Translucent envelopes: Printing images and sending off the envelopes

I found a list of prohibited objects on the Post Office and picked five items from it. I then found some images representing these things on a free stock site created 5 digital negatives of these. Once I printed the images I found out that the negatives I made weren’t very good. Some of the areas (for example the top of the ice bag) were far too light to be registered on the paper so it didn’t print very well. Similar with the matchbox text. I need to work on creating better negatives so that my prints come out nice and crisp. I decided to not use the ice bag and the matchbox print as they weren’t up to a high standard, but I will be using the other 3 images. I want to rework the negatives and pin point where I am going wrong.

With this experiment I wanted to test the boundaries of mail. I printed out representations of the objects that are illegal to send in the post and creating a translucent barrier so that the post office workers feel uncertainty and maybe a slight of discomfort at handling this envelope.


This is what the gun image looks like inside the translucent envelope. As you can see the transparency acts like a barrier, partially censoring the image; we can still make out the image but it’s not as sharp and clear. I like that this gun image was cropped so that it’s an isolated object without a cluttered background. I think this allowed me more space to write the address and play around with composition. I think I should have cut the image bigger so that it took up more space in the envelope because now I feel as if there’s quite a bit of wasted space in the top part of the envelope. I’m not sure about my handwriting and if it works with this image – I think it distracts from the main ‘idea’ but I’m not sure of how I could change it up or make it look more appealing and less distracting.


The above images show how the translucent envelope doesn’t make direct contact with the envelope, causing this fuzziness of the image. When you press the envelope to the image, it becomes much sharper and clearer. I believe this is because my print wasn’t flattened after printing, so it had some curving which created a distance between the two surfaces. I quite like this blurriness as it adds to the effect of the image or the ‘item’ being illegal and so it’s slightly censored. I think if it was any blurrier the effect would be removed as the viewer wouldn’t be able to make out the object but this is just the right balance.

Things to consider for next time:

  • Flatten prints so that there’s more contact between the envelope and the print
  • Print better digital negatives
  • Play around with the address placement

I want to continue working with this idea of sending prohibited things in the mail and see how far I can take it. I will be working on more images, and possbily working with some explicit images (fragments of pornography and naked bodies) I want to also try a different approach to sending these prohibited ‘objects’ that highlights the need for secrecy – I want to send white envelopes which are blank from the outside and create an envelope liner with the image so that the envelope is a self contained letter in a way.

I’ve send these envelopes out so now I’m just waiting to get them back! I’ll update the blog as soon as that happens.



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