Digital Mail Art by Carl Baker (Peterborough, Ontario, Canada)

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Image-text by Carl Baker (Peterborough, Ontario, Canada)

We invited acclaimed Canadian visual poet Carl Baker to send us some work that would give us a sense of what he has been doing recently, and we received these seven scans that we are thrilled to be able to share with you.

In addition to simply appreciating and enjoying these pieces, we find it an occasion to comment upon the digital/snail mail dichotomy. Carl Baker, for instance, seamlessly uses both modes to share his work. For example, we received all seven pieces via email (thus it might be considered email art); yet some of the pieces, Carl Baker tells us, have been circulated in hard copy form via snail mail.

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Image-text piece by Carl Baker using appropriated material from a  road atlas

Most of the work you see posted at MinXus-Lynxus arrives via snail mail, and we certainly encourage “traditional” mail art. Yet we have no bias against e-communication and genres of digital art. Those are posted and archived as well. Many mail artists, Moan Lisa (Iowa, USA) for example, experiment with and write about exchange methods they call E-Mail Art and Digital Mail Art.

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What puzzles us most when it comes to this topic is the hysteria that can still be ignited when mail artists discuss digital communications. After 20 years, dire pronouncements are still made concerning the death of mail art due to the internet. In our view, the internet is stimulating a mail art renaissance. Mail artists – such as veterans like Carl Baker – have adapted adeptly to functioning simultaneously in both worlds. We admit hardcore Luddites who only use the postal system are a distinct minority. Of course, we have never been proponents of mail art as the preservation of primitive technology nor making a fetish of the postal system. We do observe, especially when it comes to art, humans value the “authentic” and value having a “real” work of art to have and hold. Mail art fulfills that desire.

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Linocut by Carl Baker

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Turning to the work of Carl Baker rather than the mode of communication, we note that he has expressed skepticism concerning the terms “visual poetry” and “asemic writing.” This, no doubt, has been a challenge to the many publishers of his work because he is an acknowledged master of both modes. The works presented to you here certainly have (what would be considered by many viewers) asemic elements.

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Deepest thanks to Carl Baker!

 

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