New-media conceptualist Randall M. Packer moved from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., in 2000. "I was so struck by Washington as a stage set for America. It all seemed like a Hollywood movie set," he says by way of explaining the genesis of the US Department of Art and Technology (US DAT), the fictional government agency with which he is literally redefining art as politics—or at least its kinder, gentler, and funnier simulacrum. "It seemed like our country was missing a role for the artist. I decided to insert myself into the system," he says. Having planned the concept during the summer of 2001, he was propelled into action by 9-11: He officially launched the Department on Halloween 2001, when he wrote to President Bush to propose the new cabinet-level department. He received a standard form letter in response but decided he was not going to take that as an answer. So he appointed himself Secretary of US DAT and staged a swearing-in ceremony at the Maryland Institute of Art, where he taught. A... More >>>