Electronic Mail Cards

sound interventions through the postal system

Portable Sound Installations
Portable Sound Installations are audio works that focus on sound, listening and space, are easily distributed to the public, are transferable, don't require large amounts of equipment to present, and do not require that the public go to a gallery or special installation space to experience them. Decree One: A Dire Warning of Eternal Retribution, already produced, is a small piece of software-as-audio-composition freeware which runs on any Macintosh computer and can be easily distributed via floppy disc, FTP/web site downloading or CD-ROM. This makes the computer and space around it, the site of the installation. Briefly, Electronic Mail Card(working title) will be special audio postcard which will fashioned similarly to those Hallmark musical greeting cards that play a little melody with a tiny sound chip built into them when you open the card up. I believe that this idea is ripe for re-interpretation. Electronic Mail Card(working title) will utilize the postal system as an effective means of distribution. Electronic Mail Card(working title) will make peoples private space the site of an audio art intervention .

Mail Art
Mail art is a form of communication which uses the postal system to exchange 'art' amongst people that are very often strangers. One of the important characteristics of mail art is the one-to-one exchange of communication between the artist and the receiver with the receivers personal space; home, office or studio being the 'site' of exchange. This idea could also be considered an art intervention as the receiver does not know that this exchange is about to happen when the daily mail is delivered. The roots of this form of communication has its origins dating to the beginning of the postal service. Artists in the early 20 century such as Picasso, Duchamp, the poet Mallarme, the Futurists, Dadaists, etc. all participated in mail art exchanges as part of their process of finding new ways that art could be experienced. During the '60s 'Fluxus' artists popularized and formalized Mail Art exchanges. Unjuried exhibitions were announced to all with the idea that any one could participate. Ray Johnson, a 'Fluxus' artist, founded the New York Correspondence School still in operation today. Mail Art has changed in time to include faxes, Xerox collages, artist books, audio cassettes and CDs, computer discs, email and Internet exchanges.


Electronic Mail Card(working title) or EMC
Electronic Mail Card will be a computed art work sent through the postal system within the conceptual framework of a Portable Audio Installation. The computer (Basic Stamp microprocessor), support electronics, audio speaker, sub miniature LCD display and batteries will all be combined into a postcard package which will be designed mechanically and electronically with custom graphic design and packaging elements to stimulate the receiver of same in a one-to-one mail art exchange. The defining element during this exchange is Time and the audio composition that the sound chip is programmed to play. The receiver is a captive active participant for the duration of the exchange. The first few seconds upon receiving and opening the package is crucial in the composition of the sound work. For example; a certain type of beep repeated four times in short succession synced to a flashing red LED light might suggest some kind of danger.(A letter bomb!?) Or a melodic phrase using a major musical scale with some other type of flashing display might suggest something more pleasant. The electronic sounds and programming flexibility available on the Stamp microprocessor allow for all types of interesting variation. The sound combined with a ASCII text message or graphic scrolling/flashing/stepping through the LCD display will allow for a more complex interaction and articulation of ideas presented within the experience. The design of the package and graphics will support the this. These compositional ideas will be explored during the prototyping and testing stage with analysis and feedback contributing to the finalization of what the EMC will look and sound like.

EMC Technical
The heart of this project is a postage stamp sized micro computer commercially available known as the Basic Stamp Microprocessor. This little computer is programmable and can be connected to all types of sensors, switches, LEDs, speakers, other computers(even other Stamps),motor controllers etc. It has a quite comprehensive sound generator built into it. The programming language is Pbasic( a variation on Basic), which allows for all sorts of interactions to be programmed. The other electronic components are all micro sized as well including a new flat speaker design.


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