TIA 2005: Art from Ephemera (Mail Art and the Internet)
Text and Image Arts
School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Fall 2007 - Spring 2009

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


The class is getting ready to install a showcase of projects from this semester and last. Here's the low-down:

Post: A Collection of Mail and Web Projects
Including work by students in the Text & Image Arts class Art from Ephemera: Mail Art and the Internet, 2007-08

Do snails dream of electronic mail?

Students in this intermediate level multi-media studio class investigate the definition and nature of ephemeral materials while appropriating the strategies of and making connections between Mail Art and the Internet. All of the projects presented in this exhibition utilize the network distribution of the postal system or the Internet (or in some cases, both) in order to explore communication from both aesthetic and conceptual perspectives. Many of the projects are interactive, inviting you to participate in the process in some way.

Participating Artists include Haley Bishop, Brian Butler, Sheri Demchak, Erin Fili, Genevieve Johnson, Aziza Klingensmith, Tiffanie Laverty, Carmina Novoa, John Pearson, Marcel Reyes, Stefanie Vermillion, Samara Watkiss, and Melissa Yasko.

Post will be on display in the BAG Gallery at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Show Dates: March 28 through April 6
Opening Reception: Monday, March 31st, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Image: Brian Butler

About the students and their projects:

Haley Bishop has been recording the details of every single text message she receives in a notebook. Her installation explores both her physical location and emotional reaction at the time of receipt of each message.

Brian Butler is collecting artist renditions on the blank cone postcards provided in the space as evidence of the Ice Cream People. The postcards will be archived online at IceCreamPeople.org.

Sheri Demchak's text/blog game began when she mis-heard a song lyric and preferred the version in her mind. She text messaged this song lyric to friends, her friends responded, she forwarded their responses to other friends, and so on. Her installation attempts to map the network created by this game while rendering the ephemeral material temporarily tangible.

Erin Fili believes that at any age or time in your life you can take a few minutes of your day to stop everything and have some creative fun. She has invited friends, family, and with this installation she invites you to color a blank page from her collection of books. Colored pages will be archived in book and web form.

Genevieve Johnson presents postcards created from recycled cereal boxes and other documentation of interventions she has staged at locations frequented by environmental canvassers. The installation and postcards direct visitors to a website that will them with information about this practice and alternatives.

Aziza Klingensmith was inspired by Yoko Ono's instructional paintings when she created these hand-made, star-punched postcards for distant friends she has remained in contact with primarily through websites like Facebook. Recipients were invited to look through the star and respond with what they saw at that moment.

Tiffanie Laverty explores disposable materials related to pop culture. By designing a fake tabloid magazine subscription letter she both mimics and satirizes the language of tabloid advertising while providing a refreshing break to the monotony of opening junk mail. Gallery visitors are invited to read the letters deposited in the trash bin.

Carmina Novoa has been collecting individual interpretations of monsters. The range of responses she has received is on display and the installation provides a space for interactivity, where you can create your own rendering of a monster to add to her collection.

John Pearson's Mailbird addresses the concepts of distance and social connection. Traveling the world, an owl figurine will be photographed in a new location each time he is sent through the postal system. Photographs of Mailbird in his temporary location are archived on a weblog, before continuing on to his next destination.

Marcel Reyes presents a primarily web-based creative writing project which is conceptualized around participants providing an interpretation of visual material and semiotics. Evocative photographs are paired with mysterious text, provoking viewers to creatively respond to something difficult to understand literally.

Stefanie Vermillion presents a series of collaged postcards that investigate the space and atmosphere of the library from her perspective as a student librarian.

Samara Watkiss poses the question "What do you read when you can't read this?" with a continuation of her ongoing Arabic T-Shirt Project. The project, which includes printed t-shirts, postcards, and a website, explores the political and linguistic ramifications of non-Arabic speakers reacting to seeing written Arabic.

Melissa Yasko is interested in how people will respond to the hundreds of postcards she has distributed around Boston, with the simple instructions to "draw on me." Gallery visitors are invited to participate in this investigation and responses will be archived on a weblog and within a Flickr group.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


I came across a similar project to Marcel's, only it is with simple animations rather than words. We are asked to interpret what the object is in the animation. Enjoy!


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Feedback please

Hi Everyone,
Please take a look at these possibilities for my postcards.  Also, if you would look at www.arabictshirtproject.com and tell me what you think of the design that would be great. There is a lot of content that I still need to update but feedback would be appreciated.
Ok, so those are the two possibilities for the front.  For some reason blogger won't let me upload the final image of the proposed back of the postcard.  I'll put it in another entry.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Hi everyone, just an update on my "DRAW ON ME" postcard project. I've dispersed my first batch of "post-cards" and am now waiting on receiving them. In the mean time I've created a blog where a visitor can find directions on how to print and submit a card of their own. I couldn't figure out how to make it directly downloadable though- does anybody know because that would be great! I've also added a widget so visitors can draw online, but I'm working on creating my own so the visitor could hopefully save and post their drawing (like the graffiti app on facebook), but I'm thinking I might have to do that on an actual site and not a blog. Anyways, this is the link so check it out!


spamland #2

I forgot how I found this, probably through links about animation, and I found this really great creative thing through the use of spam. Which is strangely fun and beautiful in it's self.

"The dialogue for spamland comes from the semi-sensical text found in the filter-busting portion of spam emails."

Sidenote: I am partial to spamland #2 (which is posted), but there are other versions and the youtube link is posted directly by the animators so you can explore their work through this posting :)

my roommate just texted me that it's Chuck Norris' birthday, he's 68 today, and that we need to sacrifice a lamb.
*sigh* lol

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Mail Art on Craigslist

___Mail Art___

Reply to: see below
Date: 2008-03-07, 1:01PM EST

This April, the Artclash Collective will be coordinating our third Mail Art project!

What is Mail Art?
The project is an exchange of artwork via snail mail in which participants send a piece of their own original artwork to a randomly assigned recipient each week, so by the end of the month each will have sent and received four pieces of art.

Any guidelines?
We ask that everyone spend at least two hours each week creating their artwork and mail each piece on time.

Has it been successful in the past?
The last Mail Art project drew over 100 participants from 12 states and 3 countries!

How do I sign up?
To participate, please send your name and address via snail mail to 4535 Larchwood Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19143 by March 14, and we will send you the names and addresses of 4 other participants.

Got any inspirational quotes?
"The function of art is to free the spirit of man and to invigorate and enlarge his vision."

How about a website?

2 pr0j3kZ 8y t3H k453Y...

Spam Headings into Art

Combining contemporary net art styles with contemporary JUNKMAIL.

Site: http://spamheadingsinotart.blogspot.com
Send spam headlines to: krobinson@student.smfa.edu

Gimmie Chinese Goodies Now Now Now

Yesterday as usual, I was wasting my life on Craigslist.com. Finally it proved useful, because in the "free" section I came across a delightful asian woman giving away HUNDREDS of little red chinese new year envelopes. We met at an intersection and she threw the box at me as cars honked violently. I am going to send 3 envelopes to each person. 1 will enclose a gift. 1 they must send a gift in back to me. 1 for just in case. After collecting gifts I will showcase them.
Envelopes to go to:
-SMFA inboxes
-distant friends
-street corners
-Wu-Tang Clan

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Submission to DigitalMailArt

I made this postcard for Mike at http://digitalmailart.blogspot.com/
He asks for ANY medium, ANY topic. Very general. Then he posts what he likes.
For an extra special bonus, check out Mike's profile page, and you will find a .wav file of bird noises.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


I'm interested in commercial-based, disposable materials that frequent my (and probably your) everyday life. For this particular project, I appropriate the language of magazine subscription reply cards and letters, or junk mail, to create a satirical critique of the magazine/subscription industry as well as tabloid culture. I plan to send the letters to various tabloid magazines (a taste of their own medicine), to leave them in different areas of the city and eventually send them at random through the mail.

Texting and Sisters

Hi! I have been communicating with my sister through the mail and sending her collages, nick knacks and writing her letters. I just send her a large envelope that had 8 envelopes already addressed to me and with postage on it to make it easier for her when responding back to me. My intentions are for her to write something she wouldn't usually tell me through text or a phone conversation and attack a photo or drawing. 
I also just talked with Becky about recording my text messages I get from who ever sends me them. I have written them down in the past for personal reasons but would like to do it routinely and see if a project arises from it.

star postcards

Hi, my project was inspired by Yoko Ono's instructional paintings. I loved the idea of constructing a painting in your head, and decided to add a bit of that oddity and strange elegance to my project, but with a feedback twist.

I sent out twenty envelopes with a hand illustrated card with a star-shape punch, on the blank back side I have instructions to look through the star and reply to me what each person saw through the star. They can e-mail, post (website in progress), write (or not reply at all), I'm hoping by the handmade elements that nineteen of my friends (via facebook) will respond to my request to what they saw (mentally or physically).

The 20th I decided to send out to my favorite director Wes Anderson to see if he would respond.

Eli Cash: Why would a reviewer make the point of saying someone's *not* a genius? Do you especially think I'm *not* a genius? You didn't even have to think about it, did you?

Also, Overheard in New York, is a site I accidentally found through a design site I frequent. I think submitting is a bit tricky, but I thought the site was overall pretty funny.


My project is called Translation<3 (or TranslationHeart) and it's all about communication, language, reading information, and interpretation. These four areas intersect in my fictitious country of Borea, and the richly textured language of Hyperboreans. For those of you who may have missed or don't remember my idea when I explained it in class, the idea is that I provide participants with a minimum amount of information or instruction, and based on a clue of pseudocharacters of my fictitious language, write out a "translation" of the text. Really, it's just their own interpretation, of the photograph perhaps, or something completely abstract. An opportunity to write a quick poetic or prosaic piece.

I was inspired by the mythical region of the Hyperboreans that can be found in Greek legendry. Hyperborea is this ideal place full of light where every citizen is prosperous and healthy, and the food is so healthy and the air is so healthy that ordinary humans become immortal there. In fact, many people, once they set foot beyond the territory would grow old and die in moments because of the change. This may or may not tie into my inspiration for the piece, but if its there its subliminal right now. Anyway I was inspired by the notion of global community, of peacemaking between people, and of finding ways around the language barriers that provide the largest division between people. Simultaneously, I wanted to engage the verbal creativity of others. It could be seen as an elaborate set up to get my friends to write poetry, and I am completely fine with my ulterior motive being known!


Blog: http://translationheart.blogspot.com