Sunday, March 7, 2010
Looking ahead, behind and inside
The cool thing about a mail art piece -- in my case (with all due deference to Ms. Clarity, goddess of mail art in my circle)*-- is that, the nature of the audience is generally better known than the audience for a piece of work that "nobody asked for." I created this piece as a letter to my son.** It embodies a great deal of 'code' that, had I been designing for the public, would have been simply enigmatic.
As an example: For my specific audience, we have shared the fun of things I read to him as a child. Comics were a special treat brought on camping trips, and often read by flashlight. He understands why I chose the comic format, and immediately has a deeper connection to my choice of medium than if I'd chosen something else. But today I have an adult audience (0f one), so the format no longer speaks as to children. Here, themes concern the notions of dreams as opposed to work; love as something that happens in the midst of life... and the human capacity to render even the most outré and specialized activity banal.
But, let's just say he couldn't "get" all of it. But if you are of a certain age, you'll understand if I say that Darren McGavin and James Clavell made an impression. And Ben Stein has been a disappointment.
But as a letter, father to son, it embodies my qualms about the future (his future, I guess), a few nods of the head to his childhood, and still manages to be a personally soul-searching endeavor, if comic-book action-opera and humor qualify as soul-searching. I did get some decent psychological benefit from the exercise, but it may have cured me of my notion to make a body of work consisting of single pages from mythical comics... those guys (and they're almost all guys) work hard for the money.
*Ray Johnson, the likely originator of mail art as a massively interactive work of collaboration and unlimited reproduction, had a different notion. Call me parochial.
** Reproduced here with permission of the original audience.