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you can also have a look on the 'public' thoughts about mail-art that are online:

1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 , 8 , 9 , 10 , 11 , 12 , 13 , 14 , 15 , 16 , 17 , 18

or have a look at the previous secret thoughts online:

1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 , 8 , 9 .

SECRET THOUGHTS ABOUT MAIL ART - PART-5

BY RUUD JANSSEN

This is the fifth list of thoughts that are supposed to be secret. (January 1998) - Due to possitive reactions I have decided to continue.

© TAM-PUBLICATIONS

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.

26-01-1998 : It is an interesting subject among mail artists. Is the era of mail coming to an end or not? The users of the internet claim that this new communication-form has already taken over a lot. Andrej Tisma even says (in the online discussion I have started , see at the bottom of the main page).that he has stopped with his 'snail-mail' and focusses fully on the e-mail art. Another signal comes from an open letter by José van den Broucke in Belgium. A group of belgian mail artists started to make a book on the subject "mail art in Belgium". The project failed because lots of mail artists from the older generation didn't want to participate and said "mail art is dead". Of couse the artists who have stopped with the mail art claim this, while in fact the mail art network is as lively as ever. The reason I see of failure for this project (writing a book about the mail artists in a specific country) is that mail art is a typical international event. It can't be viewed from one country. The exception that it worked so well in the book Mail Art in Eastern Europe is clear. Mail art functioned there to break the isolation, and with the falling down of the wall an era did end.

25-01-1998 : In this first year of the month I haven't worked on the mail-interviews at all. I am taking a break in this project so I can start fresh again when I feel up to it. After publishing over 40 interviews in 3 years that was needed.

The Mail Art Online assembly seems to go slow. Only the selected few who are interested and have access place their messages now and then, but still the discussion is an interesting place for newcomers as well. The newest adjustments make is possible to sort the messages by author , by date and by the tree how they are posted.

Crazy?Wet?Sex? 18-01-1998 : Since I like to experiment with the new things the Word Wide Web offers , I play a lot in the pages I put online. Not so much the "graphical" play , but rather the communication-side the WWW offers. I have created some strange HTML-pages that will show me how curious visitors are. The small icons beside this texts give you access to three of those things. Let me know what you think. These three pages are also known in the search-engines, so I can find out how they have attracted visitors........

17-01-1998 : Today not that much mail, only contributions to the ever growing TAM Rubber Stamp Archive. The new sheets with stamps are piling up, so soon I will make a start with updating the addresslist of the archive. It functions as the basic contact list with the mail artists I know. With the e- mail I received the list of statements that Guy Bleus collected and is now distributing. Lots of views from people I know for a long time. The changes that the Internet and e-mail bring aren't that easy for the mail artists. Some consider the electronic communication not as mail, and therefore they hold on to the traditional mail art that goes via the physical postal systems. But e-mail is mail as well, it has only its specific qualities, and the same goes for all the other communication- forms.

Yesterday I got some interesting pieces of mail. One of them was a large eraser carved stamp made by Tim Mancusi - USA. He used the photo that Barbara Cooper (San Rafael , USA) took of me in California (October 1996 , see the report of my USA/CA trip) , and transferred it into a very detailed stamp. A pitty I don't have a scanner, because otherwise I could put the image besides this text. I did use the help of my brother who used his digital camera to make photo's of the stamp. One shows the work, and the other one how I hold the gift from Tim in my hand. But the print of the stamp has a very specific charm and shows how good Tim manages the skills to make these large eraser carving stamps. Tim's interview was just finished last year (see interviews) but I still haven't found the chance to publish the booklet (like some others booklets as well). To my surprise Joel - The Sticker Dude from New York (USA) offered me to make the booklet of Tim's interview and make something special out of this. Of course he may do that. It is always a suprise to see someone else work on the same text and publish it in their own style. Just like Vittore Baroni published his interview like an issue of his magazine Arte Postale! last year.

14-01-1998 : The mail keeps coming in , but most of it is still unanswered. My 'normal' job takes a lot of time too , and to be honest , a lot of the mail art I get in isn't interesting to react to. Also I am behind with the mail-interviews that I want to publish in booklet-form, and that is something I hope to do in the coming weeks. K. Frank Jensen (from Denmark) reacted to these thoughts as well. He was surprised that there are only 7 paying subscribers to the mail-interview booklets. Yes, a lot of work I do for so few, but then again, I also send the interviews to collections and archives. Günther Ruch sent me even a copy of a catalogue of an exhibition in Genéva (Switzerland) about ECART and related stuff. The online interview I did with him was already mentioned in the catalogue , and in fact the booklet-version hasn't been printed yet. It is good that the interviews are seen as resource for information about this whole mail art network. Internet has the advantage that it is all accesible for free to those who are online.

And the possibillity to get access increases. Even my own students can go online when they follow the subject informatics, and some of the students have their access at home too. Just today I received a postcard from PWK (Peter W. Kaufmann , Switzerland) on which he wrote he was visitor # 0744 on the index-page of my site. If I look at the statistics on the index-page (accesible for everybody) I can even find out how many times somebody from Switzerland accessed the main-page. As a reaction to Peter W. Kaufmann's card I will send him a printout of these secret thoughts #5. Because I am always aware that whatever I put online isn't automatically read by others. Only personal mail gets read (most of the times). WWW-pages are just there , waiting till somebody reads them (or not).

09-01-1998 : With the mail today three interesting pieces of mail. First the mail from Bruno Sourdin. He is one of the few subscribers and he continues his subscription. Not only the financial help is welcome, but also the idea that the results of my mail interview project is interesting enough to subscribe to. He has already dozens of those interview-booklets (always the extended version), and that collection will get larger and larger. Yesterday I even got mail from the MoMA-library in New York (USA). They are interested in the mail interviews as well so I have sent them a few. Always good to know the Art-world is interested in a living art form like mail art

Another nice thing to receive was the catalogue of a mail art project done by Anne-Miek Bibbe (from the Netherlands). She has been collecting selfportraits by (mail-)artists for some time and is still doing that (address: Anne-Miek Bibbe / Ijsseldijk 412 / 2922 BP Krimpen aan den Ijssel / Holland). The nice thing of the catalogue is that it contains lots of visuals (even color-photo's of some of the contributions like an assembling-zine!) , has the complete address-list , and a thick colored cover. A nice job indeed , an very nice to get.

The last thing that is interesting to mention for today is the mail I received from Galerie Und Edition Hundertmark in Köln Germany. They sent me lots of information on Fluxus and mail-art materials that they offer for sale. Not that I have money to spend for such things , but it shows that the artworld tries to get a grip (or already has....?) on this art as well. The book The Paper Snake from Ray Johnson (Something Else Press , Dick Higgins) is offered for sale at 140 DM. The collectors with the money might be interested....... The list shows mostly Fluxus-material. It seems the market is good for that material. Somehow I am happy that mail art isn't popular by collectors and galleries yet. Do mail art and money mix? I wanted to interview Lon Spiegelman in Los Angeles, who created this slogan. He didn't reply to the invitation and when I sent a copy of it after a year it returned. The address was not valid anymore. What happened to Lon? Does anybody know?

08-01-1998 : One of my students at the Baronie College in Breda (Piet van de Werken - VHBO 3C) gave me some of his digital drawings today to upload on the Internet. The students learn to use graphic programs as well in the courses Informatics they get from me. I uploaded 5 files to the site I have built for the College I work at. I myself am not that active with making computer drawings, but students find it sometimes very exciting. The image below is one of the drawings Piet van de Werken made:
More drawings by Piet you can find on the site from College where I arranged this small Exhibition by Piet van de Werken and if you are interested in the complete site, just have a go at: the main-page of the College , department VHBO , informatics. Yes, it is good that my job and my hobby interact so well. I am forced to keep up with the new techniques at College and can use them in my (e-)mail art activities as well.

07-01-1998 : These secret thoughts are not only connected to the e-mail or the snail-mail I get. It is an experiment of how all those communication-forms interact in my daily life. In the morning before I go to work I normally collect the mail in my P.O. Box. At College , I also have a box for mail, the internet-account , etc. Back home there is the private internet account , and I seem to be always collecting mail is some way. The only problem sometimes is to absorb all that and to react to the messages I get. The mail for College I naturally always answer since it is my job. The mail-art part in my life is considered a hobby since it doesn't bring any money. Just the oposite : it costs money.

The dealing with e-mail is a story on its own. An example is the image I have placed right from this text. I got it from Clemente Padin in Uruguay. He is one of the few in Southern America who has access to Internet. The e-mail came to the tam@dds.nl address in Amsterdam (Netherlands), and there I downloaded the image to my harddisk in Tilburg and sent a reply to Clemente in Uruguay telling him I will place the image online. I then made contact to the Provider who keeps my pages in Los Angeles (USA) and am typing the text only minutes later. The link to the image is made and once I upload this text and the image it is accesible to the whole world.

Communication has a strange new ring to it, and it means the world sure is changing. The problem only is that Clemente probably can't easily access this page. In some countries the browsing of the World Wide Web still is a difficult and costly experience. To make it complete I will print the file 'secret thoughts part-5' on paper for Clemente and mail it to him by snail-mail. This digital publishing is fun, but it isn't something you can read everywhere you want to. To tell you a secret : I keep a complete print-out of my entire site. This about 1000 pages is a hard-copy backup which I go through whenever I want to. Even when the internet is far away and there is no computer nearby.........(try reading an e-mail in the train.....!)

06-01-1998 : Slowely the days are getting longer. It is still winter, but outside the weather looks like autumn with all its rain and storm. The mail one sometimes receives is a light in the dark. Some of the friendships I have made in my life came through the mail art network, and it is always good to hear from friends again.

For people interested in Global Mail , I heard from the editor that the new issue is at the printers now and can come out any moment now. The magazine is still alive.......and I heard from Tim Mancusi that he worked together with Barbara Cooper for the cover of the new issue. The new online-version is worth a go as well. The URL-address is listed at the MAIL ART LINKS-LIST under the country USA. It has a long list with links to all kind of underground activities. Lots of lights out there in the dark.

05-01-1998 : I have decided to continue these secret thoughts. The e-mail I sent out brought back some positive reactions so I will go on. I just went abroad for the last 10 days and returned only yesterday. I already collected my e-mail last sunday, and in a few moments I will collect the snail-mail from these last 10 days. Always a surprise which pile is waiting there.... The e-mail of today also contained a message from Pawel Petasz in Poland. He writes about how the use of e-mail is nowadays in Poland and also sends me a graphic. Seemed like a nice project, so I use this graphic file as illustration besides this text. Maybe copy the image (or print it) and send it to Pawel.

It is now a bit later and I did collect my snail-mail as well. Lots of things, but as I went through it not that much that needs an urgent answer. I always get these stampsheets with the mail that belong to the TAM Rubber Stamp Archive. Especially the Collage Stamp Sheets are fun to receive back. They form a special part of the collection. If you use stamps and want to contribute to the archive, remember that you need these sheets for that. Just ask me for a few and I'll send them to you. All details about the archive you can find in the newsletter that is online as well. Part of the Archive was shown in San Francisco in October 1996 at the Stamp Art Gallery. Last news about this Gallery wasn't that good. This wonderfull place run by Bill Gaglione and his wife stopped to excist with the start of this new year. News I received from John Held Jr. , Jas W. Felter and Tim Mancusi, so I am sure it must be true.......

In principle these thoughts are online only. But maybe I might distribute some prints via snail-mail. You, as a reader, can do the same as well, and you are even encouraged to do so, or to publish these secrets. What more fun is there than publish secrets?

copyright TAM 1998. reactions to : tam@dds.nl


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