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    revised for WWW : June 1997


  1. Mail Art is a search. Networkers are working together because they are search ing for something. But what are we looking for? We only know it when we have found it.

  2. I write my thoughts about mail art for myself. I don't know precise what mail art is. I like art, I like mail, but to mail a piece of art is no mail art. Every mail artist knows this. But every non mail artist doesn't.

  3. Do I write about mail art to explain it to non-mail artists? I doubt it, because only by practicing you get a glimpse of what it is all about.

  4. Maybe I do write to convince others that the mail art network is a wonderful things, and that you should try it yourself too if you aren't already doing so. Commu nication is wonderful, and communication with human beings all over the world is superb.

  5. A reason for me to write about mail art is because I like to document things. Not only to document numbers, sounds, dates and facts. I also like to document my thoughts. The way you put things into words explains sometimes more than you imagine. Because the meaning of the chosen words is clear at the time you write it, but after some time you can also see the thoughts behind the words. The things you can't write down....


  6. I know that some mail artists don't like statements and writings about mail art. They think that you should DO mail art and not write about it.

  7. But there are no real limits in mail art. If I want to write about mail art, and what it is to me, then it is my choice. If I print these thoughts and spread them in the network it is my choice. It is the wonderful thing about the net, that everybody can do the things he/she wants to do, explore the things he/she thinks are interesting for him/her , but life itself has its limits of course.

  8. To read about mail art might also mean you are looking too. The network is large. Now the internet (the computer-network of networks) is open to the artists too, many human beings on this planet are for the first time of their life also communica ting to people all over the world. Because that is fascinating.


  9. Don't expect a definition about mail art that is adequate. Every mail artist has his own definition. Sometimes they might sound the same, but the views a mail artist has about his artform depends completely on what he/she is doing in the network.

  10. Lots of books are already there. Telling about what mail art is. But it is always a view from someone. Nobody can write MY view about mail art. Another reason for me to write the things I think.

  11. Is mail art the same as networking? In my eyes NOT. Mail art is networking, and networking can be mail art, but the two things are not the same. In networking the art-part can be completely gone. But there is a common basis. Both things have to do with communication.


  12. Some think that Internet and E-mail will gradually make the 'snail-' mail obsolete. But I don't think it will ever happen. The 3D-pieces just have to be transported. The digital form still isn't suitable for the transport of goods that are material. E-mail is a coded message, a collection of ones and zeros. You can't code smell, love, touching, sensations, etc. Just think of the organs of senses a human being has, and try to figure out how a computer could transport that...

  13. The basic need of humans to communicate is what made us humans in the first place. We need communication for a better world, and that is really necessary.

  14. A mail artists doesn't have to be an artist. A mail artist is just someone who wants to communicate in a creative way to people all over the world. It is an essenti al thing in a sometimes crazy world. The more mail artists there are, the better the world will become because the lack of communication nowadays is sometimes very destructive.


  15. Some mail artists like to see mail art as art too. They judge it as other art, menti on famous people, make a difference between good and bad mail art. But this has nothing to do with mail art.

  16. Mail art is a direct communication between individuals. No galleries, no mu seums, no shop you can buy it in. Mail art is exchange only. So to get mail art you will have to send it out.

  17. Mostly the mail art that is transported all over the world ends up in some archive. If the archive is big enough the museums sometimes get interested because some mail artists actually participate in the conventional art-world too. Van Gogh's letters are now also in a museum aren't they?

  18. So, mail art that has served it's function (as a way of communication between artists, creative people) can become art in the eyes of the traditional art-world. There it is judged and it can actually be worth something to the crazy collectors. But the energy that was transported when the mail-piece was sent, that energy isn't there anymore when the mail art is archived.

  19. Money. The invention of the human beings to judge. In the traditional art-world money is important for the quality of the art (as they say....). In mail art you need the money for the ability to communicate. Money and mail art don't mix as Lon Spiegel man once wrote. He was referring to the fact that mail art can't be sold or bought. Mail art can be exchanged, and then sender and receiver aren't dealing with money but just with their possibilities.


  20. Museums are just selected archives with works of artists that are judged. Mail art archives are personal collections where the individual has a collection of all reacti ons to his energy that he/she has sent out.

  21. Mail art archives should be kept intact. A single selected piece never fits in another collection. The only way a piece of an archive can be taken out is when it is sent to another mail artist.

  22. Sometimes the problem of archiving things is just too difficult. It absorbs too much space and energy to deal with that. Recycling is a way of keeping the energy in the network. An archive is just static and will collect dust. Eventually everything will end up as garbage or in a museum. The dumpjard is just another museum with different visitors. In a world of classes someone is always judging what is good or bad. In mail art all energy is equal. It just depends on the sender and receiver.

    Ruud Janssen - TAM

reactions to this text are welcome. Also reactions in E-mail are welcome (E-mail : This still is a concept-version of the text. When it is adjusted my views probably have changed/evolved again). A project I started in 1990 is collecting all kinds of statements about mail art. Not only to publish a book or so, but to document things, to make statements of people all over the world accessible for others that are interested in it too.

there are also secret thoughts published on this site.......

Ruud Janssen - TAM
P.O.Box 10388
5000 JJ Tilburg

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: 26-6-1997


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