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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 .



This is the seventh list of thoughts that are supposed to be secret. (March 1998).


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.

go to article on eraser carving28-03-1998 : Today I uploaded again some more digital photos. In the beginning of my site I didn't use too much graphics, but now - with the better equipement and higher speed on the Internet - it becomes more natural to use images when needed. I get help from my brother with this who has a digital camera and now and then make photos for me. The photo beside this text was made for the text eraser-carving , to explain how one does this work. This specific eraser was made by Litsa Spathi in Germany, who captured me of how it must look like when I am working on my mail-interview project. It is one of my favourite stamps and I have used it a lot (as you can see). The photo is made to be used as illustration with the article I wrote on eraser carving (click on the photo and go there).

Today I also put six more photos of my recent drawings online (see recent art ), and updated the biography a bit with new illustrations and the latest photo. Someday I plan an exhibition with all the drawings I have produced these last two years. Maybe someone out there is interested in something like that. One never knows who reads these pages.

23-03-1998 : With the e-mail today I received the logo for the IUOMA that you find beside the text. It comes from Jas W. Felter , from Canada, who writes "This morning I got carried away a bit.....". Thanks for the logo Jas! Probably I will create a special page now for all the graphics connected to the IUOMA.

The snail-mail I haven't collected yet. On mondays the mail isn't there too early. The charme of snail-mail......... But I am on my way soon to Tilburg and will pass the Post Office. It is very near the railway station , and I always pass it when I go home (or when I leave to work). Unlike the Cyberworld , where I don't have to be on any specific place to update my WWW-pages , the snail-mail world is connected to places and buildings.

22-03-1998 : The sunday. No new mail-art comes in, so time to work on the things that are left to do. I worked through the pile of mail-art that is still waiting to be answered. I go through it drastically this time. Every piece that isn't interesting is put aside, and I select the important things I want to answer. But still , I need to relax now and then as well, and I watch a good movie on television.

info about the IUOMA With all the mail I write today I will include sets of the new stickers. It is an interesting thought to spread the world with these IUOMA-stickers. The abreviation is unknown in the "real world" , but still it is now visible for this real world since the stickers are going to be attached to all kind of things. Mail is just one of the things the stickers can be placed on. The round stickers fit perfectly on the large Dutch coins, and I will place lots of the stickers on these coins too. 30,000 stickers are poured into the world now. I will see what the results will be. For me this is just one of the experiments I do in mail-art.

21-03-1998 : Today the new stickers of the IUOMA arrived. One is on golden paper , stating "member of the IUOMA" and the other one , on orange paper says : "IUOMA - member". I have started to distribute the stickers today, so pay attention to you snail-mail from all over the world and find out who is an IUOMA-member or not.

With the e-mail today a message from Geocities , my provider. In the beginning I only had 1 Mbyte of space. Over the years it grew to 2 Mbyte , 3 Mbyte. And since today I have 6 Mbyte of space to use for my site. This means I can start to use more graphics and photos on my site , and it will grow and grow (as some of you will have noticed)

15-03-1998 : In 1997 and beginning of 1998 I worked on some larger acrylworks on canvas. The formats are 50 by 60 cm. Although the digital format doesn't do the work real justice, you can still get a glimpse of what kind of works I am doing.

Yesterday my brother helped me with his digital camera to make the .JPG files of 4 acryl-paintings. The files are put online now, so you can see that I am not only doing mail art. I must confess I do like that acrylpaint. More and more envelopes I send out are covered with new acryl-images.

Yesterday I received the book I ordered from Factsheet5. R. Seth Friedman has made the book last year to document the history of his magazine and to publish in this book-format the stories of lots of those wonderful zines. He has also a site for this, see the mail-art link list on this site for that!

13-03-1998 : Yesterday I was lucky enough to receive again lots of nice mail. One big package (by surface mail which took 6 weeks.....) came from Teresinka Pereira (Bluffton College, Bluffton, OH 45817 , USA). Like back in 1984 she surprised me again with sending me 12 copies of a booklet with 8 of my poems. I have sent them in the past years and she translated the english poems into portugese language and published both of them in a booklet with on the cover one of my recent drawings. Dr. Teresinka Pereira, a language professor at Bluffton College, is the president of the International Writers & Artists Association (IWA). I became a member of the IWA years ago to support Teresinka's wonderful work. Besides her work in literature and education she also organizes mail art projects which she exhibits at the gallery at her college. I am always amazed how much work she does. With the dozen booklets she also sent me copies of newspaper-articles connected to the most recent exhibition (end 1997).

It is nice to see how Teresinka bended for her last exhibitions the "mail art rules" a bit. Every entry is excepted - with the exception of pornography - and exhibited. I think this is a good thing since she mentioned the exception also in advance. When you exhibit at a college you should give a good example. I know that some mail- artists like to send pornography. I never like to receive these kind of things and I wonder why someone wants to spread something like that. Just recently I got something I consider pornography from a mail artists in Germany. I instantly returned it and I hope he doesn't send me things like that again. Nothing against nudity and sexuality, it is something that comes up in my art as well , but that is something else than pornography!

Another nice thing I received today was The Mona Lisa Mail Art Project documentation by The Smallville Funny Farm & Tabloid Trash. (address editor : Tabloid Trash, 24 Glenview Drive, W. Springfield, MA 01089, USA). I didn't participate in the project, but nevertheless Rusty sent me this beautiful documentation. Half of it was printed in color , and Mona Lisa never looked more surprisingly. The whole show is online as well, and you can access it at : The Mona Lisa Show It takes some time to download all the images, but it is worth it. The Mona Lisa image besides this text I got from the main-entrance page, and more MONAS are there for you in digital form. As far as I know the project still continues , and it is even mentioned in the famous magazine Wired (March 1997 issue).

12-03-1998 : The mystery of the camera that arrived (see the notes I made on 10-03-1998) was solved very quickly.

The person who sent it (Brano) reads my 'secret thoughts' and so he knew the camera arrived.

He sent me an e-mail explaining the thought behind it, which I print here for you:

Date: Wed, 11 Mar 1998 13:13:08 +0000 (GMT)
To: Ruud Janssen
Subject: Camera

Dear Ruud,
I was searching through your 'Secret Thoughts A.M.A-part-7' and see that you received my camera. You seem a bit confused as to what to do with it. My initial idea for the piece (this being my fourth of the kind) was for it to record its own journey visually, rather than just a simple postal stamp. Other such pieces contained some rarely seen, behind the scenes, images of the hidden postal network. As to what you should do with it is entirely up to you. You can have it developed and see for yourself the result, send it to someone else or you can return it to me (address inside the camera cover). If you develop the film you with probably find that only 6 frames have been exposed, as the number shown on the camera indicates the number of frames remaining from a 27 film. Other cameras that I have sent have not been put in an envelope so all the frames have been exposed. What ever you decide could I please have a copy of the photographs (even if just a photocopy) as I'm still a student and would like to use this work as part of my portfolio. I've just recently sent a camera to Chuck Welch, but have had no reply yet. I'm open to any art you would like to send me as reply or otherwise.

I've tried to become a member of IUOMA and have had no reply. Is there anyway of knowing if my e-mail was received, and do I get a membership card?

Thank you for taking interest in my work


Steven Branson a.k.a. Brano

101 Kimberley Rd.

P.S. Your web site is well cool!!!!!!!!

P.P.S. Look out for more mailings in near future!!! If you know of any other Mail Artists working in this way could I have their address?

Thanks again T.T.F.N.


Well, now you know as well the story of the camera. The concept & idea is quite good. The postal workers in Rotterdam might have touched the button and made an extra photo, who knows. Now I have to decide if I will develope the film, and will send Brano the photos. Or maybe I should do something else. I will see. I already sent him an e-mail back.

11-03-1998 : Finally I got a bit more free time to continue with certain things. Today no work at school, so yesterday I prepared the layout for the interview I did with GŁnther Ruch. The interview is already online (see the mail-interview part on this site) but the printed version always contains special parts. The cover is a collage where I use items that are connected to the interview process. The last years I try to make a few color-copy versions so the interviewed artist gets an idea of how it looked like. GŁnther's copy is just mailed out a few minutes ago (yes, I am lucky to have a mailbox nearby)

The interview is copied double-sided and the A4-size is reduced to A5-size. Collecting of the papers , staple the paper, and the final booklet is 28 pages , with yellow inlay-paper and a blue (120 g/m2 thick) cover. The people who subscribe to the interview-series can be happy with the result. They get their issue for US$ 3,- (outside Europe the price is now US$ 4,-), and with the current costs for sending out mail I really don't make a profit at all. Let alone that someone is paying me for the whole interview-process. Yes, call it a hobby , but the results are very interesting for documenting the mail art world.

Today also mail from Joel (the Stickerdude) in NY. He sends the concepts of the rubber stamps he is planning for the TAM Rubber Stamp Archive. "Preserving Rubber for the Ethernal Network" he wrote on it........ That sure fits the 'archive' idea. He also quotes me: "sometime a letter or piece of mail can turn your life around - Ruud". How true this is. Nice work Joel! When someone reads my biography he will find out how this happens. How else can you stumble into traveling to the USSR and return from a newly formed independent Estonia. How else can you suddenly get invited to go to San Francisco and discover the city and meet with all those nice mail artists there. Maybe I'll meet one of them again soon. Tim Mancusi will travel to Maastricht for a fair and will be in the Netherlands & Belgium for a few days. Who knows we can arrange a meeting somewhere........

10-03-1998 : Today with the mail a very unique and strange item arrived. It was a camera with on it printed my address. The Dutch Postal Office had wrapped the camera into an envelope in Rotterdam and passed it on, but the sender must have sent the camera without an envelope to me since my address (the P.O. Box) was printed with white letters on the camera, and also the (British) postage stamps were glued onto the camera. The instructions of how to take the photos with the camera are on the machine as well, but what am I supposed to do with it. No letter with it and no return-address. On the camera there is also an indicator that says that there were still 21 photos to be taken with it. I am surely supposed to take another one and to pass it on (or return it), but I will have to wait for new mail in the coming days to find out. Maybe someone who reads this knows a bit more....? I already took one photo while I was on the way from Breda (where I work) to Tilburg (where I live) , and one at home from my mail-art stuff lying in the room. The camera even has a flash!

A lot of mail came in the last days, but I have only answered a little bit of it. I started painting more envelopes with acryl paint which I only send out to very good contacts..... I normally document these envelopes by taking a photo of them. Today I also made a photo of the camera I received. I plan to send it on to someone else, but I will wait for possible instructions.

For those who enjoy the things I have put online I have made these special banners you could put on your own site to guide interested people to my site. They are made with Paint Shop Pro and converted into .JPG files to save on bytes.

The last weeks I keep on receiving lots of mail art invitations for projects. I am not able to participate in all of them, and to be honest: some aren't that interesting at all. What I DO do is pass on those informations with my outgoing mail. Especially newcomers ask for information on projects and they normally get a bunch of them from me when I answer their mail.

03-03-1998 : With the e-mail I got an long overview-list of Ray Johnson- related material put together by Vittore Baroni. He is - like many others including me - collecting material about Ray. The collection I have is still not documented properly but already consistes of five boxes. Since I am interviewing now some close friends of Ray , the interview that are in progress will bring also some new details on the life and work of Ray Johnson. If you have material connected to Ray Johnson and think I don't have it yet, it would be most welcome. I already have lots of texts and copies of mail Ray used to send out. Especially the booklet published by the Black Mountain College with a long article by Bill Willson is a good work to start with, and like Vittore wrote , the search-engines give lots of results. especially Alta-Vista , when you search for : +"ray johnson" + "mail-art". Note the syntax. The small letters make it possible to look for all possible combinations, and the "" are needed for the search on specific combinations. When you know the tricks of these search-engines you can find lots of information!

02-03-1998 : Spring has started. Just one of those things that happens every year, but it also has something magical. That this rotating of our Earth has so many consequences......

The last week of February I was abroad again, so although the pages I have put online give you the idea that I am constantly there I am away sometimes as well. I just collected my mail at the P.O. Box today and went through it. Lots of interesting things with it. It seems there is a kind of fan club out there for me which I just realized since Barbara Cooper sent me a copy of part one. The person behind this is reading the secret thoughts, so of course I am curious.....

I heard from the curator of the archive that Edgardo Antonio Vigo left behind. They are planning an exhibition.....! I will gather the information as it comes to my address and add it to the interview booklet with Vigo I am planning to publish. I still have to proofread the text and think of how to publish the interview. besides the questions and answers we also had a personal correspondence. I am thinking of publishing both in a chronological layout with the other items he sent with them. A final tribute to a dear friend. We were in touch from 1983 till the end of 1997 when he died.

Due to lots of other things I am planning I still have the publishing of new interviews on a low level. Joel (the stickerdude) is helping out with publishing two of the booklets, and soon I hope to restart with this. So many things to do and so little time. Hopefully you don't mind I take a break now and then.

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 to publish secrets?

copyright TAM 1998. reactions to :

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