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PBK Mix 01 24:32
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PBK Mix 02 20:43

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Chain Letter Exhortation Series, #3

The Chain Letter Exhortation Series explores the idea of creating an audio composition and passing it from one participant to another while adding to, modifying and remixing the structure. Unlike the "Exquisite Corpse", where each artist places their contribution where the last artist's works ends, in the "chain" each artist listens to and decides how to integrate with or subvert the entire structure at their whim. There are no set rules. The process is dictated by each participant, there could be close collaboration between participants, discussions of direction and methodology, or there might be none of that. The personality stamp of the individual may be strong, or might be closer to anonymity.

The "chain letter" concept began in the late 50's via the mail-art movement. One of its most ardent devotees was Detroit-born, Ray Johnson.

"The enigmatic Neo-Dada collagist... Johnson’s stock-in-trade was benevolent chain letters asking recipients if they would kindly add something to what was already enclosed and pass the updated artwork (often an irreverent collage) along to someone new. He didn’t care about getting the letters back so much as giving them long and eventful lives, with many idiosyncratic transformations along the way." (Smithsonian, 2018)

"By concentrating on mail art, with its invitation to alter the work by whomever receives it, he refused to create a body of work that exhibited a narrative arc of his own 'development.' That productive repudiation carries forward the only motive of the avant-garde that really matters anymore: undoing Western culture’s ever-widening separation of one’s life (living) from one’s art (making)." (Hyperallergic, 2015)

Later, the idea was taken up by audio artists working in the cassette underground who would exchange tapes from artist to artist to mix and remix. "International Mail-Music Group" with Al Margolis, Bogart, Rafael Flores and Yutaka Tanaka (1986), and "Chain Mail Collab" with Das Ubuibi, Jeph Jerman, John Hudak and PBK (1988) both exemplify the four-way collaboration approach used for the Chain Letter Exhortation Series. For purposes of study, the separate mixes are included with the digital download.

credits

released October 26, 2021

Andrew Quitter (www.dumpsterscore.org/): Electronics, production and mixing; Antonella Eye Porcelluzzi (antonellaeyeaynilporcelluzzi.bandcamp.com): voice; Don Campau (doncampau.bandcamp.com): Guitar, various instruments, production and final mix; Minoy (minoycassetteworks.com): Electronics, voice; Phillip B. Klingler (www.pbksound.net): Electronics, production and mixing

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PBK Chicago, Illinois

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