Archive Dive: Form Letters & Checkboxes

Lavaguy card #4 (back) Back in the late eighties and early nineties, I experimented with a form of art that I never defined: it was part performance, part social activism, and very under-the-radar. The format was simple: I emulated government forms, with all their blanks and checkboxes for choices that didn’t seem relevant to me. This was way before Facebook, eHarmony, or any other online social network or dating site/app. They were meant to be funny, with tongue firmly planted in cheek. I must say, most people didn’t get the joke. Once in a while someone would take it seriously (as art) and think it was something kindof ground-breaking… but mostly I just got blank stares from people.

Some examples follow:

Lavaguy Cards

I used to hand these cards out at parties, gallery openings, on the street, mail them along with some mail art, or else just leave them where they could be found.

[cryout-multi][cryout-column width=”1/2″] Lavaguy card #1 (front) [/cryout-column] [cryout-column width=”1/2″] Lavaguy card #1 (back) [/cryout-column]  [/cryout-multi]

[cryout-multi][cryout-column width=”1/2″] Lavaguy card #2 (front) [/cryout-column] [cryout-column width=”1/2″] Lavaguy card #2 (back) [/cryout-column] [/cryout-multi]

[cryout-multi][cryout-column width=”1/2″] Lavaguy card #3 (front) [/cryout-column] [cryout-column width=”1/2″] Lavaguy card #3 (back) [/cryout-column] [/cryout-multi]

[cryout-multi][cryout-column width=”1/2″] Lavaguy card #4 (front) [/cryout-column] [cryout-column width=”1/2″] Lavaguy card #4 (back) [/cryout-column] [/cryout-multi]

 

Form Letter

I don’t think I sent very many of these. In fact, this is the only copy I’ve found. Printing the date (rather than leaving a blank to be filled in) was part of the gimmick, and let the reader know it wasn’t really a form letter.

Lavaguy Form Letter, circa 1993

 

Compatibility Questionnaire

circa 1992

I only ever received a single response, and we actually did go out a few times. We weren’t compatible, but we’re still friends to this day (at least on Facebook). Keep in mind that this was before Facebook, MySpace, eHarmony, etc. I was barely using email at this time, and only at work.

Personally identifying details redacted:

[cryout-multi][cryout-column width=”1/2″] Compatibility Questionnaire [/cryout-column] [cryout-column width=”1/2″] Compatibility Questionnaire [/cryout-column] [/cryout-multi]

Holiday Letter

circa 1993

I would show up at a holiday gathering with a stack of these, and check them off as appropriate and hand them to people. I got a lot of blank stares, and one or two people were actually offended!

Holiday letter 1993

 


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