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

Michael De Feo’s Flowers

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking

I love telling success stories about my former SVA students. I now have the opportunity to boast about Michael De Feo. His book, “Michael De Feo: Flowers“, was just released by Abrams Books.

Michael De Feo’s dedication and singularity in the use of his iconic flower image has taken him on a creative adventure of self-discovery in a very public arena.

Michael paints flowers on walls and other public spaces. He has also appropriated advertisements, transforming them, much like billboard liberators, taggers, and graffiti artists do, to dramatically change one message to another. His choice to violate these public spaces with his decorative flowers has great irony. It’s non-threatening. One could paint bullet holes. Michael paints flowers. Bullet holes are obvious. You don’t have to think much about the message. But a flower…

The greater irony is that Michael’s work has now been appropriated by the advertisers whose campaigns he altered because of the positive attention he brings to their work. From my perspective, Michael has created a new meaning to the phrase “flower power.”

r/Place: Recollections of a Pop-up Online Subculture

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Filed under: Art Pranks, Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Media Pranks, Sociology and Psychology of Pranks, The History of Pranks, The Prank as Art, The World of the Prank

r/Place, an incredible 2017 reddit experiment with a simple premise and strict parameters, stands out for the spirit of challenge and community it ignited. It brought the best of collaborative street art into the heart of the digital realm, it earned its place in the annals of internet culture, and it’s worth revisiting and remembering. Here’s how it went down, through the eyes of one very engaged participant.

(If you’re unfamiliar with reddit, here’s a pretty good primer.)


“The story of r/Place. As told by a foot soldier for r/Mexico.”
By Arturo Gutierrez
ART + Marketing
April 3, 2017

I’m sure other historians can tell you who was the first. Others much more knowledgeable than me who can pinpoint where exactly in the vast Canvas did the cursors of hundreds aimed themselves into a singular area, and willed order out of the chaos. But I’m not the one to tell.

Instead, what I saw as a bystander that April 1st was the emergence of life, color, and memes of all sizes and kinds growing almost by magic. And as the hours passed, as I laid a pixel here, waited, and laid another pixel there, the whole Canvas evolved and grew between each of my visits. It was an amazing sight to behold. An inspiring feat of human ingenuity, humor, and improvised politics in slow motion.

Yes, that’s right. For even in these early hours, even before the dedicated subreddits, the forums, Discord channels and massive bot armies of the later days, a silent, wordless body of politics was being established right before our eyes. Read more.

Hats Off to the Peace Collective!

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

An ad from Peace Collective, a clothing store with a cause, unravels the MAGA hat stitch-by-stitch and gives it a new meaning.

Watch the video: #Unravel Hate by Peace Collective

JR’s Ephemeral Art at the Louvre

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Illusion and Magic, Prank News, Pranksters

Lori Dorn, from Laughing Squid, reports on a magnificent, ephemeral work of art created by French artist JR


Street Artist JR Uses 2,000 Sheets of Paper to Turn The Louvre Pyramid Into an Incredible Optical Illusion
by Lori Dorn
Laughing Squid
April 3, 2019

Three years after he made the Louvre disappear into the facade of the Paris Museum, the remarkable award-winning French street artist and photographer JR created an equally stunning optical illusion centered around the I.M Pei designed Louvre Pyramid itself, in celebration of its 30th anniversary. Over 400 volunteers help the artist paste over 2,000 sheets of specifically designed paper strips onto the [Napoleon] Court, making it appears as if the pyramid was submerged in a rock quarry.

…The images, like life, are ephemeral. Once pasted, the art piece lives on its own. The sun dries the light glue and with every step, people tear pieces of the fragile paper. …This project is also about presence and absence, about reality and memories, about impermanence.

Unfortunately, the installation only lasted for a single day…

Read the whole story here.

Trump Swears There Was No Parade!

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

See more photos here.

Watch the video:

Canadaland Podcast Interview with Joey Skaggs

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Media Pranks, Podcasts, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, The History of Pranks, The Prank as Art

From Jesse Brown, host of Canadaland Podcast:

The greatest media prankster alive talks to Jesse for our April Fools episode.

In Review: April Fools’ Day 2019 Branding, Marketing, and Media Stunts

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Filed under: All About Pranks, Fact or Fiction?, Fraud and Deception, Hype, Media Literacy, Media Pranks, Parody, Practical Jokes and Mischief, Prank News, Pranksters, Publicity Stunts, Satire, Sociology and Psychology of Pranks, Spin, The World of the Prank

Before April Fools’ Day 2019 even began, the tech giant Microsoft announced that it would not be indulging in any branded foolishness this year. And that sort of set the tone for the day.

From the rise of the internet and social media through the election of Donald Trump, distinguishing truth from fiction in the online landscape has become less about comedy and more about horror. Even the cutest and cleverest April Fools’ publicity stunts are not as well received as they may have been in the past. The overall online mood is darker, more skittish, and more reflective. Still, there’s still some levity to be found in the chaos and desperation.

A few editorials addressed the cynicism and fatigue around April Fools’ Day from high-level perspectives.

Of the branded pranks that did go down, the most interesting had satirical or meta-comedic elements.

Others were just plain, dumb, silly, marginally self-aware fun. Here are the best of the rest:

And there was even some good news!

As with any holiday, the best way to spend April Fools’ Day is probably not on the internet, but engaged in revelry and camaraderie IRL, fighting the forces of oppression and no-fun-ness in the company of loved ones and loved ones you haven’t met yet. So naturally the best news of the day was the annual April Fools’ Day Parade – see the highlights [HERE].

Get Ready, Cause Here We Come!

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

NYC’s 34th Annual April Fools’ Day Parade and 3rd Annual Trumpathon steps off at Noon sharp from 5th Avenue and 59th Street (West side of the street) on Monday, April 1, 2019. JOIN THE FUN!

Watch the video:

Microsoft Preemptively Forfeits 4/1 Prank War

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Filed under: Media Pranks, Practical Jokes and Mischief, Prank News, Pranksters, Publicity Stunts

Large tech companies aren’t popular right now, and their branded April Fools’ Day stunts haven’t been well received in awhile. So Microsoft has banned all 4/1 hijinks, shenanigans, and monkeyshines, company-wide. Or – sigh – maybe it’s a setup.


“Microsoft exec bans company from pulling any dumb April Fools’ pranks”
By Peter Bright
Ars Technica
March 27, 2019

April 1 has long been a spectacularly annoying day to be alive, with brands falling over themselves to be “funny” and usually revealing themselves to be anything but. This was almost tolerable in the days when we were talking simply fake advertisements in print media, but it has taken on a new dimension online, as companies have actually modified the services that we rely on daily in an attempt to be “funny.”

This was particularly striking in Google’s 2016 mic drop feature on Gmail, where clicking the “mic drop” button sent a recipient a gif of a Despicable Me minion—a vile affront to humanity in and of itself—and then muted and archived the conversation, thus hiding any responses to it. Cue widespread complaints from users who clicked the button by accident, denying themselves jobs and offending their bosses.

Microsoft, for one, wants no part of this. In a move that can only be welcomed, Microsoft’s Chief Marketing Officer Chris Capossela sent a company-wide e-mail (leaked to the Verge) imploring staff to refrain from creating any public-facing April Fools’ Day stunts. Capossela writes that according to the company’s data, the stunts have “limited positive impact” and can result in “unwanted news cycles.” Read more.

Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Silver Team Up to Help Solve the Corruption Crisis

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Filed under: Creative Activism

From RepresentUs:


Unbreaking America: A NEW Short Film about Solving the Corruption Crisis:

Our government is broken, and we have to fix it. RepresentUs board member Jennifer Lawrence and Director of RepresentUs Josh Silver, walks through three lines that show what’s wrong with legal corruption in our government, how we fix it and what you can do about it.

Watch the video:

How to Detrumpify Your World

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Filed under: Political Pranks, Satire

From Stephan: Someone wrote a browser-extension called “Detrumpify” that inserts automatically generated insults every time Narcissistic Goldfish’s name appears. It also replaces all photos with your choice of kittens, puppies, or (my fave): Scary Pumpkins.

Details are at toolsofourtools.org. Read more about “Voldemorting” on WIRED here.

Get Ready for the 34th Annual April Fools’ Day Parade!

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

Join us at the 34th Annual April Fools’ Day Parade and 3rd Annual Trumpathon, April 1, 2019. The theme this year is “Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire.” The Grand Marshall, once again, is Donald Trump, who will be wearing flaming pants and pushing his Trump Kool-Aid Cart.

Watch the prep video here:

Chased by a mob of fact-checkers screaming, “Liar, liar, pants on fire!” Trump will steer the parade to Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue where the crowd of Trump look-alikes will toast his greatness while drinking his Kool-Aid.

The parade leaves from 5th Avenue & 59th Street at 12:00 Noon and will make one stop at Trump Tower to toast the President with his own Kool-Aid.

Read the details and print a Trump mask to bring to the parade here:
https://joeyskaggs.com/april-fools-day-parade-press-release.

Nina Katchadourian’s Airplane Art

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Illusion and Magic, Parody

Artist Nina Katchadourian gives new meaning to the Mile High Club.


How Nina Katchadourian Uses Airplanes as Her Studio
by Julia Wolkoff
Artsy.net
March 16, 2019

In 2010, Nina Katchadourian was awaiting takeoff on her flight from Atlanta to New York’s LaGuardia airport when she had a thought that would irrevocably alter her creative production.

“I have two-and-a-half hours ahead of me,” she recalled thinking in a recent interview with Artsy. “Why does it feel like this time already doesn’t count?”

The multidisciplinary New York–based artist was repulsed by the pervasive sense of powerlessness in the face of air travel. Determined to maximize her time on the plane and remain engaged during what is often a numbing experience, Katchadourian developed a kind of game to create things throughout the entire flight—an expansive project that has come to be called “Seat Assignment” (2010–present). “As an artist, I’m always looking at what more there might be in our mundane, everyday surroundings if we pay it interest, give it a second look,” she said. She hadn’t brought materials with her, so she began playing with whatever was at hand on her tray table, and documented the results with her camera phone.

Two-hundred-and-seventy-five trips later, Katchadourian is still making the most of in-flight magazines, complimentary peanuts, and cocktail napkins. She’s created hundreds of compelling photographs—including those in the project’s sub-series “Lavatory Self-Portraits in the Flemish Style,” which became a riotous viral sensation—as well as video animations and a handful of surreptitious music videos filmed in airplane bathrooms. A good portion of the results from her creative experiment are now the subject of “IFICATION,” an exhibition on view at Fridman Gallery in New York through March 31st.

Read the rest of this article here.

New Doc About the Church of the SubGenius Screens at SXSW

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Filed under: Practical Jokes and Mischief, Prank News, Pranksters, Sociology and Psychology of Pranks, The History of Pranks, Urban Legends

One reviewer’s opinion…


SXSW Film Review: ‘J.R. ‘Bob’ Dobbs and the Church of the SubGenius’
This diverting enough documentary focuses on the parodic religious “cult” that reached peak hipster awareness in the 1980s.
by Dennis Harvey
Variety
March 21, 2019

Like 8mm films of 1960s “happenings” or videos of 1970s performance art, “J.R. ‘Bob’ Dobbs and the Church of the SubGenius” chronicles a cultural footnote that perhaps should be filed under the heading You Had to Be There. The satirical-absurdist “religion” founded by some Texans actually caught fire among hipsters in the 1980s, influencing some of that era’s more interesting work in various media while providing a pre-Burning Man, pre-internet “secret club” to cerebral misfits of all stripes.

Sandy K. Boone’s documentary is likely to be lost on the not-previously converted, as what seemed the height of snark in the Reagan Era hasn’t dated all that well — nor is its appeal apparent as excerpted and recalled here. But those who remember the gospel of “slack” will make this diverting-enough documentary an in-demand work at genre festivals, as a streaming item and in other forums.

In reaction to the disruptive 1960s being “flipped on its head” in the “too-square-again” present day, two Lone Star State fans of nerd-brainiac rock god Captain Beefheart started creating anonymous quasi-cult screeds for their own entertainment in 1979. Dubbing themselves Reverend Ian Stang and Dr. Philo Drummond, they rebelled against their staid Heartland backgrounds, embraced the tenor of extremist religious literature, and ridiculed the American Dream with a mock religion whose deity was J.R. “Bob” Dobbs — a clip art image of 1950s sitcom dad-like hyper-normality whose lore was deliberately contradictory and absurdist.

Read the rest of this article here.

Volunteer Trash Art

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Publicity Stunts

“Trucks of Art” is a contest seeking volunteer artists to paint New York City’s recycling trucks to promote sustainable living.


Sanitation Dept. Launches ‘Trucks Of Art’ Contest For Trash Vehicles
CBS New York
March 15, 2019

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – New York’s Department of Sanitation wants to transform its fleet of recycling trucks into works of art. The agency announcing the launch of its “Trucks Of Art” project and contest.

To enter, the Sanitation Department is asking volunteer artists to submit their ideas for how they would redesign the drab, 23-ton collection trucks into inspiring works of art.

The agency says that they want the newly designed trucks to inspire people and to promote sustainable living.

DSNY’s executive director Robin Brooks talks with CBSN New York’s Dana Tyler about the new project and contest.

For more information on how to enter a design, see the Department of Sanitation website.