As the Bradley Manning trial presses on at Fort Meade, Maryland, artist Clark Stoeckley (of Wikileaks Truck fame) documents the proceedings in sketches. So far, the artists tells us he has compiled over 300 drawings from both sides of the gallery, the jury box, and the live video feed. The renderings are set to be published by OR Books in September as a graphic novel, which is an appropriate format for an epic conflict between good and evil. The previews of Stoeckley's graphic novel look very exciting, but what we find most compelling about the project is Stoeckley's commitment to the trial and to Manning, and the mundane details of the process that he captures through his daily practice of drawing and observation.
Day 1 of the trial
Captain Hunter Whyte, David Coombs, Bradley Manning
Courtroom observers wearing shirts that read "truth" have been mandated by officials to turn them inside-out.
There is a scene in the movie Airplane! (1980) in which a young boy suddenly recognizes the real-life actor who is playing the character of co-pilot Roger Murdoch. "Wait a minute!" he exclaims. "I know you! You're Kareem Abdul-Jabbar!"
The scene breaks the "fourth wall" to comic effect. Most viewers in 1980 would have recognized Abdul-Jabbar instantly, but the conventions of performance dictate that we try to pretend that he is just an ordinary schmoe in the cockpit. By "recognizing" Abdul-Jabbar, the boy calls attention to these conventions, and breaks the tension for viewers who were probably struggling to see the six-time MVP of the NBA as an airline employee.
Such an acknowledgment is missing from a more recent project involving Abdul-Jabbar, Miranda July's We Think Alone.
Cory Arcangel, "Clinton," 2011. Pencil on paper (produced with Mutoh XP-300 series printer), edition 1 of 3, 11 x 8.5 inches.
Last year, critic Alix Rule and artist David Levine suggested in a much-discussed article in Triple Canopy that the dense, quasi-theoretical writing found in contemporary art press releases should be reformatted as meter and appreciated as avant-garde poetry. This week, Cory Arcangel took the next logical step and used the email press release for his forthcoming exhibition at DHC/ART, which was circulated on the e-flux mailing list, as an opportunity for a sly text-based intervention.
Artist and erstwhile Rhizome staff writer Tyler Coburn's recent project I'm that angel includes a book and performance narrated by a fictional “content farmer,” a writer (typically freelance) who creates large amounts of text that is designed for maximum traction with search engine algorithms. The performances typically take place in data centers or spaces in which the physical infrastructure that supports "the cloud" is made manifest.
Douglas Davis, "The World's First Collaborative Sentence" (1994). Detail.
Many of the comments posted to the article offered sage advice for the conservation team, free of charge. According to Francesco of New York, “it was probably build in java or php and they need to update the server.” VJBortolot of Guildford, CT, expressed surprise “that the Whitney didn't … use an legacy browser … and run it in a Win95 environment on a vintage computer.” E.W. Chesterton of Palm Beach simply wrote, “Oh please! It’s html!”
Expert diagnoses notwithstanding, it’s well worth delving a bit further into some of the complex issues that emerged during the Davis restoration.