In 1914, Henry Ford told someone in his advertising department to acquire a camera, and thus began the first industrial motion picture company. Henry Ford was an asshole. In 1963, Detroit autoworker and Marxist activist James Boggs wrote The American Revolution: Pages from a Negro Worker’s Notebook, about his experiences working the assembly line at an auto-manufacturing plant, where the “invention” of heavy automation laid bare the helplessness of worker unionization.1 In 1964, Ford Motor Company released the Mustang. Certain seventeenth-century hearing aids consisted of putting a rod in one’s mouth and biting down; in 1877, Thomas Edison’s toothmarks could be found on most early prototypes of the phonograph. Thomas Edison was an asshole. In 1977, one of the cofounding members of the first virtual community, The WELL, moonlighted as a lyricist for the Grateful Dead. In 1978, Mayor Ed Koch sued Con-Edison for “gross negligence,” resulting in the New York City Blackout. “Wired like a zero” is an anagram for “Idealized Worker.” Once upon a time, Henry Ford and Thomas Edison’s summer estates were only a few hundred feet down the road; the Con-Ed building on W. 53rd St. in Manhattan was converted to a studio for the gameshow Let’s Make a Deal. People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, because people without pince-nez’s keep taking the blows.
A Mustang’s Happened to Henry is a performance-research text in four installments, meant to be read in tandem with the trailer, which splices together a Microsoft PowerPoint automation with clips taken from Ford Motor Company promotional films, footage shot on 35mm by Henry Ford’s twenty-four-person film crew, public domain shorts recorded with the Edison Kinetoscope, and excerpts from a 1970s gameshow that featured deals brokered between the host and members of the audience, costumed for a dystopian bacchanal and referred to as “traders.”
“The fact, the key to the present situation, is that from the beginning the union did not take absolute control away from the capitalists.”↩