Friday, April 28, 2017

PV : Why do you have this ongoing Interview Blog. Shouldn't an interview end somehow?

RJ : Over the years I did several interview, and yes they all ended. This blog was started a decade ago because I noticed a lot of questions keep coming back. Not that I always give the same answer, but somehow I liked the idea to keep track of the answers through such a blog.

So that is the reason I still keep this blog alive. An Interview that also forms an archive of my answers. I guess if someone asks me a duplicate question again after many years, my answer will alter every time I try to find the words. That is what art is about. Your views change with the knowledge and perspective you have.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

CN : For you what is mail art in your thinking? And if today the artists are integrated postaleiro the same network?

RJ : Mail-Art in essence is the need to communicate in a creative way, but also to share what you make with someone you choose. These days the Internet has taken over, but the digital communication is different tp the traditioal one. A letter or an enveloppe last longer, take more time to make and to travel, and might survive decades and centuries. With the digital communication you never know how long the answers and visuals will survive. Do you still have your first e-mails?  Do you still have  access to your first build website?

There is always 'The Network' and 'Your Network' ; they are not the same. When we speak of The Network, we mean the same people, but the perception of your own network is different for everybody him/her-self.  You are the center of your network while the network itself has no center. That is a major difference. Probaly also the reason why some don't like the IUOMA-concept since there I created one network with a sollid basis. But also here it is that everybody perceives the IUOMA in their own view, and that is o.k. and even meant to be so.

CN : What is the importance of Rubberstamp Archive?

RJ : The importance today is that is a collection that has grown over the years. I started sending out the TAM rubberstamp sheets back in 1983, and that is now over 33 years ago. As a mail-art project is the longest run project and it still going on.

The main collection exists of prints by mail-artists that use rubberstamps i their works. So all I asked was an imprint on a piece of paper, and am storing that away for safe keeping.

That is collection is interesting shows the exhibitions so far:

1996 : Stamp Art Gallery in San Francisco

2004 : L-Gallery in Moscow

2010 : Stendhal Gallery in New York

So, in the near future another exhibition will take place soon, but always just with a selection from the archive. There are just too many sheets in the collection to exhibit them all. Although that will be the final goal, and the place where that will be might even get the offer to curate the final collection.

CN : How did you get involved with mail art?

RJ : In 1980 I started with sending out envelopes into the network. Some years before I probably saw an exhibition of Donals Evans works in a locat exhibition and as a child I was fascinated by mail and postage. So the creativity and the fascinations joined together and made me the interest for the network and exploring it.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

MTS : Do you know what happened to Norman Solomon?

Ruud Janssen: Actually I don't know what happened to him. I was in the middle of the interview when I got the e-mail he died, and it was from Mrs. Postcard. Not sure if it was from his wife or not since that was the only thing i heard.  I knew he had cancer, and not long to live, but more details are not known. His wife went back to japan. I heard he had a son, but never got any knews from the family.  So on facebook I started to ask questions too, maybe to find out what happened even a decade or so later.....?

for the complete interview, have a look at :

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Tanja Vos: Do you still answer questions?

Hi Tanja,
As you see the answer is YES.
with best wishes,
Ruud Janssen

Monday, June 27, 2011

Guroga: How you knew the mail art?

Guroga: How you knew the mail art?

Ruud Janssen: I was doing mail-art before I knew there was a network. In the 70-ies doing correspondence and in 1980 discovered the network. Have been part of that network ever since. Guy Bleus (Belgium) sent me a first addresslist and there I started contacting the network.....

Guroga: What mean the mail art in your life?

Guroga: What mean the mail art in your life?

Ruud Janssen: Mail-Art has changed my life. A lot of essential changes have come from impulses from the network. My life is global and I am in contact with all kind of corners in the world.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

DVS : How would you describe the 6th generation of Mail-Artists?

RJ : In the text I wrote before with the 5 generations of mail-artists I already mentioned there would come such a generation. I believe the Social networks have given us this sixth generation. Artists that work online and discover through online publications the Mail-Art works and the Mail-Art network. They research and send out their first snail-mail. Normally the sent work is documented online, the rceiver gets a digital message, and the surprise is to see the original work posted by the receiver on a blog, website or social network. So instead of moving from analog to digital, the 6th generation discovers analog in the digital world.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Tracy Herrity : Is there something like a "Free Gift?"

Tracy Herrity: Your Mail-Interview Project prompted me to send out a few questions of my own! I would like to ask you if you have read Marcel Mauss "The Gift" which discusses wether you can truly give a gift freely. I would like to find out your opinion on "a free gift".

Ruud Janssen: No, I haven't read that specific book. A gift is never free. It costs other things. It is exchange of energy. receive it & pass on or return. In physics there is the law that explains that energy never gets lost. The energy you invest in a gift (it isn't free, you did something to get that gift....) is passed on to the receiver. He can react on that, pass it on, or even ignore it. But somehow it will cause something for sure.

New Question from Tracy Herrity - UK

Friday, October 30, 2009

Johnny Boy : Social Networking and potentials?

JB : You have been one of the first mail artists to embrace computer communication. How do you judge all this frantic social networking going on? Do you think that we have fulfilled all the potentials one could barely foresee 15 years ago?

RJ : You have seen nothing yet. The Social Network I created on NING is a sample of what can be done already. And Twitter and Google Wave (I am one of the first to get an account there from Google and am now exploring that search-engine / social networking / communication tool they have build). The communication has become global and instant. But when you are moving around the globe (I tend to be in other countries quite a few times) it is amazing how your network joins you on your travels. The changes and potentials were obviously there already in the beginning of the 90-ies. Some of us (Mark Bloch, crackerjack kid, Charles François, David Cole, were already using computers for their communications. The speed and availabilities has become common these days, and that explains the easiness of which also the old and new generation of mail-artists use all of the new and all tools just to communicate in a creative way. The Eternal network has become a large community.

Johnny Boy : Average each month?

JB : In 1996 you were sending out an average of about 150 pieces of mail art each month. how about now?

RJ : That all depends on what month it is. Could be very little or about hundred pieces. The communication-forms that have come as extra absorb the most time. I get about 700 e-mails a days through which I have to filter. Not just spam, but also because of the many websites and blogs that are online and generate e-mail. If you calculate that, about 20,000 pieces of information coming at you in a month. It might drive one crazy when you don’t select. The snail-mail has become scarce. A pile of letters each day still get in, and yes, I do my best to reply to them, but like most can imagine, time to do all is difficult to find.

Johnny Boy : What is different now?

JB : Now you seem to be very active again. Are there any differences in your approach to networking between your activity in the '80s and '90s and now?

RJ : The differences in approach and activity lies mostly in the intergration of Internet in our daily life. The snail-mail is still slow but essential to the mail-art network. It seems the mail-artists that were so against the Internet gradually saw that they can use the new communication-tools to their advantage. A lot of old-times joined in on the IUOMA platform (see: ) that I started only a year ago (on November 13th 2008). Soon it will exist only one year and already it has 710+ members online. Also newcomers that through Internet discover the mail-art network and love the idea of exchanging art from artist to artist. The essence of networking has not really changed. Only projects can be done on different communication-platforms as well. Paper documentations are replaced by digital websites. Magazines are replaced by blogs with more participants. Even my old TAM-Bulletin (with news about mail-art projets that circulated in the 80-ies and 90-ies) is replaced by a blog with mail-art projects (see: ) where 96 authors write and publish the mail-art projects. It has 60+ visits each days and distributes the mail-art projects information with only one click worldwide.

Johnny Boy : Did you withdrew from the network?

JB : In the late 1990s, when I first joined the mail art network, you gradually withdrew from it, only keeping in touch with a handful of close friends. Why did you do that? Did the diatribe surrounding the Faker play a role in this?

RJ : I didn’t withdrew quite like that. I stayed active with quite a few, but the Internet and the Fluxus Heidelberg Center took a lot of our time and energy too. Not sure what you mean with ‘the Faker’and what aspect you asking here about. For most people who will read this they have no idea of what you are talking about. New borders within mail-art were being researched and found. Actually the Mail-Art Interview project was going on since 1996 and that meant I was focusing on that 80+ mail-artists that I interviewed. So in these late 90-ies I was quite active but with a smaller and selective group. Those were the most hectic times and I published ten thousands of booklets which were distributed too. Sending less mail-art only came about in the beginning of this new century. Also because of my moving to Breda, new Job, Marriage, just to name a few major changes in my life.

Johnny Boy : What about Fluxus Heidelberg Center?

JB : When did you and your partner Litsa Spathi come up with the Fluxus Heidelberg monicker, and why? What was the motivation behind it?

RJ : It is strange that you name it a monicker. For us the Fluxus Heidelberg Center is an important center. The collection of Fluxus Books we have in the center is larger than most libraries we know. We are also in contact with a larger group that are following the spirits of Fluxus. Also the center publishes its own documents in book form as well as in digital form. Litsa Spathi is the creator of Fluxus Heidelberg Center. I was in Heidelberg when we started to work on that. I was honored with the title co-founder. Litsa has been active in that area for a long time. Together we have conceived lots of Fluxus Scores and Performance that we actually did in Germany, Netherlands and Greece. The first 3 years were even published in a book. The motivation is simple. We both follow the spirits of Fluxus. We are (were) in contact with members of the first generation like Dick Higgins, Alison Knowles, Yoko Ono, Ray Johnson, Norman Solomon, Ken Friedman, and also the active bunch that associates themselves with the new Fluxus and Fluxlist. Litsa has her own Fluxlist Europe and actually a lot more activities with het Fluxus Poetry.

The motivation was to be short to find a platform to gather all the activities and information’s we were confronted with. Performances in the digital ages means that you have to include the new digital techniques too. Performances with camera’s, videos, all kind of new media in performances has quite an impact. Mail-Art and Fluxus are two different things. Both avoid the normal ways that the Artworld wants us to go, that is one of the aspects that makes them work together sometimes.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Karys Llewellyn: Do you still get a 'buzz' when you receive a letter in the post?

KL : Do you still get a 'buzz' when you receive a letter in the post?

RJ : In general YES. Someone has spent time and money of getting that mail to me. It is worth a lot that someone takes that effort.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Karys Llewellyn: How do you see Mail Art progressing or evolving in the next 20 years?

KL : How do you see Mail Art progressing or evolving in the next 20 years?

RJ : In 20 years there can happen a lot. The Internet and Social Network have taken over the function of communication. The traditional mail is just for sending originals which are authentic. A colourcard can also be published on the Internet, sent by e-mail, etc... But what you can't send is 3D, smell, structures on paper.

I have been working with computers all my life. As a 17 year old student learned to programm computers back in the 70-ies (see for some historic photo's). But besides this interest in computers there was always my interest in creating art on paper, canvas, etc... Even today, I always enjoy painting. And the handpainted envelopse I send out (must be tenthousands over all these decades) I still can't send in a digital way.

So in 20 years the mail-art will be a selective group that still can afford the postage and want to share things that can't be digitized. It all depends on the survival of the postal system. Decades ago every country had their own Postal Office System. Nowadays it has to become independent and commercial. The postal rates and regulations have become quite stricts. Playing with that new system is a challenge on its own again. When a computer cancels an envelope strange things happen. I've tried a few things the last years as well. But sending a plastic bottle through the mail is a difficult task today.

The "progressing and evolving' part in your question is difficult. Mail-Art always uses the system as it evolves and tests the possibilities. New projects are possible when more communication systems are used. My latest contribution is a card that I will have to print out myself and actually is published before it is printed and sent. The timefactor is a part in mail-at projects as well. Some things go slow by snail-mail, but communication by e-mail goes in a second. These two can join and develope new concepts. A sample is the IUOMA-Novel that is a single project by an UK Mail-Artist (see: 44 Mail-Artists are discussing the project with 261 comments - status of today). One single book is travelling the world ans has to become one book that returns in the UK. On January 30th 2009 the project started and it still is being followed by all these people who wonder what the next step will be. Now that is a project that is quite specific and fits the timeframe we live in.

There are more samples like these. creative people always use the new ways the communication system offers. An analogue camera that travels and causes photos to be taken by playes in the project or accidental exposures caused by postal workers (a project I took part in years ago). Or the IUOMA-Ning platform that in 7 months reached 500 members and was published in a hardcopy book though on-demand publishing. There are so many new things developed that can be integrated in mail-art. We will see what the next 20 years bring. I only hope I will be alive then as well.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Karys Llewellyn: What are your thoughts on forms of modern communications tools such as social networking sites, email and text message?

KL: What are your thoughts on forms of modern communications tools such as social networking sites, email and text message?

RJ : I have always experimented with the new forms of communication. In the 80-ies I was working with a BBS (Bulletin Board Service) to explore the digital distribution of a mail-art project magazine. The last years I have again experimented with a blog with over 90 authors that publish their mail-art projects online (see: Besides the live environment I also archive al the mail-art projects information on a website in the form of .PDF files to ensure that the information will be available for many years (see: The websites come and go, the digital files that archived well will live a bit longer. It is my concern that the digital information will vanish when we don't archive things well enough.

Social Networking Sites are a relative new thing. On I am experimenting with a platform where the IUOMA was brought to life again. Over 600 IUOMA-members are now lively exchanging information and are starting projects. Digital and paper projects are integrated and that works fascinatingly well. A new thing that happens is that a new generation learns about mail-art though these websites and networks. The strat with a digital address to fins a real address. Again here I document the developement of these digital explorations in the form of books. The first 500 IUOMA-members were documented in a digital LuLu publication that can be transformed in ea book when someone just orders the book. The digital version of the book is available for free (hundreds have downloaded the book). The hardcopy versiopn only has been printed a few times for members. They will survive the coming decades for sure which I can't say for the Social Networks who will 'explode' one of these days because commercial aspects of websites are coming to the surface.

Karys Llewellyn: Do you think the role of the postal system has changed in the last few decades?

KL : Do you think the role of the postal system has changed in the last few decades?

RJ : The last few dacades? That is from about 1989 to 2009. The postal system used to deliver a lot of paper, that has been reduced quite a bit. The digital flow of information has increased more than the decrease of paper flow. It is so easy to produce something on a computer and to send it to just anybody or to post it on a blog and/or forum.

The paperwork is still the thing I treasure most. But somehow the things I get in ternd to be less and smaller. The cost of sending out mail-art in the traditional way has increased a lot. No large envelopes. No catalogues in the form of thick books. Those are changes that I see over these last decades.

The role of the postal system is just to transport the paperwork and packages, We still need that for the oldfashioned mail-art. I enjoy the play of computerwork and paperwork. Printing digital work on paper, digitizing paperwork into digital archives. To sen a book to someone these days is a cosly business. It explains why catalogues in the form of boopklets has been transformed into blogs with digital information. I prefer the booklets, but know the moneyfactor is a disturbing one.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Karys Llewellyn: What is it about Mail-Art, compared to other mediums of art, that keeps you participating?

KL: What is it about Mail-Art, compared to other mediums of art, that keeps you participating?

RJ: In Mail-Art all kind of media come together. So Mail-Art çould be called a specific medium as well, but with all the communicationforms at hand nowadays, there is so much to experiment.... The concept is that communication is the medium you use in your art. Mail, the traditional form of sending something from one person to another has now also the e-mail form. But websites generate e-mails (like social networks do) and the play with communication has speeded up a lot. The letter takes its time. When I send something out, the response might take days, weeks or months. That is always a surprise. Communication brings you new ideas.

In Mail-Art one normally takes a break now and then. Always answering mail is a hard job. But once you get a suprise and/or interesting piece in your hand, you are eager to send out something again.

So to make it short in answering: the surprise and interaction with other artists that work on a non-commercial basis in mail-art. The exchange of art, time and ideas.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Van M. Cagle: How about an Interview with you?

VMC: I would like to interview you and also Michael Hernandez de Luna. I need a little assistance. I cannot find de Luna on your website. Is he a member of the IUOMA? Please let me know about the interview with you. We'd probably have to do it via email, since our time differences are so drastic. If this poses problems, I can try to think of another solution.

RJ : About interviewing me; no problem. Just realize that it sometimes takes time for me to answer. About Michael Hernandez de Luna, I am not sure about having an e-mail address. Maybe just google it?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Luciana Tamas: What you think gAsPexT isn't?

LT: Mr. Janssen, I will not insist now with a new question. What follows is, actually, a request: please write me what you think that gAsPexT isn't... The posibilities are infinite and you are one of those people who can find a plausible answer in front of infinity...

RJ : Yes, I will write you what gAsPexT isn't. Not on this blog, but it will be a piece of Mail that will be on it's way soon to you. Thanks for your time to interview me. I am looking foreward to see the complete result.

Mail from Luciana Tamas - Romania

This card Luciana Tamas sent to me as part of the mail-interview

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Luciana Tamas: Personally report yourself to this movement.

LT : Mr. Janssen, in this period I've been getting information about Mail-Art and I realized that it is a truly fascinating universe. I consider that the principles, which the cultural avant-garde was built on, are admirably continued and that the new means of planetary communication multiply (through virtual networks) principles which (in different forms, of course) were announced, among others, by the "Fluxus" movement, too. How do you personally report yourself to this movement which, though ignored at its beginnings by the great public, starts to be understood, assimilated and even lived?

RJ : In Mail-Art there are only senders and receivers. If you send out a lot you get in a lot. If you do a lot of projects or issue magazines and other publications you automatically become the center of your network. But besides the network you know there are lots of other networks you are not aware of. I was very active in the 80-ies and 90-ies. End of the 90-ies I was more active in electronic communication than in the snail-mail. But sending out mail and receiving mail has always been something special. Communication has speeded up a bit. More intense and more directt with text, images and even videos. But the increased production also means that what is made often vanishes in the big electronic archive. I always tested the new forms in mail-art and wrote about them. The Social Networks are now the latest thing, but that will transform into new communicationways too. We get in more information than we can deal with. We scan through what we see and decide what gets out time. Not sure if I answered your question now.....

Monday, May 4, 2009

Luciana Tamas: TAM and IUOMA?

LT : I understand. Let's return: please tell us about the new TAM-Publications projects and about I.U.O.M.A.

RJ : TAM-Publications started years ago with the publishing of texts about Mail-Art. In the beginning the texts were copies and distributed. In the last years the publications became books which are available online too at e.g. : The last publication are also available there. New projects are the book that will be published in connection with the IUOMA 1988-2008 celebration in which this Union will be explained again. Texts from some major players in the mail-art network will be published in that book too.

The IUOMA is a conceptual idea. Everybody that wants to become a member of this International Union of Mail-Artists automatically becomes a member just because they ask. The concept has grown into a group of people who say to be a member of the IUOMA. They have their own platform nowadays on: where already 443 members have joined in the last 5 months. These days the old generation of mail-artists that is still alive and active has also access to the Internet and have integrated this communication-form into their art as well.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Luciana Tamas: how do you think the literature and art will look like in the following 30 years ?

LT : I don't say that the Internet would be new or old - I know its history; and I don't talk here about the reason it was built for (anyhow, there are enough examples in the history, in which a certain discovery was used in other purposes than the initial ones; the first people had used the fire to warm themselves and to cook their food - their successors, behold, use the fire to melt the metal to transform it, let's say, in tanks; this would be only one example). I was only suggesting that the Internet's evolution brought us in the situation in which a personality like Paul Virilio warns us that we are the first civilisation which has set to work the absolute speed and that the techniques of instant communication give us the possibility (a less desireble one!) to be able to annihilate ourselves as civilisation. Virilio even speaks about the informational bomb and says that our generation would be "the generation of the informational bomb explosion". You say that the Internet has brought only the speed-element. But the acceleration of the information flow, said again Virilio, brought to an acceleration of forgetfulness ("Industralization of forgetfulness", said the philosopher - I hope I have translated the quotations correctly).So, the projects which lasted years, also lasted years in the memory. The same projects, made in some minutes also last in the memory quite less, and this because during a day we have the possibility to achieve, let's say, five or more projects. And because we aren't all Kim Peek, the risk to forget is quite big. Anyhow, I am interested of the mutations these changes produce in art and literature. These mutations determined me to think an opened movement I called gAsPexT. The artistical movements have their tabus. In gAsPexT there aren't limits and it is an invitation to creativity. But, to return, the mutations I talked about mean that we are dealing with a new specie of poets and artists. I have read somewhere that, from the Japanese scientists' point of view, for the year 2040 there cannot be made any assessments. Yet, because you are a poet, too (and it is known that the poets have a special anticipation power), I invite you to make an assessment: how do you think the literature and art will look like in the following 30 years ?
I would also be interested in the impact you think the apparition of this new "specie" of writers/artists will have on the ones who love literature /art (at such creators, how should the receivers look like ?). And which do you think the role of the specialty critic will be in the new equation ?

RJ : This is a question that probably is interesting for you. The answer is pure speculation since small events in the world can cause large changes. What is the value of a prediction? The art I produce is changing as my life changes. Human Beings like to reproduce what they see. We even think that repetition is what makes the world go on. The small hidden changes are so effective though that in only a few years we see the movement towards a new direction. I like to focus on these essential changes. The factor time is one of them. The Information-bomb you (or rather Paul Virilio) mentioned is not the problem. Computers can store so much information, nowadays more a single person van handle. How does one deal with not knowing all? New generations don't read information, they globally scan information. A new attitude towards information that makes it easier for them to deal with so many sources the Internet offers.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Luciana Tamas: The use of Internet.

LT : I see that the avant-garde uses nowadays the Internet, and the Internet means promoting the ideas, sitting with the speed of light. Without it, Mail-Art and the kind of archieving it proposes would be possible only in a Science Fiction vision. You, if I'm not wrong, are one of the first visual artists who use the blog to promote their ideas and work. Please tell us about this aspect.

RJ : Internet is quite old. It only became accessible in the mid nineties for the 'normal people' as a way to communicate. Yes, I was experimenting with electronic communication. Even before it became acessible for normal use. Because of my work and study I am familiar with technical aspects of the Informatics. In the eighties I even had a bulletinboard running that distributed my TAM-bulletin with information about mail-art projects (see:

Internet isn't about promoting ideas. The Internet has only one reason for being build: keeping communication open at all times, even in times of crisis. The concept was build in the second world war when the Americans needed a system that would survive a nucleair atack. The WWW-concept comes from Geneve, where they made a language (hypertext) that would word on any computer platform. This way a new tool for everybody was available: communication in all directions to each computer platform. Mail-Art was already dealing with communication in all directions. In the 80-ies i was in close contact with mail-artists in Eastern-Europe. The artists there were not allowed to publish their work in their own country, but sending it through the mail was still possible. A nice sample: A card I received from Robert Rehfeldt (Eastern-Europe)
So mail-Art did something the Internet is now offering too: worldwide communication. It is only natural that the mail-artists embrace the new ways of communication but still see the difference with the traditioal mail. A piece sent my mail can be touched, smelled, is 3D and has traces of the person who sent it and the way it travelled. An e-mail of digital image is clean and just bit and bytes......

When Internet is only used to promote ideas than the visitors often aren't always interested. The freedom in communication is essential. I choose with whom I communicate and what I like to exchange. Communication is always 2-ways. Promoting ideas sometimes is oneway communication.

Internet only brought the speed-element. I can communicate over large distance instantly. Also I can send images quickly without sending out the original. I can even make originals that don't exsist (digital art). I can see what others are sending me (on e.g. a Blog) and anticipate on what I receive before I actually have received it. The time-factor is what makes Internet so fascinating. Projects that would take years suddenly can be done in minutes when one knows the tools and software.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Luciana Tamas: The orientation of mail-art is not commercial?

LT : I have travelled some times in The Netherlands and I visited quite a great number of museums and galleries. The Dutch's love for all what is art and for the collecting of artistical objects is unstoppable (this is absolutely fabulous). You say that mail-art has no commercial orientations. How does this situation conciliate with the general context of the country you develop your activity in ?

RJ : The discovering of Mail-Art brought me in contact with the larger world. I visited a lot of museums too. But the best gallery turned out to be my mail-box. You can't buy the personal energy people send in the form of artworks just for you. Mail-Art is an international art-movement that always tried to stay away from the mail art-galleries and museums. But that doesn't mean they are not interested in this movement. Only through archives that mail-artists have kept over the years, parts of the mail-art get into these museums. The need for collecting things grows inside of mail-art too. You can't buy it though, you will have to invest creative energy in order to get some in return.