The World of the Prank

The artist as social provocateur and activist incorporates humor, satire, irony, political commentary and/or direct action to provoke critical thinking. Pranks challenge convention and the status quo and expose prejudices and biases.

Blog Posts

Here’s a Chilling Thought

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters

He has confided that he dreams of being added to Mount Rushmore. Maybe this will have to do…


Environmentalist group wants to carve Trump’s face in glacier
by Max Jaeger
New York Post
May 1, 2018

They want to melt the president in effigy.

A Finnish group is raising money to carve President Trump’s face into a glacier and then live stream it as it thaws — all to raise awareness about global warming.

Watch the Project Trumpmore official trailer:

“There are still people who ponder whether it’s (global warming) a real issue. We want to build the monument for all of us, so we can see how long the sculpture lasts before melting,” Nicolas Prieto of the Melting Ice association said in a statement.

“Often people only believe something when they see it with their own eyes.”

The group — which calls the project “Trumpmore” in a nod to Mount Rushmore — is trying to raise just south of $500,000 to create the 115-foot-tall carving, which would have roughly the same dimensions as the sculptures adorning Rushmore.

Melting Ice thinks the actual construction would take a team of Finnish and Mongolian sculptors about four weeks to complete. Then they aim to train a live stream on the carving to watch it melt. (more…)

Taxidermied Anteater Fools Photography Contest Judges

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Filed under: Fact or Fiction?, Hoaxes vs. Scams, Prank News, You Decide

Well, it was alive at some point…


Wildlife photo competition disqualifies ‘stuffed anteater’ image
by Jonathan Amos
BBC Science Correspondent
27 April 2018

A winning entry in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition has been disqualified for featuring a taxidermy specimen.

The image, known as The Night Raider, shows an anteater moving towards a termite mound in a Brazilian reserve.

Mr Cabral said flashes and a long exposure were needed to capture the scene

London’s Natural History Museum, which runs the competition, says the use of stuffed animals breaches its rules.

The photographer, Marcio Cabral, denies he faked the scene and claims there is a witness who was with him on the day.

Other photographers and tourists were in the park at the same time and therefore “it would be very unlikely anyone wouldn’t see a stuffed animal being transported and placed carefully in this position”, he told BBC News.

But Roz Kidman Cox, the chair of judges for Wildlife Photographer of the Year (WPY), was stern in her criticism.

“This disqualification should remind entrants that any transgression of the rules and spirit of the competition will eventually be found out,” she said.

The taxidermy specimen is held at a visitors’ centre at an entrance to the park

The Night Raider picture won the Animals In Their Environment category in the 2017 WPY awards. It was taken in Emas National Park. (more…)

Larry Harvey, Co-founder of Burning Man, RIP

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

Burning Man’s co-founder dead at 70: How his event changed the world
by Chris Taylor
Mashable
April 28, 2018

Larry Harvey, the co-founder of the Burning Man festival who grew it from an event on a San Francisco beach to a desert arts festival of global significance, died Saturday. He was 70.

Harvey had been hospitalized after a stroke on April 4, and had remained in critical condition. “Though we all hoped he would recover, he passed peacefully this morning at 8:24am in San Francisco, with members of his family at his side,” wrote Burning Man CEO Marian Goodell in the organization’s official announcement.

Harvey’s story has already passed into countercultural legend. A former landscape gardener and carpenter, he and his friend Jerry James decided to burn a large wooden figure of a man on San Francisco’s Baker Beach in 1986.

The Burning Man event, repeated annually, began to draw exponentially increasing numbers of attendees — so many that Harvey and friends needed a new location where it could grow relatively unchecked by authorities. In 1990 they found one in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, and the week-long extravaganza of Burning Man began.

Much of the event’s energy in those early years was provided by the Cacophony Society, a culture-jamming collective of California artists. But it was Harvey who became the face and the driving force behind Burning Man’s expansion. After a particularly anarchic version of the festival in 1996, in which one participant ran his car over a number of people in tents, Harvey oversaw Burning Man’s transformation into Black Rock City — a temporary urban environment with roads, gas lamps and an army of volunteers. Read the rest of this article here.

Finger Painting

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Filed under: Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters

A lot of finger pointing here…


Mobile art project gives middle finger to Hillary and Trump
by Oli Coleman
Page Six
April 30, 2018

“DEFIANCE” (Donald Trump) and “FAIR GAME” (Hillary Clinton) are each made from 4,000 hand-cast urethane middle fingers by artist Kevin Champeny. Courtesy Kevin Champeny

An artist is arranging a massive moving art installation in which two trucks will carry giant portraits of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump around town made of thousands of rubber middle fingers pointing at each other.

Kevin Champeny’s mobile installation — the Clinton piece is called “Fair Game” and Trump’s is “Defiance” — also plays audio clips of the political rivals talking about each other via huge speakers.

With its 4,000 urethane fingers, the art will be parked from May 3 to May 6 at Union Square Park, Madison Square Park, Bryant Park, Times Square and Pier 94 — where Art New York is taking place.

Culture Jamming Godfather Gets a Fitting Tribute

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Filed under: Art Pranks, Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, First Amendment Issues, Legal Issues, Media Literacy, Media Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, The History of Pranks, The Prank as Art

In 1981, Don Joyce launched Over the Edge, a weekly program on KPFA in Berkeley comprised of cut-up tapes and surrealist social commentary. By the time he passed in 2015, he had been a core member of the legendary avant-garde rock band Negativland, engaged in numerous high-profile intellectual property controversies (including tangles with Pepsi and U2), helped popularize the plunderphonics movement (which intersected with hip-hop and helped define internet culture), and coined the phrase “culture jamming.”

A new documentary takes a thoughtful and haunting look at this bold, brilliant, and stubborn creative force.


An Affectionate and Honest Filmic Portrait of Negativland’s Don Joyce
By Paul Riismandel
Radio Survivor
April 8, 2018

Musician, DJ and radio artist Don Joyce passed away nearly three years ago, on July 22, 2015. He left behind a voluminous archive of his KPFA radio program “Over the Edge,” which took off in new, chaotic and creative directions when he welcomed the participation of the experimental band Negativland in 1981, then joining the group.

The documentary “How Radio Isn’t Done” (DVD) sheds light on Joyce and his life, work and his process for recontextualizing the never-ending flow of media messages that flood everyday life. Director Ryan Worsley paints an affectionate, but honest portrait of a man who poured tremendous quantities of inspiration, energy and effort into his community radio program, leaving the impression that it was something he just had to do. Read more.

Better Call Mike

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Parody, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, Satire

Fake subway ads promoting the services offered by President Trump’s fixer, attorney Michael Cohen, have appeared in New York City subways. The anonymous force behind the ads, website and telephone message you receive when you call the phone number on the ad is interviewed in the Village Voice.


Meet the Creator of the Fake Michael Cohen Subway Ad
by Neil Demause
Village Voice
April 20, 2018

Dirty deeds, done for a reasonable retainer

Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images

This week, subway riders may have been surprised during their morning commutes to see a Dr. Zizmor–esque ad for another now-familiar face: “Michael Cohen, Attorney-at-Law. Got Problems? Call ‘The Fixer,’ ” the ad copy reads, above a checklist of services rendered — “Hush Payments, Physical Threats, Pay Off Porn Stars, Playboy Bunnies” — and the smarmily grinning face of Donald Trump’s embattled lawyer.

The ad — which, needless to say, was placed on trains without the knowledge or permission of the MTA — went a step further, though, by including a phone number that leads to a similarly deadpan voicemail message (“Press 3 if you are the president of the United States”), as well as a URL for a website advertising his skill set and office hours. (Apparently the fake Cohen is happy to “commit treason if it means helping a client” but doesn’t work weekends.)

The Voice, in what is apparently going to be an ongoing series of interviews with New Yorkers insistent on joining the daily subway-ad-strip dialogue, tracked down the anonymous Cohen impersonator for a brief email interrogation: Read the full interview here.

Sinclair Broadcasting Screams “Fake News” But They Are Fake News!

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Filed under: First Amendment Issues, Media Literacy, Political Challenges, Political Pranks, Propaganda and Disinformation, Spin

Gene Policinski, President & COO of the Newseum Institute, opines on the Sinclair Publishing hostage scenario revealed by Deadspin in a video of news anchors all over the country spouting chillingly identical propaganda.


Policinski: Next time, just put your name to the message
Gene Policinski
Indise the First Amendment
April 7, 2018

Sinclair Broadcasting’s recent promotional message on the state of today’s news — delivered to its TV audiences nationwide — is as protected by the First Amendment as it was an oafish attempt to hide corporate messaging under the veneer of local news reporting.

In other words, it was commentary from a conservative company that has a First Amendment right to express its views, but it was also a shoddy tactic that undermined the very thing Sinclair’s leadership claimed to support: good journalism.

Deadspin — an online sports news site — put together a now widely shared video of news anchors from 45 Sinclair-owned American stations, all reading in synchrony from the same script. The video’s echo-chamber effect laid bare what many have described as an “Orwellian” attempt to deliver a persuasive message using trusted voices in local journalism.

Watch the video:
Sinclair’s Soldiers in Trump’s War on Media Video, by Deadspin

The mash-up of TV anchors, delivering the script with varying degrees of sincerity, prompted dire warnings from left-leaning cable news commentators about media consolidation and ulterior political motives.

President Trump tweeted a defense of Sinclair, using the controversy to take yet another swipe at the same mainstream news outlets he frequently attacks: “So funny to watch Fake News Networks, among the most dishonest groups of people I have ever dealt with, criticize Sinclair Broadcasting for being biased.”

Trump has it wrong — critics took aim at the method, not the message.

Let’s parse the actual effort… Read the rest of this article here.

The Anti-Algorithm Hat

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Filed under: Conspiracy Theories, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Fact or Fiction?, Truth that's Stranger than Fiction, You Decide

For savvy fashionista paranoiacs, tinfoil just won’t cut it anymore.


“There’s Now a Hat That Can Fool Facial Recognition Technology”
By Sean Keach
The Sun
March 23, 2018

Scientists have invented a baseball cap that can trick facial recognition tech into thinking you’re someone else entirely.

The hi-tech headwear uses laser dots to fool software like Apple’s Face ID, which works by scanning your face to identify who you are.

Scientists at China’s Fudan University laced the inside of the cap with tiny LED lights, which project infrared dots onto your face.

These dots aren’t visible to the naked eye, but they’ll be picked up by facial recognition systems.

Apple’s iPhone face-scanning works by using an infrared blaster to project dots all over your face. By tracking these dots, it can work out the structure of your face — and identify you. Read more.

TV News Pranks Lead to Litigation

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Legal Issues, Media Literacy, Practical Jokes and Mischief, Prank News, Pranksters

It’s 2018, and TV news is apparently more relevant and dangerous than ever. Learn more about our old pals Chop and Steele with the Vice News team.


“Meet the Comedy Duo Who Got Sued for Pranking the News”
By Oliver Noble and Brandon Lisy
Vice News
March 22, 2018

When they infiltrated three morning news programs by passing themselves off as a hilariously unathletic strongman duo, Brooklyn comedians Nick Prueher and Joe Pickett were not the first people to prank TV News.

Left-leaning activists The Yes Men famously infiltrated BBC, and right-wing provocateur James O’Keefe unsuccessfully attempted to plant a false story in the Washington Post. But Prueher and Pickett, who run the Found Footage Festival, have no overt political agenda and are happy to simply interrupt news programming with the absurd or profane.

Out of embarrassment or pragmatism, media companies generally avoid legal retaliation after getting pranked. Yet when Prueher and Pickett pranked Gray Television, the company sued, kicking off a battle over free speech, comedy, and how easy it can be get past TV bookers. Read more.

Trump Military Parade Kicks Off NYC’s 33rd Annual April Fools’ Day Parade

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters

No need to spend tens of millions for Trump’s Military Parade. The 33rd Annual April Fools’ Day Parade just did it and it was a “huuuuge” success! Thank you Vladimir and Kim for coming. Even Stormy stepped out with us. Thanks to all the staging and marching troops!

Kim Jong Un, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump at Trump’s Military Parade, April 1, 2018. Joey Skaggs Archive

Trump’s Military Parade begins, April 1, 2018. Joey Skaggs Archive

Trump and friends at Trump’s Military Parade, April 1, 2018. Joey Skaggs Archive

The entire parade takes a knee at Trump Tower during Trump’s Military Parade, April 1, 2018. Joey Skaggs Archive

The crowd swells with pride at Trump’s Military Parade, April 1, 2018. Joey Skaggs Archive

No Trump Military Parade would be complete without Stormy Daniels there to spank President Trump with his magazine. Joey Skaggs Archive

More photos by Erik R, McGregor here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm9iB7Hd

April Fools’ Day 2018: Stunt Roundup

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Filed under: All About Pranks, Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Media Literacy, Parody, Practical Jokes and Mischief, Prank News, Pranksters, Publicity Stunts, Satire, The History of Pranks, The World of the Prank

The smirking array of pranks, stunts, and fake marketing drives has become a predictable April Fool’s Day rite. Our finest brands and capital-C Creative Teams use this opportunity to trot out wacky ideas and to attempt to out-clever each other in a quest for attention.

You can set your sundial by it, but that’s no reason, in itself, to complain. Plenty of brand-based April Fool’s japes are entertaining, and a few pack genuinely subversive elements.

Sunday finds the virtual prank parade already in progress. The clowns have been rolling out all week, in acknowledgement of the holiday schedule, and probably as part of a phenomenon similar to Christmas Creep, in which April Fool’s Day threatens to slowly engulf more and more of the year.

There are few unique challenges against which this year’s festival of cleverness must contend. April Fool’s Day falls on a Sunday, and on the Easter holiday, widely observed in nations where influential marketers and media entities are based. It also falls against a background characterized by extreme distrust and hostility toward advertisers, Silicon Valley tech giants, and a political climate in which the US presidential administration’s most favored PR approach resembles gaslighting. Increasingly, the media treat April Fool’s brand stunts with outward cynicism and exhaustion.

In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica controversy that is grinding away at Facebook, tech brands face a tough room this year. Google, in particular, has always embraced cheeky self-awareness in its pranks, a winking sense of, “everyone seems to think we’re going to control the world someday – and wouldn’t it be kind of neat if we did?” This year’s battery of GOOG yuks, including a “bad joke detector” and an API for different varieties of hummus, acknowledges the inherent absurdity of Google’s algorithmic, data-driven approach to world domination. Google’s work is state-of-the-art in terms of creative skill, but it feels at least few weeks behind the times.

In the Scott Dikkers taxonomy of jokes, irony and parody are hard to make stick in 2018. Gentle absurdity, wordplay, and “madcap” humor may be an easier plan.

Coinciding with Easter Sunday may make it harder to nab eyeballs, but some brands are using it to their advantage. The Chocolate Whopper is one of many gags that draws ridiculous associations with holiday sweets. Following up the success of the emoji car horn, one of the most charming 2017 stunts, Honda returns with another winning exercise in pure silliness. One tech company simply gave a crapload of money to people who need it, which may be the most heartwarming and unorthodox 4/1 tactic on record.

In the non-commercial realm, artists and social critics are addressing the elephant in the room, head on. From anonymous Craigslist pranksters to our own head honcho Joey Skaggs and his annual April Fool’s Day parade, there’s plenty of puckish and ambitious parody directed at Trump and his inherently ridiculous milieu.

Arguably, the best thing that can come from the widespread crisis in confidence that is 2018 is a greater premium on critical thinking and the importance of placing our relentless and exhausting news cycle in its broader context.

As usual, Atlas Obscura does rigorous yet unpretentious work putting curiosities and absurdities against the backdrop of history, in an entertaining and approachable fashion. All week, it has showcased examples of old-school irreverence, from bird dung to a theoretical cactus, as a reminder that high-profile pranks have always been with us, and their spirit is always worth preserving and celebrating. (Thanks to Dr. Bob O’Keefe for the tip on this one.)

Join the Trumps’ Military Procession, April 1, 59th & 5th Ave NYC

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Political Pranks

President Trump wants you to spend tens of millions of dollars for his narcissistic, self-aggrandizing and unnecessary military parade. We can do it for a whole lot less.

Join our army of irreverent pranksters for a satirical April Fools’ Day Parade on April 1, 2018 at noon (sharp) at 59th Street and 5th Avenue in NYC. Print your trump mask or we’ll have one for you, and bring your military toys, tanks, helicopters and dolls. We’ll march two blocks to Trump Tower where the whole parade will take a knee. Click for details.

Trump’s Military Parade Extravaganza Set for April 1, 2018

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, Satire

Event Alert!
New York City’s 33rd Annual April Fools’ Day Parade &
2nd Annual Trumpathon!
“TAKE A KNEE!”

If you’re in New York City on Sunday, April 1, 2018, join the April Fools’ Day Trump Military Parade and show the world how grandiose and out of touch America’s leader really is.

Bring your artillery! All military toys, tanks, planes, helicopters and GI Joe soldiers are needed. Help us amass the largest assembly of military might the world has ever seen for President Donald Trump’s tremendous and amazing Military Parade.

All marching personnel will have Donald Trump look-like masks and will march from 5th Ave. and 59th St. to Trump Tower to take a knee. Download and print a Trump mask here. If you can’t print a mask, we’ll have one for you.

Please spread the word! @artoftheprank

WHAT:
New York’s irreverent April Fools’ Day Parade returns, poking fun once again at the past year’s displays of hype, hypocrisy, deceit, bigotry, and downright foolishness. Nothing is sacred. Our satire knows no bounds. The parade this year will be a massive \”TRUMP MILIARY PARADE\” celebrating our president’s greatest fixation — himself.

The public is encouraged to participate, in or out of costume, with or without floats, and may join the procession at any point along the parade route. Floats can be no wider than 10′ and no longer than 30′. They can be self-propelled, towed, pushed or pulled. Customized bicycles, tricycles, baby carriages and aerial balloons are welcome. The parade will start at 59th St. and Fifth Ave. at 12 noon, and will pass by Trump Tower at 12:15 pm where everyone will take a knee. The Parade Committee assumes no liability for damages caused by satire.

WHY:
The New York April Fools’ Day Parade was created in 1986 to remedy a glaring omission in the long list of New York’s ethnic and holiday parades. These events fail to recognize the importance of April 1st, the day designated to commemorate the folly of mankind. In an attempt to bridge this gap and bring people back in touch with their inherent foolishness, the parade annually crowns a King or Queen of Fools from parading look-alikes.

WHEN/WHERE:
Sunday, April 1, from 12 noon – 3 pm

  • Parade begins at 5th Avenue & 59th Street and marches down 5th Avenue to Washington Square Park
  • There will be one stop at Trump Tower at 5th Avenue between 57th and 56th Street where the entire parade will take a knee
  • FULL PRESS RELEASE: http://aprilfoolsdayparade.com

    FACEBOOK EVENT: Please share on Facebook

    TWITTER: @artoftheprank

    FOR MORE INFORMATION:
    Joey Skaggs, April Fools’ Day Parade Committee Chair
    Phone: 212-254-7878
    info@joeyskaggs.com

    Banksy Immortalizes Painting That Caused Artist Zehra Dogan’s Arrest & Imprisonment in Turkey

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    Filed under: Art Pranks, Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters

    Banksy’s new mural in collaboration with Borf, aka John Tsombikos, brings jailed Turkish artist Zehra Dogan’s work to New York.


    New Banksy NYC mural supports jailed Turkish artist
    by Janon Fisher
    New York Daily News
    March 17, 2018

    The mysterious British graffiti artist Banksy created a 70-foot mural on the Houston Bowery Graffiti Wall showing Turkish artist Zehra Dogan trapped behind hashmarks. (FRANK FRANKLIN II/AP)

    Mysterious British graffiti artist Banksy can\”™t stay away from the Big Apple.

    After tagging the clock face on a West Village bank, he moved east Thursday, with a sidewalk to rooftop display drawing attention to the plight of a jailed artist.

    The 70-foot mural on the Houston Bowery Graffiti Wall shows Turkish artist Zehra Dogan trapped behind a set of hashmarks meant to symbolize her prison bars.

    Dogan was sentenced to nearly three years in jail for painting a the town of Nasybin laid waste by the Turkish after a battle with Kurdish forces.

    She copied the photo from a newspaper then painted it in watercolor, adding Turkish flags to the scene, according to her publicist.

    Dogan was arrested after she posted the image on social media.

    The timing of the mural marks the one year anniversary of her incarceration.

    Her watercolor stretches out across the top of the building where Banksy has painted his mural.

    \”I really feel for her. I\”™ve painted things much more worthy of a custodial sentence,\” Banksy told The New York Times in a statement.

    7,000 Pairs of Shoes is 7,000 Too Many

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    Filed under: Creative Activism, First Amendment Issues, Political Challenges, Prank News

    A powerful display of empty shoes on Capitol Lawn remembers the thousands of children killed by gun violence in America in recent years. #NotOneMore


    7,000 Pairs Of Shoes On Capitol Lawn Are Powerful Nod To Gun Violence
    by Willa Frej
    Huffington Post
    March 14, 2018

    They are meant to represent the number of children killed in shootings since Sandy Hook.

    With the epicenter of policymaking looming large in the background, activists on Tuesday placed 7,000 pairs of empty shoes across the Capitol lawn, an impossible-to-ignore symbol of the children lost to gun violence since the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre.

    Families who have lost children to shootings were invited to contribute their kids’ shoes, said global advocacy group Avaaz, which organized the event.

    “I’ll be traveling to D.C. literally wearing my son Daniel’s shoes, the ones he wore the day he died at Columbine,” said Tom Mauser, whose son was killed in the Columbine mass shooting. “I think this kind of event with shoes offers a very powerful metaphor both for how we miss the victims who once filled those shoes, and also for how we see ourselves wanting to walk in their place, seeking change, so that others don’t have to walk this painful journey.”

    People across the country, including celebrities, donated shoes to the display, which Avaaz said covered more than 10,000 square feet of grounds outside the Capitol. Several Democratic lawmakers visited the site, taking the opportunity to call out congressional inaction on gun reform.

    According to CNN, Avaaz took the 7,000 figure from a 2017 American Academy of Pediatrics report, which found that almost 1,300 children die from gunshot wounds in the U.S. every year.

    Tom Mauser lost his son Daniel at Columbine. He’s at the Capitol today to say #NotOneMore. Read more

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