I have been looking at artist and writer Tom Phillips book The Postcard Century: 2000 Cards and Their Messages. He points out that the twentieth century may well be the first and last century that the postcard has been in popular and current use. “It is hard to imagine that anyone will be sending (let alone collecting and delivering) so physical an object in 2099″.
I think much of my work has been influenced by the shift from analog to digital technologies. I am quite interested in outmoded forms of technology and have incorporated the use of letterpress and typewriters in past work as well as exploring what impact new digital technologies have on the archive. I suppose the postcard could be considered outmoded, particularly as a form of communication.
I like Phillips’ description of the hunter gatherer as an analogy to collecting. “Any other hunter gatherer of cards with different preferences and interests (not to speak of prejudices) and different luck in his or her quest would have assembled quite a different sort of journal“. It reminded me that one has to keep in mind that Roy Vaughan was the subjective collector of the Vaughan collection, the kind of postcards that have been amassed are result of his tastes and what caught his eye.
The selection of 2,000 postcards for Phillips’ book comes from over 10,000 he collected and this is from having searched through at least a million cards. “The part played by chance in such an enterprise is both annoying and beneficial“. This made me reflect on what postcards I should focus on during this residency and/or in the resulting artwork I produce. After my first few visits I can see that the Vaughan collection is vast.
Phillips also wrote something else regarding the postcards in his book, which I really liked. “Each card and each message is both a captive and a witness of its time…”.