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The NEW Secrets about MAIL-ART - PART 1

(c)2003 by Ruud Janssen

see also the other New Secret Thoughts: 1 | 2 | 3

Why new Secret Thoughts?

click on this image to go to the Millenium Statements!08-11-2003 : Yes, I am still alive and well. This site seems to have influences quite a lot of people, and also caused lots of reactions, publications and references. Honoria even wrote a complete chapter about what this site contains in het PhD-paper (online partly as well). So after being silent for some years I deceided to share some more views with you.

These views will grow, just like the previous 'thoughts' and 'secret thoughts' (see TAM-Publications), and you just have to come back from time to time to see how these files unfold....... there is enough to tell you. A lot has been happening since the Internet has taken over a part of the traditional Mail-Art.

Back to the Roots?

These thoughts are always typed directly online. So wherever I am, I can update these files. As some of you know I tend to travel a lot. The Internet has made the place where you are a factor that isn't important. I can access these files everywhere. I can update from any computer that has access to the Internet, and nowadays these computers are easy to find in out western world. The last year has been a good one for me. I had worked extra the last years to save up time for a sabbatical leave. In that I stayed mostly in Heidelberg, Germany, where we (Litsa Spathi & me) discussed our joined future and also founded the Fluxus Heidelberg Center. When you go through this site a bit you will discover that we went back to the roots of mail-art again: FLUXUS. But not repeating the old fluxus events. We created the modern Fluxus events. Used the new situations that occur in our lives, and use the newest tools to document our performances (like the digital camera, Internet, E-mail, etc.). The performances or 'scores' are fully documented though, and like the old Fluxus-people did; all is planned very well in advance. See e.g. the performance we did in Minden

We also did out first public performances together. That was in Heidelberg, Minden, Eindhoven, Breda and Tilburg. All documented and partly already published on the Internet. Is this still Mail-Art? Not really. With all we do we are looking for new concepts and what I find in Mail-Art the last years is a lot of repetition and not a lot of new things. It reminds me of one of those statements I wrote just before the Millenium (see link beside this text). What has changed in the Mail-Art network since the Internet has taken over so much.........

As I realize myself, my activities in mail-art have become very little indeed. reasons enough: The new job I have (developing educational material in a highly experimental new structured College), the fact that I like to work with acrylic paint, and that the results take a lot of time and money to be created. Not the things one wants to just 'give away'. Also I realize that some mail-art I receive really IS junk, and has no concept behind it. But mainly also because I always wanted to create new concepts. I am now even paid for that in my new job. In my art, I also want to create new things. Not keep doing the same year after year. Examples:

TAM Rubberstamp Archive.

The TAM Rubberstamp Archive is closed. That doesn't mean I don't send out sheets anymore. Also sheets that have been circulating around for years still come in. But I am not actively seeking for more sheets. The collection will be exhibited one of these days. I will look for a good location, a sponsor, and a good place to let the collection go to. All the 'oldies' have printed on the sheets, and the collection with 10,000+ of sheets, and 100.000+ of prints sure deserves that. It is also a costly collection: Every sheet was sent out and sent back (printing, envelope, postage), and the currating of the colelctions means it always costs space and time and money....

If I get old sheets in, I still archive them. I might even send them new sheets (the new sheets go directly into the archive of Guy Bleus; a kind of concept where I build a new collection of stampsheets I never see, and where Guy Blues automatically becomes the currator of this new part of the collection)


This project is closed as well. All open interviews (the Interviews that stopped because the answer or question to continue the Interview was never sent out) were published as well. The printed format is too expensive nowadays. Especially with the increase cost of postage and printing and the cheap alternative of publishing online.

Other people have startde with new interviews, but they harly use the concept I used because that was a vert time-intensive one. I sent one question, and waited for the answer. Any communication form was allowed for the answer or question to travel. The next question was always a reaction to the answer. The new interviews I see sometimes are no more that a kind of questionaire that the other has to fill in. Hardly one can call this an interview...... I too get these questionaires sometimes. Not always fun to do something like that. If someone would really want to interview me; then one question at a time would do. An I would give the answers I like...........

This project lasted over 7 years. Stopping this sure brough me time for new things.....

On-Line Yahoo Groups

09-11-2003 : As most of you know, I have a couple of Yahoo-groups, in which I like to experiment. For some new-comers in Mail-Art, the Internet is the first contact with Mail-Art. They never sent out a piece by the traditional mail before, and some even want to keep it that way. Is this still Mail-Art? As I wrote in previous texts, I rather speak of Communication-Art, but sometimes the factor art is missing on-line as well. No problem at all.... Since Mail-Art is a learning experience. One goes through the proces of: discovering, making first contacts, building ones own net, start a first project, publish a first documentation, getting a first rubberstamp, making a first artistamp, making a first ATC (Artist Trading Card), and basically do what all other 'oldies' also did. After that proces, there is the chance to do something new, try out a new concept. Such new concepts aren't always appreciated. People (and believe it or not, mail-artiosts are like normal people...) tend to like to keep things the same for some time. The need to create something new isn't available for a lot of people. They just copy concepts that they see from others, and give it a try as well.

image created by Rain Rien, USA In some groups people encounter 'trolls'. Participants who don't play the game, but have a mind of their own. Sometimes quite destructive, sometimes quite funny, but always they have a different behaviour compaired to the others. An example is Rain Rien. He always reacts with words on words, but normally also cuts up e-mails and pasts parts, and then collages his answer this way. He does the same with images (see example below this text; an image he made when he discovered I was moving back to Fluxus. All collages are done electronically. Nothing new? Maybe not, but the intensity of this man (or is he a woman?) is extreme. He plays on all the larges Mail-Art groups and discussions-boards, and must send out hundreds of e-mails each day. Hardly something the other participants can ignore. Also he sometimes plays tricks with identities. One can choose ones own identity on the Internet, and most of us do that. But he changes the identity quite often, sometimes also faking other persons. SInce it is possible, it is a concept that one will encounter in these groups. Like it or not. Some moderators would like to ban this person, but doing something like that is 'against the unwritten rules"? Even if so, it isn't even possible since everybody can get a new identity instantly on the internet. Is is a complete new play........ We just have to accept that the Internet is a new playingfield for new people. We have to learn this since the medium changes fast.

Another thing that has changed is that the Online has its own online-projects. The invitations are sent by e-mail. The documentations are sent by e-mail, the online-galleries show the contributions, all is digital. As most 'oldies' I tend still to like the 'printed documentation'. A hard copy of text and visuals still has more value to me. Also when I work myself in the high-tech Informatics world with Servers, Routers, Laptops, etc.... I still like the oldfashioned book and magazine. Reading is enjoyed when done from paper. From the screen it is too hectic. I notice the same with my students, so some researcher will find out the same maybe.......

Official Postage Stamp for Mail-Art in Belgium.

In 2003 there is another change visible. The official institutes are accepting more and more the mail-art. The Belgium Postal Office even issues a special postage stamp designed by Guy Bleus and Jean Spiroux, and in Belgium they now have their own official stamp which they like to use. Somehow it feels like it is now official to send out Mail-Art in Belgium. WIll other countries follow? mail-art postagestamp designed by Guy Bleus and Jean Spiroux

From Guy Bleus I already received a set of these postage stamps. He even made a first day envelope out of it (edition 1000 copies), and the postage stamp surely will become a collector's item. Go to the section "Extreme Mailings" in TAM-Publications to see these envelopes.

The Digital Revolution.

The Digital revolution also hit the Mail-Art production. Computers are used to print and print and produce tons of paper. That is not all. Lots of digital information is published as well, and I am just one of the producers. From Gik Juri (Moscow, Russia) I received two CD's again. This time a video-film of the lecture that John Held Jr. (USA) gave at the Moscow University in the beginning of this year. My CD-collection with mail-art releted information grows rapidly and already contains 44 CD's. The whole collection is accessible for you. The list is published (Overview of the Mail-Art CD's in the TAM-Archive Collection - November 2003 is the .PDF - file with the information) and as you can read in the 47-pages document, it is easy to just copy and distribute these informations.

But digital is digital. One always needs a computer to see the information. Somehow for me it works best when I print it out on paper, and read it at a pleasant location rather than behind the screen. I've heard from more people it is like that. Also the new generation (I work with students aged 16-24 year old that want a carreer in the Informatics-world) indicates the same. They rather read from paper to absorb the information than do online-courses and read from the screen. We will see what direction this all takes.

I started a second file with 'new secrets' already. You can access it on the top of this page......

(c) 2003-2004 TAM-PUBLICATIONS.

Reproduction of this text is allowed provided that the text isn't changed, source is mentioned, and a copy of the magazine/book where the text is included in, is sent to:

TAM / P.O.Box 10388 / 5000 JJ Tilburg / NETHERLANDS.

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