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mail art
send it!
The Mail Art /
Internet Link
by
Chuck Welch
“Tele”
“far

is
off,”

Netlink
“to

a

Greek
“at

is

a

word

distance.”

terminology

interconnected

for

meaning

networks,”

especially communication networks
that are perceived to be distant.
Artists impart attitudes, values,
and sensibilities in their shared
communication
Aesthetic

with

others.

sensibilities,

when

coupled with social hierarchy and
economic inequality, create media
boundaries, “netclubs.”

Mail art

networking attempts to soar above
these distances, to fly beyond all

media boundaries-to telenetlink!
Mail art is communication that travels a physical/spiritual
distance between senders and recipients. For nearly forty years
mail artists have been enjoying interactive mail characterized
by free, open, often spirited visual/textual correspondances.
Mail artists have worked hard to abolish copyrights through
dispersed authorship. In the distant, parallel world of high
technology, telecommunication artists often work in the same
collaborative fabric interwoven with mail art. But emailartists
network online in a simulated, textual, paperless world. No
wonder there are mail artists who prefer the tangible, tactile,
handcrafted encounter of pen.

s
It is true that some postal artists
are suspicious of art and technology.
they
as

view

hasty,

telecommunications

simulated,

interaction

lacking

impersonal
in

privacy.

These mail artists find the timelag of postal delivery a desirable
quality.

Conversely,

there

telecommunication

artists

view

as

in

mail

artists

aesthetic

hopelessly

are
who

unskilled

differentiation,

lost

in

a

slow,

antiquated, and expensive postal
bureaucracy.

Distances

widen

between these communication forms,
especially by the stilted influences
of normative art standards. Such
attitudes obscure the notion that
art communication is an intermedia
concept.

The

Artist

As

Networker

Distance between mail art and
electronic

art

is

sometimes

more imagined than real. The
notion that mail artists are
hostile

to

high

technology

is one common misconception.
Experimentation
media

with

technology

the

evolution

long

before

of
the

mass-

hastened
mail
advent

art
of

telecommunications technology.


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