The Prank as Art

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The Artiness of Naughtiness Radio Show

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The Artiness of Naughtiness
BBC Radio
April 1, 2011

Toby Amies discovers how tricksters have turned the poking of fun into an art form.

Produced by Rob Alexander and hosted by Toby Amies, this 30:00 radio show is now available here for listening.

There are pranksters who have been determined to show us our folly all year round and most have philosophical, political and artistic reason to do so… Toby investigates this reasoning behind pranking – discovering why people will risk consequences as serious as prison to make a point or get a laugh. Sometime the motivation behind a prank is not always only a good laugh at someone else’s expense. It can be a very serious business.

Fool School: The Art of the Perfect Prank

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Update, April 3, 2011: You can now listen to this 30:00 radio show here.


The Artiness of Naughtiness, hosted by Toby Amies, aired on BBC Radio 4 on Friday, April 1, 2011. Until April 7, 2011, you can listen to it here.


The art of the perfect prank
by Toby Amies
BBC News Magazine
30 March 2011

As April Fools jokers hatch their plans, what’s the secret to a perfect prank, asks broadcaster Toby Amies. And how far do the very best tricksters go in preparing their practical jokes?

This article is not a hoax. I promise you. It’s a serious work about the practical joke.

How far would you go to pull off a prank? The dole queue? In 1987, a young British broadcaster called Chris Morris let off helium into the BBC Bristol studio, causing the newsreader’s stories to reach a higher and higher pitch. Chris lost his job. And started his career in satire.

Would you risk prison? Pranks are often protests, against unfairness or authority or reality. And protest is increasingly risky in the 21st Century.

As the film director Billy Wilder said: “If you are going to tell people the truth, be funny or they will kill you.”

Whether personal or public, the prank has a point to make, but if you’re planning on tricking someone, it’s best to ensure everyone gets the joke. (more…)

The Artiness of Naughtiness

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Update, April 3, 2011: You can now listen to this 30:00 radio show here on Joey Skaggs’ website.


This radio show, produced by Rob Alexander, hosted by Toby Amies and featuring Joey Skaggs, among others, aired on BBC Radio Friday, April 1 at 11:30 a.m. UK time. You can listen to it on the BBC Radio site until April 7, 2011.


The Artiness of Naughtiness
Friday 1 April, 2011 at 11:30am on BBC Radio 4

Toby Amies discovers how tricksters have turned the poking of fun into an art form.

What have Jonathon Swift, Orson Welles, Marcel Duchamp, Yoko Ono, Malcolm Mclaren, Jeremy Beadle, and Sacha Baron Cohen got in common? Toby Amies discovers how tricksters and pranksters have turned the poking of fun into an art form.

Pranking is such a part of society, we’ve got a specially sanctioned day of misrule in the calendar. Mark Twain described the 1st of April as “the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year”. But for some people April Fool’s day is just not enough; generally opposed to the status quo, they are determined to alter our relationship with reality by forcing us to question its veracity.

There are pranksters who have been determined to show us our folly all year round and most have philosophical, political and artistic reason to do so.

Toby investigates this reasoning behind pranking – discovering why people will risk consequences as serious as prison to make a point or get a laugh. Sometime the motivation behind a prank is not always only a good laugh at someone else’s expense. It can be a very serious business.

Toby draws a wobbly line from the court jester to the hoaxes of Swift and Welles to Yves Klein to the playful Marxism[!] of Debord and the Situationsists, through to the commercial modern pranking industry and the work of Sacha Baron Cohen, Improv Everywhere, Jeremy Beadle and America’s king of the prank, Joey Skaggs.

A Pier Production for BBC Radio 4

Happy Thanksgiving from The Art of the Prank

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thanks Don

Tobias Wong, RIP

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Tobias Wong, Witty Designer and Conceptual Artist, Dies at 35
by William Grimes
June 2, 2010

Tobias Wong, a designer whose outrageous sendups of luxury goods and witty expropriation of work by other designers blurred the line between conceptual art and design, died on Sunday at his home in Manhattan. He was 35.

The office of the chief medical examiner in Manhattan ruled the death a suicide.

Mr. Wong first came to the attention of the design press in 2001 when he turned a Philippe Starck Bubble Club chair into a lamp, softly glowing from within. Adding spice to the stunt, “This Is a Lamp” was shown the night before the actual Starck chair was presented to the public for the first time.

A provocateur by nature, Mr. Wong operated at the fringes of the traditional design world, creating objects like a stack of 100 $1 bills, bound in peelable glue like a notepad; a gold-plated McDonalds coffee stirrer (a riff on the company’s plastic version that was apparently popular among drug users before being withdrawn); and an engagement ring with the diamond mounted upside down, so that the wearer could use it to scratch graffiti.

“As time went on his work became more and more ironic, sarcastic and pointed,” said Paola Antonelli, senior curator in the Museum of Modern Art’s Department of Architecture and Design. “He had an enfant terrible style of design that was very fresh in New York. Today you see all sorts of people doing conceptual design, but he was one of the first.” (more…)

Happy April Fools’ Day!

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The Art of The Prank Is Now On Facebook

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facebookReaders can now follow The Art of the Prank blog on Facebook. Comments are welcome there.

Jumping the Snark

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Jumping the Snark
by Dave Gilson
Mother Jones
November/December 2009

In an age of Yes Men, flash mobs, birthers, and fake pundits, is the prank dead?

Snark200What’s a good prank worth? How about $2 billion? That’s how much Dow Chemical’s stock value dipped in just 23 minutes on the morning of December 3, 2004, after its spokesman went on the BBC to announce that the company would make amends for the 1984 Bhopal toxic-gas disaster “simply because it’s the right thing to do.” (Dow had acquired Union Carbide, the original owner of the Bhopal chemical plant, in 1999.) Within the hour, the flack was exposed as one of the Yes Men, a duo that’s spent the past decade perfecting the art of anti-corporate trickery. The feat cemented their reputation as the world’s preeminent political pranksters (a reputation they recently reaffirmed by pranking the US Chamber of Commerce). It also proved that a punch line can occasionally pack a real punch.

The Bhopal stunt kicks off the pair’s new film, The Yes Men Fix the World, the follow-up to their self-titled 2004 movie. But don’t let the puffed-up title fool you into thinking that the Yes Men believe their hijinks are actually making the world a better place. A better title would have been The Prank Is Dead. (more…)

Inventing Marcel Duchamp

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Inventing Marcel Duchamp: The Dynamics of Portraiture
National Portrait Gallery
March 27 – August 2, 2009
Washington, DC

Portrait multiple de Marcel Duchamp (Five-Way Portrait of Marcel Duchamp), 1917

Rrose Sélavy by Duchamps and Man Ray & Tonsure (rear view), by Man Ray

Profile Portrait of Marcel Duchamp & Duchamp with Shaving Lather for Monte Carlo Bond, by Man Ray

From Artdaily.org:

Washington, DC – This groundbreaking exhibition casts new light upon Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968), one of the most influential artists of the recent past. This show demonstrates that Duchamp harnessed the power of portraiture and self-portraiture both to secure his reputation as an iconoclast and to establish himself as a major figure in the artworld. (more…)

Happy Birthday to The Art of the Prank (almost)!

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On April Fools’ Day 2009,
The Art of the Prank Blog
will be two years old!

prankstamplogo

Note to our contributors, friends and fans:
In celebration, we have moved the entire blog to a cloud server. This will help us accommodate more volume and more traffic. Since we’re making big changes, we decided to change our Web address at the same time. Why not cause the maximum confusion for the most people?

Henceforth, The Art of the Prank Blog will be found at
http://ArtofthePrank.com
(instead of http://Pranks.com)

Our new email addresses are:
admin @ artoftheprank.com to talk with us
submit @ artoftheprank.com to submit materials to the site

You can continue to count on us to bring you the profound, the profane, and the pathetic, that is — the widest spectrum of artful pranks; culture jamming & reality hacking; creative activism; literary, media & political hoaxes; truth that’s stranger than fiction; prank instructionals; and loads of practical jokes and mischief.

Please update your bookmarks and those of your friends’. If you are a subscriber, you don’t have to change anything. Email and RSS feed subscriptions should continue to function as usual. If you’d like to be a subscriber, please join us via email or RSS feed. You’ll find the subscription links on the right hand column of this page.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact us.

What Was Old is New Again @ ZKM

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From Rhizome.org at the New Museum, posted by Marcin Ramocki

What Was Old is New Again
A Meeting of Art and Scholarship

Fri–Sun, November 21–23, 2008
Symposium at the ZKM Lecture Hall
Karlsruhe, Germany

from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.


Every religion, political ideology, philosophy, and scientific theory embodies a set of structured beliefs. These belief systems maintain a symbiotic liaison with the arts. Throughout history, communal beliefs have relied on music, theater, painting, and dance in order to propagate accepted doctrines, and the arts in turn have shaped the articles of faith.

The conference brings together artists and scholars in an unusual forum. The arts addressed deal primarily with media, the major art form that has only come to the fore in recent decades. The scholarship concerns antique matters, such as Sumerian music, early Egyptian medicine, and the omens, codes of law, and creation myths of Mesopotamia. The divergent perspectives of the participants augur well for innovative ideas emerging from this close encounter between scholarship, the arts, and the belief systems of early and modern times.

Participants: Mel Alexenberg / Netanel Anor / Michael Bielicky / Bazon Brock / Yiyi Chen / Michael Cohn / Brian Dillon / Dragan Espenschied / Dmitry Gutov / Jenia Gutova / Wayne Horowitz / Th. J. H. Krispijn / Bo Lawergren / Olia Lialina / Barbara London / Naomi May / Luke Murphy / Muzaffer Ozgules / Marcin Ramocki / Morty Schiff / Irene Sibbing / Joey Skaggs / Peter Weibel / Martin Williams / Jocelyn Wolff / Henry Zemel

Presented by Caeno.org/newagain

Bruce Conner, Anonymous Artist, Dies… Again

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Appreciation: Humor was Bruce Conner’s art
by Kenneth Baker, Chronicle Art Critic
San Francisco Chronicle
July 11, 2008

Bruce Conner, photo by Liz Hafalia, SFCHaving announced his death on two previous occasions, Bruce Conner actually did die on Monday at 74.

The false alarms were part of his continual toying with the nature of personal and artistic identity. Conner liked to have control – the neatness of his house attested to that – and the nearest he could come to controlling public information about himself was to inject it with ruses and contradictions.

The shaggy look of his early assemblages earned Conner a place in the Bay Area tendency briefly known as Funk art. But that shagginess is deceptive. The unflinching, albeit intuitive, control he brought to those works’ composition accounts for the inventive power that still burns through their period quality when encountered half a century later.

Long before the shaky ground of selfhood became a theme of postmodernism, Conner was working and playing with it. The work in his 2000 retrospective at the de Young Museum was so diverse that, as I wrote at the time, “it could almost be taken for the output of a movement rather than an individual.” (more…)

Happy Birthday to The Art of the Prank!

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Filed under: Pranksters, The History of Pranks, The Prank as Art, Truth that's Stranger than Fiction

The Art of the Prank is one year old today!

Happy Birthday ArtofthePrank.com

Many, many thanks to all the supporters, contributors, readers, and friends who have made it such a great success!

images: party balloons, zombies

Pranks Film Festival – Reminder

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April Fools’ Day is extended to April 2 and 3!

If you’re in San Francisco, don’t miss:

The First Annual Pranks Film Festival
April 1, 2, 3 at The Roxie Cinema
3117 16th Street by Valencia, San Francisco CA 94133
Tickets $10 per day for all shows.

The 1st Annual Pranks Film Festival is a three day celebration and tribute to the “Art of the Prank” and those pranksters that have courage enough to pull them off. [Editor’s note: Footage of Joey Skaggs’ exploits will be screened Thursday, April 3 at 5pm]

www.pranksfilmfestival.com
p38bab1d7_5.png

1st Annual Pranks Film Festival

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RE/Search Publications Presents:

The First Annual Pranks Film Festival
April 1, 2, 3 at The Roxie Cinema
3117 16th Street by Valencia, San Francisco CA 94133
Tickets $10 per day for all shows.
www.pranksfilmfestival.com

1st Annual Pranks Film FestivalThe 1st Annual Pranks Film Festival is a three day celebration and tribute to the “Art of the Prank” and those pranksters that have courage enough to pull them off.

The Festival will screen films about the masters like Alan Abel, John Law, The Cacophany Society and the Billboard Liberation Front and short docs from the newest infiltrators and prankster, like the Yes Men, Harmon Leon and Joey Skaggs. This is a festival that is both humorous and political.

Check the schedule here. Benefit for RE/Search Publications and Todd Blair of SRL.


Editor’s note: Video about Joey Skaggs will be screened on April 3 at 5pm.