by Chris Tonelli
The concept of “blurring art and life” stands in for a series of ideals: the notion we can all see ourselves as artists, rather than just a specialized few; the notion that we can approach our daily activities with the attitudes we take to artistic work; and the notion our experience can be enriched by acting outside of the normative economics and patterns of distribution of artistic work, to name a few. Artists like Ray Johnson and Ken Friedman saw the postal system as a tool for achieving these ideals and went on to develop the tradition of mail art. While mail art may seem best suited to those who identify primarily as visual artists or poets, the work of Southern California based composer Jude Weirmeir has demonstrated that mail art can become a tool to reconfigure what it means to be a musical composer. Weirmeir has created a massive body of musical mail art scores—work that is equally visual art object, musical composition, catalyst for performance, and event in itself, as, around this work, sending, receiving, waiting for, and replying to mail art all take on the character of an aesthetic event.
Weirmeir (right) observes as soprano Fiona Chatwin performs his mail art score “Music for Soup” (a score designed to perch on the lip of a bowl of soup).