Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Blaster Al Ackerman

Sad news of Blaster's death made me rummage in the old tape pile to find this mail art "gem" from the mid 80's I would guess.  Blaster was one of my first mail art contacts. I think Dave Zack probably put us in touch  when Blaster was working on his short lived "White Worm Review". He had somehow seen or been sent a collage of mine featuring a white worm and asked very politely if he could use it in a forthcoming issue.  I said yes ofcourse and our decade long correspondance was born.

Ehse Records says -
Doctor Al Ackerman and "Blaster" are the most commonly used pseudonyms of well-known Americanmail artist and still little-known writer who has been active since the early 1970s. A Vietnam veteran, Ackerman worked in hospitals in Texas in the 70's, where his extrordinarily pessimistic but also highly idiosyncratic worldview further crystallized. He moved from Texas to Baltimore where he became highly collaborative and a fixture of the burgeoning experimental cultural scene from 1992-2010, after being financially encourage by Rupert Wondolowski and John Berndt to make the move. In 2010 he moved back to Texas due to ill health, and currently lives in Austin with his daughter. 
Heavily influenced by post-war pulp writers like L. Ron Hubbard, Theodore SturgeonRaymond Chandlerand Fredric Brown (with whom Ackerman corresponded as a young person) as well as by modernists likeRay JohnsonFrancis Ponge and the Oulipo, Ackerman's writing has dealt playfully, if obsessively, with themes of madness, derangement, and weird phenomena. He has been described as "the perfect synthisis of Flan O'Brian, Boris Vian, S.J. Perlman and H.P. Lovecraft though  that hardly does justice to his unique, instantly recognizable prose style. 
His visual work is also in the tradition of black humor, often including a trademark character, "thehebephrenic," a demented character with a wide upper lip and two protruding teeth. His output from the 70's to the 90's was primarily in the form of photocopied "Mail art" editions sent to other correspondents, and sometimes featured in gallery shows and underground publications. His most famous character, "The Ling Master" (based on the premise of what Lamonte Cranston (aka "The Shadow") would have been like if instead of being a super hero he had been an eccentric shut-in) has been the subject of considerable attention--including translations of stories into foreign languages, 
In the 90's, collections of his writing and drawings began to appear in professionally produced books. His voluminous output was anthologized in The Blaster Omnibus and given a one-man show at the Chela Gallery in Baltimore, Maryland. Other books include Let Me Eat Massive Pieces of Clay, I Taught My Dog to Shoot a Gun, and Corn and Smoke. Over the past twenty years, he has been mostly frequently published The Lost and Found Times, published by frequent collaborator John M. Bennett, and by theShattered Wig Review published by Rupert Wondolowski, although his massive body of work is difficult to track due to his regular use of a variety of pseudonyms (which he relates to his childhood love of the pulps), including Eel Leonard, Luther Blissett (nom de plume) (a reference to the footballer of the same name), and Swarthy Turk Sellers among many others, as well as regular anonymous and collaborative works. His latest book entitled "Misto Peas: Tiny Special Stories", was published in 2009 by Luna Bisonte Productions. The book contains reworkings or "hacks" of poet John M. Bennett's writing--one of many streams of longtime activity by Ackerman. 
Ackerman's deep influence on extreme cultural figures far outstrips his public visibility. His influence in the 80s was strongly influential in the formation of Neoism and on Neoism founder Istvan Kantor, Neoists tENTATIVELY a cONVENIENCE and John Berndt, performance artist Andre Stitt, photographer Richard Kern (who published Ackerman's writing in his magazine Dumb Fucker) and musicians Genesis P-Orridgewho used one of Ackerman's letters as the text of Throbbing Gristle's song "Hamburger Lady." Many of his stories have been made into videos by his longtime friend Steve "Sleeze" Steele, and one story, about a man who give his life over to the creation of a garment made of Vienna sausages, was given feature-length film treatment by Catherine Pancake under the name The Suit.

In 2005 a long playing record of his spoken performances, titled I am Drunk, was issued on Ehse.

Blaster Al Ackerman  -  If Not This Then What?

Friday, 11 November 2011

Angela & Peter Netmail

A cassette from February 1992 when Angela & Peter were on their world tour delivering mail art by hand in countries such as Russia, China, Indonesia and Australia. In melbourne they were invited to talk about their journey on Radio Melbourne with Warren Burt ( Netlink Co-ordinator ) and about their personal Net Mail Delivery Service. I met up with them some months later in a cafe in South London close to where I worked. Hazel and I were just about to have a special delivery of our own with the arrival of our son Archie in October so didn't really have time to talk to them about their journey as much as I'd hoped.

Read more about Angela and Peter HERE - http://www.netmailart.de/


As far as I remember this tape from the 80's or the early 90's was the result of a mail art project by C. Reider where you had to send in bits of found audio tape - the strands you sometimes used to find by the side of the road. The resulting motely strands were cut into suitable lengths and spliced together to form a cacophonous mix which sounds rather like radio surfing.

Damn Fools

Nunzio (James Cobb) sent me this tape back in the mid 80's. It's a band comprised of Nunzio -guitar, melodica, vocals and doubek drum. Godfrey Daniel - vocals, sax, flute and tone box. Arthur Sarkis - moog opus 3, casio MT-68 and bass.

Read about Nunzio/ James Cobb http://www.cueartfoundation.org/james-cobb.html">HERE

Just four tracks each side of this 60 minute tape -

1. We Want To Eat Your Feet
2. Under The Woof
3. Suburban Fantasy
4. Blood On Shirt

Monday, 12 September 2011

O. Jason (Jason Skeet)

Not sure who O.Jason was or if it was his real name. Just one of many mail art contacts through the 80's who came and went. Lived up in Staffordshire I think? An art student maybe? Anyway, here's a snippet of a long rambling tape of conversations and sound bites.

Did some trawling and found this -

"There is no established principle of methods for exhibiting mailart and the nature of display is frequently dictated by budget. English networker, O. Jason (Jason Skeet) has used the interesting strategy of retaining all the works unopened until the aptly named 'opening' of the show at which he invited the public to open the contributions.42 The involvement of the public turns the 'exhibition' into an 'event' and can be seen as being in the spirit of mailart. Although involving the public in opening the 'work' addresses some of the problems surrounding exhibiting MAPs, the very nature of the falseness of the situation of the public opening the mail, as opposed to Skeet sitting at home opening each contribution as it arrived prevents the participators experiencing the thrill of expectation each morning and the exciting thud on the door mat. It is important to note though that in this project, Skeet announced in his fliers that all contributions would be retained unopened until the preview.43 This would in itself have affected the nature of the contents, but does nothing to alter the fact that the viewer still misses-out on the reciprocal aspect of mailart, although in this instance they could have chosen to note down the addresses of the senders of the envelopes that they opened and to reply to them."

O. Jason - Side One

Sunday, 11 September 2011

IM 98 Documentation

A tape compiled by Vittore Baroni for the 1998 Incongruous Meetings Mail Art project. Side Two features such people as Roger Radio, Birger Jesch and Charles Francois.

The official IM 98 website says -

unlashed on an unsuspecting planet. You waited enough for it, now here it

in-con-gru-ous adj. (L. incongruus) not congruous
a - lacking harmony or agreement; incompatible.
b - having inconsistent or inharmonious parts, elements, etc.
c - not corresponding to what is right, proper or reasonable; unsuitable;

You have done the hard work already, congressing and lecturing in 1986,
re-congressing and networking in 1992, so relax: NOW YOU CAN HAVE FUN.

Participation in the IM98 is open and free to all: mailartists, netsurfers,
musicians, shopkeepers, shoplifters, aliens, subgenii, rabbits, rabbis,
There is not a single sound reason to meet again but there are all the
incongruous reasons in the world, IF YOU CAN JUST THINK UP ONE: so keep
working-sleeping-consuming or FIND A THEME, ORGANIZE AN IM IN 1998 and take
part in as many IM proposed by others as you wish/can."

IM 98 DOC. - Side Two

Bill Whorral

One of many tapes from Bill Whorral who sent similar compilations and "radio surfs" where he would twiddle the dial while the tape was recording to catch many snippets from all kinds of weird American stations from his area ( rural Indiana ) which featured ranting bible thumpers, crazy adverts and country music.

"Bill Whorrall teaches art at Precious Blood School and Holy Family School in Jasper, Indiana. He lives in rural Martin County, Indiana and has done two books on Southern Indiana, one on Amish life in neighboring Daviess County and three on Martin County. The Martin County history book and the Amish book have been called the best books ever done on these subjects. His new book entitled: The Amish Community in Davies County, Indiana has been praised by the Amish as the most comprehensive and accurate book on their culture ever printed. Anyone interested in Amish life should see this book. His current project is a book that will document the natural beauty of Martin County."

Bill Whorral - Side Two