Purpose: to understand how correspondence artists respond to emerging global electronic networks
- aesthetic shifts in art to digital
- social restructuring in network?
The dissertation in the order it was written. Two chapters of literature review.
Art supply to correspondence artists
Function as both Zines and Exhibitions
- Literature review to researcher
- Constant source of data.
Janssen like me, as a participant observer mail artist with computer expertise
- Systematic collection of data
- Mined the 48 interviews for codes and themes (chart)
Interviews: trying to explain in words a series of events that happen through exchanges of art.
- Early adopters were enthusiastic about the connections between Internet & their perception of Mail Art Networking
- Artists essays and artworks reveal Trends: CHART
Non-traditional Data - artworks
- Most fun to write and receive
- Easiest for me to interpret because I'm an artist in the network
- Will be best for mail artists as audience because the iconography is their language
Trends Show Chart
- Mixing of artists online flow into each kind of network
- Web sites are fuller places for artists to do self portraits
- Usefulness of trends to place specific artworks in context for curators
- To determine systems within the network that are responding to Internet influences (expanding numbers, shifts from zines to websites)
Applications of this study
- Art historical research
- Distributed communities research
- Fate of the archives
- Networked art
- Women artists
Then I rewrote the beginning chapters.
Definitions of mail art
- tied to postal handling
- tied to networking and group interactions (such as gifting and economics)
- Curators of mail art collections
- Study of networks
- adaptations made to old systems
- evolution of new systems
Grounded theory and collage
Last chapter written
Grounded theory answered the needs and directions in content
Collage is an artistic form of grounded theory, using the same ideas such as theoretical sampling and arranging a composition along an axis (axial coding, arranging data to form categories and relationships)
I love correspondence art.
How many doctoral students can say that about their topic after going through years of detailed work:
- dissecting it,
- looking for relationships within it's confines,
- searching for meaningful references,
- and trying out one theory after another to see if anything jives with published scholarly lore?
When Dr. Hudspeth fast talked me into becoming a doctoral student I told him I'd consider it under one condition, that I research mail art.
So here are my findings in a slightly modified dissertation format.
It's not a standard dissertation and it's not an artist's book either.
My dissertation is a hybrid.
One part of this hybrid is my view as an artist and the other is my training as a researcher in the College of Education.
Mail art presents a constantly moving target so I was happy to find the methods of grounded theory to work with, especially the theoretical sampling component of grounded theory, in which one analysis of data leads to the next area to research, like clues in a mystery.
I looked long and hard at an interesting corner of the mail art network, the corner in which the Internet is causing an influx of new artists and new technologies.
Is the flexible mail art network strong enough to retain an identity that has lasted 40 years now? New people and technologies are flooding into the small but international community.
I feel my portrait of the 1999-2001 networking artists' attitudes and products has both an artist's sensitivity and a scholarly rigor that can be used by researchers for comparison to other networking events of the same time frame, or can be used as a foundation for research into future evolutions in the Correspondence Art Network.
I'd like to continue to research the correspondence art network because the research leads to all kinds of fascinating areas.
For example, I'd like to look more into issues of emerging forms of networked art and how the new forms relate to the Correspondence Art Network.
Also, I have access to exciting source material to put on the web such as 52 artists' essays originally published in an out of print 1995 book called the Eternal Network.
I'd like to build this source material into the library of the Electronic Museum of Mail Art (EMMA) at the ACTLab. .
I would like to publish the dissertation findings so that mail artists and Internet artists might benefit from them,
additionally, so that curators of mail art collections and Internet community researchers might find the data and the trends.
So now I'm looking for a publisher and funding for a new and accessible wing of EMMA.