Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking

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Random Darknet Shopper Robot Arrested for Randomly Shopping

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Filed under: Art Pranks, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking

From Ed Coll:

Now that’s a cyber criminal! Robot is ARRESTED by police for buying ecstasy on the dark net
by Richard Gray
Daily Mail
April 20, 2015

A robot has been ‘arrested’ by Swiss police after it bought a supply of illegal drugs on a hidden region of the internet known as the ‘dark net’.

The automated computer program was designed as an online shopping system that would spend up to $100 each week by randomly purchasing an item offered for sale on the deep web.

The robot would then have its purchase mailed to a group of artists who then put the items in an exhibition in the town of St Gallen, in north east Switzerland.

The items it bought included a pair of Nike trainers, counterfeit designer jeans, the scan of a Hungarian passport and a set of UK Fire Brigade masterkeys.

Random Darknet Shopper

However, it seems the Random Darknet Shopper crossed the line when it purchased 10 Ecstasy tablets, which arrived in a vacuum packed bag hidden in a DVD case. (more…)

Unsanctioned Bust of Edward Snowden Erected (Briefly)

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking

From Deborah Thomas:

There’s a Massive, Illicit Bust of Edward Snowden Stuck to a War Monument in Brooklyn
by Bucky Turco
April 6, 2015

Illicit statue of Edward Snowden erected in Brooklyn

While most people slept, a trio of artists and some helpers installed a bust of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in Brooklyn on Monday morning. The group, which allowed ANIMAL to exclusively document the installation on the condition that we hide their identities, hauled the 100-pound sculpture into Fort Greene Park and up its hilly terrain just before dawn. They fused it to part of the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument, a memorial to Revolutionary War soldiers. As of press time, the sculpture was still there.

Read the full story of the erection on and the very quick removal by City park officials on

Watch the video:

The Amazing Story of Mingering Mike

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Urban Legends

The mystery of Mingering Mike: the soul legend who never existed
by Jon Ronson
The Guardian
11 February 2015

When a ‘crate-digger’ found a massive vinyl collection at a flea market, he couldn’t understand how a soul star who’d released over 100 records could just disappear. But the truth turned out to be even stranger. Jon Ronson goes in search of Mingering Mike

Intensely shy ... Mingering Mike at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Photograph: Jocelyn Augustino for the Guardian

Intensely shy … Mingering Mike at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Photograph: Jocelyn Augustino for the Guardian

This story begins with a record collector unearthing something extraordinary at a flea market one dawn in 2003. His name is Dori Hadar. He worked as a criminal investigator for a law firm in Washington DC and he’d been up all night with a client at the jail next door.

“It’s a miserable place to be, the DC jail,” Hadar tells me. “It’s stuffy and muggy and everything’s old and decaying.”

“Do you remember what your client had been accused of?” I ask.

Hadar shakes his head. “It’s basically drugs, guns and murders. Mainly.”

Hadar finally left the jail at 5am, just as a nearby flea market was setting up. He was a regular there – a “crate-digger” – for ever rifling through boxes of secondhand soul and funk albums, hunting for rarities. “It’s very competitive, the crate-digger world,” Hadar says. “People guard their boxes, they don’t want you to see, they pull the records out really fast.”

But Hadar had never been at the flea market at 5am before, and was thrilled to find no other crate-digger in sight. “And suddenly this enormous collection turned up. There must have been 15 boxes of albums.”

“As a crate-digger, that must be …”

“It’s the dream.”

All artworks courtesy the artist/Smithsonian American Art Museum

All artworks courtesy the artist/Smithsonian American Art Museum

Hadar was a true soul aficionado, with an encyclopaedic knowledge and 10,000 records at home. Which is why he was so amazed to discover 38 albums by a soul singer he had never heard of. His name was Mingering Mike. Hadar stared at the record covers. He read the liner notes. There was Mingering Mike’s 1968’s debut, Sit’tin by the Window. The cover art was a painting of a young man in a green T-shirt, good-looking, serious. The comedian Jack Benny had written the liner notes, calling him “a bright and intelligent young man with a great, exciting future awaiting him”.

So it transpired. There were greatest hits collections and a Bruce Lee concept album and movie soundtracks – including one for an action film called Stake Out. And there were live albums, like 1972’s Live from Paris, The Mingering Mike Review: ‘Their biggest show ever,’ read the liner notes. ‘What a night that was.’

Most of the song titles were upbeat and optimistic, like There’s Nothing Wrong With You Baby and Play It Cool, Don’t Be No Fool, Get Your Thing Together and Go Back to School. But other records had darker themes, like The Drug Store and Mama Takes Dope. Some were still wrapped in their original cellophane, price tags intact.

Hadar pulled out a few discs to see what condition they were in. Which was when he discovered to his enormous surprise that they weren’t vinyl. They were black-painted cardboard, with fake labels and hand-drawn grooves.

What had begun to dawn on Hadar was now totally apparent: Mingering Mike did not exist. He was somebody’s hugely detailed fantasy.

Read the whole story here.

Mingering Mike’s prodigious album collection is on exhibition at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2nd floor South, 8th and F Streets, N.W., February 27, 2015 – August 2, 2015

Afgan Artist Angers Her Harassers

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking

Afghan artist dons armour to counter men’s street harassment
by Emma Graham-Harrison
The Guardian
12 March 2015

Kubra Khademi’s eight-minute walk in Kabul wearing steel armour that emphasised her body shape inspires anger and death threats

 Kubra Khademi was surrounded by a mainly male crowd, which threw insults and stones during her walk. Photograph: Twitter

Kubra Khademi was surrounded by a mainly male crowd, which threw insults and stones during her walk. Photograph: Twitter

It took a month for Kubra Khademi to get the armour made exactly to her design; hours spent with a quiet, patient metalworker who usually made stoves.

The performance artist was an unusual customer on a street of dusty workshops in Kabul, where she chose her craftsman for his lack of curiosity about the outrageous steel plates she sketched out.

In a deeply conservative country where women are expected to shroud their figure and almost every inch of bare skin beyond hands, face and feet, she wanted steel armour that slipped over and emphasised her breasts, belly, crotch and bottom.

“He was a quiet man,” she recalls. “He didn’t question me at first, maybe because of my attitude. Then he asked: ‘What the hell is it?’, because other people were asking him.”

It was in fact part of a vanishing occurrence in the Afghan capital: a piece of performance art, planned by 27-year-old Khademi. The armour would be both protection and a defiant rebuke to the men whose groping hands and leering remarks make Kabul’s streets uncomfortable for almost any woman who walks them unchaperoned.

Photograph: Massoud Hossaini

Photograph: Massoud Hossaini

It was also an almost unimaginable provocation in a city where pornography may be avidly consumed in private, but women’s appearance is fiercely policed in public. Her performance lasted less than 10 minutes, but pictures soon ricocheted around social media, drawing anger and death threats – genuine worries in a country where women have been murdered for working as news anchors, actors and singers.

Read the rest of this article here.

John Law Reminisces with Broke-Ass Stuart

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, The History of Pranks, The Prank as Art

An Interview With John Law on ‘The Kinda Late Show with Broke-Ass Stuart’
by E.D.W. Lynch
Laughing Squid
March 9, 2015

Broke-Ass Stuart interviews Laughing Squid partner John Law about his adventures in the San Francisco underground including The San Francisco Suicide Club, Cacophony Society and Burning Man on a live episode of The Kinda Late Show with Broke-Ass Stuart.

Watch the video:

Negativeland’s Ian Allen, RIP

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking

Ian Allen, Former Negativland Member, Dead at 56
by Kory Grow
January 22, 2015

The musician helped usher in the band’s notion of “culture jamming” and was most active in the group during the Eighties

Ian Allen, Peter Montgomery/Sharon Jue

Ian Allen, Peter Montgomery/Sharon Jue

Onetime Negativland member Ian Allen died on January 17th, a result of infections and complications following heart-valve replacement surgery at a hospital in Sanford, California. He was 56. The band reported the news on its Facebook page.

A member during their 1983 album A Big 10-8 Place, Allen was part of the group on the vanguard of “culture jamming,” the wry use of existing recorded material and tape splicing, joining the eras between John Cage and contemporary hip-hop sampling. He was most active between 1981 and 1987, leaving before the group’s critically acclaimed, confrontational mid-Eighties run on punk label SST. That run included their 1991 U2 EP, which kickstarted a legendary court case over unauthorized samples.

“His impact, inspiration and influence on the group is impossible to overestimate,” the group wrote in its statement. “There would be no group as we know it today, no Over The Edge radio show [on KPFA], no ‘culture jamming’ and no A Big 10-8 Place LP without him.”

Read the rest of this article here.

Improv Everywhere: No Pants Subway Ride 2015

Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Practical Jokes and Mischief

From Charlie Todd of Improv Everywhere:

No Pants Subway Ride 2015

On Sunday, January 11th, 2015 tens of thousands of people took off their pants on subways in over 60 cities in over 25 countries around the world. In New York, [the] 14th Annual No Pants Subway Ride had over 4,000 participants, spread out over seven meeting points and eleven subway lines.

no pants subway 2015

Watch the video:

More photos and info here.

Valuable Life Lessons and Limited-Edition Boxes of Poo

Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Parody, Pranksters

Emerson Dameron chats with Cards Against Humanity’s Max Temkin:

bullshitcahLike numerous other small businesspeople, the braintrust behind the controversial party game Cards Against Humanity ran a money-saving special on “Black Friday,” the designated consumer orgy following Thanksgiving.

First, the company pulled its flagship game offline for the day, leaving any prospective buyers with plumper wallets. In case anyone remained dead set on exchanging scratch for CAH merch, it introduced an exclusive new item: the Box of Bullshit. It sold out within hours, despite the fact that it was, as its creators explained repeatedly throughout the day, precisely as advertised.

I checked in with Max Temkin, a Chicago-based designer and the most high-profile member of the Cards Against Humanity team, to see how it went.

How did you hatch the idea for the Box of Bullshit?

We all hate “Black Friday” and the ensuing media frenzy around it, which is a problem for us because holiday sales are pretty important for our company. I’ve always loved the Black Friday culture jamming that happens, like people who run up to a Best Buy moments before it opens and U-lock the doors shut. So it just seemed right for us to parody black friday by taking part in it in completely the wrong way. (more…)

Faking out the Foodies

Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Practical Jokes and Mischief, Pranksters

Food prank!

“Idiot Foodies Pranked Into Lovin’ McDonalds”
by Tara McGinley
Dangerous Minds
October 22, 2014

mcdonalds-happy-meal-mascotTwo Dutch pranksters from Life Hunters TV decided to hit up the annual culinary food convention in Houten to see if they could deceive foodies and “high-end food experts” with their supposed restaurant’s new “organic” alternatives to fast food. All these two guys did was go to a local McDonald’s to buy some artery cloggin’ fixins, chopped up the Mickey D’s into neat little squares and then stuck some toothpicks into the food. That’s all.

So were the foodies impressed with this duo’s new line of organic fast food? You betcha! One “expert” remarked:

“I feel some warmth releasing in my mouth. There a lot of different tastes!”

Yes and all of those different tastes swirling around your palette have names that sound like something you heard in chemistry class…

You’ll be pleased to know that at least one of the “experts” tasting the McDonald’s fare thinks it:

“Tastes like chicken.”

Several thought it tasted even better than “real” McDonald’s!

Watch the video: Before hitting “play” on this video, please click on “settings” and then select “subtitles.”

Online Video Game Shooter Gets Swatted “Live on Camera”

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking

UPDATE: A more indepth look, via Emerson Damerson, at “swatting” in the online gaming sphere — The dark side of livestreaming entertainment, by Richard Lewis, The Kernel, October 12th, 2014.

Live Stream Captures SWAT Team Charging Into Gamer’s Office
by Cate Matthews
The Huffington Post
August 28, 2014

When YouTuber Jordan Mathewson began his live stream Wednesday, playing a first person-shooter video game, he wasn’t expecting to end his session on the floor with real guns trained on him.

Watch the video from local Denver news:

Mathewson and the rest of his gaming collective apparently fell victim to a prank known as “swatting,” where hoaxers force an armed police response by calling in a false report on rival gamers.

Kootra Gets Swatted News Report YouTubeMathewson was about two hours into a game of “Counter-Strike” at the collective’s office in Littleton, Colorado, when he heard a commotion outside his door. A SWAT team was searching the place, and they were about to charge into his office. As seen in the video, he quickly picked up on what was happening. (more…)

Projecting Solidarity for Hong Kong Protestors

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking

Messages Supporting Hong Kong Protesters Stream from Web to the Streets
by Adario Strange
September 30, 2014

IMG_3844.JPGMessages supporting Occupy Central sent in to a Hong Kong art collective’s website are turned into a stream real-time, projected graffiti. Read the full article here.

image: Add Oil Machine for OCLP

The Art of Human Hacking

Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Fraud and Deception

Patrick Howell O’Neill reports from Def Con 2014 in Las Vegas, where he witnesses an odd sort of game: Social Engineering Capture the Flag.

Inside the Super Bowl of Lying
by Patrick Howell O’Neill
The Daily Dot
September 2, 2014

Nobody can find a seat, the room is so packed. The boisterous audience, undeterred, crowds against the walls and lies down on the floor at every edge of the room to catch the action. A line of people stretches out the front door.

Social engineering capture the flag


This is the 2014 Def Con hacker conference at the Rio Casino in Las Vegas. The people are in one of the tiniest rooms in the casino to see the Super Bowl of lying.

The Social Engineering Capture The Flag contest was launched by Christopher Hadnagy in 2009. This year, nine teams of two players each are given a long list of goals that can only be accomplished through skillful lying and manipulation. The contest has been going on for five years, but most of the crowd, listening in rapt attention, is experiencing it for the very first time.

Hadnagy has another name for social engineering: “The art of human hacking.” While almost all of Def Con is dedicated to the art of computer hacking, this event targeted the mind. (more…)

Grover Norquist Meets the Wisdom of Burning Man

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking

Can “radical inclusiveness” ever win out over entrenched political partisanship?

My first Burning Man: confessions of a conservative from Washington
by Grover Norquist
2 September 2014 16.20 EDT

‘Some day, I want to live 52 weeks a year in a state or city that acts like this. I want to attend a national political convention that advocates the wisdom of Burning Man.’

Illustration: Bart van Leeuwen for Guardian US Opinion (based on photos via Getty)

What is Burning Man?

It is a larger version of … what? Woodstock? That was a bunch of teenagers coming to watch artists perform. At Burning Man, everyone is expected to be a participant. Burners bring their art work, their art cars, their personal dress and/or undress: everyone is on stage. The story of Woodstock was thousands of young people, without the sense to bring their own food and water, being rescued by the state police and sensible bourgeois rural folks. The story of Burning Man is one of radical self-reliance.

It is a more intense than … what? Not quite the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Burning Man is an arts festival in the middle of the Nevada desert. It takes hours to get there, and you must bring what you eat or wear or need: you cannot buy anything there. Burning Man is more like Brigadoon – a western ghost town that springs to life. Dust storms. Cold nights. Black Rock City is completely built and then taken apart and disappeared each year, by 65,000 people.

Burning Man is greater than I had ever imagined. (more…)

Jonathan Kluth: Auto Music

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking

Songwriter Jonathan Kluth performs not only in, but with his car.

Watch the video:

Hear more of his music on Soundcloud

via Digg

Improv Everywhere: Black Tie Beach 2014

Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Pranksters

From Charlie Todd of Improv Everywhere:

Black Tie Beach 2014   Improv Everywhere-425

For the Fifth Annual Black Tie Beach, hundreds of participants spent a day at the beach in black tie attire. We covered Coney Island with a diverse group of people of all ages laying out, playing games, and swimming in the ocean in formal wear. Agents were instructed to find cheap tuxedos and ball gowns at thrift stores for the occasion. The event also happened on the same day in several other cities around the world, including Boston and Jacksonville.

Watch the video:

See more photos and info here.

UPCOMING: The Mp3 Experiment Eleven will take place on Saturday, September 20 at a location to be announced in Brooklyn, NY. Once again we are staging the Mp3 Experiment TWICE this year. It will take place at 2 PM and 6 PM. Save the date! This event, as always, is free and open to all.