Documentary Protocols I

Documentary Protocols I: Emulation of the Administrative Ethos in Artistic Practices of the 1960s and 1970s in Canada may not have the catchiest title, but this unusual show at the Leonard and Bina Ellen Art Gallery at Concordia University in Montreal, engagingly and hilariously lays out a rarely seen element of Conceptual art history. During the late 60s and early 70s a group of Canadian artists, simultaneously deflated and inspired by the tedious administration of Canada’s culture industry reimagined themselves through the lens of the bureaucrat. Conceptual artists Iain and Ingrid Baxter formed the highly influential N.E.Thing Co., Vincent Trasov and Michael Morris started The Image Bank, an enormous international databank of images and contact information that grew out of mail art activities of the time, and Joyce Wieland appropriated governmental publications on Northern flora and fauna to question ideas of personal and national identity. Simultaneously questioning and promoting their own roles as ‘culture workers,’ their ironic use of public relations tools and ‘documentary protocols’ (in the form of seals, stamps, official letterhead, etc) was a means to turn the day to day business of being an artist in Canada into a viable and engaging practice in its own right. Correspondence, logos, currency, annual reports and other documents are on view both as original documents (in vitrines) and as photocopies (in accessible binders), emulating elements of institutional bureaucracy within in the exhibition design itself and providing evidence of vast artists’ communication networks long before the web. (

Los Angeles 2106

As the second phase of The City of the Future challenge, IBM and The History Channel, in partnership with the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), challenged engineering students in NYC, Chicago and LA to propose innovative engineering solutions that will sustain our great cities in the 22nd century.

The students had 5 weeks to develop their solutions before presenting their proposals to the panels of esteemed jurors at IBM offices in each city. Each team exhibited extraordinary vision and innovation but only one team in each city was named winner. The jurors voted and the IBM Engineers of the Future are… (

Alcatraz: America’s Toughest Prison (1977)

Alcatraz: America’s Toughest Prison unfolds the fascinating history of this legendary federal prison established to house the nation’s most notorious criminals. Situated on an island surrounded by the shark-infested waters of the San Francisco Bay, the facility incarcerated 1,545 men from 1934 to its closing in 1963. This documentary looks at some of the celebrity criminals who were housed at Alcatraz, including gang leader Al Capone. Capone spent more than four years in Alcatraz cells. Another famous resident, Machine Gun Kelly, remained at Alcatraz for 17 years. Inmate Robert Franklin Stroud, known as “The Birdman” of Alcatraz, developed an international reputation while imprisoned. The violent Stroud received his nickname for his devotion to his hobby, the study of birds. The film also features interviews with ex-cons and actual footage of the 1960s takeover of Alcatraz by Native Americans. ~ Sally Barber, All Movie Guide (

See also: Parts 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7.

A Trip Down Memory Lane (1965)

In 1965 Lipsett filmed a series of psychology lectures at McGill University in Montreal (25) and directed A Trip Down Memory Lane (1965). A surrealist time capsule combining fifty years of newsreel footage, A Trip Down Memory Lane was Lipsett’s first pure collage film, composed exclusively from stock image and sound. Continuing his process of excavation, mediation and transformation, the film constitutes a brief audiovisual tour of the post-war technocracy. In his notes “for [producer] Donald Brittain in order to communicate to him some basic thinking” on the film, Lipsett writes “As science grows, religious belief seems to have diminished”, adding that, “The new machines (of every description) are now invested with spiritual qualities. They have become ritualistic implements.” (26) Working from a by-then familiar repertoire of images, A Trip Down Memory Lane pieces together footage of a beauty contest and a religious procession; failed airflight, automotive and science experiments; callous animal testing; skyscraper construction; military paraphernalia; John D. Rockefeller and scenes of leisure; Richard Nixon and scenes of war; blimps, hot air balloons, a sword swallower. (Senses of Cinema)

GRL Laser Graffiti

Defense contractors say that within the next 10 years they’ll have a solid state laser mounted on a Hummer that can put a hole in sheet of metal from several miles away. Well Dutch graffiti writers can pretty much do that now with this Hymermobil rocking a GRL L.A.S.E.R. Tagging System.

Find out from Agent Watson how this big fucking laser works and download the open source code (built in C++ using Open Frameworks).

When the Pentagon finally does get those hand-held lasers I know a few writers in Holland who will be the first to rack them: F. Lady, BIC, Dask, Walk, NW, WLC (Berlin), Oles, Lastplak, Baschz, Evas, El Pussycat, EVK, Losers, TM, Curry, Ros, Raid, Guilty, LRK, VEV, GPS and ERAS. Thanks to everyone and all our love to Rotterdam (bring an umbrella).

A production of the GRL, Agent Watson, Bennett4Senate, and Huib Van Der Werf. This Weapon of Mass Defacement brought to you by the rouge nation of the Netherlands and the Atelier Rijksbouwmeester. (Graffiti Research Lab)

A Call to Action

A passionate call for a general strike in the US this November 6:

Of all the various depredations of the Bush regime, none has been so thorough as its plundering of hope. Iraq will recover sooner. What was supposed to have been the crux of our foreign policy—a shock-and-awe tutorial on the utter futility of any opposition to the whims of American power—has achieved its greatest and perhaps its only lasting success in the American soul. You will want to cite the exceptions, the lunch-hour protests against the war, the dinner-party ejaculations of dissent, though you might also want to ask what substantive difference they bear to grousing about the weather or even to raging against the dying of the light—that is, to any ritualized complaint against forces universally acknowledged as unalterable. Bush is no longer the name of a president so much as the abbreviation of a proverb, something between Murphy’s Law and tomorrow’s fatal inducement to drink and be merry today. (Harper’s)