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SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT MAIL ART - PART-16
BY RUUD JANSSEN
ISSM : TAM970174
ANSWERING ALL YOUR MAIL
- 1. I know that a lot of mail artists try to answer all the mail that they get
in. I have done so for long periods, but there have been times that it
isn't possible at all.
- 2. When you first get in contact with the mail art network, every
responce is like a treasure, and you are learning more and more
about the network. You find new contacts, and try to establish more
contacts. To be short: expansion!
- 3. I did so in 1983, when I expanded my network, which lead to the
starting of the TAM-Bulletin, a mail-art newsletter. A hint for
newcomers, if you want to expand your network, start a newsletter,
because the word will spread quickly and people will start to copy
your newsletter. Because a newsletter is like free advertising of mail
art projects, other mail artists will start to contact you. A quick way
to expand your own network.
- 4. This expansion also means that you will reach a limit. In 1985 I
reached the tragic (is it?) record of 42 pieces of mail that I received
on ONE SINGLE DAY! It will be no surprise that I wasn't able to
keep up with something like that.
- 5. So, I computerized the TAM-Bulletin end 1985, beginning 1986,
and it could be accessed through a BBS. Only few could reach
such an information-source, but for me it was an experiment, to see
how the electronic communication-forms worked. For the non-
computer users I still had the printed versions. It saved me a lot of
time and money, to publish in this way, and also I didn't answer all
the mail anymore that was coming in. I had to reduce and select......
(the price you have to pay after expansion).
- 6. The same happened with Global Mail. Only Ashley Parker Owens
did an even better job with her magazine. She listed everything she
got in and managed to expand her magazine from 4-pages black
and white, into an unique sourcebook for all kind of networking
activities, with texts, computercontacts, lists of newcommers, mail
art projects, rants, etc. It must have been an enormous job, and
when I met Ashley in Person (October 1996) she told me that she
had given the editorial task to someone else. I have since then
never heard from the magazine, so I guess that number 16 never
got published. A pitty, because I did get a silkscreen print of the
cover, (made by Tim mancusi, Rohnert Park, USA), that would
have fit perfectly.
- 7. In the 90-ies, the mail I sent out grew again. Because of my travels
(a lot of times to Estonia, Russia, Sweden, Belgium, Germany,
England, France) also during the congress-year 1992, the contacts
with old and new friends expanded my 'correspondance' again. I
even started (since I travelled to the USSR for the first time) to
register all the mail I sent out since September 1991 till today.
- 8. This overview shows which limits there are to the mail I am able to
send out. I never do massive mailings (like hundreds of invitations
in one week). I send out an avarage of 100 pieces of mail every
month, and even that is a luxury (just count the time and money it
- 9. Since end 1994 I am working on my biggest project ever, the mail
interviews. If you want to read more about that, just ask for the
latest newsletter. I am interviewing mail artists in all kind of
communication-forms. I a way I am learning more about the
individual mail artists in an intense way. These mail artists I
interview also get a lot in return since their 'interview' is published
and put online, and also during the interview process they can get
all kind of things I am working on at that specific time-period.
- 10. But in a way it has also lead to a reduction of my mail again. I was
focussing on the individual artists again, and not that much in being
the sender of mail art to all the projects that are being done.
Actually I only participate in few projects at this time.
- 11. So, I do not answer all the mail I get in. I have stopped with that for
some years already. Mail art is guilt-free mail (as arto posto said). If
you send me something interesting and I have the time to react I
sure will do so. But I have stopped with answering every xerox I get
in........ I prefer to send out a good answer with most of the things I
send out rather than devide my time and energy over all the mail I
get, so every answer would become less. It is my choice, I hope
mail artists respect that.
- 12. This choice has also reduced the mail that comes in at my P.O.Box,
so in a way it has all to do with balance. That the amount of mail I
get in has reduced isn't at least a problem. The quality of the mail I
get in is sometimes surprisingly good. There are real professional
artists that are out there, artists that are evolving and use the mail
art net to share this.
date of printing : Juni 2, 1997
Ruud Janssen - TAM
5000 JJ Tilburg
appendix : Overview of all the mail I sent out in the period September 1991 till April 1997. (only in the snail-mail version!)
I started with mail art in 1980. In the beginning-years I wasn't even aware
of the mail art network. In 1983 I DID get hooked up and in the first years
I tried to keep track of the mail I sent out. But this information is lost and it
wasn't until my visit to the USSR in 1991 that I started again to register
the mail I sent out into the mail art network (especially since I realized
that not all I send out actually gets to the addressee). This overview
shows how much mail I sent out each month since then.
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 / P.O.Box 10388 / 5000 JJ Tilburg / NETHERLANDS.
there are also secret thoughts published on this site.......
updated version: 23-6-1997
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