Gerardo Yepiz

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Critical notes about e-mail-art!

The past years internet has slowly entered the Mail-Art Network, even some mail-artists speak about a separate e-mail-art network. Can we point some critical notes about this e-mail-art network?

The basic idea that Internet is a dream of the world-without-boundaries, with no geographic or time distances (cfr. A. Tisma), is exaggerated. It is true that the rate of people who are connected to the Internet is growing every day, but this happens mostly in the industrial western world. In these countries big companies lead the infrastructure for the Internet-network, and this is costing them each day lots of dollars. While at the same time in the rest of the world no investments take place to supply several millionsof people with this technology, infact a majority of the world has even no possibility to apply electricity. Within the western world itself there is a large amount of people that does not have the possibility to use the Internet, or can't use it. Fear for an uncontroled growing of technology or never have had the chance to grow up with computer-technology are some of the reasons. Worser is that even some people have big difficulties to provide themselfs with the basic needs of a good life, in America for example people die from deseases that can be cured with 5 dollar, internet will never reach them. The computerworld is moving fast, philosphicaly time goes 4 times quicker in the computerworld then in human life. The technical improvement and progress in program languages forces people to update their knowledge every day, this is unnatural for every living human being. Once each computerspecialist will realise that it is impossible to update his knowledge every day, because next day his knowledge is already old. According to the laws of nature this is "energy=0". There have been many specialists in the early computersystems who realised that they were not able to use new software when they bought a new computer or when their company changed the system in the latest standard. Even when computercompanies wants to believe us that current technology is plug-and-play, we realise that it is nothing else but sales-talk, because always you need the help of friends to solve system problems. By the way how many of the internet users understand what it means "MIME-type: audio/x-aiff"? Excuse me if we say that internet technology is one of the most user unfriendly technologies of the world. How can e-mail-art be the dream of a world without boundaries when it needs so many energy, time and money to be part of it? When internet will be slowly applied in more of our daily actions and services, it will cause a bigger indeference between several cultures and populations on this world and small communities. Major populations will get excluded while a world without boundaries is the idea to grow nearer to them.

Let us have a look at the idea of e-mail-art, namely e-mail as a way of sending ideas and art. Such as in the Mail-Art Network ideas and art will be spread using the postal system, by means of letters, zines, books, tapes, photocopy-art, rubberstamping, ... E-mail-art is very unpersonal, so it is not usefull for any good intimate communication, besides the possitive aspect of speed! Communication is one of the most important components in the Mail-Art Network that makes Mail-Art so interesting for houndreds of its contributors. It is the expression of a persons individuality towards an other person. And how this expression looks, is different for every person and makes communication unique. Each person has his specific voice, bodylanguage, handwriting, the placement of words on the paper, ... Each specific expression that makes a person an important part of individuality within communication. While e-mail technology does not give us the possibility to express our ideas and art on our own specific individual creative way, without addapting ourselfs to the technology. E-mail only gives us the possibility to send plain text that does not highlight the individuality of the sender. Besides this you can attach artwork images. I must say a very usefull form of distributing information. It is only a pitty that these images will never reach the beauty that a dimensional version has, an attachment has lost his dimension of space. The speed of e-mail is a possitive evolution: you can react on eachothers ideas in a few moments and spread it towards ceveral other receivers. But speed can be confusing for human mind, our brain needs time to arrange and overthink messages, e-mail communication can soon become to complex. This complexity causes problems in keeping up an overview in what a person receives and sends. Ideas can be spread around so quickly and addept so easily that there is no certainty about the source of all this information.

Internet can cause information sickness and can allienate people from the real world, as there is also a world without internet, such as a local neighbourhood. Access to worldwide information makes it a material possession, the access to information on the internet is only stressed by amount and time and not by quality.

E-mail-art is to complex, to quick and to much evolving in time and technology that it is unsuitable to be a good instrument for the democratization of art. Art needs slow and steady networks so that ideas can enter and grow slowly into the minds of artists. The postal system is accessable for every citicen on this globe and it needs no other technology as pen and paper, and the knowledge of writing. With the possibility of expressing his individuality in every way. But nothing the less e-mail is also a possitive technology to spread around information quickly, only we have got to give all those who have no access to e-mail the possibility to apply this information.

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