13 September 2012

Keith Bates - UK

2012 - A Rant and a Request


Although I'm not as prolific a mailartist as I once was, abducted by fontmaking a decade ago, I'll always enjoy contributing to projects that interest me. However, I've noticed that the kind of networking I like best has changed over the years. For a start my love affair with post offices has been tainted by long queues and steep price rises. Also, my ample archive of Mail Art treasure is threatening an undignified escape from the confines of its wardrobe, while digital storage keeps getting cheaper and easier.


I find myself liking the idea of Email Art – art without the artifact. And if Ervin Zsubori's MinEmailArt is a good indicator of things to come, I'm also enjoying the practice. Ervin's projects are thoughtfully themed and timely, participation by email is quick and convenient (and fun), and contributions are displayed cleanly with graphic flair. After years of considering myself something of a paper fetishist, I'm loving the screen maybe more.


I can think of only a handful of my recent mailartworks where consigning papers to the post was important because of faux perforations or tactile qualities, and while I wouldn't wish to stop having access to snailmail, poorer service notwithstanding, most of the Mail Art contributions I send are essentially images that don't require a physical presence. Many pieces are digital to begin with, so it makes no sense to print them out and send them by post, only to be scanned upon receipt for displaying on a blog or in website documentation.


Although I've never felt comfortable with Mail Art Tourism and so received news about the 2012 Decentralized Networker Congress with little enthusiasm, I have been heartened to see that Email artists are being asked to send printable works which will be exhibited alongside postally-delivered submissions.


I'd like to see equal rights for Email Art throughout the network. It's high time that Mail Art became openly accepting of digital contributions and old prejudices renounced. As project organisers acquire high-speed internet access, genuine concerns about hefty file sizes and slow download speeds are evaporating. Software improvements have helped allay fears about computer viruses, it's pretty safe to accept all the familiar picture, audio and movie file formats. Mail Art has always been open and inclusive, and offering the email option can only result in greater participation. Most project organisers could make email attachments as welcome as postcards and give artists the freedom to choose how their work is delivered.


The Mailart Typeface project from 2004, which incidentally is now on display at the German Museum of Books and Writing in Leipzig, was a project that was conducted by both conventional mail and email, allowing each participant to choose. Similarly with my Cameraderie mailartists photoportraits project a few years later, many artists preferred to send digital images. I sense my new Email Art project may be coming soon, though in deference to fifty years of history I'm keen to include the traditional option.


In the meantime, I'll continue to make art exchanges over the internet and would like to receive details of Mail Art actions that encourage online participation and welcome submissions sent as email attachments. Please send me information about any Mail Art projects you come across where Email Art contributions are allowed or preferred.


Thank you,



1 comment:

Wastedpapiers said...

I tend to agree with you Keith. Perhaps you could pass them onto me if you find any email projects! Cheers!