Where the bit.ly/1plus1equals URL leads …

Mail art is a curious way to get to know someone’s work. Instantly you feel more comfortable when you receive it — at work, in your own space — and you forced to deal with its physicality, often feeling very personal and immediate. You also have a sense of ownership over it and you often even feel an urge to preserve it, like an artifact, it is art after all. This is very different than going into a whitebox gallery or other more formal art space. Even online there is no sense of ownership of the art you encounter, though you can visit any time you wish.

The latest contribution to the Mail Art Bulletin comes from A Trail of Bread Crumbs, which I know as a tumblelog I’ve been following for a while. Getting to know someone through an online publication is a strange thing. Even if there are moments of revelation about the person behind the posts, there is a distance that you can never fully surmount, like looking at objects through a vitrine — you are conscious of the distance.

Beyond Tumblr, Bread Crumb’s Flickrstream offers few precise clues. I can make assumptions about who the person behind the site — or the mail art — is but I’ve come to discover that is almost always unreliable.

One of earliest contributions to the Mail Art Bulletin arrived with colorful pencil crayon drawings of raindrops, rainbows and trees that I thought definitely identified it as the work of a teenage girl, but after opening the envelope I discovered it was by a middle-aged Christian Vietnam war veteran who was married for over 30 years. I try to keep my assumptions at bay when I receive each package and envelope — they don’t augment my experience.

Bread Crumb’s work is heavily branded (http://bit.ly/1plus1equals) but full of personal and less formal touched. I was amazed that in such a carefully prepared package that I still felt the distance that was typical of the emotions I felt when seeing posts on the blog — I’m not sure if it is done by a woman, man or group.

I realized that the distance may be part of the aesthetic of A Trail of Bread Crumbs and it was not unique to our online relationship. Unwrapping this package felt like peeling an onion, each layer simply revealed another level similar to the previous one. Click on links on the site often leads to deadends. Flickr bios don’t offer more info, URLs lead to variations of previously published images … the mystery remains, who is A Trail of Bread Crumbs?

If you would like to be considered for inclusion in our Mail Art Bulletin, please send your mail art to:

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Hrag Vartanian

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic. You can follow him at @hragv.