honoriartist (honoriartist) wrote,

Rant for Ken Friedman

Last night I was reading Ken Friedman's interview and found some nice stuff for the end of my dissertation. He said that mail art has become boring and that it will "remain a disappointment without a richer foundation in knowledge, culture, and communication theory." I'd like to know what communication theories Friedman links to mail art and then think about his ideas in relation to what bubbles up out of the data. So far, the main "theory" that bubbles up is chaos and self-organizing systems (Ruggero, Ryosuke, Henning Mittendorf), and Gianni Broi's potlach theory. Systems of organizational change are also in the air but not referred to. Systems of meaning have yet to be compiled and put into semiotic boxes and shipped to the publisher. Friedman also says, "Mail art has no major role in the world today." And "There's no need for mail art on the Internet. The net's a different kind of medium. It need play, ideas and exchange. It doesn't need mail art. People who see the Internet as an arena for mail art are missing the point. Information technology has opened old fields to entirely new approaches." I don't believe that for a minute. Many people who use the Internet without having been mail artists are either overly friendly to the point of being invasive, demanding instant recognition, or techno-proud isolationists who draw lines between PCs and Macs, between connection speeds and providers, between Linux and Microsoft, etc. They can't help it, poor dears. They enter the technology from the interface and the interface dictates what they perceive can be accomplished. Mail art leads more to "play, ideas and exchange" in the real world than what has shaken out of the Internet. I do believe this is a transitional phase, and as people become more adept at digital tools and the software becomes more responsive to the needs of the user than to the business plan of the developers more play, ideas and exchange will be available to more people in more countries. It's a slow process that's happening quickly for some and slowly for others. The kids get it the fastest because they are raised with technology. Kids are teaching their teachers about technology. The empowering of the kids for a few decades as the wielders of instructional technologies will be an interesting dissertation topic down the road.

If you happen to read this journal entry and don't know who Ken Friedman is: Ken is one of the early members of Fluxus and one of the early mail artists. His writings on both art movements are accessible via a search under his name + fluxus or his name + mail art. Ken has been supportive of my research and I look forward to bouncing my ideas off his experience and intellect.

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