Category:scott sforza, wh producer

The new issue of Cabinet arrived today [free with my new iPad case!], and it includes a fascinating article by Susan Schuppli about the 18 1/2-minutes of erased audiotape at the center of the Watergate scandal. Apparently, the National Archives has sealed the original tape reel, known as Tape 342, with the erased segment, and evaluates advances in forensic analysis capabilities, "waiting for that moment when the kiss of technological progress will reawaken it."

The last formal scientific panel to review the matter was in 2001; its tests were unsuccessful. Schuppli obtained a copy of Tape 342--technically, a copy of a copy--from the Archives, and performed various chemical and microscopic imaging of it. Because, well:

In conceptually rousing Tape 342 from its archival slumber, I hope to emphasize that erasure was not a process that removed information to produce an absence. In fact, an analogue tape recorder can only ever re-record over an existing track and thus Nixon's, or his secretary Rose Mary Woods's, purported act of tampering was a supplementary act of recording--an additive rather than a subtractive process.
This recognition of erasure as a generative event, not a destructive one, reminds me of Leo Steinberg, quoting Tom Hess, on de Kooning's use of erasure, and Rauschenberg's erasure of de Kooning:
De Kooning was the one who belabored his drawings with an eraser. Bob was proposing a sort of collaboration, offering--without having to draw like the master--to supply the finishing touch (read coup de grace)
Which reminded me that at a CAA panel last winter, SFMOMA's Chad Coerver, who talked about creating the museum's digital archive of its Rauschenberg holdings, mentioned that conservators using electronic imaging had been able to discover de Kooning's original drawing. And that they'd been discussing with curators whether to make the image public. Which, holy smokes, I'm glad SFMOMA doesn't have Tape 342.


Wait, the UC Davis Occupy protestors built a 30-foot geodesic dome for their general assembly? Of course they did.

This is not a drill, people. Welcome to the Pepper Dome.

[image via @amychamp]

Previously: jackboot, Bean Boot

November 19, 2011

Jackboot, Bean Boot

The video is absolutely riveting, all the way through. And though it's outrageous &c &c., the casual pepper spraying of the seated student protestors is only the second or third most important takeaway from this clip.

That said, I have to confess that the, like, third thing I thought when seeing Louise Macabitas' photo [via motherjones] was, "Hey, Bean Boots!"


November 15, 2011

Maintaining Power


Gotta hand it to the Bloomberg Administration: scheduling the expulsion of the Occupy Wall Street protesters for the middle of the night, and then arresting and beating and harassing journalists covering the raid, thereby minimizing--but apparently not eliminating entirely--the creation of images of white-shirt violence like the one above by Agence France Presse, was slick.

But then scheduling the cleaning performance at Zuccotti Park for sunrise, when the dawn's early light hits the golden trees just so, and the Times' photographer can get an NYPD relaxing against a barricade just so? That is pure political poetry.


It reminds me of Mierle Laderman Ukeles, longtime artist-in-residence for the Department of Sanitation, who identified the political and aesthetic power of maintenance when she asked, in her Manifesto for Maintenance Art 1969! [pdf via], "After the revolution, who's going to pick up the garbage on Monday morning?"

Unfortunately, I think this is the opposite answer Ukeles was seeking.

September 27, 2011

Look Into The Teleprompter


Ooh, this is nice. I can't remember seeing a White House photographer use a teleprompter to pick up a crowd like this before. Carry on, Stephen Crowley of The New York Times!

Not that Mr. Crowley's colleagues didn't find some classically Sforzian shots there at Denver's Abraham Lincoln High School. The full banner said "Lincoln Lancers." Which may let the photographers feel like they've "discovered" this angle. It's a lower-key, but no less programmatic Sforzianism.


[via Getty/daylife]

I need a way to put the people in my Twitter feed in touch with each other.


Because what are we fighting for, if not the right to all 50 flavors of Doritos?

From a NY Times article about a gay activist's petition for Microsoft to stop participating in an online affiliate sales company CGBG, which earns revenue for anti-gay groups like Focus on the Family:

"This is economic terrorism," said Mike Huckabee, the former pastor, governor and presidential contender, who is a paid CGBG consultant. "To try to destroy a business because you don't like some of the customers is, to me, unbelievably un-American," he said in an interview.
From SFGate, Dec. 6, 2005:
Christian group pulls Wells Fargo accounts / Focus on the Family objects to donation to gay rights group

"We don't expect corporate America to do our bidding on the issues, but when they use the proceeds from our business and give them to others who clobber us over the head, we say enough is enough," said Tom Minnery, who oversees public policy for the organization.

Focus on the Family's move follows a recent spate of conservative boycotts and other actions against large companies that support gay and lesbian causes, including Walgreens drugstores and Kraft Foods Inc., both of which contributed to the Gay Games.

Conservative groups also have targeted Ford Motor Co. for advertising in gay media and Procter & Gamble for advertising during the television shows "Will & Grace" and "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy." The best-known protest may have been the nine-year boycott led by the Southern Baptist Convention against Walt Disney Co. for hosting Gay Days, a week of gay-themed activities at Walt Disney World in Orlando. That boycott ended in June.

From a 2005 Orlando Sentinel article on the Kraft, Proctor & Gamble and Disney boycotts:
As more companies adopt gay-friendly business policies, they risk the wrath of conservative Christian groups prepared to take action with their collective buying power.

"People are willing to fight back with their pocketbooks," says Tim Wildmon, president of the Tupelo, Miss.-based American Family Association, a conservative group that has boycotted such companies.

September 19, 2011

Two Of These Things

As those who kindly email me about run-on italics--and those who don't--know, I don't actually visit this site site as often as I probably should.

Which is part of the reason I didn't notice until just now this nice side-by-side posting of Matt Connors' painting and Barack Obama et al's blast shields at the dedication of the World Trade Center Memorial.


UPDATE: Or three of these things. Mondo Patrick likes the Connors diptych alongside this:

Thumbnail image for flavin_beyeler_christies.jpg


An extraordinary Reuters photo from the World Trade Center Mem--wait, I guess now we'd better make that "ordinary." Maybe add an integrated teleprompter or heads up display?

And Joe Biden complains that the Secret Service won't let him drive his Corvette off his driveway.

image: Reuters/Daily Mail via @wagnerblog


Another inadvertent Google find, also from the World War II School of propaganda art. In anticipation for an invasion of Japan, 1945 LIFE Magazine wanted to give the general public a fighter pilot's-eye view of ground attacks.


Perhaps because actual combat photos were deemed too sensitive or otherwise unsuitable, the magazine asked artist Henry Billings to create a series of strafing attack paintings.

Noted before the war for his machine age-themed murals, Billings' characteristically mild-mannered modernist/precisionist landscape style goes uncommonly well with the scenes of destruction from the air.


But the most prominent thing in the images, no matter the sometimes dizzying orientation of the earth itself, is the central fixity of the P51 Mustang's reflective sight. A technological advance that only rolled out during the war itself, the gunsight's half-mirrored glass panel meant the pilot could maintain his fix on his target without lining his eyes up directly with the line of fire. It's an interesting perceptual concept to try to capture in a traditional landscape painting.

I don't know what happened to Billings' art career, but his posthumous market is pretty weak, with paintings and drawings selling in the low hundreds of dollars. [Oh, with the exception of this nice precisionist boatyard panel. Wow.] No word on the fate of the strafing paintings, though.

Ground Strafing - LIFE June 30, 1945 [google/life]

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Since 2001 here at, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting that time.

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