Saturday, January 19, 2008

To Knit the Net of Relations Tightly and Clearly and Visibly

Roy Arenella, "My Last Mailbox in Brooklyn" (30 Sep 1991)

Every human being is a strand in a web of connections. The first web is genealogical, an unavoidable and geometric regression of ancestors that, in some way, overlaps the ancestors of everyone else. The next is of acquaintances, a web that functions similarly but which is much less ordered and unpredictable. Plenty of other webs exist as well, such as webs of ideas. We are all tied together, whether we want to be or not.

And Roy Arenella, mailartist, is a node on many many webs and continues to find ways to tie me to new webs. After moving a few years ago to Greenwich (pronounced "Green Witch") in Washington County, New York, he has met just about everyone in his small town. This has allowed him to develop ties through him to people I know: David Greenberger (of Duplex Planet and NPR commentating fame), Gary Saretzky (the archivist for Monmouth County, New Jersey), Al Cormier (the Village of Salem historian), and, most recently, to Art Reinhart (who works with me at the New York State Archives).

Roy Arenella, Note to Art Reinhart (13 Jan 2008)

Roy met Art recently, and sent him a card, asking Art to give it to me briefly so as make the quote that entitles this entry "active in practice." And so Art has, and so I've completed the web and documented it. Let me point out some of the art of this card to Art. First, the blue web he has stamped on the card. Second, the two unscanned stamps he's added to it: one commemorating the National Archives (since Art and I both work at an archives) and one one John Trumbull, American Artist (because Roy sent the card to Art and wrote about art on the card).


un violon d'ingres

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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Archival Impermanence (qbdp # 188, Film Clips # 6)

The documentation below was included in each of the ten issues of Film Clips # 6, produced by Geof Huth on 29 December 2007 and featuring the work of Márton Koppány. The edition was distributed as follows:

1. Geof Huth (though destined for the University at Albany, SUNY)
2. Nancy Huth
3. Erin Huth
4. Tim Huth
5. The Ruth and Marvin Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry
6. Márton Koppány
7. Karl Young
8. Karl Kempton
9. Bob Grumman
10. endwar

Film Clips # 6
A Self-Destructing Compilation
of Cultural Iconography and Mail Art
o + + + + + + + + + + + + r
The Purprestor’s Attempts Excoriated

What About This is About

An envelopzine, it enwraps. It enshrines an assortment of recordings of human tendencies, words and images, colors and blacks and whites, shapes and thoughts, desires and tendencies, loves and losts. It does not mean, but is. It does not continue, but exists. It does not adhere, but floats. Given a purpose, it refuses. Given an opportunity, it looks the other way. Given away, it accepts. It is not designed to last nor to be remembered, being but a thought thought briefly on a walk, a slash of sunlight across the wrist catching the outline of hairs, a whiff of something like your childhood that is then gently urged away by a breeze, one fleeting electric touch of skin on skin. All of these evaporate as experience piles upon experience, and the mind refuses to hold it all in, refuses to do reality’s insistent bidding, and sets free those small thoughts, those tersest memories, that it no longer needs. Yet there seems something significant about any group of objects amassed. We struggle to create sense out of them. Why, we wonder, these objects? How do they mean together? At one level, this is but a collection of decades. Each decade says something about the products of our culture, what they are, how they look, what they do. Each contains some kind of recorded information, so each item is a message to the future, which is all that writing, all that any art, ever is. These messages we create to exist, to remember ourselves to posterity, to provide experiences to ourselves and others, to try to see if we might not fail.

The Things Inside of Which Be

First, we have the alkaline envelope, each of which carries information about a separate semi-annual meeting of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (each of which Geof Huth attended). The title of the envelopzine is handprinted on the outside top of the envelope, and each is numbered on the premlip on the reverse of the envelope. Inside the envelope, we find an unused two-cent postal card mimeographed with an announcement for a 1950s meeting of the Mid-Hudson Valley Joint Board of the Textile Workers of America and carrying the handwritten title of the envelopzine on its front, a yellow card with a Kendall Q-Trace 5400 electrocardiogram tab electrode and with the text “e.(k.)g.” handwritten at the bottom, a three-row sample of jacketed microfiche, a plastic baggie with three small pieces by Márton Koppány (“?,” “Happy Snowman,” and “instrumental:”), a fake Discover credit card used as an advertising gimmick, a New York State Lottery Quick Draw card, a small silver envelope containing a copy of Márton Koppány’s “Ellipses No. 13-14,” an advertisement (in English and Spanish) for the McDonald Corporation’s 2004 Instant Prize Giveaway, a booklet advertising Tom Phillips’ 2005 show (“Works from A Humument”) at the Flowers gallery in New York City, an errata sheet for an item elsewhere in the envelope, a page from a copy of the minutes of a meeting of the City Council of the City of Mount Vernon in New York from 2003, a copy of a booklet (Archives & You: The Benefits of Historical Records) produced by the New York State Archives and Records Administration in 1990, a copy of issue No. 1 of the Gazette du Commerce et Litterarie, pour la Ville & District de Montreal from the 3rd of June 1778, an advertisement for the Rotary Club’s Lord of the Rings Movie Festival at Proctors in Schenectady (New York) on 31 July 2004, and a copy of the March 1997 issue (Vol 1, No 4) of Serving New York, a publication of the New York State Office of National and Community Service

Why Would This Even Be?

We create to be, we read to know, we know to live, we live to love, we love to feel ready to die. One envelope of Film Clips is no panacea, yet it provides what is essential for human life: Experience. We run through the paces of our lives in search of those experiences that bring us joy and meaning. We do not always find them, and this would not be such an experience to many, but maybe it is to some. Film Clips expects nothing of its intentionally few readers but a moment’s attention.

The Can’tributor’s Address

Márton Koppány, 1145 Budapest, Bácskai u. 22 HUNGARY


Ge(of Huth), 875 Central Parkway, Schenectady, New York 12309 USA

qbdp # 188 + published & assembled the 29th of disember 2007

this copy under your eyes is copy number [ ] of 10

un violon d'ingres

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Monday, July 23, 2007

A Tin of Ideas (qbdp # 154, Film Clips # 5)

The following is the documentation included in each of the twenty-three issues of Film Clips # 5, produced by Geof Huth and endwar on 22 July 2007 and officially released and published on 23 July 2007. The edition was distributed as follows: a through k to Geof, and l through w to endwar.

Film Clips # 5
A Self-Destructing Compilation of Cultural
Iconography and Mail Art, or
The Nidifier’s Nictation Enhanced

what is this about this about?

A can of mailart condensed for one’s enjoyment, a collection of leftovers transformed into a main course, Film Clips presents clippings from the recorded world for use by the lonely.

what inside of this can there be?

In a can of peppermints emblazoned with cartoon characters from Peanuts, you will find a reproduction of a Peanuts cartoon on translucent paper; an orange sticker imploring you to “QUIT GRIPING! JOIN TWUA”; a photographic slide found in Syracuse, New York in 1987; a flat piece of white cardboard stamped with the address of Geo. J. Huth (using his address stamp from the 1960s) and backed with a found UPC label, which is identical in every instance; two transfer labels of George Washington, an airplane, a ship, or an African lion; a washer found in the parking lot of JFK Airport in 2004; a small oval gummed label ringed with red; a small piece of leather from a wallet of Geof Huth’s; a pwoermd card (“WH( )LE”) by endwar; a single feather of a ring-necked pheasant; a copy of the micro-chapbook “sight” by endwar; a short strip of audiotape; and a piece of film with one letter in 72pt Bauhaus Light, each letter representing the letter of its particular copy of Film Clips.

whose this creation this made?

The of this canazine is Ge(of Huth), long-time editor, few-time editor. This time, taking part in the production is endwar, mnmlst poet, who provided the cans, the comics that came with the cans, the booklets, the WH( )LE, and the magnetic poems on the inside of the lids of the cans.

addresses of con-conspirators

ge(of huth), 875 Central Parkway, Schenectady, New York 12309 USA
endwar, pob 891, athens, ohio 45701

qbdp # 154 23 July 2007 ltr

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Monday, May 21, 2007

Marton Koppany, "Ellipsis No. 10 - for qbdp # 135" (May 2007)

My friend Marton Koppany sent me this little memorial/homage/extension related to my simple qbdp card ("star star star"). A joy to behold, and it is always interesting to see how Marton makes sense with punctuation.

un violon d'ingres

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Saturday, December 02, 2006

Flying Mailboxes

RF Côté, Flying Postbox Collage (27 Nov 2006)

I'm happy to report that I received a new piece of mailart from Reg. All mannet of mailboxes appear on the card, flying in formation. And if you look closely, you'll note that an artist's stamp is pasted on top of this image, a stamp that reproduces in miniature the postboxes flying already away.

un violon d'ingres

Friday, December 01, 2006

A Noted Silence

Ficus strangulensis, "cured bond" (22 Nov 2006)

The front of this card from Fike is a found scrap of text, a bit erased, and lightly contrasted. The back is a pasted note from Fike telling his mailart friends about the death of his father and how that has slowed his mailart. (Others have begun to post their copies of this card already.) Take care, Fike.

un violon d'ingres

Hands Held in Profile with Head

frips, Handheld Profile (21 Nov 2006)

frips sends me a beatiful Prussian blue block printing on a simple card--no threads threading through it, but the margin of the stamps sticking over the edge as she often does, and a faintly printed text on the front of the card that I could hardly see.

un violon d'ingres


Roy Arenella, "OPEN / POEM" (Nov 2006)

This card from Roy is the 334th he mailed out this year. My numbers are much lower, but still it amazes me to think of the quantity of mailart, the number of pieces, one person might distribute in a year.

This is a simple card from the hand of Roy. He draws a few letters and a couple of arcing arrows (showing, I'm supposing, the different possible entryways into a visual poem). This piece is an example of Roy's oppo (optical poetry), which is clearly verbal, often quietly visual, and designed precisely to be a textual object of contemplation. Note that this poem spells two almost anagrammatic words, and that the first two lines of the poem (reading against the grain) give us the name of this form of poetry ("OPPO").

Quiet and insistent. Like a cat urging you to pet its head.

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Mick Boyle, "Will you finally find" (Obverse, 15 Nov 2006)

Mick appears to like to draw radishes, since I've received a number of cards so decorated by him. They are delicate simple little things, I think (maybe) connected to the plucking of these beasts from the grip of the earth at the end of the season of growth.

Mick Boyle, "Will you finally find" (Reverse, 15 Nov 2006)

But the real "text" of this card appears to be the revers, where a bit of pencil frottage, a couple of pasted slips of paper (one enworded), and a dullish splash of silver ink come together to form a new nude crescending a staircase. The text entrances me a bit--not quite a question, certainly not a statement, it floats withing this field of corners looking for a place.

un violon d'ingres

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Light within the Wind (qbdp # 121)

"airlIGht" (qbdp # 121, 30 Nov 2006)

Holiday Inn, Room 335, Batavia, New York

After the third night of travel and mailart, I've reverted to my bare minimum number of cards: five. But even these took me a while. I had to select an appropriate fidgetglyph from the small collection I carry with me on my travels, to stamp my address on the card just right, to determine the colored inks I would use, and to create each of the five cards. This is one of my newest fidgetglyph, created yesterday in Caneadea, New York, and revised a few times until it evolved into this form.

I used an identical set of "vintage" postcards I purchased at With Pipe and Book (a used bookstore and pipe store in Lake Placid) as the canvas for my fidgetglyphing. It's a quaint little card, with a beautiful rendition of the word "Postcard" and one of those muddy landscapes common on old postcards. I thought it fit the fidgetglyph well.

The few recipients of "airlIGht" (qbdp # 121) were as follows:

1. Ruth and Marvin Sackner

2. Bob Grumman

3. Roy Arenella

4. Dan Waber

5. qbdp

un violon d'ingres

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Voice of Lois, Dan, and Aubrey (qbdp # 120)

"Voici l'oiseau dans l'arbre" (qbdp # 120, 29 Nov 2006)

Webb's Lake Resort, Room 311, Mayville, New York

I'm tired from yesterday's creating and today's traveling and presenting, so I cut back to a set of a dozen cards today. (It would've been thirteen, but I produced one version of the fidgetglyph that wasn't acceptable.) This card was made more difficult by the slow addition of watercolors.

"Voici l'oiseau dans l'arbre" (Reverse, qbdp # 120, 29 Nov 2006))
The card took so long to create that I gave up on including a message on the back of each card. Instead, I used bits of the stamp sheet I was using in place of a message.

Those receiving "Voici l'oiseau dans l'arbre" (qbdp # 120) were as follows:

1. Ruth and Marvin Sackner

2. Bob Grumman

3. Roy Arenella

4. Dan Waber

5. Jukka-Pekka Kervinen

6. Wayne Alan Brenner

7. Reneé Wagemans

8. D. Mask

9. Ryosuke Cohen

10. Jassy Lupa

11. Steve Dalachinsky

12. qbdp

un violon d'ingres

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Letter to Garcia, et al. (qbdp # 119)

"Dear _____" (qbdp # 119, 28 Nov 2006)

The Inn at Houghton Creek, Room 12, Houghton, New York

Sometimes, I'm a bit too ambitious, and tonight was one of those times. I decided to take twenty large postcards I picked up at the beginning of the month at the Hotel Saranac of Paul Smith's College and to write a faux epistle on the back of it to just as many people as I had postcards. The process of writing this multi-colored letter was time-consuming, but I'm drawn into the mesmery of this kind of work, even as I wear myself out (temporarily, at least) doing it.

The recipients of "Dear _____" (qbdp # 199) were as follows:

1. Bob Grumman

2. Ruth and Marvin Sackner

3. Roy Arenella

4. Dan Waber

5. Lisa Jr & Elizabeth Zois

6. Dees Stribling

7. Jay V. Stribling

8. frips

9. RF Côté

10. Ficus strangulensis

11. Mick Boyle

12. Haje Holmström

13. Pati Bristow

14. fat red ant

15. Pablo Wright

16. richard canard

17. Guy r. Beining

18. Miguel Jimenez

19. Guido Vermeulen

20. qbdp

un violon d'ingres

Thursday, November 16, 2006


David B. Herriman, "An Outer Space Fish Ghost" (Jun 2006)

Last week at work, the postcard above appeared in my mailbox. What I find remarkable about this is that the card is not addressed to me--isn't, actually, addressed to any specific person--yet someone decided I was the person best to accept this correspondence. I never speak about mailart at work, and only occasionally about visual poetry, but somehow I became the recipient of this card. Good enough.

David B. Herriman, Note (6 Nov 2006)

It is an interesting card. Both the image on the front and the message on the back are mass-produced photocopies. Only the woefully inaccurate address is handmade. Yet, despite this mass production, the whole card reads just like a piece of mailart. Possibly without knowing it, David Herriman has become a mailartist, sending off these quirky cards making weird scientific claims.

un violon d'ingres

Monday, November 13, 2006


Jim Leftwich, Alphacards (9 Nov 2006)

Jim Leftwich uses index cards for art more than anyone else I know, and I remain amazed at how deftly he can use a simple technique to develop a visually stunning result. I provide a few of the cards from today's envelope as evidence.

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Jassy Lupa, "Death to High School" (9 Nov 2006)

It is great to receive another card from Jazzy with her loose but beautiful handwriting and her careful little paintings. This one is a bit sad, corroborating Jassy's note that she's busy, working too much, and dealing with illness. My good wishes to Jassy. I'll be sure to write her a note the next time I send out a card.

un violon d'ingres

Fractal Imagination

Brain Cell 657 (31 Aug 2006)

Ryosuke Cohen, the best-named Japanese mailartist in the business, sends me another copy of his Brain Cell, this one from August 2006. I wondered why he sent me this issue, but it might because he has added one piece to this normally three-piece zine. A usual Brain Cell consists of an envelope that never needs postage stamps to be mailed to me, a large sheet of paper covered with colorful rubberstampings, and a small trifolded sheet listing all the participants in the issue and their addresses.

This issue, however, includes another sheet, folded in threes then in twos, that includes a two-page essay dated June 2006 and entitled "Mail Art --- Networking Art." This essay covers a lot of ground quickly: the importance of collaboration and sharing in mailart, his point of view that mailart is slowing down, and how artists can learn from nature.

un violon d'ingres

A Circular Rectangle

Circulaire 132 # 7, Page 2 (October 2006)

It's been a while since I've received anything from the great RF Côté of Québec, Québec—of course, that's only because I didn't send him anything for many months. And it is wonderful to receive mailart from reg again. What an imagination and what style he has. Today, I received in the mail a copy of Circulaire 132 # 7, which is something like an assembling, but reg stitches together the various pieces received from artists from all over the globe.

There is plenty of beautiful stuff here: an interesting (and short) article on V-Mail (written in French, of course), complete with illustrations, scads of artist stamps (including one by Renée Wagemans that resembles a small piece of chainmail), a little advertisement for this blog (complete with logo by Mick Boyle), a little poetry booklet produced by Richard Hansen (part of his Poems-for-All series), a little comic printed in color, a couple of collages, one of the spliced photos produced by Dan (of Portland, Oregon), and announcements on mailart projects. This is what a mailart zine is supposed to be!

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

A Mailartist is Born

Jay Stribling, "Day After Guy Fawkes' Day 2006" (6 Nov 2006)
Jay Stribling, whom I've never met--along with his brother and my friend from college, Dees Stribling--are obsessed with correspondence, specifically postcards. Dees has mailed me literally hundreds of postcards over the years, and in the past couple I've begun to mail Dees postcards at quick clip as well.

But Jay I don't know. I've corresponded with him, but in a weird way, sending him messages about as personal as the one above from him. But I love his handwriting, his clear intelligence, and his interest in minute detail. And this weekend, I decided that his type of correspondence is clearly a form of mailart. He just doesn't know it, and he might not even know what mailart is. Yet here I have made him a mailartist.

un violon d'ingres


frips, Beetle (5 Nov 2006)

What can I say? frips, once again, does a simple and amazing thing. This giant cut-out beetle, sewn by machine to a cardboard card is quite a beautiful surprise.

un violon d'ingres

Cashword for All

Steve Dalachinsky, "Cashword Collage" (2005 and 30 Oct 2006)

Steve sends me a collage that he describes as "cashword collage/b&w xerox of original color (w/ elements added)/dalachinsky 2005 #1 of 1." Pretty hilarious. Steve, a poet, follows this with a weird little poem on the back of the card:

The Thoroug

the cellf
w/in the
cell fish--

That should hold us in good stead.

un violon d'ingres

Oh, Peace Train Take This Country, Come Take Me Home Again

Pati Bristow, "Peace" (3 Nov 2006)

Pati Bristow responds to a recent card from me (one months delayed on my part) with another peace-related item, this time a postcard. On the back of the card, she let's me know of the location of her weblog.

un violon d'ingres

The Future in the Present

Roy Arenella, Two-Way Arrow (2 Nov 2006)

When I'm on schedule (which isn't nearly often enough), I post information about my qbdp mailings before anyone has a chance to receive one, so recipients could (as Roy Arenella has often noted) see what they're going to receive long before they receive them. This card of Roy's, illustrated with a double-pointed arrow (representing coming and going), includes a note from Roy in anticipation of one of my cards to him. (The other review of the card was "The Archi've one I enjoyed but feel it's more potential than fulfillment," which might be pretty accurate.) Roy's other note was that he had no "sound method for procuring" blank diaries whose sequence of dates fit particular years. I'm still looking for one that will work for 2007. I'm currently using a 1905 diary for my 2006 jottings.

un violon d'ingres


John M. Bennett, Various Small Publications (Oct 2006)

Another small packet of mini-publications from John M. Bennett arrived in my mailbox, including a couple of tacky little pamphlets (TLPs) and a postcard. All of these are collaborations, since John subsists on collaboration.

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Flame Flower

Jim Leftwich, "Tritoma" (28 Oct 2006)

Jim sends me a small sheaf of new visual poems, including this beautiful shaped poem about, I have to assume, the flowers of the genus Tritoma. And the words bea uti full y confirm this.

ecr. l'inf.

Leaves of Fall

Jennifer Hill-Kaucher, "for The Fall Leaves Variations" (Nov 2006)

Dan Waber has released yet another card in the series, The Fall Leaves Variations, this one another one by Jennifer Hill-Kaucher. I keep reveling in her use of italics. Such a good choice for these little concrete poems, this one a simple replication of a leaf in full tumble.

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My Daughter Lives in Queens

Roy Arenella, "'Only the Dead Know Brooklyn.' But Everybody Lives in Queens" (20 Oct 2006)

I love this photograph of Roy's, and in response I'll note that I have relatives buried in Queens and my daughter lives there as well.

Most remarkable about this card is Roy's note that his wife was in Room 22A of the Beekman Towers two days before I was in Room 22E. Too bad we missed each other. But I wonder how often such things happen without my ever knowing.

un violon d'ingres

Something for Dessert

Dessert, Senior Exhibit, Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Dallas, Texas (2 Nov 2006)

Jay Stribling, brother of my friend Dees, sends me a postcard announcing his son Robert's participation in his senior exhibition. I couldn't make it to the show, and I didn't get word out in time for anyone else to attend. And, hey, Jay doesn't even think of himself as a mailartist. So why post this card? Because I've just decided that Jay is an unknowing mailartist, and I wanted to start with a colorful card. (PS I received another copy of this card from Dees himself. Too bad I didn't show for the event.)

un violon d'ingres

An Improbable Flock of Seagulls

Dan, Seagulls in Formation (16 Oct 2006)

I received a postcard from the surnameless mailartist Dan (of Portland, Oregon), and the card consists of a wonderful bit of photographic legerdemain. Photos of twenty birds (hey, maybe they're not all seagulls) are set up in a 4X5 grid and laid against a clouded sky. It's all a strange insertion of the human hand into nature. Now, all I need to do is return a photograph to Dan, who requests such in return.

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The Word as Seeing

Roy Arenella, "Point & Shoot" (7 Oct 2006)

Roy Arenella is always pushing towards a poetry of the eye. He is the ultimate poet/photographer, merging word with image, as he does here with the simplest tools: rubberstamps. The giant round lens of the camera does double duty as an O, fully merging the visual image with the visible WORD. In the tiniest note, Roy--who can write smaller than anyone else I know--writes, "This (clearly condenses) is what I've been trying to say." Because his mailart is about making points, this poet/photographer/philosopher.

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The ABZs of Boys

Dan Waber, Boys, A-Z: A Primer (2 Oct 2006)

Dan Waber, in an impressive show of technical mastery along with a soupçon or more of Oulipian spirit, has put together a solid little booklet examining the sexavigesimal structure of our written language. What he does is this: he names each boy with each letter of the alphabet in sequence, creates a simple drawing of a boy's face out of the appropriate letter of the alphabet and a few squiggles of the pen, then he writes a four- or five-line and twenty-six-word light-verse poem about that boy.

To make this more difficult is the point of each poem: to begin each word in the sexagesimal series with a different letter of the alphabet, each letter presented in alphabetical order. So Adam's poem starts "Adam builds computers," ending with "zippers," and Oliver's begins with "Oliver Plays Quiet Riot," going to the end of the alphabet and around, ending with "now."

Dan even continues the fun into his "A Bio" and to the back-cover blurb, which goes like this:

All boys come disguised, especially from girls.
Here is juicy knowledge, lessons maybe no one
previously quilled. Relax, sit tight,
uncover villains while x-raying y-chromosome zone.

Most remarkable of all, is that these little stanzas still make literal sense!

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Broadcast IUOMA

My latest mailing from Ruud Janssen, of IUOMA central in Breda, The Netherlands, consisted mostly of notes to be and bits of advertisement for the YouTube incarnation of IUOMA, so I figure it best just to point people in that direction. See below for one of the essential videos on the site. All of this makes me wonder about the direction of mailart, away from the mails proper and towards other modes of transmission, even other modes of creation. Mailartists, of course, have always been involved in art activities beyond the world of mailart. This is just a new one.

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Dan Waber, "Prototypes of Punctuation for the Translation of Dreamed Poems # 3 (for Márton Koppány) (October 2006)

Dan Waber continues his interesting neopunctuation project, an homage to conceptual poet Márton Koppány, with this third numbered prototype. Ostensibly influenced by the I Ching, this piece of punctuation appears to sit at a constant lavender slant, all of which suggests some kind of connection, and some deeper meaning those of us without the secrets of the mark cannot fathom.

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