I want to see people's work, but I don't really want to own it. It takes up space, I probably won't do it justice, as it'll mostly just lie there on a shelf. I want to look, touch, hold, ruthlessly steal ideas from, but I don't want to keep it forever. I also cannot stand looking at online galleries, sorry, it's personal quirk. I want to see what you do when you're forced to lay out real pictures onto a real object of some kind, and spend money, time, or both, creating that physical thing.
The solution is obvious! Some sort of circulating library. Send a book, get a book. An understanding that you will be gracious and send things on eventually. The cold reality that books (or whatever they are) will just vanish from time to time.
Here is my plan. If you want to participate, you will of course need to share some sort of physical mail address. Many of you may be OK with simply letting it be widely known, but not everyone. Therefore, if you are willing to share your address with me, I can offer three Levels Of Security, if you will.
- Your address and name are known only to 2 other people in the system, the one you receive from, and the one you send to. See below for more detail.
- Only I know your address. I forward everything on your behalf. I am only willing to do a little of this.
Obviously I don't want to become a massive book-forwarding service, so option 3 I hope will be reserved for the truly paranoid, ideally people with tangible concerns. But if you do want to participate, and are that concerned, don't be shy. Let me know. If there turn out to be Too Many People who really want forwarding service, we shall cross that bridge when we get to it.
For option 2 what I will do is send you proposed Upstream and Downstream people, we we can devise a setup for mutual approval, as follows:
Suppose I am proposing that Alice and Bob should know each other's addresses, and both are cautious people. I assume that Alice and Bob both have exes or something. I would send both just the names and cities: Alice L in Tucson, Bob G in New York. If everyone is OK with that, no alarm bells, then perhaps full names, and then if everything is still looking good, both parties get addresses. This, presumably, lets people identify (silently) cousins of ex-wives before anything gets leaked.
A daisy chain of names and addresses, in any case, is constructed. One or more per country, I think, so avoid international mailing costs. I can provide a somewhat slow-speed USA to Canada interconnect as I travel across that border regularly. The chain goes around in a circle so, if everyone forwards appropriately, everything eventually comes back. Everyone has a single Upstream supplier, from whom they occasionally receive a package. Everyone has a Downstream recipient to whom they, from time to time, send a package. That's it.
I will commit to seeding the USA chain with something half decent, as well as with a known failure. I have a couple copies of a thing lying around that I consider failed. The bar shall thus be set Very Low! This will encourage you! Any idiot can do better than Molitor's thing, and I am that idiot! That sort of thing.
If you take part as a recipient, consider that there's an expectation that you will, eventually, contribute something. Anything. Staple some prints together. Buy a $1 spiral notebook at the drugstore and glue some cheap drugstore prints into it. Buy the most expensive blurb book there is and put 400 pictures into it. I don't care. You should be mentally prepared to construct, somehow, an object as follows, and send it whirling down stream, and maybe some day it will come back to you.
Do consider that people will be paying to mail your thing, so think smaller and lighter. If you receive an anvil with photos glued to it, you are allowed to sell it for scrap.
You should be mentally prepared to receive pretty much anything. Let us try to avoid purely provocative Art, I suppose? If you just want to piss people off with gruesome pictures or whatever, please don't sign up? You'll have more fun sticking them up around your town late at night, anyways.
I envision this as a "once every month or two you mail a little box of stuff on to your Downstream Address" deal. So, not a massive time or money commitment, but not trivial either.
I think a "no critique" rule is probably wise. If you really really want people's reactions, perhaps include an explicit request. But keep in mind that your book or whatever is may never make it home anyways. I really don't see this as a "help me improve my photography" thing, I see this as a series of lustful people fondling one another's Art privately, and then passing it on. Yes. I want to fondle your Art. Send it to me.
As for other countries/regions, I will cheerfully design the daisy chains and do any administration required.
Is "Europe" feasible as a single zone for mailing stuff in, or is it ridiculous mailing a small package from one country to another? Assume, correctly, that I am an ignorant American, and provide guidance for how large of a zone makes sense for you to be mailing to and fro within. I am pretty confident that nobody wants to be mailing even small packages between Los Angeles and Perth with any sort of regularity, for some sort of casual project like this. I am seeing rates like $25 minimum.
Daisy chain(s), where possible, will be designed to have people mail things to people closer rather than farther, to spread shipping costs around.
And I apologize in advance to people who live in faraway places where nobody else wants to participate.
TO SIGN UP just email me, amolitor at gmail dot com, with a note indicating interest, the country you reside in, and if it's not the USA or Canada, please spend a few lines on what kind of mail system you suffer under to guide me. If this crazy scheme gets any traction, I'll start asking people for their mailing addresses (that way you can go out and get a PO Box if, after due consideration and consultation with one's spouse, that seems wise), so you do not need to share your mailing address with me straight away.