Glossary excerpt from Marie L. Fleming,
Baxter2. Any Choice Works (Toronto: Art Gallery of Ontario,
1982) and Charlotte Townsend, “N.E. Thing Co. and Les Levine”,
Canadian Art Today, n°42, 1970.
N E: THING CO. Company Structure
The N.E. THING CO. includes eleven departments: Research, Thing,
Accounting, ACT, ART, Photography, Printing, COP, Movie, Project,
The Research department is involved with probing the unknown
frontiers of sensitivity information.
The Thing department, the most comprehensive department
of the N.E. THING CO., includes all objects produced by all departments
or the company.
The Accounting department handles all financial matters
of the company.
The ACT (Aesthetically Claimed Thing) department is involved
in keeping a thorough and detailed global record of all the objects,
persons, and events that have been awarded a seal of approval by
the N.E. THING CO. and thus been designated as an ACT (Aesthetically
Claimed Thing). An ACT citation is awarded after thorough research
by the Research department, to those things which "meet the
stringent requirements of sensitivity information as set forth by
the N.E. THING CO."
The ART (Aesthetically Rejected Thing) department is also
involve in keeping a thorough and detailed global record of objects,
persons, and events that have been awarded a visual seal of rejection
by the N.E. THING CO. and thus been designated as ART. An ART citation
is awarded, after thorough research by the Research department,
to those things which "do not meet the stringent requirements
of sensitivity information as set forth by the N.E. THING CO."
The Photography department does all the photographs for
the ACT and the ART departments, as well as other necessary photography.
The Printing department does all the company's printing.
The COP department uses artistic works done by contemporary
artists and transforms or extends them, thus altering the concepts
behind these works of art; the altered works become N.E. THING CO.
The Movie department does all the movies for the company.
The Project department initiates ideas which are then realized
by other departments as required after studies by the Research department.
The Consulting department offers advice to artists, museum
officials, industrialists, etc., on matters of sensitivity information.
N.E. THING CO. Glossary, 1966
We find that by setting up a new set of definitions like this that
people are better able to see the cross-relationship between the
"arts" and in so doing can become much more involved and
supportive of the new types of "arts activity" —
Sensitivity Information — SI — that are going on.
The idea of comprehending "all arts as information handled
sensitively" breaks the historical chains that keep them apart
from each other and grossly misunderstood.
Sensitivity Information (SI)
A term developed by NETCO to denote all forms of cultural activities,
i.e., dance, music, theatre, film, fine art, poetry, novels, etc.
It is based on the theory that there are all types of INFORMATION
around in the world. INFORMATION is usually, or tends to be, confronted
with and dealt with in either a practical or sensitive manner. Thus
INFORMATION which is handled in this pure or sensitive way culminates
in SI (Sensitivity Information) in general context, and eventually
leaves its mark on our life as culture. The divisions within SI
are based on the dominant characteristic of that particular area
of information, for example: Vision — VSI — Visual Sensitivity
Information (painting, sculpture, architecture, books, etc.).
Sound Sensitivity Information (SSI)
Music, poetry (readings), singing, oratory, etc.
Moving Sensitivity Information (MSI)
Movies, dance, mountain climbing, track and field, etc.
Experiential Sensitivity Information (ESI)
Theatre, performance, etc.
It should be recognized that there are categories where certain
types of sensitivity information are combined with others to provide
their form, but for the most part the categories above have been
established because the "arts" tend to have a particular
emphasis on one kind of information characteristic.
Visual Sensitivity Information (VSI)
A term developed and used by the N.E. THING CO. to denote more appropriately
the meaning of the traditional words "art" and "fine
art" or "visual art." Refers to the handling of visual
information in a sensitive manner. Also refers to the "artist"
as a VISUAL INFORMER, as someone who knows how to handle visual
Sensitivity Information Dynamics (SID)
A NETCO term to denote the cultural activity and climate of the
Transmission of Visual Sensitivity Information (TRANS-VSI)
Term to denote the flow of Visual Sensitivity Information from place
of transmission to place of reception — via any communications
medium — like, Telecopier, Telex, phone, telegram, letter,
videophone, conversation, Telestar, television, etc. A number of
these transmission devices embody the possibilities of relay, cognizance
and interplay. This is at the moment bringing into play the cultural
impact we are experiencing and will experience even more when this
flow of SI develops universal overtones. We shall then be experiencing
global SI or "culture" through our highly developed senses
and electric systems.
Generally speaking the same as above, only think of it in the broader
The Company claims the largest collection of plastic antiques in
North America. In 1965 the President began to vacuum-form plastic
bottles, the common pottery of today, some of them crushed. Their
simple shapes corresponded to the Morandi-like still lifes he had
been doing before. Since then this department has been responsible
for treating the landscape in a number of ways. It has bagged it
(putting the green, rocky, Pacific coast, blue water and toy boats
into bags of clear vinyl), taped it (running the outline of mountain,
cloud and lake in plastic tape over wall and floor), and inflated
it (blowing up sensuous, vinyl pillows of hill and sky). And now
the Company has moved into the landscape, defining the space between
two trees with a length of yellow rope, trailing chains over bushes
and rubber over rocks to upset expectations. Inflated vinyl was
also used for formal pieces. Wearables were developed in 1968 as
extensions of the body. (In one example a giant inflated doughnut,
12 ft. in diameter, sits on the shoulders, satin-like folds of green
vinyl fall from it to the floor.)
"There is a plastic coating around the electronic revolution,'
says the President. What is claimed as the first 'environment' in
Canada, and, according to Tom Wolfe, the first public celebration
of McLuhanism, was 'Bagged Place'. Bagging, as opposed to wrapping,
is a North American habit that puts things into their own space.
In 1966 the Company put everything commonly found in a four-room
suite into plastic bags. Polythene, a sensuous but cool medium,
came between people and their environment. Since that year projections
have ranged from a white vinyl cap cover for a Rocky Mountain, to
be put on when the snow melts, to 'Flow Move', a very slow kinetic
piece, steel poles being embedded 50 ft. apart in the Athabasca
Glacier, to be revealed in series as the Glacier retreats. Latest
completed projects have been the construction of two tim-ber frame
walls and a floor on a hillside, and the burial of a deflated thing,
to be dug up, inflated and re-buried on the moon in a hundred years
Concerns itself with the work of other artists, which it may choose
to extend, invert, disassemble or otherwise cop. A Noland chevron
had its stripes extended 15 ft. in each direction, a 'carrying case'
was made for a Warhol pillow, and a Larry Bell glass box was reconstructed
in collapsing clear vinyl. The Cops have been some of the Company's
most formally significant products, playing with perception as much
Deals with the third print of a movie, prints in the snow and the
imprint left when an object has been lying on a lawn. The department
produced Piles, a portfolio of photographs of natural piles, of
logs, coils of wire, doughnuts, fifty-nine of them in all. It will
also represent the Company at São Paulo with the products
of ACT and ART, the two most recently formed departments.
ACT and ART Departments
Designed to make public the way in which the Company assesses the
information which is the raw material for all its operations. The
President takes photographs, of a supermarket sign, a Donald Judd
box, a grain elevator, enlarges it and exhibits it stamped with
his Seal of Approval as 'Having met the stringent requirements of
Sensitivity Information'. So states the certificate which is sent
with the photograph to the owner or maker of every Aesthetically
Claimed Thing. Anything which is not felt to be deserving of a place
in eternity is known as an
Aesthetically Rejected Thing or ART.
Planned is a 5,000-mile movie to be shot by ten Super-8 cameras
from a truck travelling at 60 m.p.h. from one end of the Trans-Canada
Highway to the other. Completed are several four-mile sections.
For four minutes one is hypnotized by the patterns of rushing wires
and trees. To be projected postcard size is a four-minute still
life of the tattered border of the maple leaf flag fluttering over
a gas station.