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Scientific Method as Art

                high school chemistry teacher gave us an exercise in exploring hidden qualities

                                unknown object in a box

                measuring the Postal Service

                                what is does when ___________

                you could ask them, but that’s like asking people how long king’s nose is

                                instead of measuring it

                                you’re still “measuring” something, but it’s not the same thing

                part of science, a big part, is repeatability, so each class has several examples

                                Rough Handling, Trance, Compass Card, Return To Sender, Do Not Bend

                another part of science is relation (as you vary x, how does y change)

                                Long Story Short, Stamp Solo, Postage Due, Material Indifference


Stamps as Art (Stamp Solo)


Postal Service as an Art object

                the postal service is trying to find the balance between

                                uniformity and flexibility

                                predictability and novelty

                                reliability and individuality

                                efficiency and humanness

                                machine and man

                which is a very artistic endeavor because it’s trying to balance

                                technique and inspiration

                so they have rules

                                which are designed to make things work

                and spirit — “the mail must go through”

                                the spirit of service, of helping

                                (so there isn’t a rule “it must be paper” — what is paper, anyway?  wood fiber?)


Government as service

                the postal service is a passive, quotidian service

                not like

                                military (life & death)

                                judicial (right & wrong)

                                unavoidable (taxes, felonies)

                but rather, something you can get involved with or not

                and has relatively minor consequences

                                little scraps of paper move around

                but a letter is like a word

                                almost weightless — effervescent

                                and yet powerful, transformative

                so, it’s a very powerful piece of infrastructure


Is it a prank?

                no — it’s an experiment

                saying it’s a prank implies that it’s a prank on somebody

                but this is not about the people in the postal service

                                it’s about exploring the postal service as a phenomenon, a process


El Camino Real (the royal road) from San Jose to Daly City

                couldn’t put them all in the same mailbox


One of the “return to sender” letters was lost, even though it was mailed with the others at a PO


Rough Handling and Do Not Bend are my comment on the postal service ignoring such marks