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"Letters and letters and letters."
September 7, 2008 1:51 AM   Subscribe

I love you because you play awesome songs on the jukebox. Who are you? Come here, we can talk. That's Number 165 from 300 Love Letters (but there are really 400 and here's why, and here's an explanation of the project itself). Asia Wong's other projects.
posted by amyms (26 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Holy hopscotching Christ this is rad and a half.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:58 AM on September 7, 2008


Oh my! Oh wow! What a wonderful, wonderful post.
posted by Kattullus at 2:22 AM on September 7, 2008


I'm going to be the curmudgeon/dick here..

Trite, precious, and sickeningly twee. All I could see in the at-this-point-cliched minimalist hip urban web design were in big letters "PLEASE GIVE ME A BOOK DEAL" coming out at me like a Magic Eye image..

You're not Miranda July, all the wistful gazes and poorly scribed lies do not make you an artist, they make you a crazy lady who sends letters to strangers.
posted by mediocre at 3:09 AM on September 7, 2008 [6 favorites]


I wonder if you'd think that if you looked also at her other interesting, lighthearted projects. Miranda July can go blow goats, IMO, but this is randomly disbursed weaponized joy. It's like the Care Bear Stare, and the letters themselves are, not only because they are flatteries, fun to read. Nothing against you, mediocre, but what is with the demonstrably hip people being haters? It's like sour grapes meets everything looking like a nail or something. I want to curb my sneaking bias against people from hip towns, but cynicism like that makes it hard! /norcal hippie town kid. Peace out!!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:00 AM on September 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


My reaction against this was over the top because I'm just sick to death of the twee and precious. It's disingenuous on an artistic level and amazingly selfish on a personal level. It's prefab found art, it shouldn't even exist.
posted by mediocre at 4:38 AM on September 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Actually, the more I knew about the artist, the less i liked it. Interesting at first, but 300 or 400 of these will mind numb you into submission. But, certainly a good thought provoking post.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 4:43 AM on September 7, 2008


I tried this once. And then the restraining orders came.

I tell ya romance is dead.
posted by quintessencesluglord at 5:09 AM on September 7, 2008


"The letters are going to be glued to the outside of the envelopes, so that the mailman, and presumably whoever the recipient lives with, will be able to see and read them."

Doesn't this make the whole project a cruel and destructive practical joke? Or am I misunderstanding this?
posted by HuronBob at 5:41 AM on September 7, 2008


You're misunderstanding. The letters are written to a person she knows, but mailed to a complete stranger. The "recipient" in this case is the stranger, not the addressee of the letter.
posted by Brittanie at 8:49 AM on September 7, 2008


Brittanie...that's what I understood to be the case.. so the scenario goes like this... John Doe gets a letter in the mail (with the message taped to the outside of the envelope where his significant other can read it). The letters I read did not seem to identify exactly who the subject of the love letter is, the assumption will be that it was the recipient...
John's significant other sees a "love letter" from another woman addressed to her husband/boyfriend/whoever and becomes angry....
posted by HuronBob at 9:11 AM on September 7, 2008


I agree with HuronBob. This seems like an accident waiting to happen, and there's no point except to people who are in on the whole project. With such a strange delivery method (letters taped to the back of envelopes), if I got one of these, I would either think it was a prank, some kind of viral advertising, or a stalker.
posted by demiurge at 9:36 AM on September 7, 2008


This actually sounds like something Miranda July would do. And not so cool as other love letter and secret projects I have seen.

Also, does this not come under the heading of jacking with people? A la Allen Funt.

I'm doing a fun project where I put small thongs in random vehicles and then stand back with my hidden video camera and record the ensuing dialogue as a commentary on trust levels in contemporary interpersonal relationships. Can I get a grant?
posted by Lesser Shrew at 9:42 AM on September 7, 2008


Hmm... I hadn't caught on to the distribution method, that's a bit icky. The site and the letters, though, are lovely.
posted by Kattullus at 10:07 AM on September 7, 2008


I'd love to actually read a couple of the letters, but the resolution combined with her handwriting are giving me a headache, so I'm going to have to give this a pass.
posted by Caduceus at 10:36 AM on September 7, 2008


Why is it that I can't express dislike for something without being accused of just hatin' because I'm a hipster? That's trotted out every time some mindless piece of saccharine crap is posted here, and it's just ridiculous. You have your tastes, we have ours, and there's no need to act like we have some secret shameful reason to dislike things.
posted by nasreddin at 11:03 AM on September 7, 2008


There's something I don't quite like about this project. I think it's the passive role of the letter recipient or the miscellaneous role of the person who inspired the letter. When you write hundreds of love letters in order to display them on a gallery, it starts to look like they're love letters to yourself.
posted by papalotl at 11:08 AM on September 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


I would like it better if it included something a bit more like this.
posted by louche mustachio at 11:13 AM on September 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


this is randomly disbursed weaponized joy. It's like the Care Bear Stare, and the letters themselves are, not only because they are flatteries, fun to read

I'm with mediocre. This project is silly, and offers nothing worth an intelligent person's time.

It's gimmicky internet crap, and isn't "lovely" at all.
posted by jayder at 11:53 AM on September 7, 2008


Oh, and I think the silliness of this project could have easily been predicted from the fact that she's one of these hip women who call men "boys." The very first sentence of her explanation of the project is, "So I'm telling this boy, one of the boys that lots of these love letters are to, about this project." My flesh crawls whenever I hear that use of "boy."
posted by jayder at 11:57 AM on September 7, 2008


Secret shameful reason? What an overreaction. I'm a total fucking Pollyanna. I am aware of this. I don't find this overtly saccharine, believe that to be a straight misread, attribute it to cynicism, and I find cynicism as a component of taste unfortunate. If I were a mere finger-pointer, claiming a rained-out daisy parade, I wouldn't be interested in actually debating the aspect of this work which we dispute. I am. As a separate issue, I would like to divorce my personal ascriptions of cyncism, not, mind, criticism, though they appeared together here (yes, my argument was muddy on that point, at 4am) from other observations of cosmopolitanism or intellectualism in people. Honest engine.

I knew a guy whose artsy fucking thing was to put stickers that said I LOVE YOU everywhere. That fell on the far side of the line between a vague dispersal of happy juju and miserable heartblackening insincerity. I hated that piece of shit. He actually claimed it was true, that he loved everybody who read those bloody stickers. Lovebreaker. I find reading a love letter, however, a day-maker, inspiring, not a threatening experience, for the love of *grumble*, and that the publication of the letters on the outside of the envelopes is meant to symbolize and broadcast the purpose of the project. It's really a tidy introduction to the work's theme for the recipients. I don't think the indifferent dispersal and misdirection of one's personal emotional sincerity renders it insincere.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:15 PM on September 7, 2008


I don't think the indifferent dispersal and misdirection of one's personal emotional sincerity renders it insincere.

I don't think it's about sincerity at all. A lot of people are sincere about being tools who think they're experiencing genuine emotion when they're really just regurgitating mass-cultural tropes. (as much as I hate to admit it, David Foster Wallace actually wrote an awesome story about the evil death spiral this causes. I forget what it's called, but I think it's in Oblivion.) (uh, and I don't mean to make any claims one way or the other when it comes to whether "genuine emotion" actually exists.)

What I object to in this piece (aside from the fact that it's saccharine, which may admittedly be a cynicism thing) is precisely what papalotl said. Among the most important qualities of a good artist in any medium is taking one's inner life and turning it inside out in a way that allows everyone else to make it their own on some kind of a significant level. This doesn't succeed at being anything more than self-indulgent look-at-me autobiography wrapped in schmaltz. She's not even a good writer.
posted by nasreddin at 12:35 PM on September 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


There's something I don't quite like about this project. I think it's the passive role of the letter recipient or the miscellaneous role of the person who inspired the letter. When you write hundreds of love letters in order to display them on a gallery, it starts to look like they're love letters to yourself.

Nail. Head. Hit. I wanted to like it.
posted by P.o.B. at 12:51 PM on September 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


This reminds me of a short story an old friend kept threatening to write but never did (as far as I know); something to do with a guy who's madly in love with a girl but can't bring himself to even speak to her. So he sends her a anonymous bouquet of flowers. Upon receiving them, she implodes, has a nervous breakdown, ends up in an asylum where she finally kills herself. He is eventually tracked down by the major crimes squad, arrested for murder, found guilty, executed.

The moral of the story: Romance is Dead.

The moral of this comment: I'm with Nasreddin -

I don't think it's about sincerity at all. A lot of people are sincere about being tools who think they're experiencing genuine emotion when they're really just regurgitating mass-cultural tropes.

Lover on the other hand ...
posted by philip-random at 1:06 PM on September 7, 2008


This project reminds me of an old Tom Lehrer joke when he was talking about how impersonal the world has become: "This point was driven home to me recently, when I came home and there was a letter. It said, 'Darling, Marry me or I'll kill myself.' Well, of course I was concerned, until I looked at the envelop and saw it was addressed to 'Occupant.'"
posted by miss-lapin at 2:09 PM on September 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


It was kind of a silly idea, and the execution was terrible. I couldn't even read half of her letters and when I did it was with the screen magnifier. Also, the array of color-coded squares weren't particularly descriptive and the website was difficult to browse through casually without hitting the back button repeatedly.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 6:06 PM on September 7, 2008


A bit twee, a bit precious; after reading a few I became bored. But I don't understand the passionate dislike behind this remark:

It's disingenuous on an artistic level and amazingly selfish on a personal level. It's prefab found art, it shouldn't even exist.

It shouldn't even exist? Dude, it's a website; it's at least as entertaining as an XKCD panel.
posted by octobersurprise at 5:40 AM on September 8, 2008


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