Continuing with my usual praxis of doing interviews on Mail Art to my regular contacts, today I present the last epistolary exchanges with Jürgen O. Olbrich.
How did you start in Mail Art? What was your first contact with this movement?
I started Mail Art in 1972. My first contacts were: Arno Arts (some postcards-collaborations in this post), Vittore Baroni, Chuck Stake and Anna Banana.
I’m still in contact with them, only Arno died this year.
Do you think it still makes sense?
Always: Mail Art makes sense, because it opens heart + mind!
I don’t have words
I don’t have words
For a few years I have maintained regular postal contact with Catherine Mehrl Bennett. Receiving mail from Cathy always makes me very happy because her art is full of creativity and a great sense of humor. For her art and attitude is one of my favorite artists and for this reason I wanted to know more about it, especially in relation to Mail Art, and here I had all the answers to my questions.
A enigmatic message on the back (a John M. Bennett poem)
She has been able to make four postcards:
I have received Mail Art from Pedro Bericat,
specifically it is the CD
"1 minute autohypnosis sex war noise faith white truth light europe death seed red net Jung dollar neo time love-in city twenty new Cage zen self LSD dose Tesla sea place breaking-up father x-ray future loud blood sweat tears hope hero endless Pilar".
The release is framed within the series
"1 minute autohypnosis ..."
a sound project of the aforementioned artist, which can be accessed here:
Pedro Bericat (www.mutesound.org) is a Spanish artist (sound art, performance, mail art, ...) who has been developing his activities since the 80's, at least that I have knowledge. My first contact with his work was in the middle of that time through the magazine Particular Motors, published by the S.T.I. (Zaragoza, Spain) and since then I have been a great admirer of his work, having the luck and pleasure of collaborating with Pedro on several occasions, as is the case on this CD.
On the website where it is possible to listen to and download this CD, Pedro Bericat has kindly uploaded the cassette that I sent him and from which the extract included in the CD was obtained. I remember that for the cassette I used, apart from my own material (especially anti-records and cassette manipulation), sound material sent by Pedro Bericat and EC member Nicolas Malevitsis.
It is possible that in the future I can show you more sound works from Pedro Bericat and my own works for Mute Sound that I have in my archives... it's just a matter of finding the necessary wires and the required expertise to digitize it. A whole world inhospitable to me, but I'm brave, I think.
I had the privilege of listening, before its official release, to the album "Slide To Glide" by Wolfgang Dorninger, which left me deeply impressed by the immensity of its sound and its strong power of evocation of images, with beautiful moments of introspection.
On Saturday, December 22, I listened to it three times in a row; on Sunday the 23rd three times again; and today, Wednesday, December 26th, while I went to the post office, once again.
In all these listens I got a great aesthetic pleasure and many ideas have come to me about the album, but surely these are totally subjective, which is also important, but I would like to have knowledge of what was inside the mind of Wolfgang Dorninger while creating his work. For this reason I have done the small interview that follows, hoping that the questions are useful to provide some information about "Slide To Glide".
After listening to "Slide To Glide", I had the feeling that it is a very consistent and coherent album, that everything is very well-integrated and that everything is related, although the dates of the compositions are different, from the themes to the graphic material. Is it a conceptual album, or at least is there a connection between the tracks that make up the album?
There is a connection between all five tracks. But less by the conceptual than by the kind of production. I never used a rhythm or beat, nor a song structure, nor a flow like in techno on this album. These are pieces that are supposed to tell a complex story together, with few instruments but powerful sound architecture through drones and layers. I took from ten pieces those five that sounded best with and to each other.
I understand that it is often difficult or annoying to talk about our influences, but I am sure that many of us (for me I assure you) would like to know which are the ones that can currently exert a strong inspiration, especially at the time of create this album I mean all kinds of influences, not just musical. Anton Bruckner?
I have a lot of influences, I easily start to burn when listening to music by György Ligeti, Jimi Hendrix, Underground Resistance, Maybe Mental, Scott Walker or Anton Bruckner. I have no difficulty to talk about my influences, because I do not believe in the artist as a genius myth, but only in artists who have had the best possible preconditions and have made them even better in order to create groundbreaking art. Every time and society has the cultural output it deserves. Some artistic movements or trends are also dependent on luck, because a few artists at the right time in the right place crossed each other's path. But basically I'm interested in music and art, where I can find the artist behind his work, also between the notes, words and brushstrokes. Where I can discover multiple layers that only emerge when listening carefully and repeatedly. Radio music has always bored me, even music that is only formal and also music that is a copy of the copy.
In a general way (I know it would be impossible to do otherwise) could you tell us what kind of synthesizers or other electronic and acoustic media you used to make the album? Did these technical means chosen by you condition the result or did you already have the ideas in mind and the ideas instead conditioned the choice of the gear array?
The tools always determine the result. Also the modifications of these tools and work processes change the artistic output. The Bruckner remix was created by a kind of reverse engineering process. I took three excerpts or scenes out of the Fourth Symphony ("The Romantic") of Anton Bruckner, transformed the notes into MIDI files, then re-composed them with sampled instruments or soundscapes. Parts of them were extremely filtered. I changed the tempo of these segments and changed the sound surface with heavy granular synthesis to get the desired color of sound. I developed the piece for the exhibition "Mein Bruckner" (My Bruckner). The group exhibition was about works of all art fields related to Anton Bruckner, as personal as possible. Each piece on "Slide To Glide" has a similarly complicated history. For me the studio is the instrument, no longer individual instruments.
Personally I love the cover and I think it is also a very important element of your work, which harmonizes perfectly with the sound material of the album. Am I right that you consider graphic art as an important part in the creation of an album?
Yes, the photo is very important for "Slide To Glide". I made it during a rehearsal at the theatre (Kammerspiele, Landestheater Linz). Music and visuals are very close. Both media reach us through waves. Some people even hear colors, so close are this quite different types of perception. With Monochrome Bleu, we have already performed with videos on stage in the 1980s. Leo Schatzl, the video artist, was part of the band. The painting "Monochrome Bleu" by Yves Klein was not only an eponym for the band, but also outlined quite clearly the intention of the band's sound in the early days. The visual aspect is still very important for me when it comes to music. I came to music at a very young age singing in a choir from sheet music. Later I wanted to become a painter, but ended up at music again. Some of my paintings from these days are in my studio and in the stairwell.
Several pieces included in "Slide To Glide" were made for other artistic and visual projects (perhaps this is the internal connection of the album) Do you regularly collaborate with other visual artists? To what extent do the images influence your sound work?
I composed music (including sound design) for more than 40 theatre plays by William Shakespeare, Henrik Ibsen or Joël Pommerat in the last 25 years. Working in a big team with different art forms has changed my music a lot. "The sound should come out of the pores of the walls" is a statement of mine to describe my way of composing music for the theater. I want to get the silence out of the theater to create through sound different layers of environments for a play. And I love the work process a lot. Everything is worked out during the rehearsals and grows through the interaction of the whole team working on a play. I also like the workflow of dancers and performers. Working for film is rather lonely, because a lot of work processes are broken up into small sections and there is hardly any interaction between the participants. The track "Unused Film Score" is a remix of unused soundscapes and music pieces for a movie. The communication was so bad that no useful result came about. After two years of distance, I made the remix for "Slide To Glide", because I liked some scapes and tunes too much.
The first track of the album is "Cause & Effect" Is it a tribute to the past or the beginning of something? The last track is titled "Utopia Around The Corner" ...
I made this piece for an "Electronic Cottage Add-And-Pass Cassette". Hal McGee opened the tape with his piece "Transmission # 237". The tape got lost after the fourth music contribution by the Austrian post company on the way from Linz to Vienna. I called the piece "Cause & Effect" later on, because that was the only way to calm my anger. I appreciate what Hal is doing with his tape, network and media projects and was really angry that such a nice project was destroyed by a carrier company.
"Utopia Around The Corner" should give us courage for small solutions. I believe in the power of change by the individual and in the small. And Utopia is not so far away, does not need a super solution, no magicians or ego shooters like Donald!
1000 thanks Hal for Electronic Cottage and muchas gracias Rafael for your questions.
If you, dear Electronic Cottage member, are interested in "Slide To Glide", just send me your email address and I will send you a download link with uncompressed files.
And hopefully my English is not as shitty as I think it is!
Here I am again showing how members and associates of our EC community have become early Santa Claus and have filled my mailbox with wonderful gifts. Possibly the best gifts that I could hope for. I really am not much of Santa Claus and following my Catholic and Spanish education celebrated the Magi Kings much more (on January 6 they arrive in Spain); but what the hell, on December 25th I will give a hug to that fat and bearded gentleman for being so generous to me in such an anticipated way. Well, after these somewhat childish and silly words but full of a true Christmas feeling, I take this publication to wish all members of EC, friends and readers a fucking Christmas, I recommend it, never be faithful to a person flying in a sleigh pulled by reindeer and laughing in that terrible way.
Catherine Mehrl Bennett
For about seven years I have maintained a constant postal and telematic relationship with Picasso Gaglione. It's curious that we had not been in contact previously (although I'm sure we had participated in many of the same Mail Art Calls) ... This may possibly be due to different interests ... I had been more involved in the culture of the cassettes: the same channel but with a different frequency.
Now I must confess that every time I receive an mail from Picasso Gaglione it makes me very happy, since it is a great inspiration for me and a stimulus to continue spending money on envelopes and stamps.
His attitude towards art and the projects he carries out with his wife Darling Darlene (or Darlene Domel) are very inspiring and stimulating for me. For this reason I wanted to ask some questions of Picasso Gaglione, using postal mail course, and this is what I received:
The King of Fools is a Mail Art project managed by Nicolas Malevitsis and me. The point is that Nicolas started writing about this after finding strange writings and stamps in some old bookstore in Athens, I think. I am not very sure. He also found a mysterious graffiti, from which he took photographs and made a rubber stamp, which very kindly sent me along with a really enigmatic story. With the passage of time he sent me again a rubber stamp where you can see how Monastar is actually the King Of Fools. The truth is that I do not have the keys. I hope that one day Nicolas will tell us his version of events.
Florida in my post office box.
It is fantastic to open the small door of the post office box and find these postcards of our friends Dylan and Jeremiah, as you all know, members of the EC community.
At 10:41 am, I'm going to have my second cup of coffee. I make a toast to Mail Art and to the beautiful postal connections.
above: postcard from Dylan Houser
below: two postcards from Jeremiah Paddock