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 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

mail-interview with Günther Ruch – Switzerland

THE MAIL-INTERVIEW WITH GÜNTHER RUCH.

(SWITZERLAND)

Ruch
© TAM-PUBLICATIONS NETHERLANDS
TAM-970167

THE MAIL-INTERVIEW WITH GÜNTHER RUCH. 62

Started on: 4-2-1996

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 14-2-1996

GR : During 1970-74 I realized several postal actions with contributions of friends and unknown persons in a small frame.

My first involvement with the mail art network goes back to 1974, through my contact with the group “ECART” (Geneva), which had in that time an extensive correspondence exchange with the first mail-networkers (look hereby this old rubber stamp which mentioned 1974 as begin of my “NETWORK” activity).

One of my first participations to an international MA-show was 1975 in your country, organized by G.J. de Rook (“STAMP-ART”, Utrecht), followed by several other MA-shows and contacts with artists-editors (R. Rehfeldt / (CONTART) – P. Petasz / (COMMONPRESS) – V. Baroni / (ARTE POSTALE) – A. Banana / (VILE) – J. Juin / (SPHINX) – and so on).

In 1980 I published the commonpress issue no 36 (“IDEA & CO”) with 120 participants of 23 countries and with whom I exchanged later (weekly & daily) correspondence, which influenced at least my private life.

RJ : How did mail art influence your private life?

Reply on 29-2-1996

GR : At the beginning of my mail art involvement I received every month about a dozen of postcards, which grew rapidly in the following years to something like 600 mailings yearly (that means every day 2-3 letters).

Participating and answering to some hundreds of mail-invitations brought several time-problems for me, I had the choice during a limited time of 2-3 hours the day to develop my own artistic projects or to answer only to other’s mail-projects.

With my wife Colette I had a very pleasant private life, but after a time my interest for the mailbox became bigger and bigger. Our 3-persons’ house-hold (Colette, the mailbox and I) had some charming aspects, until several difficulties between the mailbox and my wife appeared.

So, a strange day I went with Colette on one hand and the mailbox on the other hand to a psychiatrist to try to save the rest of our private life. His (Psy) observation could be set in a short statement: – more information your receive, less personal communication you can do, e.g…… quantity is not quality – (the problems between Colette and the mailbox are now resolved). And of course I heard from similar problems of the network, a reason why I asked years later during the first international MA-Congress 86 my mailpartners about their experiences in this field (Look under “phone-congress 86” in the catalog-report).

RJ : What was the story behind this MA-congress 86 when you look at it ten years later?

Reply on 19-3-1996

ruch3

GR : Well, a good question. Ten years later several “network” ideas have changed and the earlier congress-matter has influenced different meetings of mail artists, which were named later “congress-meetings”. It was surely one of the biggest mail art events of the eighties (including some 500 participants with 80 sessions in 25 countries). An interesting interpretation about the congress-idea was written under others by Géza Perneczky in his book “THE MAGAZINE NETWORK”; you find other statements and articles about those sessions in some artists’ conclusions, newspaper articles and at last in my congress report.

Network-problems in the eighties came through contrary views about mail-communication. For some people an exchange had only to do with a social (political) character in which the “artistical” point was secondary (e.g. : “everybody is an artist”). For some other people an exchange had only to do with a artistical (cultural) character in which the “social” point was secondary (e.g. : “every artwork implicates a social context”). So, I don’t know if today these problems are resolved, what I know is that a lot of networkers of the eighties don’t participate today to all so-called “MA-Shows”. Some of them are definitively “out”, others have new occupations with medias like computer-tools, which encloses other artists circuits.
My own idea to initiate such a big undertaking like that congress came through the wish to discuss together with networkers own problems of information / autonomy / cooperation / artcontext…. (and accumulated time-problems / correspondence-selections / history-interpretations / financial difficulties in relation to mail art). For that reason I produced too a formulary to be answered by the participants (organizers of own sessions). But with all my engagement, printed informations and answerings to hundreds of mailings (including 5 visits to congress sessions in 4 countries) all became a little bit too much for me. My co-partner to this congress-event H.R. Fricker, who I invited to work together with me, didn’t help very much. He used the background of that event to circulate his “tourism”-ideas and own printed postage stamps. “Tourism” was never for me a good development of expanded mail art (on one hand through its relation to any “ism”, on the other hand through its advertising “mass-tourism”, contrary to individual meetings). Of course the “meeting” idea behind Fricker’s slogan which he interpretated as “new” couldn’t be looked as such; several networkers, especially Ray Johnson, proposed from the beginning of their mail-communication “meetings”. So, at least Fricker got angry with me and our co-working finished in quarrels and fights, a reason why I ended the congress-project alone (most of the congress material was sent to my address).

Concerning my questionnary and other mailed informations, I received nearly thousand letters with some 200 specific answers to my request, of which I selected 76 responses (look at page 30 of my congress report). Naturally you can say it was a very personal selection, because it was ME who questioned, searched and choosed the content of the answers, but it was probably also the first time that mail art was discussed by hundreds of participants in a “open & public way”. The show was this time not about about mail art, the show was about the mail artist. I have to add that these meetings were especially created in a informal way (sometimes like a house-party, sometimes like a festival) and the thematic discussions developed themselves during the meetings. The “decentralized matter” allowed that the independent aspect of the sessions wasn’t touched, the result was not the meeting-idea in itself, but the face to face contact of individuals which knew each other before only through mail-exchanges.

RJ : What about the Decentralized Networker Congresses in 1992? Was this just a reproduction of the 1986 congress meetings, or was there a new aspect?

Reply on 4-4-1996

GR : In my eyes the “NC-92” was a copy of the earlier “MAC-86”, therefore I haven’t participated to that repetition, but I saw that my name was anyway in the 92-list. Of course the NC-92 included not alone mail art but also E-mail communication and it was said that more people participated in the NC-92 than in the MAC-86. Some of those “participants” told me later that they haven’t met in reality their partners, like it was done in 1986 (they connected them through postal mail and/or electronic mail). As next, some argued that instead of “discussing future network possibilities” in a decentralized manner, a centralized databank was set up and is now to reach at the University of Iowa (USA).

So, I don’t know, it seems that the “new aspect” was an old aspect, a sort of remake in electronic media without new strategies. If I’m interested on collaborative working my first interest goes to the work of my partner (idea / concept / creativity) and only secondly to his E-mail tools. I’m not against communication medias like computer tools and Internet, but the substance of the transmitted message shouldn’t be anachronic. To produce a “cyberstamp” in electronic media and send it via Internet through the space is a little bit like a HongKong-copy of a Van Gogh Picture. In Internet you don’t need stamps & envelopes, it goes without the postal system, to use a stamp (even symbolic) has really nothing to do with that media nor with a networker development. By the way, I remember a statement by Vittore Baroni (printed in REAL CORRESPONDENCE / 92): “… the congresses I’ve seen simply failed to convey any useful information about the development of such a new networking landscape. The short collective discussions verged once again on MA-topics that have been widely debated in the past – in the 1986 MAC for example….”.

RJ : For people outside the network it is quite difficult to find information about mail art. Many books written about mail art are produced by mail artists, published in very small editions and collected/bought by mail artists. Sometimes it seems only mail artists are interested in their history, but not all (newcomers..) are well informed about that. Is this true and should it be changed?

Reply on 22-4-1996

C-ass2-clinch7GR : Indeed, that’s a basic difficulty, books are essential for the MA-development. But it’s also a mistake from newcomers to think that information came up itself (and could be exchanged against a B&W xerox). To understand mail art you need to study the mechanism (and publication links) of that exchange system. Every searched work, book, information in and about mail art can be found individually, through several MA-archives (and/or by writing directly to concerned editors). There are existing lists of special books & magazines which will inform everybody who wants to search. Last week I became from a german museum several demands regarding documents and publication-material of the old DDR. This material couldn’t be found elsewhere, that means that my small archive is listed and known for specific research.

We are naturally very far from a “centralized” information (mail art is a decentralized system per se) and diversity is an important factor. So the general problem is not the “limited information”, the problem is that a newcomer took his own “reduced” view (or source) as the only information for the whole network, ignoring other books and archive-sources.

I could give you lots of examples where not alone newcomers but “oldies” too, bring their own personal sight as the “complete information” for the network. Do you remember the “CORRESPONDENCE ART” book by Crane & Stofflet, which was part of anger and frustration for several not-mentioned mail artists. My own bookdocumentation “MA-Congress 86”, in the hands of perhaps 300 mail artists and several archives (also in museum libraries & bookstores), was not mentioned in the last so-called sourcebook “ETERNAL NETWORK” of Chuck Welch .

Things like that could be changed through inclusion of additional databanks from more networkers or archives. A step in this direction was done for example by Géza Perneczky, who searched -before making his book- not alone in his own big archive, but in several other MA-files. Everybody who wishes to have information about mail art zines & reviews can order this book directly by Perneczky himself (and at least the price isn’t higher than in any commercial mass-edition).

RJ : The museum in Schwerin isn’t the first museum that wants to exhibit a selection of mail art from various archives of mail artists. Does mail art fit in a ‘traditional’ museum? What do you think of this development?

Reply on 9-5-1996

GR : The Schwerin museum wasn’t the first institution that asked me about MA-documents (during the last years I became requests from various museum-corners in Europe & USA). These demands were mostly bound with specific questions related to archive-documents, less with invitations asking my personal contribution. You have to differentiate between “invitational” MA-shows and “documentary” MA-shows…

Personally I think a “invitational” MA-show would probably better fit in his marginal character outside of a museum, a “documentary” MA-exhibition, addressed to a larger public would fit in a museum (a museum is a cultural public place, which should show all facettes of contemporary art-informations, even alternative or unknown ones). A MA-show in a museum should be curated & organized by someone who knows well the MA-community (the Schwerin museum will give an overview about a MA-period of the old GDR-regime, curated by an ancient MA-member, Guy Schraenen, and prepared with help of GDR-artists, Birger Jesch u.o.).

If several artists said years ago that mail art “must get out of its ghetto” , then of course museal institutions can’t be excluded – it has a logic. Counting all the museum-shows of the last years (PTT-museums & Country Museums), which included mail art I want to know which mailer hasn’t participated in his life to a museum-show? (I saw always big participants-lists)…. the first MA-shows under the trade-mark “CORRESPONDENCE ART” started in museums like the Whitney Museum N.Y. , the Joslyn Museum Omaha, or the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. My own first solo-show 1975, related to marginal media (rubber-stamps / xerox / flyers / S-8 films / small offset) was held in a museum and became through this “official” space another impact for the audience.

RJ : Most mail artists connect your name with the magazine CLINCH. What was the concept of this magazine?

Reply on 24-5-1996

GR : The concept of CLINCH was bound with the wish to have a selfmade assembling-magazine, cheap in its production-costs, simple and complicate at the same time, open to everybody and every world-conception, -including contributing artists from the whole globe. A relativly strong conceptualized idea developed itself through the small stamp-size of the contributed originals (stickers/stamps).

CLINCH was founded as “alternative” artpaper, was looked as “exchanged” proposition, mailed as “marginalized” information, exposed as “visualized” archive, and collected as “historified” MA-fragment by hundreds of participants. The magazine included in his 10 issues from 1983-88 (foundation 1982) some 400 participants, of which nearly 100 mailers contributed with own sticker-originals (it circulated also outside of the network in libraries and bookarchives).

Collecting, organizing & glueing all single stickers in each issue gave a lot of time-problems, which could only be resolved during nights (partly with the help of Colette). Together 25,000 originals were pasted with their glueing substance of auto-adhesive, water-glueing, or hand-sticking basis.

CLINCH brought such different individuals in company like “MA-kings” (Ray Johnson and G.A. Cavellini), “poetry-writers” (Dick Higgins or Richard Kostelanetz), “MAG-inventors” (Pawl Petasz or Vittore Baroni), “stamp-editors” (Anna Banana or György Galantai), “book-producers” (Ulises Carrion or Jürgen O. Olbrich), “poetry-performers” (Julien Blaine or Guillermo Deisler), “archive-conceptionalists” (Guy Bleus or Géza Perneczky), “social fighters” (Lon Spiegelman or Clemente Padin), “realism-painters” (Carlo Pittore or Leonard Duch), “myth-constructors” (Istvan Kantor or Al Ackerman), and so on…. impossible to mention them all. CLINCH was an overlapping “mixed media” product with interdisciplinary weight of eighties MA-development (the projected theme of each issue was going from visual poetry to random material, in which originals at a stickerbasis became special values). Some contributed works focused directly on the medium as source of information and meaning. Every participant received a copy free for himself, another part was exchanged with publications of the network, a third part was sold (which payed a little bit the distribution-costs, never the production-costs). Naturally my aim was not to make money, but to spread information and receive “other” publication-material in exchange…. and that aim was plenty fullfilled.

During the years a lot of articles were written about this magazine, Guy Bleus organized last year a retrospective exhibition of CLINCH in Belgium . If CLINCH was open during 5 years to everybody, I invited and choosed in my other selfmade editions (OUT-PRESS) only artists which worked similar to my own art-conception, or had at least experience in such network development.

RJ : When you ‘sum up’ the different individuals that participated to your CLINCH (like “poetry-writers” or archive-conceptualists”), I wonder in which group you would place yourself. What is special in your art-conception?

Reply on 17-6-1996

GR : Firstly, I hope you don’t regard my description of MA-individuals as “categorized” group seperated in art-disciplines (myth-constructors or MA-stars can’t be categorized under disciplines). If I have mentioned them, than by illustrating their diversity, each of them is searching and experimenting his own way of seeing or thinking which isn’t always clear in the beginning…..

Mixed media is for me one overlapping small media-concept in which disciplines are used in a simultaneous way (the media-tool itself can be either a rubberstamp or a soundtape). The weight lays on the creative act of using cheap media in a direct and simple context with multiple reflections. Besides mixed media exists intermedia (another field, largly explained by Dick Higgins in his interview with you), and it exists multimedia (which would fit better with the use of electronic media).

My own mixed work includes small media-concepts which could be partly realized only through collaboration with invited artists using themselves small media (choosing to collaborate means to negotiate the use of time, effort and materials that are available). To explain these processes hereby some examples:

– In 3 months I will perform a sound-poetry collaboration in Geneva together with 5 invited networkers (J.O. Olbrich / Rod Summers / Guy Bleus / Fernando Aguiar / Robin Crozier) at the “Festival de Genève / POESIES SONORES”. The projected transmission includes several communication-instruments (telephone / fax & others) ; besides the media-tools things like “cooperation” / “time” / “moment” / “interval” will play an important role. The mixed project will create a situation in which every participant is responsible and simultaneous depending of collaborators work…..

– A year ago I organized & performed an event called “DIRECT” with 5 invited artists (“THE NOMADS”) where we used during 8 days & nights found objects to produce a book-object and a film (35-mm). Parallel to that there was an artistamp-show with hundred participants (catalog) .

– In 1994 the PTT-museum Bern invited me (together with H.R. Fricker and M.V. Stirnemann) to collaborate to a documentary MA-Show, there I performed a short telephone-transmission with 8 artists from 8 countries (without knowing before what will happen, which call-interventions will produce, and what they want me to do….. .

– Similar actions & performances with inclusion of small media and a reduced number of participants were realized through me years before (the french television “CANAL PLUS” broadcasted a sort of overview about the international MA-network-communication, enclosing a documentary streetaction of mine from 1975). It was a personal performance in a public park of Geneva, implicating the “head-multiplication” of the cultural minister of that time, different media-support became instructions authorizing multiple interpretations…….

– To complete my concept I produced between 1976-86 a very small message-paper (“POSTPRODUCT”) which was partly sent through marginal transportation channels like swimming bottles / tram-ways / train-wagons / paper-flyers / folded paper-airplanes / and so on. (of course, only a part of all “flyers” came to their destination and indicated addresses). The point of mixed media departures involves “everyday objects & actions” – parallel to these events & performances several artists were invited to contribute their media-originals to my edition OUT-PRESS…..

In the beginning of the eighties I tried to create another therm for my mixed media concept, I called it “CO-ART” (COncept / COntacts / COoperation / COrrespondence / COmmunication /COpyart / and so on.) So to your question “what is special in my art-conception” is the inclusion of different media-tools under different circumstances with different artists presence -and that differs drastically from the traditional form of mail art in which the influence of participants to the aim-strategy of the project is reduced to one medium and to one distance.

Only through personal contact and media-collaboration can you discover the social and human aspects of your partner (hardly through his mailings). From a visual point of view: my symmetrical “lines” which I often used in my picture-concepts could be looked partly as metaphor for “communication-lines” (telephone-lines / letter-lines ‘ transportation-lines), partly as aesthetical form similar to minimal art, partly as ironical use in relation to prefabricated industrial products…..

RJ : Over the years that you were active in mail art you also used a lot of rubber stamps. What is a rubber stamp for you?

Reply on 29-6-1996

GR : An artist rubber stamp is for me a small visual media-signal, quickly utilizable, cheap in its production-costs and easy to transport – practical in all senses. Through its endless- & overprint possibilities the stamp refer to a repetition-code containing personal message fragments. Prints are easy to reproduce, to combine and to mail them around the world (there is no other miniaturized artist medium which could be directly multiplicated on such small surfaces). Networkers stamps includes a communication vocabulary of our daily life which is immediatly comprehensible.

I used rubberstamps since the end of the sixties and stamped one of my first R into my passport between official customs stamps of different countries ( R = Ruch / Rubber / Registrated – official meaning: R = Refused. My passport of the sixties was full of exotic custom rubberstamps from Europe and Orient, where I had travelled, hitchhiked, walked and lived during some time.

As you know, in two weeks (July) the “STAMP ART GALLERY” in San Francisco by Bill Gaglione will exhibit a big part of my rubber stamps and will produce a catalog “LIVING ROOM EXHIBITION”. (With your own “TAM-RUBBER STAMP ARCHIVE” you have probably a good overview about a lot of networker’s stamps from the last 15 years – also mine).

The first overview about rubberstamps (since the sixties) were given through book-publications like Hervé Fischers’ “ART & COMMUNICATION MARGINALE” (Paris/1974). The second volume of this book with some hundred new rubberstamping artists was printed & assembled years later through “ECART” in Geneva, but never bound and therefore never distributed. Other catalogs from that time are “STAMP ART” (G.J. de Rook / Amsterdam 1976) and “TIMBRES & TAMPONS D’ARTISTES” (Cabinet des Estampes / Geneva, 1976) …. followed by a lot of different rubberstamp shows & publications.

RJ : Again I notice in your answer that you are quite fascinated in the use of letters and their meanings (like the R you mentioned now). Is there a specific reason for that?

Reply on 28-08-96

GR : Sorry for the long time to wait at my answer. I was a whole month away from Geneva (in South-France) and another month I had to work for a special occasion here in Geneva……

Yes, of course alphabetical codes, abbreviations and letterfragments are playing an important role in my work – so, look at that “A” to you “Q” : In every word can be a semantic content and a similarity to fragments of other words (in the same or other languages). In a visual poem the word has not only verbal function but signify a state which can be unfolded, can be a new compound, or can bring a visual image through an alphabetic composition. Abbreviations help to underline the fragmentaric sense of “A to BE” , filled with new possibilities of exploring a “WOR(L)D”. “EYE” (I) was always interested how letters or short words could function in a double or triple sense with different determinations.

In the beginning of the eighties single letters like “N” (from “N-tity” = entity) were sent from several mailers, demonstrating their involvement as “N”-guild (N-ETWORK N-TITY). Other mailers used the word “ON” and his rotation “NO” for their short and limited answer to a participation-project. Another letter-sign on envelopes was “W” (from “W-ork), coming from his returned rotation “M” (M-ail). So, a sunny day I built with these 3 letters “N”, “O”, “W” a rubberstamp which could be read in all directions: “MON NOM: WON NOW”. Only insiders could really understand why and from who these words turned off “NOW” with 2 significations in english and 2 other significations in french (Do it “NOW”, than you have “WON” your name).

An older visual poem of me was built with the simple word “ART” in 4 languages (in every language-version the same word “ART” became a single letter-addition or a letter-rotation). The english version were read: “TART / RAT / TAR”, the french version: “ARA / RATA / RAT”, the german version: “RAT / TAT / RAR”, the italian version: “TARA / RATA / ARA”……… together 12 different points of views in 4 languages by a 3 letter-combination).

In general “experimental” poetry begins there, where the letter has lost his normal verbal function, but could be decoded simultaneous in relation to another signification. Today we are living in an age of communcation-speed in which abbreviations or hint-signals are used as quick transmission-vocabulary, why not integrate them into sound- or visual poetry? …. You have not only to READ, you have also to THINK about their fragmental signification, a sort of pulsing life reflection. “OR” is in english a way for alternative (see “either”), the same “OR” means in french “GOLD” and in a phonetic understanding “OR” (OHR) means in german “EAR” – you can always play with another function of the same word .
During the cultural “festival of Geneva” 1993 (POESIE SONORES) I worked & collaborated with Ward Tietz in a co-piece of alphabetical code-deciphering. We had small and big letter-objects (for example an “A” two meter high, or an “H” which I used as stilts by going with them on the stage). We cooperated, created, played and read that piece in several mixed materials, through flags the content was partly transmitted in a semaphoric way…… Coding – Decoding – Co ….. De…..

RJ : You mention that “……Today we are living in an age of communcation-speed” and I guess you also mean the FAX and the E-mail. I know you have worked with the FAX-machines. What do you think of the E-mail and the use of Internet?

reply on 14-10-1996

GR : Telephone / Fax / Internet are diffusion (transportation-) tools, Photocopy / Audiotape / Computerprinter are reproduction -tools. Sometimes they are used together, sometimes they are integrated in one computersystem, alltogether they are looked as electronic medias. Diffusion and reproduction are seperate through their destination of “distribution” and “product” (a copy-art product isn’t automatically linked to be mailed after his printing). So, we have to reflect about what (diffusion or product) we speak.

The idea , the function and the result of E-mail are very different to postal art (and of course people which use only E-mail are often never in contact with the MA-network). Several mailers – like you too – told me that computer-mail is sometimes boring (no handtouched paper / no smell / no 3-D project / no special stamps, stickers or rubber stamps).

The other side of E-mail is of course the speed of the DIRECT-transmission and through Internet the elusion of high postal rates. But for whom (?)…. only for people who have themselves such fax or computertools with access to Internet (you can forget practically 90% of the third world, they haven’t got access to that technology), also most european artists (mailers) are today not equiped with own computers.

The question is now, do you prefer to communicate with a small group of computerfreaks or with a larger group of individuals (?). Depends the content of your message on transmission-speed (?). Can E-mail replace the substance of human contacts (?) — look back to the big differences of the MA-congress 1986 (personal meetings) and the congress 1992 (computer-connections). Who needs more mailings, more contacts, more networkers, more speed and more technology (?).

Everybody knows that we are living in an age of information & communication in which computer-tools play a very important part, but our role – the role of an artist – is to question the media-percussion in our society. The “highways of information” are full of clichees which are bound with products of technology, and clichees which are bound with the distribution of such products. Communication-speed is one thing, how to look at it or to react against it is a complete other thing…. Independence and a certain liberty brought me during my MA-engagement to choose small reproduction-tools like the photocopymachine or the rubberstamp, daily diffusion-tools like the letter or telephone.

If I used very sporadicly Fax and other diffusion technologies then because I had a short (payed) possibility through institutions to communicate with those instruments. At home I haven’t any Fax or E-mail tool (but I have a telephone, a small photocopy-machine, an old Macintosh without access to Internet & CD-ROM)…. and I have to add that in all my public events – in contrast to my MA-exchanges – telephone & fax played only a role for the speed during the time-limited spectacle (otherwise the public couldn’t follow what happened). Background of these events are not to underline the importance of contemporary communication-tools, but on the contrary to question them and the often praised “media-consumer” ideology in an ironic way.

In the past it was said that somebody who writes postcards wouldn’t be automatically a MA-artist, today we can say that somebody who uses Internet wouldn’t be automatically an E-mail artist. Conclusion: it is not the medium alone which makes someone to an artist, it is the concept behind (how & why) which someone brings to choose his medium (….and that’s a life-conception).

RJ : Some older mail artists say that mail art nowadays is just a repetition of what happened in the 70’s and 80’s , and that mail art in the 90’s isn’t interesting at all. What do you think?

answer on 31-1-1997

GR : Of course mail art only as mailing-system is surely no longer interesting, look back to my statements about that matter and my publication “THE RISK” (by the way this question was hot discussed years ago during the “BIG MAC” 1986). Personally I reduced end of the eighties drastically my MA-communication and stayed since then in contact with a limited group of individuals with whom I had something in common.

Mail art is not an art-form or style in itself, but an artistical communication-structure which invites you to take part in it with new collaborative art-processes. These processes depend not of technological tools or computers (they can – the don’t must), they depend on real “cooperation”, “group-thinking” and similar “information-knowledge” from participants about the subject which will be developped together.

The word “Mail-Art” is today used for everything and nothing (I saw in some so-called “documentary” MA-catalogues printed declarations from people who have never participated to the MA-network). So is the word “Mail-Art” today really used in his original sense (?). For me that was one reason why I called developped cooperations on a mail-basis “CO-ART” (the co-operative co-ncept in co-llaboration has more importance than the mailed envelope).

The first number of my magazine CLINCH featured a “CO-WORK” diagram, described under others by Géza Perneczky in his book “MAGAZINE NETWORK” :

“,,,,a parallelogramme whose sides were meant to represent relationships between correspondence partners. The diagonal stood for ‘communication energy’ which increased between partners in direct ratio to time & space. In other words, this diagram was meant to illustrate something else than just the traditional relationship between the ‘sender’ and ‘receiver’ . It featured numerous receivers, who then became senders in the next step. On the other hand, the diagram highlighted not the components of their direct relationships, but instead their ‘vectors’ or ‘force’ , i.e. the amount of ‘total communication’ present in the formula. This force exeeded the personal contacts between the partners, since it represented their ‘collective projection’….. ”

RJ : Well, this interview has gone now for over one year. What do you think of the result so far of this project?

answer on 10-5-1997

GR : The whole interview-concept with different participants is a brillant idea and in straight line as continuation of discussions developped during the congress-sessions 1986. For me personally your interview is my fourth interview and the largest one over the last 10 years (not included some tape-recorded interviews of me from which I never saw the result).

The various thoughts of different interviewed people, you sent me, are very interesting (even if I don’t always agree with all personal declarations). I saw under others that the propagated “computerized future” of MA devides your interviewed artists (globaly there are links between Mail-art / E-mail & Internet , but real MAIL has to do with distance-concepts formalized through stamps, rubberstamps and other selfmade material, produced by senders / receivers / PTT-offices…..)

The last interview-booklet of Ken Friedman, you sent me, is a demonstration to see how difficult it is to generalize the whole Mail-art field. I totally agree with Ken’s statement about Internet:

“…..There is no need for mail-art on the Internet. The net is a different kind of medium. It needs play, ideas and exchange, it doesn’t need mail-art. People who see the Internet as an arena for mail-art are missing the point. Information technology has opened old fields to entirely new approaches…..”

Other MA-interpretations of him are more difficult to eat:

“……The mail-art network is insular internalized, selfcentered, there is little understanding of history and culture, even little knowledge about history of mail-art….only a handful of mail-art writers make sense to outside scholars, you can count them on your fingers – Chuck Welch , Mike Crane , Judith Hoffberg , Anna Banana , John Held Jr. , John Jacob ……. The Fluxus-writers knew their own history well, and many have been broadly conversant in general culture, culture theory and art-history. This makes a qualitative difference between fluxus and mail art, few mail artists know their own history well, they tend to oppose historical writing and thinking, they are often anti-experimental and judgemental about intellectual issues…..”

So, from what and from whom talks Ken (?) , what does Ken know about MY MAIL-CONTACTS and the people with whom I communicate (?). Should I buy a “flux-ticket” from Ken to enter in the “right” MA-circle (?). Mail-art doesn’t know any leadership or hierarchic concipation, Mail-art literature is not only limited to 6 north-american writers, Fluxus in Mail-art is a fact under several other facts…..

1 – To the leadership : feedback in that exchange system with other artists depends of receivers answer much more than of senders purpose.

2 – To the MA-writers : contrary to Ken I would say that “important literature” about Mail-art consists in european literature (a handful of those writers : Géza Perneczky (H/D) / Vittore Baroni (I) / Klaus Groh (D) / Guy Bleus (B) / Ulisses Carrion (MEX/NL) / Manfred Strirnemann (CH) / and others). Then it gives “east-european writers”, “latin-american writers” and so on…..

3 – To the “qualitative differences”: if I take Harry Ruhe’s documentation “who is who” in “FLUXUS” (1979 / Amsterdam) which mentioned practically all fluxmembers, some of them have sporadically participated to my own MA-projects (besides Ken himself I received mail from such documented fluxpeople like Ben Vautier / Joseph Beuys / Davi det Hompson / Dick Higgins / Marcel Alocco / Dietrich Albrecht / Barbara Moore / Mauricio Nanucci / Tamas Szentjoby and at least Ray Johnson). Also I had during the seventies some short conversations with BEN / BEUYS / FILLIOU and an afternoon with H. SOHM in Stuttgart. Are these (mail) people all “selfcentered with little knowledge about their history”(?) , or because they are (flux)members “they know their own history and are broadly conversant in general culture”(?).

A lot of flux-people – mentioned in Harry Ruhe’s documentation – I saw in original (live) in their events / concerts / performances during the seventies & eighties (e.g.: John Cage / Ben Vautier / Joseph Beuys / Milan Knizak / Guiseppe Chiari / Emmet Williams / and so on). I saw also most (probably all) “flux-films” produced by flux-members at special occasions, presented partly through the “american filmakers cooperative” as too through “Ben Vautier” personally.
To illustrate my own involvement with flux-related history I have to go back to the sixties: my first information about “fluxus” came in 1964 through a small bookstore in Stuttgart, the town where I lived and studied graphic-design then. In this bookstore I found by chance some issues of Wolf Vostell’s magazine “DECOLLAGE” , the number 4 brought a short overview about some flux- & happening people (in that time nobody spoke about that movement). A year later Vostell’s bookdocumentation “HAPPENINGS” (Rowohlt / 1965) was published (including lots of flux-related pieces) and some months later came Jean-Jacques Lebel’s “LE HAPPENING” (Denoël / Paris 1966) at the desk. The wellknown bookdocumentation of H. Szeemann & H. Sohm “HAPPENINGS & FLUXUS” (Köln / 1970) introduced that movement in museums and the gallery-system.

Well, between the time Colette had made a lecture at the Artschool in Basel (1966 / AGS-Basel) about “DIFFERENCES BETWEEN FLUXUS & HAPPENING” , in which she used the quoted documents. Some years later (in the earlier seventies) I came in contact with the group “ECART” (Geneva) which run a gallery / bookshop / and printing-room and where I found and bought some books of the legendary “SOMETHING ELSE PRESS” (Dick Higgins). It was the beginning of a fruitful communication-exchange and performance-collaboration with that group, we did together a lot of flux-pieces from partitions of known flux-authors. Parrallel to that the first Mail-art shows in Switzerland were presented through ECART (e.g. : ENDRE TOT / DAVID ZACK / ROBIN CROZIER / HERVE FISCHER’S RUBBERSTAMP BOOK / ANNA BANANA’S & BILL GAGLIONE’S PERFORMANCES / and others)

In the same time I founded in Geneva – together with Colette – my own edition “OUT-PRESS” (1973) , after having done some self-organized street-actions (this more marginal & small artist-edition published later several collaborating MA-networkers).

So far, influence from fluxus to the earlier Mail-art is a fact that I always underlined (look e.g. my interview with Dobrica Kamperelic 1987 ) – but fluxus was not the only influence. For example, in the moment I’m preparing a documentary lecture with slides, tapes & video’s about SOUND & MAILBOX (“SON & BOÎTE POSTALE”) to show them here in Geneva during the annual festival. An interesting view to understand how known sound-poets, visual poets and mail-poets participated in the past together in mail-projects, resulting in published records or audio-cassetes. There you can see and hear influence of concrete poetry , lettrism, as too experiments in new wilderness.
Some other influential aspects on the earlier Mascene were described in my “SHORT UNCOMPLETE CHRONOLOGY OF MA” (1980). That chronology had a relativly success and was reprinted by half-dozen of MA-zines & catalogues .

In 1981 it was Vittore Baroni who printed the chronology at the cover of “ARTE POSTALE! No 19” , and sent to several A.P. – readers (under others to Ray Johnson , who reacted weeks later by mailing me a “FAN-CLUB” letter, insisting directly to one point of that “chronology”). It was my first contact with Ray going over a 5-6 years period.

O.K. , after discharging my flux-constipation – overbearing history is difficult to digest – I can entrust you that sometimes my criticism is very near to Ken’s one: qualitative differences are often not between flux-artists & mail-artists, qualitative differences are often between (mail) artists & (mail) artists……

Back to your question of “THE RESULT OF THESE INTERVIEWS”: They will stay as clarification & overview about different (sometimes contrary) standpoints, which are bound together in the “historicity” of Mail-art….. Thank you for your help & hard work to realize this network-puzzle.

RJ : I guess it is time now to end the interview. Thank you for your time and energy too. Now let others read the words that are produced, or did I forget to ask you something?

answer on 10-5-1997

GR : It was a pleasure to answer to your “Q’s” , big thanks for the reflection-massage. Of course it would give much more to tell but we are at the end of our conversation, perhaps only a short post-script to the begin of my ART-COMMUNICATION :

The sixties were a overboarding creative time with revolutionering culture – & society changements, including new art-forms (besides fluxus it gave pop-art / minimal-art / land-art / street-art / sound-poetry /photo-realism and distance-concepts in form of “correspondence-art”) , that all in front of a background of student revolts / anti-Vietnam war-protests / hippie-movements / worldecological reflections……

In this “hot” time of society-innovations I undertook as student some larger trips to get out of “traditional” life-problems , to smell fresh air, stimulated by chance , adventure , exploring unknown countries , free life , essays of survive without consume and testing alternative communication & travel-forms (that all without having any money). My venturous trips with the most cheap transport-tools (hitch-hiking / trekking) brought me to countries like Turkey / Syria / Jordanie (3 months) / to Sicily (6 months) / to Greece (3 months) / to France and different stays in Scandinavia / Spain / Holland / as Jougoslavia too. There I learned a lot of communication without using language , of trips without maps , roadsigns without roads, the risky entering of passing rail boggie-waggons , repetition-music from railroad tracks, smells of strange perfums, miles & miles with truck-trailers, alpcrossing in snow 3000 meter high, of do-it yourself directions with donkeys & camels , sleeping in train-waggons, on sand or by inhabitants….. The only relicts of these trips were customs-stamps in my passeport and some overpainted postcards, mailed to family & friends (all other stayed ephemere, archived in my memory or the memories of persons I had met).

This earlier colourful maze of world-exploration influenced later my perception of ART-COMMUNICATION , by using cheap do-it yourself material, coin-wrapped photocopies , publicity-trash at street-corners , road-signs in my picture-concepts, telephone-performances with unknown persons, over-painting of newspaper headlines, numbering of repetitions code, parking places instead of gallery places, street-actions in a non-verbal, visual communication structure (some older S-8 films of these actions were shown to several occasions)……..

Later in the eighties I coupled my travels with visits of correspondence-partners (e.g. : in Jougoslavia – Kamperelic / Tisma / Sindic , in Italy – Maggi / Baroni / Morandi , in Hungary Galantai , in Germany – Olbrich / Schnyder/Hainke , in New York – Bloch/Kostelanetz/Gerlovins , in Belgium – Bleus/De Boever/Francois…. and so on…. During the congress-sessions 1986 I saw probably some hundred different MA-artists and I became visits from over 20 networkers (to name only those who have slept in my house: R. Meade (USA) / C. Stake (CDN) / J.Olbrich (D) / M. Bloch (USA) / A. Schnyder (D) / M. Pawson (UK) / H.R.Fricker (CH) / J.N. Laszlo (F) / M.Stirnemann (CH) / B. Hetlovana (PL) …… 600 names of correspondence-partners were listed in my “MA-Congress ’86” , with 900-1000 persons from the whole world (60 countries) I had a correspondence-exchange, together I received something like 8000-9000 mailings – to much to can go deeper in real communication-exchange (therefor my reason to reduce Mail-art to those with a common-background).

For me MA was only one of my different ART-COMMUNICATIONS , but even than it was partly a fulltime job .

Ruud, if you will come one time to Geneva – please, not as “tourist” – you are always welcome at home…. there we could communicate and discuss several points which are not mentioned here,

RJ : Well, that is a very kind invitation. I do tend to meet mail artists every year since I travel a lot, so I might be in Switzerland one of these days…..Thanks for the interview Günther!

Address mail-artist:

Günther Ruch
315 Route de Peney
1242 Genéve – Peney
SWITZERLAND
phone : (022) 753 12 21

Address interviewer:

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

mail-interview with Edgardo-Antonio Vigo – Argentina

THE MAIL-INTERVIEW
WITH EDGARDO – ANTONIO VIGO
(1923-1997)

32276_415903612989_501252989_5384402_3216477_n
TAM-PUBLICATIONS
TAM-980184
INTRODUCTION

After a long correspondence with Edgardo Antonio Vigo since 1983 it was only
natural to invite him in June 1995 for my mail-interview. The interview was almost
finished, and on August 28th 1997 I sent him the last question. Later I found out he
had died on November 4th 1997 , after suffering from a long painful desease.
During the interview there were always two letters we exchanged. One for the
interview , and one personal letter. This is how more interviews go , the personal
letters besides the ‘public’ interview questions.

Because I want to show with the booklet-version what kind of artists I am
interviewing I normally include illustrations of artifacts that came to me during the
interview-process. For Vigo’s interview I waited some time before I could bring
myself to the task of proof-reading the texts and do the layout for the booklet-
version. It isn’t easy loosing a friend and then publish the last words you received
from him. The online-version will contain the text of the interview – as usual – and will
be put online with the help of Jas W. Felter (Canada). For the booklet-version I have
decided to include both the answers and questions as well as the personal
correspondence. This will show you obviously what kind of man Vigo was , and how
these last years of his life went.

Besides the interview & the personal correspondence during it the booklet will
contain some appendixes as well. A text written by Clemente Padin (translated into
English for you and avalable online already , a letter from Ana Maria Gualtiera (she
has the task as ‘holder’ of the collection of Vigo’s work & mail-art and wants to
exhibit the collection in Argentina. She can be reached at the same P.O. Box that
Vigo used , and she works for the ‘Fundaci¢n Centro de Artes Visuales)

Ruud Janssen , 31-3-1998

untitled13
THE MAIL-INTERVIEW WITH EDGARDO – ANTONIO VIGO 45

Started on: 15-6-1995

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 27-7-1995

EAV: In the end of 1966 I began contacting some European visual poets – like
JULIEN BLAINE and JEAN-FRANCOIS BORY – and we start exchanging
works. Among them some postcards including very creative ways to fill in the
space that called my attention. For instance postcards which were real
creative pieces, specially made for that communication means.

In 1963 I started editing the ‘DIAGONAL CERO’ magazine in order to publish
there information and articles on our international mail exchanging. But
much of the times we had to fight against the Postal Mail system in our
countries because gouvernments have its rules and we tried to exchange
our information and articles.

Envelopes were treated in an unusual manner which causes real battles
before administrations control. To my part I did not know about the existence
of other mail art groups which were – in a certain way – “institutionalized” as
the concreted case of the “NEW YORK CORRESPONDENCE SCHOOL”
founded by RAY JOHNSON. Later I go on sending my correspondence
under the idea of “COMMUNICATION FROM FAR – via postal”. Using
frequently postal cards, seals, envelopes printed in a not conventional way,
proposals to be answered by original responses.

RJ : Can you give some examples about these ‘fight against the Postal Mail
system’?

Reply on 5-9-1995

EAV: One of the most divulged cases was GENESIS P. ORRIDGE’s one, in
England. He made a series of creative postcards by using ‘collage’ methods.
He cuts out photo’s of his country’s queen making erotic positions with her
pictures. That series is confiscated by the Postal Administration besides a
judgement against the author. Defense based its explanations on different
positions from some ahierents to that international practice. At the end,
Orridge was fined more or less severely but not confined in prisson as State
had solicited for him. Later, Orridge edited the complete trial.

Talking about myself and especially during the ‘militar junta’ times from 1976
to middle 1983, I suffered an open censorship, not only on that
correspondence I received but on those sent away. That period was
particulary sad to me. That control comprised destruction of postal
correspondence to me of from me, letters containing invitations which got me
out of time to participate. In sum a cut contact with mail friends. Once an
unusual fact happened. An employee put some postal pieces into my mail
box but those would have been at Censorship Commitee. He was forced to
stop working and he had to accept an early retirement ‘by psychological
problems’. At present he goes on living in Spain where he had to go because
of that uncertain situation. Since then I tryed to modify my way of
communication and, in plus I wanted to let people in other countries know
what had happened here. Also I made a creative stamp to denounce at
international level that my eldest son ABEL LUIS had disappeared (up to
now we do not know anything about him). The result of those tricks was
satisfactory because I was able to tell people in the world about Argentina’s
dictatorship.

Anyhow, our Postal Services goes on being corrupted. First they had
accepted to practice that control on mailing and then to steal or destroy all
sorts of postal pieces.

RJ : Well, I’m glad that my previous question DID arrive, and I also hope this
question will arrive. How (or why) did you become so interested in visual
poetry?

Reply on 7-10-95

EAV: Well, most of my connections were due of my ‘DAGONAL CERO’ editions. If
I had to give a definition of myself I would choose” ‘VISUAL ANIMAL’ or
‘VISUAL BEING’.

untitled12

From this position I always liked to make my editions on new researches,
toward creative and different results. Ever I had tendency to visual
expression -like a sort of ‘visual animal’. To me it was better to see a design
than a word. By 1960 I made a series of ‘poetical compositions’ by using
rubber seals from the office where I was an employee. As you can imagine
those seals had no poetical inscriptions, but anyhow those compositions let
me discover the ‘poetical space’.

I mean that it was a kind of liberation from a page as a ‘real space’, doing
free use of it (the page) as support of a poem. In plus I did a series of
ironical texts where each word (sometimes with an article) formed a long text
written in vertical sense and other times, a few words were placed outside
that column to add some move for visual composition.

Later I knew other advanced theories – concrete, spacialism, cinetic,
process, etc. – and connection with poets like BORY, BLAINE, SARENCO,
CHOPIN and many others. It helped me so much that I could form my
personal writings – then ‘mathematical poetry’ starts.

I must say, I did not try to translate in numbers a kind of code to supply
words. By contrary I wanted to show that, using mathematical writing plus
adding figures and shapes of geometry, plus color use – well, it could be able
– at visual level – to form poetical projection for a posible reader. Those
words I usually choose are taken as a support in a composition and real
value is in texts which are put as titles – a sort of signal to introduce the
reader.

untitled11

Nowadays, in spite of certain historical discontinuity in visual poetry, diverse
solutions make it possible to clarify and understand such divers changes
through that course. Rich oppositions, permanent searches, move this visual
poetry. This is just my opinion.

RJ : In your wonderful postcards you use always this thick carton, which you
decorate with rubberstamps and other additions. Why this choice of
materials?

Reply on 29-11-1995

EAV: I think throughout years of MAIL COMMUNICATION development a proper
language has been done, full of creativity and expression.

Postcards, stamps, rubber seals, even envelopes which contain our
correspondence, have become ‘testimonial statements of this tendency’. For
instance to compare a postcard or an envelope having official mail stamps to
the ones which have creative ones offer a great, particular difference.

Talking about myself I am certain that envelopes are it selves a space and a
surface to be particularly treated. They must be a sort of announce for its
content. But sometimes there is contrary result, an opposition between both.
On the other hand, I am certain of that creative stamps and seals have
allowed a great possibilty of renovation into mail communication as it
happens in these days and I would like pointing out the struggle against
bureaucracy in mail administrations -national and international ones-. This
has oppened a great field almost without restriction and, in plus, helps to
concrete all sorts of proposals and brings rich purposes. Postcards are in
endless evolution not only idealogical but formal too.

If we remember those modified printed cards and now we compare
nowadays cards, well, there is a wide transformation. These, in general carry
its own message keeping codes proper to postal rules. The sum of these
diverse results have been done main possibilities on postcards, stamps and
rubber seals – giving an independent field full of creative expression. In plus
it is detachable the diverse intentions into this practice to which I like to add
modestly.

untitled3
RJ : Most participants in the mail art network I know live in Europe and The USA.
Only a few from Africa, South America, and Asia. But whenever I participate
in a project from South America and get the documentation, I see hundreds
of participants from South-American countries (e.g. Brasil). It seems that
there are a lot of people in this part of the world that are active in mail art but
that they don’t reach out to Europe. Is the main reason economics or are
there other reasons?

Reply on 9-1-1996

EAV: In Latin America the main problem is an economical one. Especially because
of the endless military “coups d’‚tat” there are not occurate plans for
material prosperity. So the population cannot afford to go on exchanging
correspondence outside. Postal Service costs are high for Latin American
people who decide to maintain their mail activity.

To make matter worse, Postal Services in these countries are not a
guarantee, there is no insurance against loss. As a result answers become
limited to those considerate more important ones. In my case using certified
sendings which at least put forward a claim against Mail Services, in the
case of being able to prouve the sent letter did not reach its destination.
Referring to latin american mail friends, in general, they do not persist in
answering letters for long time, so dialogue stops frequently. In general latin
american callings find best reply from American people.

Anyhow I think this is a general matter in the world, I mean compatriots
accept to participate in national events preferently. Catalogs show this. One
can find those participators just under those conditions but not in the wide
network. Talking about my personal experience, well, many years ago,
Horacio Zabala and I had held an exhibition. We had to accept some
participators proposed by the gallerist for he said convocatory should be
“oppened” to everybody. But time changes some things and Argetin mail
communicators increased in number but because of different reasons. I
would like to add another matter, language knowledge even though
nowadays English makes it possible to have a wide communication. Finally I
have remarked an important increcement of Argentin adherents on diverse
catalogs.

RJ : Most mail artists who are active for many years, always get mail from
newcomers too. How do you explain mail art to a newcomer?

32276_415903562989_501252989_5384395_5781710_n

Reply on 30-1-1996

EAV: As many others I frequently receive requests for information about mail art
and how to enter the circuit. Answering I make use of the founding word of
mail art, this is “DISTANT COMMUNICATION -postal via”. I try to explain –
first- the subtle difference between them. Then in general, I send articles
photocopied about that matter, the most clear and pedagogical ones. I
advise them to make multiples for sending by mail. I add a list of mail friends
who use to answer and exchange works frequently, even to the ‘new’ mail
friends. In general I do not get new contacts with them but I receive letters
for most information from those who try to understand after having seen an
exhibition or writting articles on mail art.

Later I feel satisfied when I see their names on a list or we go on in mailing
contact in future and dialogue becomes interesting. During these last two
years – 1994/1995 – I have been receiving frequent correspondence from our
neighbor country Brasil. I have no doubt about divulgence in the press on
this practice. Publications on popular divulgence publish lists of people who
answer that correspondence. Myself I do this and feel satisfied. On the other
hand I always insist in adding lists of mail friends on catalogs to know their
names and addresses. I am certain this method is very effective.

RJ : In 1986 H.R. Fricker started a new thing in mail art with his ‘TOURISM’ and
in 1992, the next step, Decentralized Networking Congresses (DNC), meant
that even more mail artists started to meet. What do you think of these steps.
Were you active in these large projects?

Reply on 4-3-1996

EAV: I was not in contact with H.R. Fricker in 1986 so I knew about his ‘TOURISM’
later. But I got this invitation for ‘DNC’. Even if it was not the aim of H.R.F.
that kind of manifestos push ‘the institutionalism” of mail art, which I call
‘COMMUNICATION FOR DISTANCE – via postal’ Which was born as an
alternative face to predominance of art structures over creative
manifestations.

Mail circuits started and go on – I think – preferring not traditional places for
exhibition – Museums, Galleries, Foundations. Also the way to show their
works. Not more hierarchies, but an opening proposition to everyone who
wants to enter into this way for communication. At first there were altered
postcards, mail stamps in transgression to official ones and also creative
seals of all kinds. One cannot deny infiltration of mail art into the current and
its parallel duration. But I think, as I did take part in both, it exists subtil
differences which promote that classic discussion between a genius and a
mad.

I assume not to be able to distinguish clearly about this. Anyhow I find a
great freedom and permanence of those basic priciples of ‘DISTANCE
COMMUNICATION – via postal’. As an example I can make comment about
the constant reception of postal pieces which do not respond necessarily
reach artistic level. I think it is impossible to notice those differences, though,
as happens on the classic discussion genious and madness, there is a
subtle difference only. Meanwhile I find more freedom in mail art –
communication from far, by mail as I like to call this. The denomination
comes from that big and constant reception of mail pieces which do not
respond any aesthetic line but it is full if one observes and pays attention. I
think that Art approches and makes a sort of mimetic with mail works. This
was not a common way to enter into the alternative practice between art and
mail expressions.

I agree with this bifurcation and variety of responses before an interrogation.
Puralism means richness. In art there are beautiful catalogs and exhibitions
have wide promotion opposite to simple messages which sometimes ashame
carring a content really transgresor and look for having its own space not to
be wrong classified. I believe that art mixed to mail communication and
finally both got insert in art as an expression.

I do not find anything wrong in this bifurcation, by contrary, plurality means
richness. On the other hand, instead of beautiful catalogs, art exhibitions
well promoted, mail communication becomes a transgressor work, which
makes a continual resistance to be classified in a wrong way.

Everytime a young participator begins his first steps display great,
surprisingly ingenuity breaking out what it is accepted as order and beauty.
Maybe, after some time he searches for surpassing his primary works or he
goes on following the same structures. Each one is free from making his own
choice. Luckily each one can choose, for the moment there is a friendly
acceptation.

To my opinion mail art or – as I want to call it ‘Distant Communication’,
should not risk to fall dlown in doing beautiful, de luxe sendings which is not
in primary purpose.

32276_415903612989_501252989_5384402_3216477_n

I know, we, in the mail art communication have similar problems to artists in
general, There are deep, serious deals to carry out. My activity goes on and
never has to stop even though I respond or refuse participation as I like. I
hope to participate in future as free as always, doing creative works without
doing art.

I choose and accept to participate in creative invitations but do not accept
certain impositions. So I cannot put conditions face to people appreciation
towards my work because in this way I would put conditions limiting the
judgement of others. Everything must be ‘OPENED’ to everyone
communication.

RJ : You have probably heard of the new network for communication, the
Internet, in which computer-users can communicate by phone-lines. In the
USA it has taken over a great deal of the normal correspondance, and the
same is happening in Europe. However, this communication-tool is not
OPEN to everybody, because one needs still a lot of money for the access
(computer, phone, modem, etc.) What are your thoughts about this new tool
for communication?

Reply on 26-5-1996

EAV : Actual technology invents permanently new ways of communication. For the
moment INTERNET is the “boom” but I think, before this can be used by the
artists, it will be another system, better, surpassing its possibilities. I am
certain, that dramatic situation is due of a technology which progresses in a
permanent way. Before analyzing the results, there are other ones, more
sophisticated and better

This ‘CONSTANT DISPLACEMENT’ has brought an evident displeasure, its
result are rather ominous for Society. Another sign could be the ‘crack’ of
equilibrium between products and work. Unemployment of workers is an
universal problem today. In the question there is already signed the problem
about a non ‘opened communication’ and all those who cannot make use of
that. Also costs brought another problem: developed countries will have
offered those communication systems before, so Latin-America and others
will be behind.

I am not in opposition to Internet, a system to which I adhere theoretically,
but I must remark parallel problems. There is still another question more
difficult. At least at personal level. Since long I am worried about the problem
between ‘presentation’ and ‘representation’ into creative area. I think this
idea was proposed by Pierre Restany. And I think, once more we are faced
to an inquiry. The Internet adds to representative methods, with drawing us
from real creative product which is the piece itself. It is possible to transmit
an image perfectly, also it gets benefite from a widest divulgence and adding
a great number of possibilities for communication. But that ‘shown’ work will
remain its author or it will belong to another one.

Then, to be shorter, if Internet systems cannot find its own expression and
from it to codify a creative system, it will go on summing another element
more to always searched perfection, in this case, communications.

In this way I try to remarque the differencies which I observe but I do not
addhere to those who deny today communication ways. The same happened
about ‘fax’ and its succes but nowadays it seems obsolete, at least it cannot
destroy mail art and others.

Today the computer is considered as a tool for communication. Means offer
solution face to the problem of expression but always man makes it possible
to find a creative tool. Communication means do not find solution about
expressing matters, only man could reach ‘CREATIVE FACT’ by making use
of the impulse, necessary to change a simple fact of communicative tool into
a real ‘CREATIVE FACT’

RJ : Your mail art always contains some kind of message. What is the most
important message that you are trying to get ‘into the world’ with your mail
art?

Reply on 24-7-1996

EAV: I have always done my works free from imposition. My subjects are very
heterogeneous and always as a kind of reaction from some exterior actions.
In general those that push my interest to express my opinion come from
social and political fields. In ‘DISTANT COMMUNICATION – via postal’
becomes more extensive into these lands because it is possible to add
proposals from outside or by third ones.

There is an extraordinary richness and especially in last time very clever
subjects appears. After many years in this activity one must surpass some
old themes. This challenge has made an interesting encreasement. On the
other hand, very few invitations have ‘free theme’ so people who invite
search for very creative answers. Talking about myself I do not limite myself
to political or social subjects. I like very much irony in certain habits, the
puns which let us make an alteration in certain established concepts. And,
finally, some accepted opinions in the land of genuine aesthetic to which I
am fond of. I do not send a message, or at least I do not search for it. I like to
keep on being irreverent, but I try to go on following those primary postulates
of mail communication. Free from hierarchies, be simple in order to maintain
a wide range of possibilities for a communication without limits cause of
aesthetical or formal ways which could cause a refusal which is not desired.

These thoughts do not deny my consequent position about certain rules, for
instance my permanent concern to improve my works. On the other hand, my
appreciation for them is not free from my own judgement, by contrary,
another is the opinion from other people – conclusion must be different, at
personal level.

RJ : A lot of mail artists nowadays (also the newcomers in the mail art network)
use the words Dada and Fluxus in their rubber stamps and artworks. What
do these words mean to you?

reply on 3-9-1996

EAV: Based on the origin of “communication from far-postal via” this seems, to me,
“natural” it occurs. I do not forget the transgressor character of this tendency
in the beginning. Its priciples resemble both movements in order to postulate
a sort of anti-art. Especially DADA and, in spite of being incorporated as an
art institution (let me call it ‘official’ to make a certain difference between
those other intents) and even FLUXUS promote a non systematical rebellion
face to most common postulates. I think, DADA and FLUXUS proposed a
kind of asystematical postulates face to the most current ones. maybe DADA
and FLUXUS begin a new way to aim creative art by basing it in a position.

To do this they started a new way of acting as the result of a new
‘commication’ towards society – even if they attack it on purpose. But one
must signal a difference of world ‘affront’ because it was not an act of
violence but violence against rules which generated ‘the conventional’. This
started a ‘new fact’ specially in DADA since change began from actions
which became facts. On parallel it started ‘creative facts’, impelling fonetics
and visual poetry, and ‘phonic’ ones too. FLUXUS retakes dada spirit
cleverly and in spite of coincidences it obtained an ‘identity’ characteristic.

All those branches, DADA starts, FLUXUS continuity undertake many
adherents of ‘distant communication’ , postal via, since they want to detach
from all that which is considered art. Once more I refuse the term MAIL ART
and retake original one more exact of “DISTANT COMMUNICATION – postal
via” since in it there is a strong wish to set apart from what can be
considered art. Once more I reject the word POSTAL ART as I tried to
explain in this postal report and go on saying “DISTANT COMMUNICATION
– postal via”. And I find a historical projecting which reaches even nowadays
of that “DADA impulse”. As Neo-Dadaisme based on American POP ART
pioneers and numerous contestarian groups after Second World War. That
influence was a sort of revolution never finished. DADA had a short
foundation period but it went on living up to now at international level and
also in many national ones. Like sea water constantly moving, it comes and
goes.

RJ You dated you letter “La Plata, 26.08.2000-4”. What do you expect from the
year 2000? Is it the start of something, or the end of something?

Reply on 5-11-1996

EAV: There is a popular sentence here, in my country, about the year one is living
at present: “THIS IS A YEAR MORE OF LIFE” , but there is a reply -more
pessimistic- “THIS IS A YEAR LESS” . But referring to the year 2000
obviously this is the beginning of a new mile age. Multiples thoughts emerge
to be able to inaugurate this time.

You ask me on ‘2000-4’. Well, I just mean we must still live four years to
reach year 2000. I am telling you that, when we reached year 1990 I began
dating my letters ‘1900-90’. I emphasized the way to read that date. Going
on, arriving at 1991 I wrote ‘1900-90 and 1’ or ‘1900-90 and one’. This way
until 1994. Reaching 1995 and nearest year 2,000 a sort of backward
account so I wrote that year ‘2000-5’. This way I try to explain how I arrive at
1996. I did not have the intention to sum or to substract each new year. The
same idea prevail referring to the arrival of the year 2000.

I think, the first decades of that new millenium will be determinant ones. If we
take, as previous antecedents what happened in 1900 -XX century- that idea
becomes certain since ‘Industrial Revolution’ – be born end of XIX century –
acts as foundational element developing new views in many lands. For
instance in creative ones, there is no doubt, the two first decades gave all
what was developed through the XX century. New techniques produced a
great impact at communicational level – as computation and Internet – ends
of XX century. Probably a new language will appear as a codified system at
creative level. On this point of view I dare to believe the new millenium is the
end of certain things and the birth of anothers, as a kind of ‘CONTINUITY
OF DISCONTINUANCE’. I mean, in general people have certain tendency to
accept ‘WHAT IS THE NEW’ – just because that is newest. Even if it has no
basis.

32276_415903617989_501252989_5384403_7588624_nRJ : Is it easy to do something NEW in the mail art network when one looks back on everything that has been done already? Is it o.k if new mail artists are repeating things that have been done decades ago?

answer on 3-2-1997

EAV: All creative manifestation whith development, attains what is really NEW. In its full beginning, increasement and development personal contributions are richer and diverse because open space is infinite. This way, it is possible to
observe how much people succeed in innovating the land with their creative messages: In this case about ‘DISTANT COMMUNICATION – postal via’  In these days possibilities to change or surprise have become shorter, just in time to time appears someone who manages to do something really new.  On the other hand creative tendencies and their lands for participation can limit or not-improvement towards ‘the new’ .

‘COMMUNICATION FROM FAR – postal via’ has made apportations about
that new tendency, bringing structural changes to make it richer. Since those
postal pieces, taken out from context until what was RAY JOHNSON’S
institutionalization in 1960, modified postcards, stamps, seals, and unusual
materials to be sent by post, all them show a constant encreasement almost
until these days. Possibly there is a sort of ‘CREATIVE IMPASSE’ at present
but luckily saved for the constant possibilities that diverse elements bring. As
an example – which seems to me more evident and characteristic – I detache
hand made ‘envelopes’. I observe in them employed materials and their
conceptual way to be made , colors and collage of very different elements, in
plus their conceptual way of being assembled. Also diagramation in seals
and stamps. Many of them bring independent ideas and, recently ‘stickers’
let us think ideas and are infinite images. Evidently it is easy to find this high
degree of rich creativity into a great number of nowadays collections. I do
not know if we are on top of this practice possibilities but to my opinion I feel
optimistic. We are in close proximity to a new Century and many changes
are expected of course. To my opinion communication ‘by Mail’ should be
replaced by other ways and possibly at present we cannot even imagine how
communication should be. What technology would be in use for
communication by mail.

RJ : Well, as you probably are aware of this mail-interview project also has to do
with all the current available communication-forms. Questions travel by mail ,
electronic mail, personal delivory, fax, anything that is possible at the
moment. It seems that the new ways of communication are mostly technical.
Someone suggested however that teleportation would be possible in the
near future as well. How realistic are the views we have of our future
communication?

next answer on 28-8-1997

EAV: First of all I would like to explain to the reader of this interview that, the
dialogue maintained to RAY JOHNSON has allways been through
‘COMMUNICATION FOR FAR – postal via’ but referring to the question, I
think the amount of diverse ways imagined for the future contain so many
ideas that will make possible to suggest not only coherent things but other
ones near utopia. So, to predict the future remains open to all kind of
propositions based not only on techniques in development but in
communication means, also those ones based on ‘supositions’. In the future
reality will show right things, mistakes, approximations and so on….

To my opinion, the situation becomes very difficult – as INGMAR BERGMAN
said : “as much as man produces and disposes in communication means –
too soft – more encreases ‘ PERSONAL INCOMMUNICATION ‘ , this is, one
becomes more and more distant from the other. There is no doubt, for us,
who need ‘DIRECT DIALOGUE’ it will be hard to accept all that so complex
for understanding that finally expected communication is not reached. This
is, one gets more distant from the other one.

For almost all religions a prayer becomes a kind of dialogue between one
who suplicates and the divinity listens, this is very touching. But nowadays
people must preserve their security so before opening the house door it is
necessary to know who is outside. This brings us to certain reced to the
other one. Well, today there is a proposal for loving throughout Internet,
probably this new sort of communication would bring comprehension of
messages, but I insist repeating that mechanical pieces ‘cannot cut dialogue
from person to person’.

RJ : Well, I guess it is time to end the interview now so others can read about
your thoughts as well. Is there anything I forgot to ask?

On November 14th I read the e-mail that is sent to my tam@dds.nl account. I received
an e-mail from Clemente Padin (Uruguay) which he sent on November 6th. In this
message the sad news that Edgardo Antonio Vigo died on November 4th 1997. A very
sad ending to this interview. I will miss the mail Edgardo always sent to me……

Address mail-artist:

EDGARDO – ANTONIO VIGO (1923-1997)
Casilla de Correo 264
1900 LA PLATA
Provincia Buenos Aires
Republica ARGENTINA

Address interviewer:

Ruud Janssen – TAM
P.O.Box 1055
4801 BB  Breda
Netherlands
e-mail : r.janssen@iuoma.org