Envelope art (1982 - 1987+)

"We alway write an image to someone." (Folon; BMCc from memory)

Cat face, drawn by BMcC.

In the mid-1980's I created what I called my "Envelope Art". I would make designs on postal envelopes and mail them to friends. Note 1: There is a Rizzoli publication: "Lettres a Giorgio", by Jean-Michel Folon (Belgian, 1934--2005), which consists of beautiful watercolor painted envelopes. Obviously, Folon's envelopes are much better art than mine. On the other hand, I have always believed I came up with my idea before I saw the Rizzoli book, i.e., I do not think I copied my artform from something I had seen somebody else do. I reinvented this wheel all by my ownsome. Note 2: My art was limited by my profound lack of freehand drawing talent/skill, the limit of which is something like a simple cat face (above). Note 3: I even got a publication out of my "envelope art": "The Envelope as an Art Form: Computer-Aided Images". Leonardo: Journal of the International Society for the Arts, Science and Technology, 1984, 17(1).

Most of the time I programmed my design using an IBM Research vector graphics application, YDS (Yorktown Drawing System), which rendered the image on a Tektronix monitor. I printed the image on IBM Research's high-resolution photo compositor (APS-5), Xerox copied that, cut and folded and pasted one of the copies, added postage stamp(s) (integrated into the design...), and mailed it. I would usually take each letter to a Post Office and ask the Post Office clerk to hand-cancel it, occasionally even asking the clerk to put the postmark in a specific position.

Reactions from Post Office employees ranged from the Post Mistress (female Postmaster) of the Crompond, New York post office, who found the envelopes delightful (I made/sent her one), to a Post Office clerk who grumbled that what I was doing was against postal regulations. As best I know, all my "envelopes" got delivered to their intended recipients. I would sometimes mail two copies of the envelope, and ask the recipient to return one to me for my archive.

Following are eleven examples[1]:

Instructions how to make an envelope[2]

IBM S/370 MVS Control Block diagram (likeness)

Envelope modelled on "System control block" diagrams in IBM System 370 MVS pocket reference manual. This is one of the first envelope designs I made. Dated: 25 August 1982.

Envelope on which exact placement of postmark is essential

St. Francis of data processing.

St. Francis of data processing. Little text "birds" above saint's head are names of computer programs. "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." (Matt. 25:40)

Dog (Bark! Bark!)

Stars of Redemption


Too many to count (TMTC) sold

Envelope back detail. ←Hand colored Golden Arches.⤴

Lux mentis lux orbis

The Death of Virgil

Ein feste berg ist unser Gott....[3]

White Castle hamburger restaurants logo.

From the annals of the Protestant Reformation: Martin Luther eats breakfast on Sunday mornings at White Castle.

Maxwell's Demon

No matter how high you go, you never get above the surface; No matter how deep you go, you never get below the surface. Making effort but going nowhere. Entropy will get you in the end.

Here's a different piece of my mailart (not produced at IBM Research). Professor McClintock had a competition, in the TC Department of Communication in Education, to design a picture for a project about Maxwell's Demon (I forget the details), ca. 1985. Maxwell's Demon is a clever little dude who beats universal Entropy by creating more order than his very act of creating that order produces new disorder. I believe mine was the only entry submitted, so I think I won by default (or maybe the prize was withdrawn for lack of enough competitors → for how can one person compete against just themself?).

My entry: a very poorly drawn (the best I could do![4]) elevator operator, who puts particles (ASCII characters) flying around in random motion, each, off at the floor where it will contribute to universal good order without generating collateral damage entropic side-effects. He does this by opening and closing a sliding door, to let each individual particle fly out of the random motion chamber (left) into its proper place in the ordered text chamber (right), at just the right moment. Such a triumph of mind over matter is not possible, just like it is not possible to cool a whole room by running an unventilated air conditioner in the middle of said room (such an air conditioner just moves the existing heat in the room around, while adding the heat generated by its own operation to it).


Proposed advertising campaign for Covid-19 vaccination

When I went to get my 2nd Covid-19 vaccine shot (+2021.04.06), I took 5 copies of this poster and distributed them to persons working in the vaccination center. At least 2 of them recognized Sir Winston and liked it.

Welcome to the art world

Below left: There was a big todo in The New York Times newspaper (+2021.04.12) about the "Salvator Mundi" painting which apparently Leonardo da Vinci painted but from the picture it looks like kitsch to me. A tempest in a teapot. Below right: Everybody's favorite sculpture. Welcome to the art world!

Putative Leonardo da Vinci painting that apparently has got into the egotism of the Saudi Arabia ruling dudes who are usually up to no good with too much money and idle time on their hands. The boy needs something.
Michelangelo's famous nude statue of David. Put him on the varsity lacrossse team! What a hunk! (Why isn't he circumcised?)

If you are discouraged that you cannot cr[e]ate any art....

If you are discouraged that you cannot create any art, copy the picture below and add your own text to create your own cartoon, or modify it any other way you may want. Please do not try to use it for profit-making purposes, thank you. Where there's a will, there's sometimes a way.

If I who can draw nothing but a simple cat face (I would like to be a [wise and long lived] house cat) can do it, you can too. Below is a Mondriaan painting which I have rotated 45° and signed. "Go[l]d is in the details." (Mies van der Rohe; BMcC modified) Below that is a cartoon I have modified with the most rudimentary MS Windows "paint" and screen shot programs, again, with zero "artistic" ability or skill, and some persons have liked it on Quora (not that that makes it any good, of course).

BMcC modified Mondriaan painting.

The nerdy kid asks: "¿Is it OK to speak International Aviation English, Mx. Principal?"
+2024.02.16 v074
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  1. These pictures in a way constitute a list. See: More lists.
  2. To Make A Dadaist Poem:
    0. Take a newspaper.
    1. Take some scissors.
    2. Choose from this paper an article the length you want to make your poem.
    3. Cut out the article.
    4. Next carefully cut out each of the words that make up this article and put them all in a bag.
    5. Shake gently.
    6. Next take out each cutting one after the other.
    7. Copy conscientiously in the order in which they left the bag.
    8. The poem will resemble you.
    9. And there you are → an infinitely original author of charming sensibility, even though unappreciated by the vulgar herd.
             --Tristan Tzara (See also: here)
  3. "A mighty fortress is our God...." But, also, a mighty (albeit also fragile) fortress is Nibble cat.
  4. This demonstrable lack of freehand drawing ability is why I was rejected for admission to all the big 3 – Harvard, Yale and Princeton – Master of Architecture programs. That plus, in the case of Harvard, ideological nonconformity: pointing out to an instructor his "nakedness" for making an assignment with a consequential factual error in the problem description.

BMcC signature seal stamp. Modelled on 18th century messenger's letter box in collection of Suntory Museum, Tokyo. Japanese write poems and prayers on slips of paper which they tie into knots like this shape although with longer legs. Prayers are often tied to branches of trees which can look like they are covered with snow. "Symbol of a symbol, image of an image, emerging from the destiny that is sinking into darkness...." (H. Broch, "The Sleepwalkers", p.648) Always remember. Add value. (This image created not later than 21 May 2003)
Invenit et fecit
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