Jason Ruhl received his MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his BFA from Minnesota State University, Mankato. His work has been included in group exhibitions nationally and internationally in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Venice, and Berlin, among others. Currently he resides in Madison, WI where he is a Master Printer at Tandem Press.
In 2011 I was very interested in letterpress printing. I decided to print a card once a month and send it to 31 people. At the end of the year I felt the project had been successful and I decided to continue sending images through the mail. In April of 2012 I mailed a letter to13 randomly selected individuals from the group of 31 (I used this number because it is the inverse of 31). This letter requested a list containing 5 songs. I informed the recipients of the letter that I would create a collage inspired by one song from their list. Each month I then mailed a 12” x 9” collage to an individual. Maybe it’s just nostalgia, but the acting of typing out address labels, getting responses in the mail, instead of a text, Facebook Message, or email was exciting. I also enjoyed reaching out to people individually instead of sending out a mass post. While collecting the lists I decided to catalog the project. In a sketchbook I wrote down the persons’ name, how they sent me their list, what their songs were and when I mailed them their piece. Using these notes I decided to create a letterpress box set containing 7” x 5” cards of all 13 images. The back of the card was filled with the stats for that image. There was also a cd containing a mix with the tracks used to create the images. Since 2012 I have created three more volumes of this project. With each year the projects change slightly. Volume 2 had 12 horizontal images and 1 vertical image. This was in response to volume 1 having 12 vertical images and 1 horizontal. The list for volume 3 was gathered only using Facebook friends that I don’t have any day-to-day interaction with. I had never met any of the 13 people involved in volume 4. This changed how I resolved images versus earlier volumes. Even though images are composed with the music in mind, knowing a person has always had influenced the images. For the headphones and jameson images I used my own music library as a starting point. I set iTunes to shuffle and picked the first 65 songs that played. Then I broke these into groups of five and created images from these smaller groups.