N.E. Thing Co.
Œuvres et projets
Essais et articles

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, and Consulting.

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. COP products.

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 information sensitively.

Sensitivity Information Dynamics (SID)
A NETCO term to denote the cultural activity and climate of the times.

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 sense.

Thing Department
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.)

Project Department
"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 time.

Cop Department
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 as idea.

Printing Department
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.

Movie Department
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.