Friday, October 28, 2022

The USPS Will Scan Your Mail For Free!

 Part of the joy of mail-art is not knowing what you’re going to get when you go to the mailbox. That surprise is a big motivator. Unfortunately, you’re not always surprised, not really. It’s never really random since most mail-artists send to people that already send to them. I know if I send a bunch at the start of the month, I’ll probably get responses from many of those folks around the middle of the month. This is in addition to the regular correspondents that send at will. On perfect days you get an avalanche of mail from people you’ve never corresponded with before.

Holy Cow you know it's Joey P. in your mailbox.
Any surprise is gone now courtesy of the USPS. Some months ago my wife told me about this thing through the postal service. Basically you put in some information and then every day, you get emailed images of what’s coming to your mailbox that afternoon. I immediately signed up for no particular reason. When I did this I wasn’t thinking about how it might change my response to getting mail-art.

The images are rough scans of the envelope. Packages or larger pieces don’t show up in the scans. Most of the scans are of junk mail, which I routinely use in my mail-art. I like seeing what’s coming since I normally get that email while I’m at work. Along with complaints from students, I get to check and see if I’ll have a new card from R. Canard in the mailbox. It helps me get through the day even if it dissipates some of the excitement later. 

News from Japan from Ryosuke Cohen.
Because I’m a collector, I like to make more work for myself. I keep everyone of those scans since they come as JPEG’s in a folder on my computer. I hundreds of these images, mostly of my address and the return address. If only you could see through the envelope to the “main event.” Although I’ve routinely collected these images for more than a year, I have no idea what to do with them. I know I can do something with them, just not sure what? This post, by far, is all I’ve used these images for.

I’m not sure I should have ever started doing this. I feel this way because I’m most excited about the mail that arrives that has evaded the USPS super-scanner. That one that slipped through, that one that’s a surprise is always the shining jewel in the bunch.

Do you get scans from USPS? Have these scans changed your relationship with the excitement of collecting the mail? 

Seeing the bad news immediately. The sadness of returned mail.


Monday, October 3, 2022

Miles The Baby Muse

 I like figures in my collages…you know, people. To quote Arthur Lee, “I think people are the greatest fun.” That makes sense, right? Either way, I like people and I like faces. I especially like people with faces and personalities that show up on those faces. Because of this, I have a lot of people in my collages.

Some folks, like Ringo Starr or Richard Nixon, tend to appear over and over again. Noses? Do noses connect those two characters? Nixon surely wasn’t a drummer. Nikita Khrushchev gets used often and boy does Khrushchev have a face and eyebrows…boy does he have eyebrows. Other than those few characters, not a lot of people get used over and over. No Shelley Duvall! (How about that obscure reference, do you get it?) When I’m picking out pictures to use in collages, I like to see the personality, I like to have a pun in there…a slight joke. Unfortunately, I’m limited to what I can find.

I tried to rectify this problem by using my own face. I’m not that vein, I just know I can make fun of myself and no one get too mad about it. Best of all, I can express the emotion I want because I’m creating the picture. I went so far with this that I had a photo shoot where I posed in as many configurations as possible to later drop into collages / broadsides and random manifestos. Contrary to that one statement I read about myself years ago, I’m not interested in becoming the next Cavellini. I don’t have the money for that. Who knows what that guy was doing?

What I’ve come to say in this blog, is that I have a new muse. His name is Miles, he’s not a year old, he has six teeth, and falls down a lot. Miles is my son. He’s a lot cuter than I am (cuter than Ringo, Nixon, and Khrushchev) so it makes sense to use his visage in my collages and random projects. 

Miles in his "cage" with some newly returned mail. His favorite flavor is manila.
 When he was first born, I would take random pictures of him with an instant print camera. It would spit out a rectangle picture that was a sticker. I’d stick that image to a painted bingo card with some words and the date on it, and send it to family. It was a one of kind postcard and I made dozens of those.

Lately I’ve been making a lot of paper collages of him. I print off pictures of him on random colors of paper. Sometimes I copy and copy them to reduce the quality of the image. I add his image along with a random phrase or sentence to some sticky paper. From there I build a collage (he’s the focus for sure) around him. Some of them are funny, some of them are weird. Most of these I’ve mailed to friends and family. Not sure if a random person from Belgium would understand the project, or any of my projects? I guess I should send to whoever; it doesn’t really matter. Since I can make these on the couch in the evenings, I’ve made at least a hundred of them. Most I’ve mailed away, but I’ve kept quite a few of my favorites in a binder.

The original images came from our first beach trip.

First class male.
 The projects keep growing.

One day I printed off a lot of images of his face on sticky paper. From there I asked mail-art friends if they would put the stickers up somewhere in their town and then send me evidence of it. It was a way for Miles to do a little traveling before he consistently wore shoes. This project will go on for a while, or at least until I’ve gone through all the mail-art friends that would do me such a kindness. So far Miles has traveled to Greece, Canada, Germany, Australia, and even Kansas. 

Vizma and Miles in Australia.
Who knows what the next project will be? Maybe a staged Christmas card? I no idea if he’s going to like these when he’s older or if he thinks I’m creepy for creating them? Either way, he’ll have a lot of material to look at. He’s cute, his face needs to get out there more.





Monday, May 2, 2022

How Many Collages of Ringo Starr is Enough?

Ringo has always annoyed me and I don’t know why? There’s just something about him. I don’t have problems with his drumming or what I know about him personally. He has an idiosyncratic but interesting way of playing. Compared to his band-mates, you can’t look at his personal life and call him a “dirt bag” like you can the rest. But…he is a bad singer! If he sings lead on a Beatles song, I always fast-forward though it, but he doesn’t have enough songs on record for that to be my main problem with him. The other Beatles knew he wasn’t a singer or a songwriter…they knew it. We all know it.

My annoyance with Ringo grew over the years. My annoyance has been well documented. That annoyance thawed whenever I watched the 78 hour Hulu documentary a few months back. It showed him as kind and compassionate. He was there for everyone. He was funny without being constantly annoying like John. John tried way too hard. Ringo got to the sessions on time and listened. It was clear that Ringo wasn’t the problem.

I first made stickers as a way to formally (I guess that’s formal) apologize to the man. I’m not sure if he saw them. When I started playing around with sticky tape and paper for collages, I noticed a book of Beatles pictures in the corner of my upstairs room. I ripped out all of the Ringo images I could find and started folding him into my collage work. Although I was kind of honoring the man with my collages, I still felt inclined to take small jabs at him. If I know anything about Ringo, I think he could take it. I think he might even join in. I’m sure he’d toss up a peace sign. But yeah, it’s fair to say he truly knows nothing about cephalopods.