four years of email mayhem

Almost a year ago, when I was in Taiwan, I put out a call for submissions for a 3G mobile phone art project I was working on, which was supposed to be part of a mobile network art festival in Taipei, until they told me they didn’t have a 3G network. Somehow I started getting responses from all over the world, as my original call got disseminated over dozens of email lists.

One list I tracked down, and subscribed to myself straight away was the Calls and Opps List from The Red Project, a labour of love from a single person which every month was like getting all my wish-lists at once in my inbox. The last email from the list came today, I’ll leave it to the list-maker to post-modernly explain why it’s finished, but I would like to thank Michael Mandiberg for providing four years of art fun.

At the end of one of their essays in one of their books Critical Art Ensemble offers their definition of the gift economy, which i remember as going something like this: at some points certain people have more time/labor or capital and can give it away to others who have less, which they do until they no longer have more time/labor/capital and then they cannot give it away, so they stop and someone else gives.

Deleuze (in one of his essays in one of his books) speaks of the idea of ‘becoming,’ and the way i always understood it was that an idea/person/etc should always be in the process of becoming something, as opposed to having become something. always evolving, changing, not staying still.

At this point i do not have the time/labor/capital to continue the calls and opps list. my service provider is making it difficult/impossible for me to run my own independent mail script (sendmail throttling, changing anti-spam verification rules, etc). i thought about possible methods of sustaining the project, (advertising, membership fee, etc) all of which turned the project into an institution. an institution is about as un-becoming as you can get, and also the last thing i want to be responsible for at this point. (smile.)

The thing i liked best about it was how un-institutional it was. I did it because it was easy to do, and made things easier: rather than sending out these list of calls by typing in all of my artist-friends’ emails, i could just set up mailing list and have them join. and then i and they could invite other people to join. and after four years, there would be over 5000 people subscribed worldwide.

— Michael Mandiberg