Ex Postal Facto and mail art

Today I got a chance to check out the last day of the Ex Postal Facto conference, made up of a few panels at the San Francisco Public Library. The conference was dedicated to mail art, and today’s panels featured a handful of people that have been in that scene for decades, including these two:


Those are pictures I took today of Anna Banana and Lowell Darling. (I added Anna’s to her existing Wikipedia article, and created a new one for Lowell.)

I wasn’t really familiar with mail art at all and after today I feel like I’ve been missing out. But you could hardly get a better introduction than the one I had today: incredibly friendly leaders of the community having a great time meeting in person and sharing stories about the 40+ year history of the art movement.

Actually, it felt a lot like a hacker conference, but for a totally different community.

Speaking of hacker parallels, I was struck by how the timelines of the mail art community and the golden age of phone phreaking lined up. It’s really striking because in neither case was it really facilitated by new technical developments. Rather it was just people digging in and really exploring the communications networks they were using.

I had a great time and plan to dig more into mail art in the next few weeks. One fun project might be to try to find a cheap pinhole perforator to make artistamps—or to fashion one out of an old sewing machine.

Published by Parker Higgins

I'm the Director of Special Projects at the Freedom of the Press Foundation, and previously led copyright activism at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. I live and work in Brooklyn, New York. more »

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  1. Parker —

    Thanks so much for the write up! Glad you were able to make it out to the discussions at the SFPL and learn a little bit more about the mail art scene in general. I agree with you: hacker culture and mail art culture share many parallel attitudes about skill/info sharing, culture jamming, and artistic community. And both groups are filled with free thinkers unafraid to speak their minds — something I love.
    Thanks again for the kind words; if you have any additional questions/thoughts, feel free to get in touch!

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