Project Update 3 (Nov 24, 2014)
There are 10 days to go and I am excited to say there are already 44 backers! That is only 1 away from the half way point to stretch goal of 90!
In other exciting news Night Diver Press will be getting the inside scoop throughout the duration of the project with the aim of designing the cover!
CHRISTMAS is right around the corner, so if you have a friend or loved one you think might be interested in the project, pledge in their name as a gift and when I collect addresses from all the backers just give me the name and contact info of the recipient! The rewards may not line up with Christmas perfectly but I will send the recipient a fun gift email notification on Christmas Day to let them know what you pledged in their name, a little bit about the project and what they will be getting!
Project Update 2 (Nov 13, 2014):
WE HAVE LIFT OFF! ON THE ROAD A SNAIL MAIL DIARY has reached it's initial funding goal!
THANK YOU EVERYONE, SO MUCH FOR YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT AND INTEREST.
Whats next (90 BACKERS): If you have not pledge yet and saw that the project was funded already and figured that was it, think again! Now that the project is going forward guaranteed the NEXT GOAL is to have a total of 90 BACKERS, so that there will be plenty of POSTCARDS throughout the journey! So keep on sharing and spreading the word!
Project Update Video 1 (Nov 13, 2014):
If we reach our initial project goal, the next step is to get 90 total backers, so there are plenty of postcard chapters along the journey!
On the Road - A Snail Mail Diary (the quick and dirty description)
I, MountainMan/CityBoy (Robert Duddy), will begin my journey by heading to Ft. Lauderdale, FL from Durham, NC. From there I fly to Lima, Peru on December 3rd. I will be traveling by any means necessary, accessible and exciting. The mode of transportation will vary but from past experience, I can promise you at least a handful of bus rides from hell. I will not be following a route that is set in stone, but I anticipate stops along the way in Peru, Chile, Argentina. Ecuador and Uruguay are also a possibility, depending on time. I will remain in South America for at least 3 months before flying out of Peru back to the United States. While on the road I will take at least one photograph each day, and I will write about a thought, experience, sight, or encounter. These two elements will be combined into a postcard that I produce in the field and send to a project backer.
The Postcards, Prints, and Photo Books (and how they work)
As I mentioned above, each day I will send a postcard. I will be traveling with a camera, portable printer, postcard stock (hand cut from a thick bristol drawing paper) and a small inexpensive computer functional enough to run Lightroom so I can edit photographs and not have it crash in the process. Other than the first Reward, every pledger will receive a postcard in return. This reward is of a reciprocal nature. Each postcard I mail will have a return address. For every postcard or letter I receive in return, I will create another handcrafted postcard with original photography from the trip for that pledger. The return address on the postcards will be to a mail service based in the United States that will scan my mail and send it to my email so that I may read it anywhere in the world that has wifi. Afterwards, the letters/postcards I receive will be forwarded to a secure location in the United States and I will pick them up when I return stateside. Every postcard or letter exchanged between the backers of the project and me will be featured in the photo books, creating a travel narrative via photography and correspondence. Every backer has the opportunity to contribute to the story. Prints listed in the Rewards section will be made from the photographs on the postcards.
The Inspiration to Travel
The son of a U.S. diplomat, I was born and raised a traveler. I lived in Costa Rica, Paraguay, Virginia (twice), Panama, Bolivia and Brazil. After attending art school in Boston, MA for a few years, I discovered I had incredibly itchy feet. I managed to fend off the urge to hit the road permanently by diving into hitchhiking, hiking, bicycling and road tripping whenever and wherever possible. The first time I put my thumb out while standing on the side of the road, I had never even seen a hitchhiker.
Growing up in South America was an amazing and unique experience but, to an extent, I lived in a bubble. Private international schools and the culture surrounding the Embassy was a world unto itself. On a personal level this adventure is a return to the continent where I lived in youth, to discover what it's like outside that bubble. I will not be taking the standard backpacker route. While I will intermittently make stops in more well known hubs and big cities, I plan to venture into the "blank spaces" on the map. I have found that my best self emerges when challenged and so I will not actively seek comfort and relaxation. I think it is often the case that when things are not easy the best in every person shows itself and that is also when the best experiences are to be had.
The Inspiration for A Snail Mail Diary (and why postcards)
While illusions of grandeur will occasionally infiltrate my system, I consider myself to be a somewhat average guy with a creative streak and decent sense of humor. The places I go and the things I am doing give some people the impression that I am fairly wild or larger than life (ridiculous portrayals). I intend to convey the opposite: that life is most definitely larger than I am (and than you are). The world has far too much to offer to be forever consumed by our career ladders, social networks, and expectations of success or direction. Before I get too philosophical or preachy, I will leave it at this. The most important (and difficult) part of an adventure is the beginning. Without it the adventure never manifests. There are always countless good, logical reasons not to embark on a journey. I've found that one of the most difficult things a human can do is relinquish control and let the world take them where it will. I'm not suggesting you jump on the next plane to Mongolia. If the project inspires a little more spontaneity in you and a desire to explore, even if it's in the woods back behind your house, then it has been a success. It doesn't take an extraordinary individual to have an extraordinary experience; it just takes a little bit of determination.
There is a rich history of story telling associated with snail mail. Adventurers, explorers and pioneers of the past recorded their expeditions in letters and journals and sent them home when possible by various means. Their letters would leave something to the imagination and perhaps, in our eyes, their adventures were made greater for it. It is a dying art but there is something of great value in only receiving a chapter of the story.
We live in a digital age, where you can connect to your friends and make new ones, all across the globe. We live in a world where the ascent of Everest can viewed live from your couch. I don't think that technology is bad (or else I wouldn't be on here) but a story's value is not just in the content, but also in the vessel by which it is relayed it to you. Instant gratification of our entertainment, news, and correspondence etc...takes away some of the meaning and appreciation that these things should hold. When it comes so easy and frequent, it is valued less. however the internet has made communication with strangers, like minded or not, significantly more possible. I hope to encourage a revisitation of older techniques of communication, and the care and consideration that goes into them, and to do it with strangers, friends, family, and acquaintances (whoever pledges) and after the project is over I encourage those who participated to continue the practice in their lives.
History and Evolution of A Snail Mail Diary
Before On the Road - A Snail Mail Diary, there was the first iteration of the series, On the Mountain - A Snail Mail Diary. It had a similar process, but there were some key differences between the two projects. I was taking photographs and sending postcards to friends, family, strangers, and acquaintances for 4-6 days of the week. I didn't really know why I had chosen postcards as the format to share my experience living and working backcountry in Colorado. I now realize that it is because mail is more personal, magical, and when exchanged with strangers, it is an exercise in trust that has great value regardless of the story.
All postcards from On the Mountain - A Snail Mail Diary were posted weekly online. I now see this as contradictory to the personal and magical sentiment I described in the previously. There will still be regular project updates, "B side" content, or the occasional photograph from one of the postcards (without the message portion) that will go up online but On the Road will not be fully published online.
After reviewing the work from On the Mountain, I realized that I had attempted to squeeze too much into the postcards, not just in terms of total text but also content. Postcards from On the Road will feature one concise moment, meeting, experience or thought.
Campaign success or not, I already have tickets and am flying down to South America. I don't need your help to travel but I do need your support and collaboration to create a story (the project). Meeting the project goal of $2200 will allow me to make:
- the postcards (ink, paper, international postage)
- individual prints from a few of the postcard's photographs
- a small series of photo books
-Create and send rewards to pledgers in a timely manner after I return from South America
note: The prints and photo books will be assembled/printed through Artifact Uprising
Stretch Goal: 90 BACKERS
More pledges and backers means more postcards, and a more in depth story. If a large enough number of people pledge then I could be writing more than one postcard a day. In the event of massive amounts of funding (from a multitude of supporters) then this would be a definite reality, and one that I am ready to meet. Just as with meeting the initial project funding goal, the rest of the funding will go to producing the photo books and prints. If the total number of postcards reaches 150+ there is the possibility of multiple volumes.
Risks and challenges
The risks of the project are of two varieties and often overlap. The first is artistic project production (making the postcards, prints, and photo books.)
The second type of risk involves standard adventure/travel adversity.
I see adventure as an endeavor that has no certain outcome. Adventures are a manifestation of the thought, that the road is more important than the destination. There are some things I cannot and will not guarantee. That being said I'll lay out a few of these challenges that are especially pertinent and how I will handle them.
-Theft: If I am robbed and lose a substantial amount of money or gear for the project, this could impede my ability to continue traveling and/or working on the project.
Prevention and planning are paramount. It is best to prepare for any eventuality. While traveling, not wearing your wallet on your sleeve is key. I will make sure my gear and clothing are unassuming. Aimlessly wandering in larger cities without some investigation and orientation will not happen. I won't be walking into the worst part of town at 2 a.m. While shooting the project I will be backing up the work on multiple SD cards and periodically sending them back to the United States. If my computer/camera/printer are stolen I will get to a larger city and replace them. I will not be traveling or working with the highest end gear. I will be working with the equipment that it takes to get the job done and done well (also small and compact). If anything is lost or stolen then there will be a delay in postcards and maybe a few days without photographs. In this event I would create original drawings instead of photographs (and I'm not too shabby with a pencil, pen, or brush).
-Postcards getting lost in international mail
It is likely that this will happen once or twice during the project. If the end of March has rolled around and you never received a postcard, I will reprint the photograph and re-write the message onto another postcard for you, referencing documentation a took throughout the duration of the project.
With my rusty Spanish, experience living in South America at a younger age, traveling, hitch hiking, back packing, and living/working backcountry outdoors, I am confident that I will be able to adapt, improvise and overcome the things that require a little mental fortitude. Of course if I were incapacitated from illness or an accident then I might be forced to suspend the project. In this event, project pledges would be refunded if you did not already receive your reward.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (24 days)