iuoma.org – Interested in Mail-Art?

welcome to the International Union of Mail-Artists. This Blog gives you information and links to all activities undertaken by Ruud Janssen, who started with Mail-Art in 1980 and is still active.

mail-interview with John Evans – USA

THE MAIL-INTERVIEW WITH JOHN EVANS.

69 – unfinished

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Started on 11-6-1996

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 16-1-1997

(John Evan’s answer was written on a paper filled with color-tests with ink he made before).

JE : Dear Ruud Janssen. Thanks for inviting me to be interviewed for your project. Sorry that I have been slow in responding. The pile of mail on my desk simply seems to keep growing. I need a secretary – ah wouldn’t that be great.

Happy 1997. When is your birthday? As to your question – When did I get involved in Mail/Male Art?

Well it was in 1964 – 33 years ago. WOW! I remember it vividly – I was @ a party on West 10th Street in “the ” Village @ HarveySpevaks. It was a hot summer afternoon, and there were these 2 men there – Ray Johnson + Albert Fine who were fascinated by this rather crude tattoo of a knife on my left arm (I got it while in Highschool in Redondo Beach, California). I had no idea who they were, but Ray went off somewhere, and then reappeared on the roof where the party had moved, with a drawing of a knife, which could be a penis – it said “knife” and was signed Ray Johnson. It hangs above this desk. After that I began getting correspondance of the “please add to and send to” variety from both him + Albert. Have really met so many people through this encounter that I lose track – it changed my life, and I am eternally grateful to all concerned. Since Ray died I have been a bit slow in getting to my correspondancing, on + I do try. Do hope this is what you want. Best of love, luck + laughs, @

ps. What ever happened to Sonja van der Burg of Afzet? She always spoke highly of you.

RJ : Dear John Evans, In connection to your questions to me: My birthday is July 29th. What happened to Sonja? She moved to a new address and sent nobody this new address. A way to stop with mail art, and as far as I know she moved to other ways to express herself. I did get her new address from Mark Bloch one year ago, but the letter I sent to her was never replied.

But in this interview I would like to focus on what you have done and experienced in these 33 years. A long time indead. Are you still in contact with most of the mail artists from the 60’s and 70’s you encountered then?

(Together with my answer I sent John some info’s of my latest activities)
next answer on 3-3-1997

JE : Thanks for the package postmarked 22 January. Like the strange creature that you painted on the envelope. Also the account of your trip to San Francisco was a joy to read. It is a great city. Next trip you must come to Daciddy – Nieuw Amsterdam, which is an even greater city. There are a number of mail artists here, but we are not very organized.

As to your question abot being in contact with the mail artists from the 60’s & the 70’s , many of them have died, or dropped out of the circuit. Those who have died that I know of being Cavellini, Ray Johnson, May Wilson, Pauline Smith, Harvey Spevak, Albert Fine, Mike Belt, Rob Cobugio, Brian Buogac and perhaps Falves Silva of Brasil. There are many who I am still in touch with from that time – Ed Plunkett, Buster Cleveland, Ed Higgins, Mark Bloch, Bill gaglione, Tim Mancusi, Pat Tavenner, Anna Banana, Les Barbot, Carlo Pittore, Walt Evans, Michael Leigh, Art Naphro, Bill Dobbs, Les Oisteame, Geff Hendricks, Sur Rodney Sur, Wally Darnell, Philip van Aver, Jim Klein. There must be others who I am forgetting, but @ my advanced age it is to be expected. Actually as I wrote the above three of my favorites come to mind – Richard C. + Blaster (Al Ackerman) + Wilson.

It is getting late and I must get to bed as I get up @ 5 AM so that I can go to my part time job as a “horticultural technicien”. This helps pay the rent, and is only 3 days a week so it is bearable. It entails watering + caring for plants in these Manhattan Towers – a strange, but wonderful garden.

Hope all is well for you. Love, Luck + Laughts @ *

(* this is a lowercase E with a dot, not a symbol for at (@) – my signature)

RJ : The problem is that the computer has problems with “lowercase E with a dot”, but then again, it is a machine and not human. This interview seems to get more of a letter-exchange then a set of questions and answers, but I don’t mind. Yes, I know that New York is an interesting place to visit. It is on my list of wishes, so who knows what happens.

You mention a lot of mail artists of the beginning period. Are there also newcomers to the mail art network that write to you?

next answer on 28-8-1997

(with his answer John Evans sent me two xeroxes.One xerox was about his upcoming exhibition Invitational ’97 – September 10 – October 4. The other copy of a page in the New York Times, about America Off-line; the effects of the e-mail and the explenation that there still is MAIL. His interview-answer was written on a cut-open envelope from Magret A kane with color stains of paint on it).

JE : Thanks for your last missive of which there is no date that I find legible. Your letter actually accompanied me to Redondo Beach, California, where I thought I might have a bit of time to do some Mail art.

Had to go attend my mother’s funeral, but did not have any time to do much but deal with family matters. My mother, Alice Sauers Evans , lived to be 91 and had been sick, so her death was expected, but it is always hard to lose one so close. Things went smoothly though.

As I look over the copy of my letter to you I see some blatent omissions from my list. Guy Bleus, who I simple love, being the most outstandingly missed.

Your question, regarding newcomers – there do not seem to be any with the exception of yourself who has been around for awhile, that I am now correspondancing with. C’est la vie.

RJ : You like to work a lot with paper, ink and water-colors, all those things done by hand. What do you think of the things that are produced by computers?

(In March 1998 I heard from Roy Arenella that he met with John Evans at the opening of his new exhibition – Collages & Paintings , 1968-98. I decided to send the last question to John Evans again just in case he lost it. Quite soon after that I got the next answer and als a photo/card in it that Roy sent to John with a portrait photo he made of him).

reply on 11-04-1998

JE : What do I think about computer art? Well I find it to be a valid form of Art. More so than so called “performance” or “Video”. Guess I do not like things that make one vegetate. I barely watch videos or TV @ home. Why should I have to go to a gallery or a museum. Some performance art has been really quite wonderful, but I prefer “the” theatre. Computers are like cameras in a way and I love photographs preferably old ones from the 19th century. Can one believe the time? WOW. End of 20th. Strange weather we have been having. Very warm. Have been getting collages from a couple of college students in Brasil. Interesting!

RJ : What makes a collage interesting to you?

(there was a lang pause between the sending of the question and the receiving of the answer. Just before the summer, which I spent in Germany and Greece, I sent John Evans a copy of the last question)

next answer on 19-11-1998

(with John Evans’s answer he sent two cards of invitations to exhibitions. One of Collages by Vince Grimaldi – “Man and his world” , and the other one “And I Quote” (dedicated to Buster Cleveland 1943-1998) with also work by John Evans in it. “A very good show!” , John writes on this last card. Something I knew since another person I interview (Roy Arenella) sent a very wonderful review about John’s part in the exhibition)

JE : Dear Ruud, Cannot believe that I am finally getting around to answer your question and the pack of things which you last Zent. Do hope that you got to Germany + to Greece.

My daughter India is now in Perugia – Italia. She seems to be loving it. Who wouldn’t @ 20, and studing art. In the next term she will be in Firenze. Lucky.

As to your new question – on the verso. “What makes a collage interesting to me?” – I really love to look @ all different kinds of collage and all art in general. It is always fascinating how a person handles the different elements which go into the making of a work. As Gertrude Stein said: “Everything is the same on lt different” and vive la difference. Love, Luck Laughts @

RJ : You seem to like Frensh language a lot. Any specific reason for that?

Address mail-artist:

John Evans,
Avenue B. School of Art
199 E. 3rd Street – 2B
NEW YORK , NY 10009, USA

mail-interview with Jenny Soup

THE MAIL-INTERVIEW WITH  JENNY SOUP
(USA)

JenyySoup
TAM-PUBLICATIONS JULY 1996
TAM960135

THE MAIL-INTERVIEW WITH JENNY SOUP

Started on: 7-3-1995

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: 2-5-95

JS : I first got involved with mail art and the network back in 1987. I was living in San Francisco at the time, going to Art School. I was introduced to the addicting world of mail art by my boyfriend at that time, and thus the enigmatic Gagliones, the wacky and wonderful Radio Free Dada, the ever present (and past and future) John Held Jr., and others. I was instantaneously sucked into the network with full devotion. I have always enjoyed art and correspondence/ writing, and mail art became a perfect way to blend the two. Good friends were made through mail art, wonderful ideas were exchanged and a lot of stamps were used….

RJ : What kind of ideas (wonderful ideas as you mention them) do you mean. Can you give some examples?

Reply on 22-5-1995

(Together with her next answer Jenny Soup sent me her new poetry-booklet “SORROW’S VELVET GARDEN , Corridors of Madness Publishers, Studia City, CA , USA.)
JS : I couldn’t do justice in talking about all the wonderful ideas that spawned from the mail art medium and from my personal history in corresponding with many great artists. Though justice will not be served…. I will relay a few. When I first started receiving mail art, I took great notice, not only in what was within the envelopes I received, but also the envelopes themselves. This sparked a passion in me, and for a few years, I adorned envelopes with the greatest of time and care. Maybe a simple “hello” would be written on a slip of paper within, but the real Art lay on the envelope itself. I would spend hours on one envelope, collaging, painting and fully decorating each piece. It was a real joy. Now I don’t find the same pleasure in doing the Art on the envelopes, though occasionally I will succumb to the urge to do so. The past envelope decorating, eventually led to my color collage Artwork, which has been shown in Galleries here in Los Angeles, the East Coast, and Germany. And along the same lines, the color collages led to my creating full size oil paintings of the same images. How beautiful the lines of progression.

Now, I find the greatest of pleasure in the letter writing, and the written correspondence among those in the network. Though this limits the number of people I correspond with. I enjoy it so much and it adds immeasurably to my life. It is through the letter writing that I enjoy sharing and receiving personal ideas from artists around the world. Within the last couple of years, I have had the most wonderful of opportunities to meet a few of those people, including yourself Ruud, which I find a great pleasure and it adds to the depth of all the correspondence with such people.

Another example would be in the realm of “Projects”. Through the mail I have seen and heard of so many different projects, some fascinating, some very simple, yet all have the possibility of influencing an idea I may have at the time. Sometimes it can help solve a problem, or be a catalyst to take an art piece to another level. A wonderful part of all this has been the introduction to a combined effort in a single idea. A great influence are the “Mail Art Shows”, in how many people contribute to one thing. The collaboration effort is a glorious thing. One singular person does not take all the credit, or a “First Place” of sorts. Each contributor is as important as the other.

When I started my Poetry and Art Magazine “in remembrance”, I incorporated this idea; to have others contribute to the Magazine, that it wasn’t all one person, that it was the efforts and talents of many that would make it so succesful.

I hope I have conveyed a few examples of how much mail art has effected (infected) my life, and how ideas have formed and grown through this medium.

RJ : Could you tell a bit more about your magazine “in remembrance”. When did you start it? How do you select the work you include in your magazine?

Reply on 27-6-1995

JS : I started my magazine “in remembrance” while in San Francisco. It was around 1987 & at the time, in art school, I was working on extremely large paintings, more like tapestries. These paintings took a lot of time, energy and materials. The work was physically and mentally exhausting to complete. The paintings involved a heavy use of collage and different textures, and each one incorporated the use of language. Through, and because of these paintings, “in remembrance” evolved. My magazine became a small, simple way to express the same ideas as in my paintings. These ideas could then reach more people because of the accesability through the mail, which I was discovering through the mail art network.

I have always enjoyed Poetry and language. Ever since I was a young child, I can remember writing poems and short stories. The enjoyment from writing and from reading other works has been a large part of my life, always. I carried this love into my magazine. As the magazine reached more people, in turn, more people would write to me about it. They would send in their work, poems, art, ideas and comments on what they thought of the magazine. All of this helped shape the magazine and helped it to evolve.

I took into consideration all of the submissions I received for “in remembrance”. I included those which personally affected me, those which emotionally moved me. In this selection process, a family started. The result of this “family” , was a group of artists who shared the same “visions” and thoughts as I and as I achieved in “in remembrance”. The magazine has the feel of haunting beauty. It researches the loveliness that is found in many different areas, by many different means. Many of the works I receive by mail, don’t fit the themes, or feel of “in remembrance”, and it is hard to turn down these works. Just because they don’t fit in the realm of “in remembrance”, does not mean they are not strong pieces. Because I choose not to use them doesn’t mean they are not good, or worthy of being published. But that is the job of an editor. To choose what completes and complements the original intentions of the project. It’s not always easy, but it is neccessary. I want to keep “in remembrance” true to itself, and this is the only way to do that.

RJ : How large is the network you have discovered so far?

Reply on 6-8-1995

JS : The full size of my correspondence is in the hundreds, though it’s not a completely consistant network. There will be steady lines of communication for a period of time, and then months without. This depends on factors in my life whoever I am writing to/with. Sometimes I’ve been wrapped up in a project that will take me out of circulation for months! Same with the other person(s). When I was in Europe last year, though I kept writing to close friends, when I returned 5 months later I had a box full of mail with many letters saying, “where are you? Why haven’t we heard from you?”. Or sometimes, even years later, I’ll receive a letter from someone I lost contact with, and they’ll have written about what kept them out of circulation for so long. My network also changes and reforms itself. People send me artwork and write, its all so ephemeral. I doubt I would ever have the energy to accumulate and organize all the addresses of people I’ve corresponded with over the years. All of it is stored in boxes and boxes.

I do enjoy the variety of the experience of correpondence, though. That I can have contact with a network of people around the world, is truly an exciting realization.

RJ : Is there a difference in the mail-art here in Europe and in the USA?

Reply on 33-8-95

JS : I think there is a difference in art of all senses, in Europe than in the USA. There is a greater involvement and respect for art, in Europe. Children are raised to believe there is an importance of art in daily living, they are surrounded by it. Or so I observed,in my travels through Europe and during my stay in Paris for 5 months. I was delighted to see very young children in the museums, drawing on paper, on the floor, from great masterpieces of Picasso, Matisse, and others. Art seems to be everywhere in Europe. From money to stamps to phonecards, to bus stops, murals, galleries, great gardens and architecture. As an artist, I can see the beauty of much of America, but it is very different. There is less of a general social appreciation for ‘art’.
As far as mail art goes. I believe there is such a connection in the network, that any differences fade. Sometimes it seems that European mail artists are much more consistant in their correspondence. Not that us Americans are “flakes” per se, or are we? Just kidding. I feel the mail art network, at least the core of folks I correspond with, are of the same breed, that we all find each other because we are different from everyone else.

RJ : I know you sometimes do work with a computer. Do you also use it for your art? And for communication?

Reply on 26-9-1995

JS : I use my computer for many things. It’s for letters, poetry, writing and artwork. Though in my artwork, I am still very “hands-on.” I will use the computer to outline a design or for exact measurements in boxes/lines/type, but for the rest, I love to draw by hand. I’ll take what I started on the computer and finish the drawing with ink, pencil, paint, whatever. And with my paintings, I never use the computer for anything! The image goes from my mind straight to the canvas – no “middle man”!

I do enjoy the computer, don’t get me wrong, and I see wonderful artwork come from such electronic means. But I still respect the “old-fashioned” method when I see art that’s been drawn/painted by hand, I feel there’s a more “human” aspect to it. Same with letters but when it is hand written, there’s more of a connection with the person, the human-ness of the act of writing.

I think computers have seperated us from much of our “human-ness” of our relationship with “nature”, and lean us toward the “artificial”. In no way do I believe computers are “bad” or technology is “evil”, but there is a good balance between science & nature if we keep our heads together.

Computers are a marvel, they’re fabulous, and I see a lot of potential for their use, beyond what we have now. But for now, I’ll just use mine as I do for work & play. And I will still be in awe at the work of a human hand, whether it be digging in the dirt of a garden or a child finger-painting, or a drawing of Mary Cassatt, or a surgeon at work, or someone typing at a computer.

RJ : Where do you find your inspiration for your art?

Reply on 10-11-1995

(With her new answer Jenny Soup included a set of 4 photo’s of her paintings ans also an announcement of her newest “in remembrance #14 which is ready and can be ordered)

JS : The word “inspiration” is so fleeting & ephemeral, to me. I try to find ideas for my artwork, in a multitude of places. Most of my paintings are done out of necessity to create. Of course, many of my ideas first come from my head, from memory or fantasy & go directly to canvas. Sometimes I look through old photographs to get ideas & some image will jump out at me.

I am not a consistant painter. I lack discipline in this sense. I think much of painting is this discipline… combined with “inspiration”. I will go through periods where I’ll paint for weeks straight, one painting after another, and then months of nothing at all!

I believe that everything is worth painting. From a piece of fruit, to the human face, to flowers, fantasy or everyday life. It all “inspires” me to create, yet I’ll paint whatever I feel “in the mood” to paint!

RJ : Lets go back to the mail art. Globally there are two different attitudes towards the mail art people get. Some want to keep everything and start to create their own “archive” while others rather like to pass on the things they receive and recycle most of the things the get from the network. What do you do?

Reply on 3-1-1996

JS : Well, I’m the third attitude! I tend to pick and choose what I keep and what I pass on. I used to keep literally everything, but as space ran out and box after box got full, I began to reconsider keeping everything.
Whenever I receive two of the same things I will pass on one to someone else. If I receive an abundance from one person, I tend to pass on a few pieces. But mostly I will keep what I receive – especially when I see that a lot of time & energy has been put into making it. Often times I will receive “trash” in the mail, seems people will just rip up a piece of paper or what not, put it in an envelope and pass it on as “mail art”. I often don’t keep it and frankly, I don’t pass it on either. I am not trying to be “elitist” by saying that, because I’m not one to judge what is or is not mail art. I just tend to save the items I receive that I see time and effort in.

I have great respect for those who save and archive the mail art they receive. You, Gaglione, John Held Jr., and others, are providing a great service to all of us by documenting and preserving such a unique communication and genre.

RJ : Well, I’m flattered by such comment. I know that there are many more mail artists that archive a lot of what they receive, and the biggest archive is without doubt that of Guy Bleus in Belgium. Is documenting really that important? Do you document all your art activities (for instance, do you keep a list of all the mail you send out)?

Reply on 21-2-1996

JS : Forgive my initial exclusion in not listing one of the greatest Archivists, Guy Bleus. Where was my mind?

Your question “Is documentation really that important?” brings up a variety of emotions and thoughts. I learned many years ago in Art School, from various sources the phrase….”Documentation is everything”. whether a performance, a painting or an impact of a piece of work. And this can be advantageous for the Artist in many circumstances. And for historical value, documentation is a great aid in preserving a “happening” or a piece or body of work.

But now, 10 years after I was told “Documentation is everything”, I don’t believe it. On the other hand of the documentation coin, I see it as a great restraint. Such importance is placed on the past, on what has alrady happened.

It seems ironic to me, that mail art, such an ephemeral, temporary art form, always in transition and a state of flux, is held in boxes, and files, and forced into an archival existance.
When I first started out in mail art, I did document a great deal of what I received and what I sent out. I would photograph decorated envelopes I made, and keep folders full of xeroxed artworks I mailed out. After awhile, I questioned why I was doing all this documenting. Why was I saving the remnants and shadows of my sendings? I took on a different view, and lived in the sending and receiving, not the delicate perservation. When its sent, it’s gone. Though I do have a great deal of trouble throwing things away, to this day. Never thrown out a letter. It all goes into boxes, largely marked….MAIL, and thats it. I enjoy the now, and not in reviewing and filing what’s in the boxes. So…. why do I hang on to the box? Who knows, maybe one day soon, I will build a giant catapult and send each box off into space, one by one, with a big bang! Or bury each box deep in the ground, to be discovered by archeologists hundreds of years from now. And whatever I choose to do with these boxes of mail, the bigger question is, “Will I document the act of what I do with them?”

RJ : Well, at least you should invite some other mail artists for such an occasion…..! There is another side to documentation of course. The people who don’t know anything about mail art normally want to know about what has been going on and what it is all about. The only sources nowadays are the mail artists themselves and (if they keep any) their archives. The books about mail art mostly are written by mail artists, and non-participants just don’t seem to understand what mail art is all about. How would you reply to a person that asks about your “mail art” when you know he/she doesn’t know what it is about?

Reply on 16-3-1996
JS : I agree with your point about the documentation – that’s why I mentioned that it does have historical value. Much of history is based upon such preserved remnants of an era, or genre of subculture. Of course the other side of that coin is that what “we” base history on, is a very small portion of the overall scene. Historically – the archives that are being kept and written about and looked at, are only a percentage of the overall picture. Usually “history” comes out very one sided & biased. Are the “big names” in mail art, that every one notes, and writes about, are they giving an acurate account of the mail art scene, entirely? I don’t know, I’m just throwing out the question. And do people within the scene include or exclude certain people at a whim, when they choose?

From my experiences and observations, I notice the ‘cliques’ in mail art, the closed circles that are very difficult to enter. I wonder if this will affect the historical representation of mail art. Mail art hasn’t truely hit the mainstream of society, so few people do know what it’s about. The popularity of rubber stamps & art made from them did open up a lot of people into the mail art realm, that weren’t aware of it before. Many of my friends over the years have admired the mail I receive and ask about it. They see the decorated envelopes, rubberstamp art, xeroxed stuff inside or whatever, and they are very intriged. They think it’s wonderful & ask what it is all about. The easiest response is that its art that gets about through the mail. Big art, small art, xeroxed, painted, written, anything goes. And like a chain letter, once you’ve sent out a few pieces your name and address are picked up and the network process kicks in. You’ll always have someone to send things to, and you’ll always be receiving something.

I would be so interested in the observations of non-mail-art participants. I would almost be more interested in reading that, than a book written by a mail artist. Hmmmm. A good theme for a mail art show?

RJ : This is probably an essential point, this last remark. Mail art is still for the people that participate in the network. Others who get to see it, haven’t gone through the process of networking, and only see the piece of mail as a final result. Exhibiting mail art in a museum or a gallery is therefore always quite difficult. And maybe it isn’t even necesarry at all. Maybe your theme for a mail art show is interesting. Ask someone in your surroundings to observe the mail artist for a specific time, and make a report…….. Hmmmm. Actually, I kind of stopped with doing those ‘traditional’ mail art shows, where you ask the ‘network’ to send in their works to a specific theme. How about you?

Reply on 13-4-1996
JS : I honestly do about 3 to 4 Mail Art shows per year. For a long time I did every show I heard about, and for awhile it was fun and interesting. I like the general idea of rounding up a variety of perspectives on a singular subject, but I feel the mail art show falls short of what it’s potential could be. For example, a call comes through the mail for works on the theme of… Whatever. Maybe it’s a trendy theme, such as a certain war that exists, and everyone is really against this war and the violence, and all the work submitted reflects their views on this. All this artwork is sent to one person, who types up the contributors names on a list, puts together a nice booklet and sends them back to those who sent in the work. This seems like a very small, closed circle. Even if the work is shown in a gallery or library or other venue, people come in and look at the work, agree or disagree with the issues set forth, and then they go home. If we can all get together on some level to express our ideas, as in this example, for instance being against a certain war, then let us use all this energy to make a change, make situations better. Use our voices in channels that can cause an affect on a given situation.

I am not implying, in any way, that Art has no power, in fact it can be a very powerful tool and medium to affect the masses. But it must be directed to do so, and done efficiently. An incestuous mail art show is not using all that creative power efficiently. If a mail art show was arranged on the subject of war or child abuse or even trees, instead of sending all the work to just one mail artist, have everyone send something to a figure in a position to do something about it. Send all the tree mail art, and why we are sending it, to the person or people in charge of our national parks or government officials who can pass stricter environmental laws. If the issue is war then send all the works to the government officials initiating and perpetuating the war. Use this marvelous creative energy to DO SOMETHING, not just fatten ourselves in the glutenous files of mail art and show documentations. I see all of us falling short of what we are capable of doing, of what can be done along the same lines of the mail art show, but it really meaning something.
To further this point, if I was involved (involuntarily) in the war around Bosnia and I heard of someone putting together a mail art show about the war, and thought of all the money and energy and time to mail it all out, collect, document, etc., and all the energy of those sending work to someone somewhere in another country most likely, I would be so utterly offended. I would think and say to myself, “So what? My family was just killed by gunfire, what do I care of artwork in a file, and names of contributors on a list. I could die tomorrow because of this war.” Instead of mailing a xeroxed art piece to another mail artist, I write letters to government officials.

In the large scheme of things, what is the big deal of a mail art show? I believe the mail art show and the mail art scene need to evolve. They need to evolve for many reasons, to continue their existence, to create importance, and to keep up with evolving mail artists.

RJ : How did YOU evolve through mail art? What did mail art teach you when you look back at almost ten years of being a mail artist?

Reply on 28-5-1996

JS : When you learn and experience a great deal, you automatically evolve (or devolve). I learned a great deal from mail art itself, as well as individual people in the network. Mail art was such an unusual medium at the time, for me. I had always been a “letter-writer” by nature, I do a lot of writing, poetry, stories, journals, etc. But the “mail” became an incredible outlet once I discovered mail art, not just a pen-pal thing anymore. I learned by observance, and experimentation that “anything goes!”. It was scary, yet releasing feeling. I began to “push the envelope” pardon the pun), and this testing of the boundaries naturally reflected into my Artwork, my paintings and collages. Mail art taught me to express and try new things, not to be scared if they didn’t work out completely, that the journey and the action, the “performance”, so to speak, was the real essence. There was no real success or failure, it was not a black and white world. At the time it was all gray, and all open for discovery and exploration. I danced in the realms of Dada and Fluxus, began to appreciate Performance Art, and pretty much the Art of Life!
I am so thankful for what I have experienced through mail art. The people I met and exchanged with. The personal aspect I experience in mail art, is the real appeal for me. The artwork received and exchanged is wonderful, but for me it is the people and their lives that I grow fond of, that I wish to stay in touch with, with or without the realm of mail art. There was a real transition through the years for me. At first I was absorbed by the Artwork, what I received, what I sent out, and then over the years it became the people. The lives of those I exchange work and letters with, held so much more importance than the work. In that holds the key to how I have evolved in mail art.

RJ : Well maybe this is a nice moment to end the interview, or is there something I forgot to ask you?

Reply on 27-6-1996

(together with Jenny Soup’s answer she sent me a copy of her newest “In remembrance” #15.

JS : I would like to say how very much I have enjoyed doing this interview with you. What a tremendous project. In looking back, it has almost taken a year to complete! Your questions set a lot of thoughts into motion, about mail art and life! I had a great time thinking about and answering your questions. I hope your readers enjoy our correspondence, too. Thanks Ruud.

RJ : Thank you too for this interview Jenny!

Address mail-artist:

Jenny Soup,
P.O.Box 1168-584
Studio City
CA 91604 – USA

mail-interview with Jenny de Groot – Netherlands

THE MAIL-INTERVIEW WITH JENNY DE GROOT

jenny_de_groot

Started on: 31-3-1995

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: 5-4-1995

JdG: The first time I came across mail art was in 1983, when I was
studying photography and design at AKI (Academy for Arts and
Industry). One of my teachers was Bart Boumans, who at the time was
very active in the mail art circuit. He gave me a list of addresses in
Japan: I was doing some ‘research’ on Japanese calligraphy, and I
needed the addresses for information. Among those who replied were
people like Shozo Shimamoto and Ryosuke Cohen and voila: there it all
began….

RJ : What do you remember about the first contacts with mail artists?

Reply on : 12-4-1995

JdG: Do you mean contacts through the mail or in person? Anyway, on
Bart Boumans’ address-list was also Byron Black, who was then living in
Bangkok, Thailand. He wrote to tell me he was not preoccupied with
calligraphy at all so he could not provide me with information on that
subject, but he would like to exchange mail just the same. The first
audio-cassette came from him, and in 1984 he sent me a video tape that
I still show anyone who wants to see it. Until today I never met him in
person, although I would love to.

The first mail artists I DID meet in person was Barry Edgar Pilcher….
who responded to my first-project-ever. In 1987 my daughter Esther and
I went to see him and his family in their beautiful green valley in Wales.
This meeting was an experience I will remember and cherish for the rest
of my life.

RJ : Well, I meant the contacts through mail, but it is interesting that
you start talking about meeting mail-artists in person. How important is
meeting compared to writing to a mail artist?

Reply on : 28-4-1995

JdG: I am not sure if it is really important, but I think it is at least very
exciting to meet a mail artist in person, it always turns out to be a quite
different event than you expected it to be. Before you meet someone in
person you have a certain idea of that man or woman: you only know
him or her through the mail: from letters, photographs, sometimes you
know a voice from audio tapes. After a ‘close encounter of the personal
kind’ you find the image you have of that person is totally different
from ‘the real thing’, and the mail you exchange with that person
usually changes: it might get more personal, or it might even stop (after
I met Pat Fish in april 1993 – or was it 1992 – I never heard from her
again….)

RJ : Again you mention the audio tape. Because we already exchanged
lots of audio-cassettes I know that you like this medium. What is so
special about the audio tape that makes you use it?

Reply on : 2-5-1995

JdG: Audio-tapes can bring an extra dimension into the act of
exchanging mail. To hear someone’s voice on tape is one thing, but it is
also very good to hear all the different sound collages that people
make, sounds from the place they live in, pieces of radio-programs,
poetry, music: Barry Pilcher is a musician, and since we first started to
exchange tapes he has sent me lots of exciting examples of his own work
and the work of musicians he admires.

During the performance I did with Jos‚ Vanden Broucke in 1989 (for
the mail art project ‘transport, transit, junctions’) we used a 30 minute
tape with a collage from our collection of mail artists’ audiotapes we
received over the years: it is still one of my favorites!

And furthermore I think there is a lot more information you can put on
an audiotape than in a written letter…..

RJ : The project ‘transport, transit, junctions’, what was it about?

Reply on : 13-5-1995

JdG: Transport/transit, junctions was a mail art project that I did for
the Palthehuis in Oldenzaal: the works I received (more than 300) were
shown there in december 1989/january 1990. The idea behind it was
that in/near Oldenzaal traffic junctions come together, and at the time
a large transport site was built in the industrial area (of course
everyone was free to make his or her own interpretation on the theme,
but there were still a lot of cars and trucks driving through my
letterbox).

A part of the show were contributions from children, which was
particularly fun: I introduced the project to them during a few lessons
where I (tried to) explain about mail art (showing work and letting them
write to mail-artists). Each one of the four classes (from four different
schools) made works for the show.

I would have loved to send everybody a detailed, full color catalogue,
but the money I got from the municipality of Oldenzaal was not half
enough to cover all the costs, so I had to keep it cheap…. only a xeroxed
booklet with colored cover. Expensive enough though…. But never
mind, you know very well what it’s like, there is never enough money
but you always manage, somehow….

RJ: You also did a mail art show in Hengelo connected to Containers
didn’t you? What was this all about?

Reply on : 19-5-1995

JdG: ‘Container Con Amor’ was an art manifestation that took place in
the summer of 1988 (seven years ago already! Time flies!). Large sea-
containers were placed on a square in the center of Hengelo, and in/on
and around them several artists showed their work. Some used the
container as exhibition space, others made an artwork of the container
itself. The mail art project I did for the show was also called ‘Container
Con Amore’, and everything I received was shown inside one of the
containers. Because of the unusual way of showing art the show was
VERY successful (many visitors, many articles in the press), and the
mail art-container was crowded with people during the ten days the
‘iron village’ stayed there.

RJ : Did you notice any changes in the mail art network in the last 10
years?

Reply on 10-6-1995

JdG: The past 10 years… I must admit that I have jumped in and out of
the m.a. circuit over the past five years… there were long periods of
time where I didn’t contribute to any project or whatever: from time to
time I even neglected the contacts with people who are especially dear
to me (all this due to various circumstances; job, money, moving (again)
and a hundred other things…. all bad excuses, I presume).

But the first thing that comes to my mind are political changes, which
led to more mail to and from eastern european countries (and sad
enough less or no mail at all from former Yugoslavia). Furthermore I
have noticed that there seems to be more ‘junk’ mail going around…. as
if more and more people take the easy way, send a quick xerox and
that’s it.

And then there are the new media, electronic- and fax mail: myself I
prefer the good old ‘snail mail’ (as you call it), but – as I have access to
a fax machine at the place where I work – I did contribute to a few fax
projects.

RJ : At the moment you are working on a new project. Can you tell a bit
more about the idea behind it.

Reply on 28-6-1995

JdG: The mail art project is part of a larger project called ‘Duivels
Prentenboek’ (Devil’s Picturebook), which was started on April 24th
1995 by four women: Anir Witt, Claudia Heinermann, Josje Eeftinck
Schattenkerk and myself. The central theme is the four women in
playing cards, and each one of us will take an aspect and work on it.

My part is a mail art project (my first since 1989…!): I invited 52 female
artists to portrait themselves as a playing card Queen…. and after a
while, when people – like yourself Ruud – started asking questions about
the what’s and why’s, I decided to invite 52 MALE artists as well….
might be interesting to see how they respond to this. At least they
respond instantaneously: the Male invitations were sent out several
weeks later than the Female invitations, and I already received more
male than female works. Maybe the reason for this is that women are
more careful in what they want to send and take more time to create
something special? I don’t know, really.

52 weeks after we started the cards project (in April 1996) this whole
thing will result in a mutual exhibition. In this stage we are still looking
for a suitable exhibition space: there are one or two places we have in
mind, and we are thinking of a church: might be an interesting place, as
opposed to a profane subject as this.

In September we have an appointment in Amsterdam with Arno
Sinselmeijer, who is a collector of playing cards, and who told us there
is at least one game that he knows of where the Queen has the highest
value: an American game from the 1960’s, called ‘The Queen is High’.
And so you learn every day……

RJ : Is there a difference in the male and female players in the mail-art
network?

Reply on 28-7-1995

JdG: Well, there is definitely a difference in the number of male and
female mailers. There are MUCH more men involved than there are
women. This is a fact, and I don’t really know why that is. It is obvious
that men are over-participated in all aspects of society, whether it is
arts, or politics, or business, or sports, or whatever. But are there any
essential differences? Do YOU think there are any?

One thing that I find rather annoying is the fact that the mail I receive
from male networkers (some, not all!) sometimes tends to be a bit
ambiguous. Like this guy I never heard of who wrote me to say he saw a
photo of my daughter Esther and thought she was very pretty. Yes, I
know she is, so what! These kind of things have nothing to do with why I
decided to be a part of the mail art circuit. This irritates me a lot.

It’s also a reason why I stopped sending out selfportraits that show
more than my hands or my feet…. or myself fully dressed. Somehow my
selfportraits get misunderstood and I receive all kinds of junk in return.
Not from those I made it for, but from people who saw a photo
somewhere in a catalogue or whatever, and thought they needed to
contact me. These things have made me very careful with what I send.

Is this an answer to your question???

RJ : Yes of course it is. After doing lots of years mail-art I think
everybody starts to get ‘junk-mail’ because there are always newcomers
who are reaching out for new contacts. Do you still answer all the mail
you get?

Reply on 9-9-1995

JdG: No, I don’t. I hardly answer any mail that is not personal: a xerox,
or a request (‘send your work!’) when there is no personal note
whatsoever, and I answer none of the junkmail I receive. I answer ALL
letters/cassettes/objects/collages I receive…… o.k. it might take some
time, but eventually I DO answer! Ofcourse, most of the mail I
exchange is with people I have been in touch with for a long time and
who have become good friends: we keep in touch, even when it is only
once or twice a year…. that happens, you know!

RJ : Do you still have time for photography?

Reply on 23-9-1995

JdG: I really wish I had more time to do whatever…!! I still have to put
up my darkroom again…. meanwhile I use a friend’s darkroom whenever
I have to print, but these days, with little Anne who needs all my
attention, it is hard to find a minute or two…. Don’t get me wrong,
being busy with this little lady is wonderful and very rewarding: I am
not complaining! But I always keep thinking that SOME day (when
Anne goes to school maybe?) I will have more time to go on with
photography.

Just yesterday I finished a work for a group-exhibition which starts next
October: it is a small installation called ‘personal history’ and it
consists of ten small bottles filled with pieces of the industrial
landscape photo’s I used to make. It looks quite good, and also a bit
sad, like ending another chapter….

It’s good to be part of the mail art networks: there is always time
between things to answer mail or make a collage or send a cassette
letter. Or answer your questions in this interview…

RJ : Yes, and I am glad you take the time to answer all those questions
I ask you. I remember that when I visited you, you had this organized
archive at the Boekeloseweg, with the boxes for the audio-cassettes, the
collections of individual exchanges with mail artists, etc. How does your
archive look nowadays?

Reply on 29-09-95

JdG: Well, I don’t have the place at Boekeloseweg anymore and I
moved everything to this place, and now the ‘archive’ is here and there
and everywhere, some of it stowed away in closets, some of it on
shelves, some of it in boxes.

After all the times I moved from one place to another it’s hard not to
loose track of all the mail art stuff: it is all there somewhere, but even
when I DO try to keep it all as clear as possible: when I am looking for
something specific it takes quite some time to find it…. but in the end I
find it!

The contributions from the projects I did have their own place, and so
do the audio and video cassettes, the publications about mail art as well
as the mail from the people I correspond with regularly.

I think, over all, my ‘archive’ is quite organized in it’s own way. I’d
rather use another word, ‘archive’ sounds a bit like century-old layers of
dust and colorless men in faded-brown-suits-with-elbows-shining-
through, It is more a collection of mail, of art, and everything between
it.

RJ : The newest thing in communication is the use of computers and the
internet. I myself am exploring in a critical way this “e-mail” (see also
the enclosed concept article I wrote). What are your views when it
comes to the use of computers?

Reply on 10-10-1995

(All the answers I got from Jenny de Groot so far were made on the
computer she uses at her workplace. Besides these answers she normally
also includes a small note for our personal correspondence).

JdG: First of all… speaking of computers…. this is the first answer I
write with a pen, because the place where I work moved to Almelo last
week, so I can’t use the printer right now……

Back to your question: When you mean using computers merely to
exchange images and/or texts with other computers I must say that it is
not the way I want to be working. I want to be able to open an envelope
to see what was sent to me, instead of starting up a computer. Also I
find it important to reach as many people as possible, including those
who do not have access to computers….

Using a computer to create a work of art is something else, it is another
way to express yourself, like you do when you make a painting or a
photograph, but it is still very new…. compare it with the early days of
photography: it is a new medium that will be more and more accepted as
a tool in a creative process. It is obvious that you can’t just ignore
computers and computer art anymore, and I think there are very
interesting developments going on that are very much worth our
attention.

RJ : Well, I must say I also still prefer the handwritten letters above the
computerized ones, but computers do have their advantages. I hope
your printer is back at your desk now…… Probably the people who work
there with you also see that you produce so many letters. Did you ever
try to explain to them what mail art is all about. And if so, did you
succeed?

Reply on 3-11-1995

JdG: Yes, I tried. No I didn’t. I think it is too divers: you can’t explain
the phenomenon of mail art in just a few sentences, unless people are
REALLY interested…. And even then the only way to understand is to
dive into the network and see for yourself.

Some of my colleagues think I collect stamps, others think I have a lot
of pen-pals. Let’s leave it at that.

RJ : Did you ever succeed in getting someone so far to “dive into the
network?” I remember you once actually did give some mail art lessons,
didn’t you?

Reply on 22-11-1995

JdG: Yes, I did: this was part of a project called “Art in the classroom”
for which I was invited, and I used the opportunity partly for the
preparations for the Transport/Transit/Junctions show. I did four
classes of mail art for children, at four different schools: they
participated in the Transport project, there was a mail art show inside
their school. I explained about mail art and ofcourse we sent a lot of
mail art as contributions to various projects around the world. It was
fun to do and the kids loved it!

Don’t ask me if any of them ever sent mail art afterwards, because I
wouldn’t know….

Before I forget, I would like to return to your question concerning the
use of computers: at the moment there is a VERY interesting exhibition
in Enschede on the theme “Obsessions – from Wunderkammer to
Cyberspace” : photographic installations, CD ROM’s, videoworks and
other multimedia projects. This really gives a good idea of how the new
media are accepted and used by artists of every background. Go and see
it! (till 26 November).

RJ : That sounds very interesting, but there are only three days left to
go….. And tomorrow I have to work in Breda, on Saturday I go to a
computerfair in Utrecht, and on Sunday there is my mothers birthday
and I would like to visit her then……. It seems you are quite up to date
when it comes to visiting exhibitions of the many different artforms.
Now I think back I remember you often have written me about those
visits. Are these visits important to you?

Reply on 29-11-1995

JdG: I am interested in almost every art form, and it’s always good to
keep up with developments, see what people are doing. Not that I see
everything – I must say I miss many shows, even when I am invited.
Shame on me!

However, the Enschede-based Photo Biennale is something that started
as an idea of one of my teachers at the art academy, in 1984, and since
that first show (with Dutch and American photographers) I never
missed an edition. The exhibition I mentioned is this year’s edition: the
concept has changed from strictly photography to a wider perspective:
(multimedia projects, etc.) I am curious where it will go from here!

One thing is certain: it will never be like “the old days”, when I used to
help with the organization: we spent days and days cleaning glass and
framing photographs….. Today’s complicated installations are built by
the artists themselves: they know how and where they want everything.

Anyway, you’ll have to wait another two years or so, because yesterday
was your last chance to see it…..!

RJ : Well, to give us both some more time to focus on art, maybe it is
time to end this interview….. Unless I have forgotten to ask you
something?

Reply on 4-12-1995

JdG: I don’t know. Have you? Forgotten anything? Let me just mention
the playing card project again: we found a great exhibition place in
Turnhout, Belgium: at the National Museum of the playingcard. I moved
the deadline to April 1996, so people have some more time to send me
something interesting! There will probably be money from here and
there, so we can make a nice looking catalogue (which will be ready
next half of 1996: the show itself will be at the beginning of 1997)

Finally I’d like to say I enjoyed being interviewed by mail, so I could
take my time and think about my answers: this interview took exactly 8
months!! Ok. Ruud, thanks, and see you in the mail!

RJ : Thanks for the interview Jenny!

Address mail-artist: Address interviewer:

Jenny de Groot,
Rudolfstraat 60
7553 WK Hengelo
Holland Holland

mail-interview stucture on this website

One of the goals of this new website is to make the mail-interviews accesible for you. I place them in the blog, but also build a menu-structure so you can easily find any individual interview with just clicking on it.

The interviews are sorted in alphabetic order, and when in the Alphabet there are more names, a second pop-up menu will appear.

The first 27 mail-interviews are online now. Slowly the rest will follow until the whole set is online. With the individual mail-interview I will also include visuals when available.

When you click on the main menu choice MAIL-INTERVIEWs you will go straight to the latest published mail-interview.

mail-interview with Ibirico – Spain

THE MAIL-INTERVIEW WITH IBIRICO (SPAIN)

Ibirico

© TAM-PUBLICATIONS NETHERLANDS
TAM-970173

THE MAIL-INTERVIEW WITH IBIRICO. 65

Started on 30-3-1996

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 19-4-1996

IB : In 1985 I participated in the 1st Bienal of Copy-Art, in Barcelona, with Jürgen O. Olbrich, Sarah Jackson, Rufino de Mingo, Pezuela, Alcalá-Canales, Clemente Padin, etc. The next year, I joined the International Society of Copiers Artists in New York. My works appeared in the ISCA QUARTERLY, volume 5 nos. 2 & 3.

Those were my first and serious contacts with Electrographic Art, which is so important in mail art. (eight years later, I went to the unique Museum of Electrography, located in Cuenca, Spain, invited to work with the latest Canon machines….)

And it was in 1986, when I began to participate in my first mail art project: “O Globo e seus Terraqueos”, invited by Gilbertto Prado, an active Brasilian mail artist, whom I met, one year later.

RJ : You mention “electrographic Art”, as being an important aspect in mail art. Are there also other sides to mail art that are attractive to you?

Reply on 2-5-1996

IB : Of course, one of them is to get in touch with people from different countries, having the same artistic concern. also that you may express your ideas without external pressures, with total freedom. The possibility to choose the mail art project you like, knowing that all your works will be exhibited….

RJ : Are there many active mail art networkers in Spain?

Reply on 8-5-1996
IB : Sure, I’m just arriving from the “III Independent Editor’s Encounter” at The Andalucia International University (Iberoamerican Headquarters) in Huelva (Spain), where I met a lot of Spanish Networkers.

Usually you can find always the same people at mail art exhibitions (Antonio Gomez, Antonio Miró, Pere Sousa, Cesar Reglero, Bericat, Nel Amaro, etc.), but since a newspaper article appeared in “El Pais” (most famous Newspaper in Spain), the number of Networkers will be increasing (the article was talking about mail art…)

The Spanish Mail-Art Association has, till the moment, 40 members, but I send the AMAE Bulletin to more than 100 people in Spain, and 100 out…. Also there are more M.A. magazines here (P.O.Box and SOL CULTURAL), so, I think, Spanish Networkers will be more than one hundred now….

RJ : You mention the Mail-Art Association (called “AMAE – Association Mail-Artistas Españoles”, when I am correct). When did this start, and what it the goal of the association?

Reply on 22-5-1996

IB : In 1995 I decided to create an Association which includes the most active Spanish Mail Artists, and for this end, I consulted them, one by one, by mail (of course)….

The response was excellent and unanimous: They support and encourage my plan…. I was greatly surprised, because of the independence which is a feature in Artists, in general…..

Now, AMAE is recognized in my country, where I receive a lot of information from Institutions which is materialized in the Bulletin, jointly to Visual and Experimental Poetry, News, a Who is Who, etc. etc. and transmitted to all the networkers in Spain and out…. One of the purposes of the Association was fulfilled….

RJ : What other purposes does the Association have?
Reply on 30-5-1996

IB : Other purpose that AMAE be after too, is a section in his bulletin (?WHO IS WHO?), in which come out all the Spanish Mail Artists (two in each edition), and in this way, we get to know each other better.

Subsequently to publish a guide with the same title, with names, addresses, phone numbers, etc. and to distribute it, among all of us…. (It’s an idea that I extend to other mail artists with regards to their countries). And who knows, maybe a Mondial Guide of mail artists, why not? Probably Ruud, your mail interviews are yet the beginning…. Also AMAE helps to keep in touch all the M.A. of the Kingdom.

To organize exhibitions…. Actually, AMAE prepares one in SANTA DOMINGO (Dominican Republic), but not of mail art, VISUAL & EXPERIMENTAL POETRY, at the “CASA DE TEATRO”, which is the meeting place of Dominican Artists and Intellectuals…. I will travel there, carrying the works of European Poets (Although most, Spanish).

RJ : To respond to your remark “your mail interviews are yet the beginning….” I would like to comment that your “WHO IS WHO’S” mostly contain the “facts” of the artists, while I try to get the story behind the person that every mail artists is, and what mail art means to them. What does mail art mean to you?

Reply on 12-6-96

IB : As told by Anna Garcia, Presswoman in The Journal “El País”, “For Ibírico, mail art is like a religion…..” Now, five years ago from the definition I made in “MANUAL DO VIAJANTE EM PORTUGAL”, and valid yet today…..: “Mail art is an art without frontiers, and since few interest for Galerists and Dealers, because no prices for works. But free-Art. All the mail artists have the possibility to express their ideas, however much peculiar they where, and without the obvious limits in order of commercial factor, which there is no doubt that affects to the creativity, following fashion and according to the clients’s Taste.”.
To add: It allows persons from isolated areas, to keep in touch with other artists, requestion information, to know what happens in the Artists world. This is what mail art means to me…..

RJ : Will mail art survive now that more and more people start to communicate by computers and electronic mail?

Reply on 5-7-1996

IB : It’s not a survival question, but another option, an individual choice.

I don’t think the other forms of communication, like e-mail, fax, etc. will scroll down mail art. Some people will feel at ease connecting by other forms than mail…. (could be since smoke signals to Tam-tams….)

Mail art has its own system…. The sending, the waiting for, the surprise comes on an unexpected day….. but then, you touch the enveloppe which is 3-Dimensional, you’ll open it, etc. etc.

From the sending to the receiving, a time process (sometimes, long or short, be implicit….). For some people time is money, but mail artists GEO RIPLEY, hinging to my origin, says: “Time is an illusion in Arab’s world”.

Personally, I will continue to communicate by mail…. (as I did since the beginning of this interview…..).

RJ : Well, the fun of these interviews I am doing is off course that the communication forms mail artists use is quite different, but IT IS a personal choice. Something I find very important. You mention the saying “time is money”, and in mail art there is a saying “mail art and money don’t mix” which is a ‘hot’ topic for already decades. What are your views on this?

reply on 24-7-96

(this answer came from Benidorm where Ibirico spends his vacation)

IB : My point of view on this is quite clear.
I spend a lot of my time doing mail art, without obtaining money in exchange. An important quality of time & money each month. To make and distribute the zine “AMAE”…. Facts that demonstrate that the saying “Time is money” doesn’t go for me….

Also that till the moment in mail art there is not any posibility of business.

RJ : How involved are you in the Experimental Poetry and/or Visual Poetry?

reply on 23-8-1996

IB : I answer to this question, after being “kidnapped” by the Palestinian Terrorist Saad Mohamed Ibrahim, flying to Cuba, at the Iberia DC-10 (IB-6621), the 26th of July, and deflecting to Miami……

(the day after being liberated, I meet Abelardo Mena, from the Banco de Ideas Z, at Habana, Cuba).

About 20 years ago, visiting a JOAN BROSSA exhibition in Barcelona (BROSSA is the undisputed leader of the Spanish experimental Poetry), and as a Plastic Artist, I was interested by this strange way to capture and to visualize the Poetry….

And it was from then, when I began to investigate in this way… Actually I take part in all the important exhibitions of Visual and Experimental Poetry in Spain, and all over the world.

RJ : Is it important for you that you take part in all those exhibitions, or is it just a sideway of your work?

reply on 2-9-1996

IB : It’s wonderful to take part in those activities, which are so pleasant to me, as much as they have prestige or not.

The most interesting is to contribute with my works, in the fascinating world of Experimental Poetry, which is so important to me, as mail art, painting, engraving, etc.

RJ : Who influences your work? Which artists inspire you the most?

Reply on 8-9-1996

IB : Along my artistic trajectory, a lot of them had an influence in my work…. (as I suppose to all the Artists), but not only Painters (Velazquez, Goya, Van Dongen, Picasso and Duchamp), also writers (Faulkner, Camus, Lezama, Bowles), Musicians (Mozart, Verdi, Bizet, Penderezki), Film Directors (Fellini…)

But, actually, nobody bears upon me, or inspirate to my works. In any case, some authors please to me more than others.

When you reach certain maturity, and you know what you want, or better: As me, what you don’t want, you’ll find, and then, you have your own “Mark” which characterize your works. People said: “It’s an Ibírico”. I continue on that way, getting on with it…….

RJ : What is typical about an Ibírico ?

reply on 25-9-1996

IB : It’s hard & difficult to speak about myself, so, I let Art critics define:

“All is perfectly ordered in Ibirico’s work. Clear spaces, and a personal mark, are the factor’s expressly choosed by the artist. In the origine of both factors, we find without doubt the engraving influence. The light spaces remembering his colour compartment. The Ibirico’s mark, was expressed by a kind of labyrinth, of clear lines, almost chiselled fine geometry, which symbolizes the ‘way to nowhere’.

Main identity sign of Ibirico: His labyrinth which have maybe something in common with the little streets in The Kasbah of his native Tangier town.
To the artist, they are purely and simple the results of a process of years of work. A part of his creative Universe, an vocation and rational universe, generally distributed in two areas: A little trimming of space, in which the labyrinth is established in a constant with no beginning and end, kind of ‘Horror Vacui’ , and in opposition to an area of no intervention, diaphanous, in which last pieces keep closed relation with the different supports choosed.

Because Ibirico, ‘habitué’ to work in little formats, has decided to pass this time, from the paper to the big spaces (Sculptures, installations, etc….)”

RJ : This texts says that you like to work in ‘little formats’. What is the reason of this choice?

reply on 11-10-1996

(seperate I received a brochure with Ibirico’s CV)

IB: Really. I like to work in little format…. The reason? Maybe I’m very minuteness and precise when I draw. I don’t know if it’s correct to call “little works” to 50×70 cm !!

But they are measures that fit in with the kind of work that I perform. Even if, I don’t reject the possibility to play with Big formats, as I did circumstancially, a long time ago, in Escariche (Spain), the Mural Paintings measuring 5 x 8 metres. Or installations ( 8 x 8 meters), or canvas ( 2 x 2 metres). The fact is, that actually my favorite size to work in, is 50 x 70 cms, so, I’m inclimed to speak about half format, certainly it’s dependent on the kind of “oeuvres” you can execute in each moment….

As you know, Ruud, you can materialize, and transfer works from little to Big. It’s not too hard to do. Simply to be inspired. The rest is as easy as pie…..

RJ : Ten years ago you participated in your first mail art project. If you look back, has the mail art you receive changed over the year. I myself have noticed that the quality of the mail art I get in has become quite poorly. Have you noticed the same?

answer on 8-4-1997

IB : Actually I receive more and more mail art matters, and the quality becomes diluted in a large quantity…..

Bear in mind, that now there are a lot of persons moving near M.A. , from different fields, and ten or eleven years ago, mail artists, generally come from Artistic activities. There arises the question, is it convinient that mail art reaches everybody or not……

RJ : Thank you for the interview Ibirico!

Address mail-artist:

IBIRICO,
AMAE – Association Mail-Artistas Españoles
Aptdo (P.O.Box) 47
28921 – ALCORCON
SPAIN

or :

IBIRICO
Retablo Str. 1-4º-C
28921 – ALCORCON
SPAIN

mail-interview with Henning Mittendorf – Germany

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.

Henning
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

– 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:

NEW SCIENCE

– 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.

NEW MYTH

– 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.

NEW ETHICS

– 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.

NEW NOTION

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.

NEW RESEARCH

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:

HENNING MITTENDORF
P.O.Box 500.365
D-60393 FRANKFURT/MAIN
GERMANY

Address interviewer:

RUUD JANSSEN – TAM
P.O.Box 1055
4801 BB  Breda
NETHERLANDS

e-mail: r.janssen@iuoma.org

Mail from my Father – 1949

1949_pa

My father, Herman Janssen, wrote this card in 1949. He was a soldier then, stationed in Indonesia, and sent this card back to his family.

I found the card after the sad duty to dismantel my own family house. My Father died in 1976. My mother died in 2013, and I found the card and kept it.

mail-interview with H.R. Fricker – Switzerland

THE MAIL-INTERVIEW WITH H.R. FRICKER. 10

Started on: 17-11-1994

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: 26-11-1994

HR : July 16th 1981 I received the magazine “Sphinx No. 12/13 1981” from Thierry Tillier, Charleroi, Belgium. I found Thierry’s address (very small printed and the term “mail-art” above it) in the magazine “Gepein” from west-Berlin, which Felix Kälin, a librarian from St. Gallen, gave to me when I asked him for books on the term mail-art.

From the magazine Sphinx I took the addresses from Vittore Baroni (Italy), Lon Spiegelman (USA), Ben Vautier (France), Wulle Konsumkunst (Germany), Pawel Petasz (Poland), Günther Ruch (Switerland), Jürgen Olbrich (Germany) and some others and sent to them a postcard with one question only on it: “What is mail-art today?” I received many different answers, letters, manifestos, invitations and postcards. This was the beginning of my international mail art involvement.

But, ten years before I began to use the mail for artistic purposes, in the late seventies I was a member of a regional network. Contacts and activities by mail, telephone and through magazines, shows, performance activities. These activities became more and more “group-activities” and this was rather difficult in a regional area around the city of St. Gallen. This network was not open and I was glad to find the channels to the worldwide network with the help of Thierry Tillier in the summer of 1981.

RJ : In 1986 there were the MA-congresses and mail-artists from all over the world started to meet. How did this idea of the congresses start and what has it brought to the network?

Reply on : 24-1-1995

(Because of the language-problem we decided that Hans-Ruedi will answer in German language and I will translate his answer into English. Because I read & write both languages it is no problem. The questions to Hans-Ruedi are sent in English language too, because reading English is no problem for him, he only feels more comfortable in expressing his thoughts in German language)

HR : “International Mail Art is the most important and most significant art movement in the world today” was an often quoted stamp-slogan from Carlo Pittore in New York, beginning in the 80-ies.

Doubt! Were those hundreds of mail art shows, compared to normal art shows just small size, really so important? Was the “NO FEE, NO JURY, NO RETURN” as a rule really the answer to the one-way mass-media. Could these exhibitions show the artists the way out of isolation? I doubt it.

Who were the artists that participated so actively in the network? Is Carlo Pittore a typical Mail artists? He came from Maine to New York to be discovered as talented artists, painted, looked for Galleries and in his free time was a mail artist. He was a good networker, participated in shows, edited a magazine (self-propaganda?) in which he published lists of mail art shows. Carlo had hundreds of personal contacts through the post where he encouraged many people to undertake their own activities. Carlo was a generous host in his New York apartment at the 10th street.

In February 1984 I lived for 14 days in his apartment, and I couldn’t believe what I saw. Every morning there came this young Latin boxer in Carlo’s atelier, put on the boxer-shirt, boxing gloves and matching shoes and froze into a fighting-position so Carlo could paint his portrait in oil-paint. While the boxer tried to keep his position Carlo complained that the galleries didn’t accept his paintings, that suddenly they all were interested in Keith Haring and that his own painting was great too….

The right mood to make me crazy. The apartment and atelier of Carlo Pittore/Charles Stanley covered with dozens of boxer paintings – in fighting position or knocked-out lying on the floor. Where Carlo dreamt his American Dream – famous and rich – but frustrated, frustrated…..

I was at the meeting-place of the “dead artists society” ; the mail art network was merely used to recreate the misconception of the genius and most important artist.

Outside, in the real world, Art and information had, for long-time already, become products in a booming market. The artist as a “moralistic institution” was only a commercial slogan of the art-market. Moralistic attitudes were better of at Greenpeace; Creativity had its place at silicon valley.

Then, with the experiences in the atelier of Carlo Pittore, I started with the Tourism Campaign….. I wanted the mail artists to move away from the tables filled with rubber stamps. With firm directions – PLEASE VISIT: ……. – I wanted to let then travel around the real world, where they would never meet anybody, because the travelling was the goal.

Who were these “artists” that were involved in the network? Was Carlo typical? Are there people who wanted to transform “artists” into “humans” again?

Günther Ruch from Genf – 400 km from my city – did write often about the desire to organize a congress to discuss this theme. He believed in a democratic congress where there are resolutions to confirm a common goal. We decided together to explore the adventure called “congress”. I was very skeptical. The Congress as “Institution”, where only few could participate and influence the outcome? The rich Switzerland as meeting place? The people from the East isolated and not able to travel, the people from overseas, who could pay that?

But the idea to discuss the mail art strategies for the 80-ies was very interesting. The mail artists of the 70-ies had, by the book “Correspondence Art” from Stofflet and Crane, their own historic document. A congress could clarify the new positions. Günther and I talked for long about the idea, but only could agree on the concept ‘lets pretend’. In the summer of 1985 we sent, to the active mail-artists we knew, a congress-invitation and asked for a reaction about their views about this idea. It became clear: as a central happening the congress could only take place in a fictive way.

Strange enough the idea of a congress was accepted quite well, and only few protested against the proposed centralization. Because of the overwhelming response from the network, Günther wanted to proceed with the congress-idea. No fictive congress, but a real one in Switzerland.

For me the idea still felt uncomfortable. The international mail art network was no “group” like the Futurists, the Surrealists, the ‘Situationistisch Internationalists’ (SI), or other gatherings of artists with a goal to break through, which wanted to explain the boundaries of who was a mail-artist or not. It was obvious that the “artist” as a concept no longer was valid so why go back to the conventional means of gathering as a group?

How to solve this problem? To meet people personally, one believed to know very well through the post, was an excellent idea. Tourism – to use the space between the people – perfect.

In spring 1985 I started a project in St. Gallen (East-Switzerland) called “Scene intimate/Decentralized Exhibition of the year”. I made a proposition to fellow-artists from the local regional Art-scene, to make an exhibition or installation not at a central place, but everywhere there where the artist lived. The visitors of the “Annual exhibition” could not see the complete exhibition at one place in e.g. 5 minutes but they had to travel through St. Gallen to visit several places. Also the artists had to visit each other. A map of the city locating the artists with their art was should become the invitation. But eventually the majority of the artist decided for an exhibition at a central place. A defeat for me? No. Because the principle – decentralization – brought me the idea: think Local, act global.

That was the solution for the mail art congress! Not at one place, but at many places. Not one organizer, but many….. No program but offer an open principle:

decentralized world-wide mail-art congress where two or more people meet there a congress will take place.

Günther was surprised when I agreed with a real congress, and I could convince him, that the “decentralized form” was perfect for the congress.

We made from the material we gathered through the first (fictive) invitation a selection and Günther made from that a Clinch Magazine. With Clinch 8 we made propaganda for the decentralized congress-idea. Between June and October 1986 everybody could organize a congress, following his/her own possibilities and needs, or, where two or more mail artists meet, a congress takes place.

With this it became possible, that in South-America, Australia, in East-Europe, in small or large cities, in houses, halls or at the beach, congresses could take place. The length of the period (between June and October) should make it possible that there would be congresses at different moments, so an artist with a love for travel could visit many congresses. The idea was accepted very well and about 80 sessions in over 20 countries took place.

Günther and I didn’t organize the congress, but the single organizers of the sessions did. We were only the initiators of an idea based on networking, which we only had to put into words.

The congress should not raise borders; it should be the basis for personal, open and real meetings. I met many interesting people who didn’t belong to the “dead artists society”, they were networkers.

RJ : In 1992 there was a new series of congresses, the worldwide “Decentralized Networker Congress” where you organized together with Peter W. Kaufmann. This year, in 1995, Chuck Welch is doing the Telenetlink congress, where he wants to explore the possibilities of Internet for mail artists. In what direction is this all going? Could you give your views and explain them to me?

Reply on 11-2-1996

HR : Already in 1992, during the worldwide Decentralized Networker congresses, Crackerjack Kid had many e-mail contacts with networkers who used the internet. Thanks to him, a bridge was established, from the mail art movement to the new networker generation.

For some years there are artists, who were not connected to the mail art network, one could say depending on their system, tried out new networking-strategies. Many of them were brought up with the computer, at the University they had access to computers, and on-line connections could be made for free.

Excited by this new communication-tool, and aware of the cultural changes that are ahead as well as guided by theoreticals as Baudrillard, Flusser and others, many artists started to work in areas that were already been covered by lots of mail artists.

For the older generation mail artists it is often surprising to see, how these new networkers and media-artists try out network strategies and show their works in Galleries and Museums as modern art, while these things have all been done before in the mail art context.

Well, this shouldn’t surprise us too much. First, these network strategies sometimes look alike, but the roots and goals are different as they were done in mail art. Second, in the mail art network it was the wish to stay outside the official art world.

Because I believe, that many active mail art networkers have a wealthy experience in worldwide exchange and also in connection to direct communication and the cooperation they can share their stories, they should participate immediately in the current discussions, wherever they take place. In particular during the 80’s the mail art movement has developed its own field for worldculture and discussion.

In many aspects the mail art network was a preparation of Internet.

Plenty of energy was needed to build our communication system; lots of mail art shows, magazines and meetings, which make the door open for “mail on-line” exchange systems. The participating in the mail network was often not really satisfying, because in spite of the goal, “the networking with all people” this couldn’t be done. Probably a clever mail artist invented the Internet.

In today’s Internet there are, also online, several possibilities to contact others directly: who wants to be in contact with artists just has to look for the right forum. Who only wants to look for “contacts” probably will end up in the Chatboxes. Who wants to presents his artworks without jury, can do so on the Internet.

I will start to participate in the Internet as soon as have more control over my new computer. The modem is ready; I only need to get the access to a provider. To work together building a virtual world, what prospects!

But, then there are the experiences and knowledge of the mail art network, the transport- and communications-era has brought us different surroundings, different ways to look at the things that are around us.

In this new reality, e.g. the “conquered transition to smaller distances and endless spaces”, I must find my place, I want to explore my creative goals. But these goals won’t be merely the sending of mail art products or the communication in Internet.

RJ : The specific aspects of the Internet that are different to the traditional network via the postal system aren’t always that positive. In some large parts of our world there are people who have a mailbox, but not a computer, let alone access to the Internet. Also the digital form of the Internet doesn’t allow all kinds of artworks to be shown, sent or received. I am not all that optimistic for the use of the Internet in the future (I published some texts about this which I will send you). Am I being too pessimistic?

Reply on 16-3-1996 (this time the answer came in English language)

HR : It seems we have different views on what Internet is. For my interests as an artist the Internet is not a transport system it is a context. This context is a communication system and a space system. The cyber space… As an artist I prefer to act in spaces. That means I have to change strategies and instruments all the time. Each artistic act is an intervention that changes the system and I know that I am a part of the system too.

RJ : Well, I think that different views are very healthy. In fact I think that if one is open, and doesn’t always think that he/she is right but is open for new things, the hearing of different views is very attractive. It shapes the thought of every single person. For me the mail art network, the network, the Internet, it is just a learning system in which I am learning all the time. The results of my learning proces I try to express in which form is necesarry. So it is also some kind of act. But is it art? What is art nowadays for you?

Reply on 18-4-1996

HR : A word, a context, a communication-strategy (using art-techniques).

RJ : What communication-strategy do you use? Could you explain your thoughts on that?

next answer on 15-4-1997

(Hans Ruedi’s answer came after a long silence. This time he answered in german language again, which I translated into English).

HR : When I told before, Art itself is also a communication-strategy, I didn’t limit it on the topics “networking” or Mail Art.

Networking has enlarged the artsystem by making direct, autonome communication and exchange between artists possible. I realize that also the means – the media – are essential and important. A painting or any other traditional artform, as shown in most Museums and galleries, are also communication-forms from individuals.

Not only paper ………..

(Because of time & other things that happened in both our lives this
interview was broken off. On November 25th 2001 I decided to put all
unfinished interviews online as well).

This Interview is like mail-art: it is never finished………

Address mail-artist:

Hans-Ruedi Fricker
Büro für Künstlerische Umtriebe Auf dem Lande
9043 Trogen

Switserland
Tel/FAX : ++41.71.942249
e-mail : h.r.fricker@bluewin.ch

Adres Interviewer :

Ruud Janssen
P.O. Box 1055
4801 BB  Breda
Netherlands

mail-interview with Guy Bleus – Belgium

THE MAIL-INTERVIEW WITH Guy Bleus.

guy_cov

3

Started on: 3-11-1994

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: 8-4-95 (internet)

GB : //GUY BLEUS 42.292: DEAR RUUD, IN YOUR INTRODUCTION OF THIS PROJECT YOU WROTE ABOUT THE MAIL ART INTERVIEW PROJECT: “THIS PROJECT I MAINLY START FOR MY RESEARCH ABOUT THE HISTORY OF MAIL ART”// //MEANWHILE YOU MUST KNOW MY SHAMELESS & SICK OPINION ABOUT HISTORY & ABOUT THE HISTORY OF MAIL ART// //IF NOT, YOU (+ “FUTURE” READERS OF THIS INTERVIEW) CAN FIND IT IN THE FOREWORD “ART AS A COLLECTIVE MYTHOLOGY: MAIL ART” OF THE BOOK OF JOHN HELD JR. “MAIL ART: AN ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY ” (1991)// //YOU CAN ALSO FIND MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THIS ISSUE IN MY PUBLICATION “EEN DIALOOG TUSSEN DE POSTBODE EN ZIJN ELECTRONISCHE SCHADUW, ALSMEDE EEN ALGEMENE DISCOURS OVER MAIL ART, MEER BEPAALD EEN ONDERZOEK NAAR DE GRONDSLAGEN VAN EEN COMMUNICATIEF KUNSTFENOMEEN” (1994)// //THE LATTER IS AN ANTHOLOGY OF SOME OF MY TEXTS// //IT’S A COMPILATION OF 1991 FOR THE “KONINKLIJKE ACADEMIE VOOR WETENSCHAPPEN, LETTEREN EN SCHONE KUNSTEN VAN BELGIE”////ANYWAY, HISTORY _IS_ A LIE// //(YOU CAN READ MY ARGUMENTATION ELSEWHERE)//

//SO, I NEVER GOT INVOLVED IN THE MAIL ART NETWORK// //_WE_ (YOU + I + ALL THE OTHER NETLANDERS) _”ARE”_ THE MAIL ART NETWORK// //EVERY NETLANDER HAS HIS OR HER OWN WEB OF BORING AND/OR INTERESTING STORIES// //MAIL ART IS COMMUNICATION ART AND AS SUCH THE _”NOW”_ IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT// //AND THIS SUBJECT WILL INCREASE IN THE _ELECTRONIC_ AND _DIGITAL_ FUTURE// //AT LEAST, IF THERE IS ANY FUTURE AT ALL// //AT LEAST, IF THERE IS ANY FUTURE AT ALL// //AND IF SO, LET’S BARK TOGETHER// //WAF @ WAF// //WHOOF @ WHOOF//

mailartstamp2
//BUT OF COURSE, I COULD MENTION YOU THE _”HISTORIC”_ EVENTS I DID SUCH AS MY FIRST CORRESPONDENCE ART PROJECT IN 1968 WHICH RESULTED IN THE PUBLICATION “SUBTERRANEAN II” (EDITED BY THE ACADEMY OF ART IN GHENT) OR THAT A LOT OF MY MAILINGS WERE CENSORED WHEN I WAS A PUPIL OF 12 YEARS OLD IN THE BOARDING SCHOOL OF THE “KONINKLIJKE ATHENEUM OF TONGEREN” OR THAT I FIRST SAW THE ARTISTAMPS OF E.F. HIGGINS III IN THE MID SEVENTIES IN “HET PANDJE” IN HASSELT// //IT ARE JUST FACTS AND MEMORIES AND ANECDOTES// //THEY’RE ALL READY TO BECOME NEW MYTHS IN THE HISTORIC WORLD OF NETLANDING// //&/OR: _RAY JOHNSON IS GOD_// //LET’S PRAY// //LET’S RAY// //IT’S HIGH NOON BY NOW, I THINK I MUST BE HUNGRY// //DEAR RUUD, KEEP IN TOUCH//

//HAVE A NICE AND WARM SPRINGTIME// //WITH LUCK & LOVE & ENERGY// //GB 42.292//

RJ : The nice thing about the interview with you is that you have written down so many views, thoughts, etc… Most of the things I would like to know about you I can look up in your books, catalogs, etc. If history is a lie, you are giving lots of stuff to historians to write the history. Why do you publish that much? (I hope you did eat well before answering this second question!)

(because of the long silence I wrote several times to Guy Bleus if this was the only answer he was going to give, or that the interview would continue. As usual, Guy is quite busy, and only months ago I received the CD-ROM that documented his artistamps exhibition. The first CD-ROM catalogue in mail art. On July 24th I received a letter from Guy in which he wrote that the interview will continue in the autumn of 1996).

On August 23rd I received a postcard from Guy Bleus from Copenhagen. I guess it is no coincidence that just this summer there is the large exhibition at the Postal Museum there in Copenhagen, and I am sure Guy Bleus visited that too.

Reply on 28-05-1997 (via e-mail)

(The e-mail was sent twice. The answer was an attachment, and the first time the attachment wasn’t found by me. The second e-mail contained an attachment I couldn’t decode, so I forewarded the e-mail to my e-mail at the college where I work. There I could decode it and e-mailed Guy that I succeeded in reading his second answer. At home in Tilburg again I fitted the text into the interview so far and e-mailed Guy the next answer. Prints on paper were sent as well).

GB : B. //From (x) To Ruud Janssen (interview via internet)//

//I// //Dear Ruud, today (05.29.1997) i well received the interviews of carol stetser and e.f. higgins III// //thanks a lot// //as you know i keep everything in the archives of the @dministration centre-42.292// //Answering your question// //yes ruud// //you’re right, i make it easy for h/i/s/t/o/r/i/a/n/s// //but i really don’t know why// //i just make use of the opportunities when they arrive (from the unknown X)// //i take the chance to give the other mail-artists a publication// //networkers have the right to a publication when they send something for a mail-art project// //let’s fight for it// //it’s not that i want to publish that much// //it’s always a series of coincidences// //it just happens// //@/f/a/t/e// //& i follow my intuition//

//II// //1// //from april 1995 until … two years later. blue mail came out of the blue////x-ray johnson is dead. jo 42.langenaken (one of my best friends) is dead. sören kierkegaard is dead (again)////2// //in the meantime there was (is) @dministration: the 3 cd-roms, the psychedelic show, the e-pêle-mêles, the scents, the private art detective, the postal museum of brussels and the e-mail-art archives in hasselt//
//3// //in may 1997 the smiling network experience is remastered & digitalized. but i’m still in love with black vinyl. the savage resurrection (of history), the seeds (of internet) & the 13th floor elevators (of the mail-art building)// //electronic thunder simulation is not new, it’s but the logical consequence of an old tradition. art and philosophy dancing in yellow footsteps of science and technology. the mystic owl of sister minerva. always-too-late-mail-art, never in time for the golden deadline//

//III// //Waiting for the PELL-MELL network//

//With Luck & Energy//

//(x)// //Guy Bleus – 42.292//
//THE @DMINISTRATION CENTRE//
//p.o.box 43-B-3830 Wellen//
//gb@pophost.eunet.be//

RJ : How do you experience the Internet and the e-mail after some years of practice. I know that you wrote texts about this subject as well (which I could use as appendixes to this interview if you like), but I am also interested in how far the electronic communication is integrated in your daily life…….

next answer on 3-3-1997 (e-mail with attachments)

GB : //dear Question Number 3//

//Dear Ruud//

//It would be nice if you could @ttach (as an appendix of this interview)//
//the following texts: “A Dialogue between the Postman and His//
//Electronic Shadow” (1994)//
//As well as//
//”Telecopying in the electronic Netland” (1991/3)//

//YES and/Or NO and/Or always//
//The ultimate spinach of the Internetland doesn’t “determinate” my ultimate snake dances//
//Electronic, telecopying or postal communication aren’t the issue @t stake//
//Loving the wonderful things one does (and/Or does not tomorrow)//
//Following the changing concepts of art in my blue Velvet veins//
//Experiencing the echO of the white e mailed rabbit//
//Constructing, deconstructing and recOnstructing//
//The non electronic @dministrative Scents//
//Eating the flowers of the Net O land//
//Coming home Again//
//e/v/e/r/y/ night //
//Every night//
//every day//

//Again//

//waiting for the remembrance of the Electronic address//
//the silver rope behind the P.O. Box//
//the silent resonance and suspense//
//W ithout the ancient platonic//
//W hite shadow of a stamp//
//W aiting for the sweet//

//the pleasure//
//Of repetition// //(((thepleasureofrepetition)))//

//Dancing in the ssswamping Inter net land//

//While Johnson’s Nothings are @t stake//
//& Nothing is crYptic anymore//
//There is no need for A//
//Young Wittgenstein//
//Anyway//

//With 42.292 Luck and Energy//

//Guy Bleus//
//gb@pophost.eunet.be//

RJ : Can we still find the spirit of the sixties in the mail-art networking? Or is mail-art already absorbed by the big Administrative Monster….?

(this question Guy formulated himself in one of his in-between e-mails he sent to me)

next answer on 31-7-1997 (e-mail)

GB : //A4 TO Q4// //AN _INTER NET VIEW_//

//DEAR FRIEND RUUD//

//YOU USE AN OLD INTERVIEW TRICK: ASKING ME MY OWN QUESTIONS// //IT REMINDS ME TO AN INTERVIEW ABOUT MAIL ART I DID COMPLETELY ALONE WITH MYSELF (IN 1979) FOR “SPACE Z” IN ANTWERP// //AS FOR ME, THE FREE SPIRIT OF THE QUICKSILVER SIXTIES IS STILL EXISTING IN MAIL ART// //THE NETLAND ISN’T (YET) ABSORBED BY THE BIG ADMINISTRATIVE MONSTER// //MAIL ART IS A BELIEF IN COMMUNICATIVE AND POETIC VALUES// //THEY CAN’T TAKE THAT AWAY FROM US// //IT ISN’T A SOCIAL OR ECONOMICAL PROBLEM, BUT AN ISSUE CONCERNING THE PSYCHOLOGICAL AND PSYCHEDELIC ATTITUDES OF THE INDIVIDUAL NETWORKER// //AS LONG AS SHE OR HE REFUSES TO SELL HER OR HIS OWN DANCING SOUL// //THE ARTISTIC TRIP WILL CONTINUE// //BUT OF COURSE THERE IS THE HUGE PROBLEM OF SUCCESSION// //WILL THE NEXT INTERNET GENERATIONS STILL BE INTERESTED TO BURN DOWN THE NEW COMMUNICATION MEDIA// //OR WILL THEY SWALLOW THE FUTURE MTV/CNN/NBC NONSENSE// //SOME WEEKS AGO I RECEIVED THE NEWS ABOUT JO KLAFFKI// //IT’S ALL SO WEIRD// //I SAW JOKI A FEW MONTHS AGO ON TV// //AND NOW// //WITHOUT YOUTHFUL DESIRES THE PELL MELL NETWORK OF THE ADMINISTRATION CENTRE LOOKS LIKE A POETIC CEMETERY// //FINALLY, IT DOESN’T MEAN THAT MUCH// //BUT SOMETIMES I ASK MYSELF: “WHO’S NEXT”// //AND THEN I HOPE IT’S NOT ME// //NOT BECAUSE I’M SO AFRAID OF DYING// //BUT THERE ARE STILL SO MANY PROJECTS I HAVE TO REALIZE// //I’M NOT READY FOR THE FINAL DEADLINE// //YET//

//FROM WELLEN//
//WITH LUCK AND ENERGY//

//GUY BLEUS 42.292//
//THE @DMINISTRATION CENTRE//
//POBOX 43 B 3830 WELLEN//
//gb@pophost.eunet.be//

ENERGY//

RJ : (lost question!) – did send participation to Guy’s new project.

next answer on 26-10-1997(via e-mail)

GB :> //QUESTION NUMBER 05 / VIA E FAX//

//DEAR RUUD//

//1// //THANKS FOR YOUR “WORKING IN A COAL MINE” FAX AND E MAIL WORK// //AT THE MOMENT I’M DOING THE LAY OUT FOR THE CATALOGUE// //VERY SOON YOU’LL RECEIVE A COPY OF IT// //THERE WERE 50 PARTICIPANTS, INCLUDING A LOT MAIL ART FRIENDS SUCH AS BARONI, ALTEMUS, CIANI, FELTER, COLE, GAGLIONE, HELD, HUBERT, GROH, MAGGI, NIELSEN, PADIN, PERNECZKY, …//

//2// //DURING THIS HOT SUMMER I HAD A LOT OF WORK TO DO IN THE OLD CINEMA TO CREATE A BIGGER SPACE FOR MY NETWORKING ARCHIVE// //SOME ARTISTS ARE SENDING ME (OFTEN WHEN THEY STOP DOING MAIL ART) THEIR COMPLETE MAIL ART COLLECTION AND THAT CREATES A LOT OF EXTRA WORK// //IT’S MY GOAL TO DO A BIG OPENING OF THE CINEMA SPACE “THE SCENTS & ADMINISTRATION CENTRE 42.292” AT JANUARY THE 1ST 2000//

//3// //MEANWHILE I’M BUSY WITH 2 NEW MAIL ART PROJECTS: ONE IS CALLED “1001 DESKS/1001 BUREAUS: FOR AN OPEN ADMINISTRATION” IN GRONINGEN (NORTHERN HOLLAND)// //DEADLINE: 31.01.1998// //THE EXHIBITION WILL BE NEXT YEAR IN AUTUMN// //WITH A CD ROM CATALOGUE// //ONE HAS TO TRANSFORM AND SEND BACK A POSTCARD WITH THE DESK OF THE MAYOR OF GRONINGEN//

//4// //THE OTHER BIG MAIL ART PROJECT IS CALLED “AMBIORIX KING OF THE EBURONS / AGAINST CULTURAL OPPRESSION// .//IT WILL TAKE PLACE IN THE CULTURAL CENTRE OF TONGEREN (BELGIUM)// //DEADLINE: 30.06.1999// //THERE WILL BE A PRINTED CATALOGUE// //THE EXHIBITION IS IN “DE VELINX” IN TONGEREN WITH ALL THE ENTRIES FROM JUNE 11TH, 2000 UNTIL SEPTEMBER 11TH, 2000// //ALSO A NUMBER OF MAIL ART CATALOGUES & OTHER ARTEFACTS FROM THE T.A.C 42.292 ARCHIVES WILL BE SHOWED// //DURING THE “VERNISSAGE”, THE OPENING OF THE EXHIBITION THERE WILL BE A CLONING FESTIVAL INCLUDING “THE RESURRECTION OF AMBIORIX” AND AN AMBIORIX MAIL ART PARADE// //SOON YOU’LL RECEIVE THE INVITATIONS OF BOTH THE PROJECTS//

//5// //THE NEXT EXHIBITIONS IN THE E MAIL ART SPACE IN HASSELT ARE: CLEMENTE PADIN (10/97), PASCAL LENOIR (11/97), RUUD JANSSEN (12/97), BEN VAUTIER (01/98), GIANNI BROI (02/98) AND FERNANDO AGUIAR (03/98)//

//6// //THIS ARE SOME OF MY PLANS FOR THE NEAR FUTURE// //BUT THERE ARE HAPPENING SO MANY POST SURREALISTIC AND MAYBE DANGEROUS THINGS IN MY LIFE AT THE MOMENT// //I REALLY DON’T KNOW WHAT TO THINK OR BELIEVE ABOUT THESE “PRIVATE ART DETECTIVE” EXPERIENCES// //I’LL MENION IN A NEXT QUESTION, CALLED NUMBER SIX, THE WHO’S AND WHY’S//

//7// //HAVE A WARM AUTUMN////FROM WELLEN WITH LUCK & ENERGY// //GUY BLEUS 42.292// //THE @DMINISTRATION CENTRE// //P.O.BOX 43 B 3830 WELLEN// //TEL & FAX: +32 12 741415// //gb@pophost.eunet.be//

RJ :

(I didn’t ask a question! However I did send a contribution to a project that Guy Bleus is undertaking, where he selects single short statements. Also he is working on several other things about which he wrote in answer # 5 and again in #6)

next answer on 2-12-1997

GB : To: tam@dds.nl
Subject: Internet Mail Art Interview

//Interview//Answer/Question/Number 06//

//Dear Ruud//
//6// //The 1400 invitations of the mail art project in Groningen “1001 Desks/1001 Bureaus: For an OPEN ADMINISTRATION” are sent out. Please participate to this new anti bureaucratic project. It was not easy to have a photograph of the desk of the mayor from Groningen. In the past I made a lot of installations with desks (since 1978). For instance, in Antwerp, in Amsterdam, Groningen, Hasselt, Gent, Heusden Zolder, Leopoldsburg, Brussels, Leuven, Munster, Köln, Aachen, etc. I hope that in the meantime you already received the Fax and Internet catalogue “Working in A Coalmine / Mail Art Networkers are Miners”, distributing last thursday. There are 50 participants.

Tomorrow I’m going to set up your individual exhibition in the E mail Art Space in Hasselt. I hope you like it a little bit, because it is always a lot of work. Sometimes their are a lot of visitors (students, artists and art critics). Many people ask me to show their work, but it’s only possible to do 12 shows in one year.

I trust that you accept my answer number 5 (and also 6 = this one) for your interview. Of course I also include Statements about e mail art for my Manifestos project, even if they are sent by snail mail. I don’t care at all. I don’t work for an Administrative Institute. I’m completely free. All my work is a parody of the neurotic bureaucracy. Very few artists understand this Irony. Probably they are much too Serious. Your Statement is the only one not transmitted (and received) via the net. There are already 16 participanting networkers such as, H.R.Fricker, Jas W Felter, Vittore Baroni, John M.Bennett , Sarah Jackson, Anna Banana, Artoposto, Reed Altemus, Andrej Tisma, K.Frank Jensen etc. (And in order of date and hour, you are number 8).

I always accept all the entries (without rejections). If someone participates in my fax projects and sends it by another medium, it doesn’t matter. I never rejected fax art without fax transmissions (ask José vdBroucke).

Maybe a little more fair play, mutual respect and real friendship is needed in Mail Art. Very few mail artists can understand how much work it is to organize a project with hundreds of participants and sending “every” participant every time a real FREE catalogue or a cd rom. This means working day and night, without being paid for it. And sometimes: not even a single word of appreciation for it. But I still continue because I love the Mail Art Stress, the Deadlines, the Irony and of course I’m not a quitter before I die.

(Here we can close the Internet Mail Art Interview)
//With Luck & Energy//

//Guy Bleus 42.292//
//THE @DMINISTRATION CENTRE//
//P.O.BOX 43 B 3830 WELLEN//
//TEL & FAX: +32 12 741415//
//gb@pophost.eunet.be//

Address mail-artist:

Guy Bleus – 42.292
Administration Center
P.O.Box 43
Wellen
BELGIUM

e-mail : gb@pophost.eunet.be

APPENDIX-1

by Guy Bleus 42.292

A DIALOGUE BETWEEN THE POSTMAN
AND HIS ELECTRONIC SHADOW

The position of the mailman as the ultimate man in the (pre )electronic communication process.

01. The history of communication is a lie. Because the story is only a story and therefore incomplete, selective and interpreted. Blatantly absent in the recollection is the anonymous, that which doesn’t have the power to make itself known, but that equally can make sense and be sublime. The conversations between past, present and future are always fragmentary and/or prophetic; a mishmash of truth, semi truth and fiction, the tension between reality and illusion.

02. It is not actual or postmodernistic (rather postexistentialistic) to move on the historical currents of the social problem of communication. For the mailman is not a son of Laszlo Moholy Nagy, but he is the inevitable sun for Mail Art. The mailman is no artist, but the moon of communication. The mailman is unkown, yet not without significance within the story of postal arts, day and night.

03. The eclectic novel of the new communicative space threatens to strangle the romantic narrative lines of man in communication. Technology dehumanizes the games between sender and receiver. But who is going to bother with the urbanization of cyberspace? Is there enough space for an ethic of the “social” superhighway?

04. The mailman is a communicative anachronism. But on the other hand he makes that same transfer of information visible. He is an essential trace within communicative reality. The letter carrier is not the owner of the information. But he is more than a symbol or an icon, moving on the level of language, in the language play between word and meaning. The mailman is a referent on the level of reality, a human of flesh and blood. It is of course nostalgic to presume that the 21st century will cherish the same totem animals as the 20th. Electronics are the guillotine of the mail (as a system of information). Postcards, post marks and stamps are the memorabilia of administrative rituals from a recent past.

05. “The end of a workers era is the beginning of…” Even Mercury, the mailman of the Gods, is impotent to complete the previous sentence. Ten years after 1984 we see an Orwellian hurricane approaching and no one knows where and when it will hit. Or are all sceptics wrong and is there an interactive and electronic nirvana lying ahead of us?
06. The spring of communication is over. The installation’s artifacts look back and take different positions: where is the (symbolic) center of communication? Which strategies do exist to save the frivolous adultery of democracy in a so called “decentralized” cyberspace?

07. The earth loses its cosmic position as a center to the advantage of heliocentrism. Theocentrism is defeated by anthropocentrism and humanism. After God, the (ultimate) man dies, too. One grumbles and talks about eco facism. Only on the materialistic level egocentrism is alive and kicking. The subject has been buried. Some are waiting for a resurrection.

08. The epistemological question of present communication is (still) possible, is socially and historically irrelevant. The vulture of power relations circles especially around the correlation between the quality and the quantity of communication. Not the values, but the numbers rule the planet. The merchandizing of information is a fact.

09. The distance between people gets increasingly smaller as the speed of communication increases. In theory this implies that the world will end in one point that is situated between nowhere and everywhere.

10. The social function of the mailman (the effective contact with man) disappears because of the increase of telecommunication. The notion of “social” gets a new dimension. One can be alone yet be very social within the myth of cyberspace. The psychology of personal space needs to be reconsidered urgently. Can this be a matter of pathological communication? Indisputably there is an increase of alienation regarding the “really” fellow human being. But what is still real? What is virtual?

11. The contradiction between man and machine is getting smaller. The machine that increases alienation among human beings within the social system, brings people closer together. The paradox of the cyberspace traveller or netizen.

12. A tribute to man seems unsuitable. The letter carrier who contributes to the realization of Mail Art, who is the carrier of postal art, is invisible. Man has become but a dilapidated metaphor.

13. An individual “pro mailman” position is not an a political theme in a time when man is subjected to the machine. De la Mettrie becomes the spiritual father of McLuhan and Gibson. Where is the information proletariat situated in this process of communicative “progress”?

14. A human approach of the post and communication commits itself on the level of the labor and labor intensity. The notion of “unemployment” threatens to loose its meaning in a new social reality, and thus get a new dimension. To be unemployed doesn’t apply anymore to man only, but to the lack of electronic communication equipment as well. On the other hand, the same electronics create a wave of unemployment.
15. A political subject would be: to recognize the superhighway as a culture of Power. It is being whispered: Internet is an “anarchist” way, without hierarchical structure, without leaders. Gossip or truth?

16. The attention to the role of “man” in the communication system is reduced to a linguistic or semiologic matter. The ethical consequences of hunger, of stress, of feelings, of shortages or of friendship in communication seem to be lost in the wrong millennium. Human activities disappear in the postal process “apparently” by an increase of electronic communication. The monitor estheticizes.

17. Yet one forgets one thing in this interactive story: the sedentary, electronic human being who is enclosing himself in order to do “home shopping” by means of his monitor and his keyboard, will have to appeal to “people” who deliver the parcels home. Hence the post’s function to distribute products will increase. Unless everything gets in the hands of privatized courier services. A political option with relation to “cocooning”.

18. In the installation the labour of the postal workers is visualized by a series of 60 mail bags, filled with information; also shown are portraits of unknown mailmen. The tools (stamps, ink and paper) used by postal employees are intended to focus on the human being behind the object.

19. The proper functioning of the postal services is accentuated by the individual project “indirect correspondence”, this means correspondence via a detour. For instance references to ficticious persons and/or addresses. On the schemes of the itinerary and also on the very same circulating letters appear traces on the post, in the snow of time and space. These traces indicate the respect for pieces of mail and the accuracy with which the postal system operates.

20. Opposing this are electronic appliances (such as telex, fax, modem) that alienate and/or eliminate man and reduce communication mere efficiency. The long strips of fax paper posted on walls emphasize the shortcomings of electronic communication. Smells or perfumes for instance can’t be transmitted.

21. In the construction of the Cathedral of Communication the anonymity of the mailman is an essential fact. His ephemeral contacts with correspondence, the content of which he will never know. An intuitive retrospective of the evolution of (electronic) communication shows a system of objects and traces, in which the letter carrier as a concept accentuates the democratic aspect of the postal services. An extracting sculpture about postal and post postal thinking, feeling and wanting.

22. The present is always the past to the future.

23. Fall 994.

Guy Bleus 42.292
The Administration Centre / Networking Archives

P.O. Box 43 / 3830 Wellen / Tel. & Fax: (+)32 12 741 415
E Mail: gb@pophost.eunet.be

APPENDIX-2

by Guy Bleus 42.292

TELECOPYING IN THE ELECTRONIC NETLAND
GUY BLEUS 42.292
//1// //THE WORLD IS A FAX VILLAGE// //AFTER A. THE AEROGRAM, TELEGRAM AND MAIL GRAM, B. THE TELEPHONE AND TELEX; THERE IS C. THE FACSIMILE OR TELEFAX// //ARTEFAX IS MORE RELATED TO TELEPHONE( ART) THAN TO MAIL( ART)// //NETWORKING OR (TELE ) COMMUNICATION ART IS THE LOWEST COMMON DENOMINATOR//

//2// //THE MYTHS OF FACSIMILE// //THE FATHER OF THE FAX IS THE SCOTTISCH PHYSICIST & CLOCKMAKER ALEXANDER BAIN (1818 1903)// //HIS INVENTION OF 1843 HAS BEEN IMPROVED BY FREDERICK COLLIER// //BLAKEWELL (1847), GIOVANNI CASELLI (1865), G. LITTLE (1867), SENLECQ DE ARDRES (1877), SHELFORD BIDWELL (1881), N.S. AMSTUTZ (1892), BUSS (1902), AR THUR KORN (1904), EDOUARD BELIN (1907), DIEKMANN (1917), AMERICAN TELEPHONE & TELE GRAPH COMPANY (1924/1925), WESTERN UNION (1924), NEC (1927), WISE (1938), XEROX CORPO RATION (& RCA) (1950/1961), THE FIRM OF RUDOLF HELL (1965), MAGNAFAX XEROX (1966), RI COH (1970), ETC.// //CIRCA 1970 APPEARS THE FIRST PROTOTYPE OF A LASERFAX// //DURING THE EIGHTIES THE FACSIMILE APPARATUS SPREADS WORLDWIDE// //IN 1990 THE FIRMS OF SHARP AND STARSIGNAL PRESENT THE FIRST PROTOTYPES OF COLORTELEFAX// //MEANWHI LE FAX HAS BECOME AN ART MEDIUM//

//3// //FACSIMILE// //N. (< L. FAC, IMPERATIVE OF FACERE, TO MAKE + SIMILE, LIKE), 1. AN EXACT LIKENESS, REPRODUCTION, OR COPY: ABBREV. FAC.; 2. THE TRANSMISSION AND RE PRODUCTION OF PRINTED MATTER BY A PROCESS INVOLVING THE USE OF RADIO BROAD CAST, MICROWAVE RELAY OR REGULAR TELPHONE LINES.; ADJ. OF OR HAVING THE NATURE OF, A FACSIMILE; V; T; ( LED, LEING), TO MAKE A FACSIMILE OF. IN FACSIMILE, AS AN EXACT LIKENESS//
//4// //COPY// //(< O. FR. < ML. COPIA, COPIOUS TRANSCRIPT < L. COPIA, ABUNDANCE)// //A CO PY HAS TO BE TRUTHFULLY BY DEFINITION// //”10. 22. 38 ASTORIA” IS MOSTLY ACCEPTED AS THE FIRST TEXT IN THE HISTORY OF THE XEROGRAPHY// //IT WAS REALIZED IN NEW YORK BY THE AMERICAN PHYSICIST CHESTER F. CARLSON (1906 1968) AND HIS ASSISTENT OTTO KOR NEI// //YET THE TRUE FATHER OF THE PHOTOCOPY SHOULD BE THE GERMAN PROFESSOR JO HANN HEINRICH SCHULZE WHO REALIZED THE VERY FIRST PHOTOCOPY IN “1727” IN ALTDORF (NURNBERG)// //THE FACT IS THAT MANY PRAISEWORTHY INVENTORS NEVER WILL SHINE IN THE CRUEL SPOTLIGHTS OF THE PHOTOCOPY HISTORY// //ANYWAY, TODAY ANYONE CAN MAKE A PHOTOCOPY AND BECOME AN ARTIST AT THE PUSH OF A BUTTON// //ALTHOUGH CO PY ART & TELECOPY ART HAVE SEPERATE TECHNOLOGICAL ROOTS THEY CERTAINLY ARE ARTISTIC NETWORKING NEPHEWS//

//5// //FAX ART (ALSO CALLED “ART(E)FAX” OR TELECOPY ART) IS A LOGICAL CONSEQUENCE OF THE ECONOMICAL EVOLUTION OF THE TELEFAX MACHINE// //THERE ARE NO FAX TRANS MISSIONS IF NOBODY CAN BUY A FAX APPARATUS// //TELECOPY ART DOESN’T RESPECT THE SAME STANDARDS AS XEROGRAPHY OR COPY ART// //THE LATTER IS AN EVENT// //IT IS THE ARTIST WHO INDICATES AT A PARTICULAR MOMENT WHICH PHOTOCOPIES ARE ARTISTIC WORKS AND WHICH ARE NOT// //FAX ART NEEDS AN ELECTRONIC PROCESS// //IT IS TELE COMMUNICATION ART// //THE ARTIST CAN TRANSMIT HIS OR HER IMAGE OR WORK, BUT HE OR SHE HAS NOT THE FULL CONTROL OVER THE FACSIMILE EQUIPMENT OF THE RECEIVER// //SO THE AESTHETIC ASPECTS OF THE FAXWORK BECOME OF SECONDARY IMPORTACE IN COMPARISON WITH THE COMMUNICATIVE ASPECTS// //IN OTHER WORDS A WORK CAN ONLY BECOME FAX ART IF IT IS TRANSMITTED//

//6// //THE FIRST INTERNATIONAL FAX ART PROJECTS GO BACK TO THE EARLY EIGHTIES WITH IMPORTANT PROJECTS AS “THE WORLD IN 24 HOURS” (SEPTEMBER 27 & 28, 1982) AS A PART OF THE “ARS ELECTRONICA 1982” ORGANIZED BY ROBERT (BOB) ADRIAN// //OR “pARTiciFAX” (ELECTRONIC MAIL) (JUNE, 1984) CO ORDINATED BY PEETER SEPP, LISA SEL LYEH, MARY MISNER, MICHAEL BIDNER, A.O. WITH PARTICIPANTS FROM AFRICA, AMERICA, ASIA, AUSTRALIA, AND EUROPE// //IN THE LATE EIGHTIES FAX BECOMES AN INTEGRATED PART OF THE MAIL ART NETWORK// //IN THIS RESPECT WE CAN PERCEIVE MORE AND MORE MAIL ART PROJECTS ALSO MENTIONING A TELEFAX NUMBER, SO THE ARTISTS CAN CHOOSE THEMSELVES IF THEY WANT TO SEND THEIR WORK VIA POST OR FAX// //MANY NETWORKERS HAVE ALREADY CURATED OR ORGANIZED SPECIFIC TELEFAX OR ARTEFAX PROJECTS, E.G. ARTPOOL/GALANTAI, GUY BLEUS, PETER BRANDT, PAOLO BRUSCKY, PIERMARIO CIANI, NA TALE CUCINIELLO, KO DE JONGE, CHARLES FRANÃOIS, MAURICIO GUERRERO, JOHN HELD JR., GIUSEPPE IANNICELLI, LORA JOST, CHRISTIAN PFAFF, ETC.// //A GOOD ADVICE FOR FAX PER FORMANCES OR FAX PROJECTS IS TO HAVE PERMANENTLY MORE THAN ONE FAX LINE OPEN// //”WAITING” TO HAVE CONTACT SEEMS TO BE AN ESSENTIAL ASPECT OF TELEFAX COMMUNICATION// //BECAUSE THE LINES ARE ALWAYS BUSY//

//7// //THE TRANSMITTED OR RECEIVED TELECOPY IS ALWAYS AN ORIGINAL// //THE CONTEXT OR INTENSION OF THE TRANSMISSION CAN BE FALSE// //BUT A FAX DOES NEVER LIE// //IT IS THE INTERACTION AND RESULT OF A SPATIAL AND TEMPORAL PROCESS//
//8// //SINCE FAX ART IS ELECTRONIC MAIL ART ONE CAN ALSO TRANSMIT “INDIRECT” FAX WORKS// //X SENDS A FACSIMILE TO Y WITH THE REQUEST TO TRANSMIT IT TO Z (NOW Y CAN ADD OR ERASE SOME ASPECTS OF THE FAX BEFORE SENDING IT TO Z)// //THIS IS A GOOD AND FAST METHOD TO REALIZE CO ARTWORKS IN NO TIME//

//9// //FAXING CAN TRANSFORM THE NOTION OF TIME// //BY OBSTRUCTING THE “ORIGINAL” (NOT TRANSMITTED) TEXT OR IMAGE ONE CAN INFLUENCE THE DURATION OF THE FAX TRANSMISSION// //FOR INSTANCE, ONE CAN MANIPULATE THE TELEFAX MACHINE BY WITH DRAWING, STRETCHING, PULLING UP, PULLING FURTHER OUT (A PART OF) THE TRANSMIT TING PAGES// //BESIDES THESE VERTICAL MANOEUVRES ALSO HORIZONTAL (ZIG ZAG, SHA KING OR WAVING) ACTIONS ARE POSSIBLE// //MOREOVER THE MISUSE OF THE ELECTRONIC APPARATUS CAN BE REPEATED// //ALL THESE OPERATIONS WILL AFFECT BOTH THE PROCESS OF THE FAXTRANSMISSION AND THE TRANSMITTED IMAGE OR WORK// //THE LATTER CAN ALSO BE INFLUENCED BY INTERVENTIONS ON THE FAXPAPER: HEATING, CRUMPLING UP, THE USE OF CORROSIVE LIQUIDS, ETC.// //THESE OPERATIONS CAN GIVE WONDERFUL AND UNEX PECTED RESULTS AND CHANGE THE FAX PROCESS// //BUT OF COURSE ALL THESE ARTISTIC INTERVENTIONS ARE NOT HIGHLY RECOMMENDED FOR THE WELL BEING OF YOUR TELEFAX MACHINE//

//10// //OPPONENTS OF TELEFAX AS AN ARTISTIC MEDIUM CORRECTLY EMPHASIZE ITS SHORTCOMINGS// //FAX “IS” MORE EXPENSIVE THAN POSTAL NETWORKING// //ONE CAN’T TRANSMIT SCENTS OR 3 D OBJECTS// //FACSIMILE MEANS “SELECTION”// //ONE CAN NOT RE CEIVE SEVERAL FAXES AT THE SAME TIME (WITH ONLY ONE TELEFAX LINE)// //ETC.// //ALL THESE REMARKS AIN’T WITHOUT THRUTH// //BUT THE PROBLEM IS THAT “EVERY” ARTISTIC MEDIUM HAS ITS OWN LIMITATIONS// //FOR INSTANCE, MAIL ART IS NOT THE PROPER OR ADEQUATE MEDIUM FOR A SCULPTOR// //SO, SCULPTURE IS HIGHLY SELECTIVE BECAUSE A BLOCK OF MARBLE OR BLUE STONE IS MORE EXPENSIVE THAN A FAX TRANSMISSION// //BUT THESE ARTFORMS ARE BEYOND COMPARISON AND DOING SO MEANS CONFUSING CONCEPTS// //SCULPTURE, FILM, MAIL ART, PHOTOGRAPHY, COMPUTER ART, FAX ART, ETC. ARE DIFFE RENT WAYS OF ARTISTIC EXPRESSION// //POSSIBILITY, FEASIBILITY, MONEY, IDIOSYNCRACY AND PREFERENCE ARE SOME OF THE APPLICABLE NOTIONS IN THIS TASTY RHUBARB//

//11// //FROM AN IDEOLOGICAL OR ETHICAL POINT OF VIEW ALL ART MEDIA MEAN “SELEC TION”, EVEN THE DEMOCRATIC MAIL ART NETWORKING// //HOW MANY MAIL ARTISTS ARE THERE IN NORTH KOREA, CAMBODIA, VIETNAM, TIBET, LIBANON, IRAN, SUDAN OR SOMA LIA?// //ART IS FREEDOM AND LUXURY// //FAX IS FUN// //IT HAS NO “ETHICAL” OR “IDEOLO GICAL” IMPLICATIONS// //EXCEPT THIS ONE: THE (ELECTRONIC) (MAIL ART) WORLD HAS BE COME A GLOBAL VILLAGE WITH MANY “BLIND SPOTS”//
//12// //TO FAX OR NOT TO FAX IS NOT THE QUESTION// //FAXING OR TELECOPYING JUST ADDS NEW ELECTRONIC PERSPECTIVES TO THE EXISTING MAIL ART ACTIVITIES// //THE CONSE QUENCES WON’T CAUSE AN INFLATION OF THE NETWORKING COMMUNICATION OR REPLACE THE PREVIOUS MAIL ART RITUALS// //BUT EXPLORING ALL THE ADDITIONAL ELECTRONIC POSSIBILITIES MEANS A NEW STIMULUS FOR THE ETERNAL NETLAND//

//GUY BLEUS / THE ADMINISTRATION CENTRE 42.292 / P.O.BOX 43 / 3830 WELLEN / BELGIUM//

//TEL/FAX: (+)32 12 74 14 15// //E MAIL: gb@pophost.eunet.be//

ELECTRONIC POSSIBILITIES