To Theo et al: I started smoking when I was at scholl 'cos everyone else did and it was seen as being cool. Ditto alcohol. Dope and things came when I went to University: a different sort of coolness then. Mail, or 'post' as we call it in England, was always a fascination to me. (I even wrote some short stories for IUOMA about this: available on request, if you didn't get them earlier, and soon to be illustrated by Laurence Roberts). What would the postman bring? What was in the postbox?
Post was important to everyone in those days -- I'm going back half a century -- because there was no alternative for the sending and receipt of written communications: no e-mails, no faxes, only telegrams (which were usually limited to a few SMS-type lines).
Post is important to me now, especially as I try and spend as little time as possible looking at any sort of screen -- TV, computer, portable phone, cinema, etc. It's the basic way that I keep in touch with the world.
I, too, came to Art and Mail Art (the two occured almost simultaneously), only when I was forced into retirement and had plenty of time on my hands. I only really found Mail Art after I had done lots of sports (but then started picking up some serious injuries), and after I had spent a lot of time playing music (Renaissance and Baroque recorders, and rhythm guitar -- but not at the same time!) and after I had written lots of books. What next was the question? The answer was Art and Mail Art.
Like Theo, I am a strong believer in the tactile, physical, hold-it-in-your-hand and put-it-on-the-wall aspect of Art. And that is why I avoid digital art, scanners, digital cameras and all sort of things like that. Gimme a 'real' physical piece of Art any day -- letter, postcard, ATC, Envelope, I don't care, as long as it's come in the post and I can hold it.
Ther might be a generational thing about this: my generation made things by hand in the days when we had a manufacturing society. Now we have an information society (at least in most of the Western world), where things are made less and less, and where wealth is generated by various sorts of services that are increasingly carried out on the Internet and via associated technologies.
On FedEx art, I wrote about this somewhere, and will try and find my earlier note.
Hi Theo and everyone,
I don't think that Post Offices and snail mail will be eliminated in the forseeable future because of the obligation of governments to provide a Universal Postal Service;
This goes back to May 1840 when the British Government set a fixed price (one penny) for the delivery of a letter anywhere in the country. That principle not only still exists today (although there is now 1st and 2nd class mail in trhe UK, so it has become somewhat diluted) but it has been copied by every other country since. It was also accepted by the Universal Postal Union towards the last third of the 19th century -- if you paid the going national postage rate for a letter, say, from the US to France, it would be delivered by the French post office without any further fee being incurred.
It is difficult to see how postal systems could be organised on a different basis. Would the sender pay according to the distance covered by his letter (card, etc)? Or by the number of regional, national, international territories it crossed? How would the postage costs be collected and distributed amongst he various 'deliverers' (and by whom)?
It becomes very complicated to work out an alternative system to the universal one we have, and indeed credit must not only be given to the existing one settled on over 170 years ago, but also acknowledgement that it works.
The move to a FedEx -type mail system is being increasingly driven by a redefinition of the role of governments, and their need to reduce some traditional functions (delivering mail) and costs. (It is not just a technology driven debate concerni ng emails, sms etc.) Hence outsourcing. But any Government still has an obligation to deliver mail from A to B at a cost that is fair to all of its citizens.
Most of us could probably afford to Fed Ex a letter at considerable cost to, say, Ghana, on certain occasions. But a Ghanian would be likley to find it much more expensive (given his/her standard of living) to FedEx it back to us.
It's a bit like the BigMac costing principle: how much time do you have to work to be able to afford a BigMac and/or send a letter?
Two last points. First, there will always be digital and technological divides -- some people will have all the necessary technologies and skills to use them, others won't (including very large swathes of the 3rd and 4th worlds). Second, there will always be the need to physically deliver goods (but not services) to the most remote locations. FedEx can do that at a relatively high cost, Post Offices at a relatively low cost (but our taxes subsidise this).
Vive les escargots! Long live the snails!
We need snail mail BECAUSE of forums like this
Vive la poste!
There is a distancing factor when one is online. It keeps us from touching one another's work.
I like the tactile approach to art making anyhow, but I enjoy that along with my digital practices.
It keeps life rich and interesting, to say the least.