Thursday, March 31, 2011

Save the postcard

I remembered recently, when I found a High Life Magazine in the back corner of my art drawer(smuggled from a trip last fall) that Lynn and I have an ally in British Airways. (Yes, I smuggle airplane magazines now and again. Is it possible to resist global photographic inspiration?) Their October 2010 edition was especially tempting since it contained an article on saving the lost art of postcard writing, which was written to launch an effort to save the post card sending. A corporate initiative I can get behind. In reflecting on postcards, they write:

It was a standard rite of being abroad: a trip to buy a bunch of cards. Stamps had to be bought in tobacconists. Or maybe that was just in France. Then settle into a café to perform two epistolary tasks: the gratification of anxious parents and the annoyance of jealous friends.

This is now nearly a thing of the past. A TripAdvisor survey showed that just 11 per cent of travellers still send postcards home while 60 per cent use text.

Like the ashtray, which faces extinction because of smoking laws, the postcard is a minor art form that struggles to survive. Facebook, email, texting and tweeting have deskilled communications and impoverished our visual culture. But no new medium has ever completely succeeded its predecessor and the easier it becomes to send electronic tosh, the better will be appreciated the charm of a well-written postcard. Generally speaking, the easier it is to communicate, the less art goes into the communication.

Oh no, how sad! Not if Lynn, British Airways or I have anything to do with it. Check out their celebrity postcard bid auction. The opportunity to buy is lost (thanks to my cluttered art drawer, which led me to forget to post this earlier), but the tiny art that was sold still is up and available for viewing. I have posted one by Alice Dellal for inspiration. Lovely.

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