When we first encountered the Artists, we followed standard procedure. Shoot first, ask questions later, then pass around amnestics like candy at a birthday party.
This did not work for long.
The traditional textbook strategy that we employ is specifically designed to counteract organised groups. You look at our GOC policies, Chaos Insugency policies, MC&D, the Church, pretty much every force that we exchange bullets with, and our interactions are dictated by the book. Hell, our interactions with them were what helped to write the book. With all of these people, the line is that we are waging wars of attrition. We are able to keep up with them, because while all of these groups are big, we’re bigger, and we’re going to keep shooting until their metaphorical clip runs dry and then some. But this strategy doesn’t work with the Artists.
It’s not because they’re bigger than us, because they’re not. It’s because attrition warfare assumes both parties have centralised management; there needs to be a singular point of control, constantly driving against the other side. But the Artists are not like this. The Artists are not centralised. The Artists are not unified. And, most importantly, the Artists do not shoot back.
As such, we cannot engage them in the same way that we engage the other ‘players’. The war against the Artists is, unfortunately, waged on their home turf. While they throw us the occasional skip, most of what they make is not directed towards us. It is released into the wild, presented as ‘art’, and then summarily forgotten. It is our job to secure this ‘art’ and, if possible, the Artists themselves. They’re a culture, not a corporation. Our best guess is that the Artists are just a passing fad, and if we’re lucky, the cool of today will be bland tomorrow. Yeah, we’re always going to have a few, but they aren’t manageable right now. The best we can do is control their range, and even then, we’re playing a losing game.
The name of this game is not capturing and keeping the Artists. You will not be able to hold them. However, the game requires us to know where the Artists are going to be, and most of the time our intelligence sits on the spectrum between nil and fuck all. Current strategy is if the opportunity presents itself, you pick up a lone Artist, drug them to the dickens, squeeze them for all they know about local ‘exhibitions’, then hit them with standard amnesiacs. Then you need to reintroduce them into their environment naturally. If you’ve done your job right, your Artist will have no recollection that they got nabbed in the first place, and we’ll have a place and time to arrange for inconspicuous crowd control.
Don’t forget this, because it’s damn important: NEVER bring an Artist to a Site. If they try to break for it, they WILL have a plan, and that plan will involve grabbing anything they can grab and freeing anything they can free. You need a place to store an Artist, you stick them in a safehouse. We don’t keep safehouse locations on file anywhere. Once you’re all assigned, I’ll tell you where your area’s safehouses are. Do NOT write down the locations of safehouses, you memorise them, and you don’t say a word about their locations outside this room. As far as anyone outside this room knows, the designation ‘safehouse’ is not a part of Foundation structure, and you’re to keep it that way.
As I said, the Artists are decentralised and incoherent, and so the war against the Artists is a culture war. The thing is, as loose as their organisation may be, there’s still a tendency to arrange into tighter ‘cells’. These cells are the ones who organise exhibitions, they pick a place, and it spreads by word of mouth. This leads to our secondary strategy, and one that’s a bit controversial. Long-term infiltration.
Yes, some of you are going to be masquerading as Artists. Yes, you will go to exhibitions, yes, you will smoke their weed, and yes, if it’s required by your cover, you’re going to have to make some art yourself. That’s right, you’re going to be breaking the Foundation’s gospel law, and you’ll be making skips. Of course, since – I assume – none of you are capable of making anomalous objects by waving your hands and saying magic words, you’re going to need some help. That’ll be covered by Dr. Samuels after lunch. Anything you make yourself, you need to destroy yourself.
On the flipside of this, we are breaking the other gospel law of the Foundation: you are going to destroy skips. Back when we didn’t know what we were dealing with, we contained everything they threw at us. This was a massive, massive waste of manpower and resources. Much of what the Artists design are immovable, permanent installations in suburban areas. If we stuck to cordoning off and containing every piece, we’d have half of New York City under lockdown. Yes, yes, yes, I know what you’re thinking, we’re violating every rule in the book. But this is the only way we can deal with them, and time has shown us that it works infinitely better than standard procedure. This is the only way that works, and if anything, we’re results-based.
Now, this does NOT mean that you’re going to be smashing up everything in sight. That’s the GOC’s job. Our primary goal is still containment. You’re to use your best judgement on whether it’s something that can be reasonably contained to begin with, and if it isn’t, you break it. If it’s something you can pick up and slip in your pocket, that’s what you do. If it’s a giant memetic hazard plastered on the side of a balloon, you pop the balloon, and see if you can recover it. If it’s something immovable that’s going to violate causality in the middle of Times Square, you smash it to smithereens. Also, and this is the one rule we really try hard not to break, don’t kill it if it’s alive. Yes, you are probably going to see living installations. No, they are not what you are thinking of. They are worse.
Last thing. One of the biggest cells that we know about is headed by a guy called The Critic. Nobody knows much about him, so if you learn ANYTHING about this guy, you pass it back to us, because right now we know he exists and that’s about it.
That’s my bit over, bagels by the door, Dr. Samuels’ part starts in ten.