Randall M. Packer, former Secretary and now Secretary-at-Large of the US Department of Art & Technology (US DAT), formed the virtual government agency shortly after September 11th, 2001 as a response to the urgent need to insert the artists’ voice into the national dialogue during times of crisis. Secretary Packer delivered his message of hope and optimism to the disenfranchised across America, Europe and Asia, while cultural and religious divisiveness – in an increasingly violent clash of civilizations – brought the world to the brink of Armageddon.
Secretary Packer rallied his colleagues and fellow staff members to carry out crucial acts of artistic mediation in an effort to galvanize the work of the artist as a vehicle for change and transformation. In 2004, during the run-up to the election, he attempted to ward off the looming denouement through an ambitious project to catalyze new and experimental modes of behavior, the Experimental Party DisInformation Center, installed in New York City as counter-propaganda during the Republican National Convention. However, the Republicans ultimately hypnotized the electorate - a nation of robotic brethren - and narrowly won the election. The utopian experiment of an artist-driven government agency had failed to transform the consciousness of the nation and the crises raged on.
Following the election, the remaining days of 2004 were a difficult period for the Secretary. President Bush named Edward Ruscha the new Secretary of the US Department of Art & Technology to lead his new agenda for cultural reform. This was the crushing blow.
Faced with the realization that efforts had fallen short of utopian expectations, Secretary Packer sought out more powerful forces of artistic mediation, to follow the artistic process wherever it may lead. In his final speech as the Secretary, he delivered his manifesto, “The Rupture,” declaring:
Where Art can contribute to the Perpetual Fight against Authoritarianism, I shall confront the Powers that be, and answer, even under oath, before any and all questions put to me there, to peel away what is being said in order to Formulate the Truth… Beyond the Suspension of Disbelief. To those who might Listen... I say, Virtualization remains the Greatest Power on Earth! To that tremendous Power alone; we will Engage!
Secretary Packer defiantly took back the Department, went underground, and claimed himself the Secretary-at-Large, now a free agent unshackled by constraints to maintain the illusion of a virtual government agency – viewing political conditions from the outside-in rather than inside-out. He hacked the US DAT Web site, transforming it into a dynamic system for cultural dissection, and began authoring the Blog-Chronicles of the Secretary-at-Large.
Thus began the tragic tale of the nation’s descent, its mighty fall, the end of the Empire, the declaration that America had entered into a fatal season in hell.