From: “ryosuke cohen”
Date: August 13, 2006 6:52:24 AM GMT+02:00
Subject: mail art from japan
MAIL ART – NETWORKING ART
Recently, I have observed many signs that make me feel as if Mail Art is drawing to a close, and that there are many past publications that could be seen as ‘compilations’ of Mail Art. Quite a few predecessors of Mail Art have passed away, including Ray Johnson (USA), the Father of Mail Art, G.A.Cavellini (ITALY), Robin Crozier (ENGLAND), Robert Rehfeldt, (GERMANY), G. Deisler (GERMANY), Carlo Pittore (USA), and others. This is probably also because exchange by mail in the age of computers is considered primitive, and after the end of the COLD WAR between the East and the West, the necessity of correspondence between those two different worlds has been lost.
On the other hand, I have been regularly receiving mail art by mail and fax, in response to my BRAIN CELL PROJECT dating from the year 1985, which has been numbered issue no.652, as of June 2006. Every time I receive mail art, I am pleased to see more and more new participants. After making them a collage of their drawings, designs, logos, seals, stickers and the like, I make it a rule to send the finished project back to each participant. Mail Art is far from finishing. I appreciate the role of collaboration in Mail Art. It is important to have new participants each time, but it is more important to be evoked by other mail artists’ ideas from within the large and deep Network with a diverse range of expressions and concept. I can make mail artists’ ideas more interesting by actively availing myself of seals and stamps and other materials sent from others and through my own printed matter. What is more, I can give other mail artists the feeling that they can utilise other’s art and collaborate their ideas.
We have the Doppler effect in physics. The sound coming nearer to us becomes narrower between the sonic waves and sounds higher and more urgent in our ears. On the contrary, as waves travel away from us they get relatively wider and the sound appears lower. There are a variety of physical sounds around us: for example, the sound of cars coming and going. This phenomena is also true of art. Some art comes towards me, while other art goes away.
People very often ask me how we can know good from bad in art. It does not matter whether this representational painting is good in composition and color and technique, or whether that piece of abstract art is good in balance and rhythm. I don’t think it important to generally decide which style of art is better than the others. That is to say traditional ways of thinking about art is fading away from me.
I often other artists only use limited new techniques in spite of what is called ‘originality and individuality’, to the constant efforts predecessors had made for so long. A variety of works of modern art with too much false assertion of originality and individuality are also traveling away from me.
When I was at art school, I used to draw or paint representationally, moved by Cezanne’s composition, and Matisse’s brightness and his own style of plane. Later on I had some exchahge with members of the Gutai Group, so I learned new concepts of art through contemporary art. Consequently I have been participating in Mail Art Networking. I claim that this was a natural changeover and has no inconsistency with my personal concept of art. We need no large studio or storage space for paintings. Whoever wants to take part in mail art does so freely.
We can deny the authority of the traditional art world, because mail artists directly exchange their own artworks. The fascination for Mail Art, more than twenty years ago, approached me with a high sound. Even now the collaborative concept of Mail Art is coming closer to me with a much higher sound.
We don’t have any fixed “ism” in the infinite expanse of the Mail Art Network. Postcards, xeroxes, collages, drawings, photos, CGs, CDs, and other forms are sent in by mail, fax, e-mail etc. We are overwhelmed by the diversity of how mail art members think and express themselves. We realize that countless “isms” are mixed together in a state of chaos that is represented in Mail Art. Of course, we don’t copyright our works. Interested in others’ works, we add something to them or combine them together, and then send them back or forward them on to a third party. We occasionally find them changed into pieces with quite an unexpected concept.
At a glance, the jungle looks as if it is made up of gigantic trees, but the fact is that the rain-forests in the Amazon of South America consists of numerous species that cohabit harmoniously: ferns and mosses parasitic to the gigantic trees, very tiny insects that hide themselves under the fallen leaves, insects camouflaging in dead leaves and twigs against the enemies, puny insects swarming together as a threat, birds displaying their existence with colorful feathers and a shrill cry and many other mammals and birds.
We really wonder at how diverse these living things are! We can lean from the rain forest that there are a multitude of LIFE FORMS. We are not chained to any fixed “ism” as this frees us from constraint, nor do we care for copyright we prefer to revise and copy others’ works in a free and easy style. In such a network there is the possibility of our experiencing much by communication of mail art. This is the very LIFE FORM that we can experience in a variety of ways.
Networking Art is art that enables us to be a praying mantis in camouflage, or butterflies flying on colorful wings.
Nowadays I have come to realize that we are all part of a FRACTAL, and that I can be a piece of that FRACTAL, and that I can create art, in a way that extends beyond myself as an individual, in communication with infinite mail artists’ ideas.
In the same way that we appreciate the various kinds of LIFE FORMS in the amazon, we can experience a multitude of art forms in the MAIL ART NETWORK. It is only human beings who can experience plural LIFE FORMS, by which we can acquire a genuine sense of new creation.
Ryosuke Cohen c/o Brain Cell
3-76-1-A-613 Yagumokitacho Moriguchi City Osaka 570 Japan