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SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT CHAINLETTERS and ADD-TO PROJECTS
BY RUUD JANSSEN
originally written in 1994
date of WWW-version: 14-9-1997
- Once you enter the mail-art network you will soon discover the many chain- letters and the 'ADD TO' xeroxes that are circulating throughout the network. Some people participate now and then, some ignore everyone of them. Even some are so 'fed up' with them that they return them every time to the sender. In this article some thoughts about these two phenomena in mail-art land.
- The chain-letters are a strange thing. They always promise the most fantastic things like 'in two weeks you'll receive one hundred postcards from all over the world'. Well, those chain-letters never work because only a percentage of the receivers pass the chain-letters on. Some even follow a 'middle-road' and just add their name to the chain-letter without sending something to the person on the top.
- But the chain-letters do have a function. They are the source for new addresses for the newcomers in the network. And I must admit myself. Sometimes after a chain- letter has been circulating some time I get some funny mail from new persons to me. I'm not looking for new contacts in mail-art, but I do am open for new things that fascinate me. A new magazine, a new drawing, etc..... So in some way the chain-letters form an address-list that goes to unknown places.
- A strange thing that happens too is that, once your name is on some chain- letters, you will start to receive more. It is pure psychology. People who DO participate in chain-letters want to send their (8 or 10) copies to people who are known to react. Well, I'm not such a person. I actually collect chain-letters. I put them in a large box, and so far I stopped about 700 chain-letters. I am a bit fascinated by the many different and unknown names on them. It gives a glimpse of how large the (mail-art) network actually is.
- Some chain-letters have a certain theme. Music, or even art-chainletters. The money chain-letters never entered the mail-art network. Well, in any case I never received one by mail. They are transported in another circle.
- The "ADD TO and PASS ON" xeroxes that are circulating in the mail-art are in fact also a kind of chain-letter. But the difference is that the address-list keeps growing. and the earliest participants get the largest amount of copies. The one who starts such a "ADD TO" project mostly gets a nice collection and then can decide what to do with it. Sometimes a booklet is made out of it, but sometimes you get an address-list or even no answer at all. These "ADD TO"-xeroxes have the same effect as the chain-letters. They are the source for new addresses to lots of mail-artists. Actually it is fun to just add a bit of your own to such a copy and then to pass this changed view on. It is never an obligation to make copies. Only changing the original is also enough, but most participants appreciate getting a copy of the changed "ADD TO"-xerox.
- Some people in mail-art land are well known for the starting of these "ADD TO"- xeroxes. I won't give names, because you will know which persons I mean when you just look at the xeroxes you have received so far. It gets boring when they are always the same, but sometimes they are exciting too. Nowadays I only take part in those "ADD TO"-xeroxes when the xerox itself triggers me to do something to it. Otherwise I just ignore the xerox.
- The "ADD TO"-booklet is not to be compared with the xeroxes. Hereby one person sends an original book that isn't finished yet. By adding your part , mentioning your address (or not) and passing on the booklet to someone else, the book grows into its shape. When finally the started of the book gets it back, he can do with it how he pleases. M. Greenfield makes such nice books, and when he gets them back he makes copies for all the participants.
- The TAM-Bulletin in it's new form also exists as an "ADD TO"-booklet. I make one original bulletin with some original mail-art invitations in it. The person who gets this can participate in the projects he likes, add his or her own projects and then pass on the TAM-Bulletin to someone else. I have sent out a lot of these TAM- Bulletins, but as they are flying around in the network I almost never have seen what has become of them. M. Greenfield sent me one back a month ago or so, and this one I will keep for my archive. All the other ones will end up in someone else's archive, or just will be dumped in one of the many trash-piles.
- I am not against or for the chain-letters or the related things like the "ADD TO"- xeroxes. In mail-art there is no obligation to answer to the mail that you receive unless you stated it yourself (when you are doing a project that is). So everybody has to decide for him/her-selfwhat to do with these chains that are formed in netland........ If you have written texts about chain-letters or want to react to this article, please feel free to do so.
- If you ever get a chain-letter that asks for money or threatens you when you don't participate, please always ignore those chainletters. They can't be of a friend anyway!
Reproduction of this text is allowed provided that the text isn't changed, source is mentioned, and a copy of the magazine where the text is included in, is sent to TAM.
updated version: 14-9-1997
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