Art Pranks

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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.

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.

Speaking Truth to Power in DC

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Filed under: Art Pranks, Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Media Pranks, Political Pranks, Pranksters, Satire, The History of Pranks

Street theater is flourishing in the era of Trump.


DC’s many prankster activists turn anger into street theater
by Ashraf Khalil
AP
February 18, 2019

Mike Green and Adam Eidinger with Radical Matriarchy

WASHINGTON (AP) — In the nation’s capital, it can be hard for protesters to stand out. A group of 50 people — or even 500 — holding signs and shouting hardly merits a second glance in this city of protests.

That’s why Washington activists have to get creative. There’s an ethos of performative prankster-style protest wired into the District of Columbia’s history, dating back decades.

This confrontational street-theater school is flourishing with the Trump administration as its nemesis. Each month brings new acts of political theater — some confrontational, some deliberately absurdist.

“It can take a serious issue into more of a playful place,” said Robin Bell, who regularly projects disparaging messages onto the outside of the Trump International Hotel. “Oftentimes we visualize the absurdity of the situation.”

In January, a group of activists associated with political pranksters The Yes Men passed out dozens of fake Washington Posts, with detailed articles depicting President Donald Trump resigning and fleeing the White House. For about a month last fall, a Robert Mueller investigation-themed ice cream truck roamed Washington, passing out free scoops with names like IndictMint Chip and Rocky Rod Rosenstein.

While some protests are designed to get attention, others hide in plain sight like Easter eggs for the observant. Within sight of the White House, a realistic-looking street sign declares the street Khashoggi Way, after Jamal Khashoggi, the dissident Saudi journalist killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. About 10 of these signs have been scattered around Washington.

Read the rest of this article here.

Criticizing Dirty Money

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Protestors target opioid drug money that funds major museums.


Nan Goldin Leads a Protest at the Guggenheim Against the Sackler Family
by Masha Gessen
New Yorker
February 10, 2019

The Guggenheim Museum is crowded after five on a Saturday, when the price of admission is “pay what you wish.” Even in below-freezing weather this weekend, the ticket line snaked around the corner. People came in groups, couples, and alone. As happens in large crowds, at times the noise level rose spontaneously, as though something or someone were demanding attention, but immediately subsided. At any given time, there were people milling around in the lobby, looking at the door as though waiting for someone and up at the galleries as though planning something. Some of them were.

A bit after six, a group went up to one of the galleries. They were people of different ages, from their late teens to their sixties. They could have been New Yorkers or visitors; some of them looked like they might be artists, and some looked like they were probably students. They were all of those things. If one looked closely, similar groups of between a half-dozen and a dozen people were coalescing on all levels of the museum.

A few minutes after six-thirty, the photographer Nan Goldin appeared in the lobby. There was a flurry of hugs and hellos, and several people snapped photos. It could have been a celebrity sighting—Goldin, whose work is in the museum’s collection, is a Guggenheim type of celebrity. She stood in the middle of the lobby, visible from almost any point of the great round building. Then the noise level rose and did not subside.

Small flyers started falling, as though from the glass dome, swirling like snow as they descended the six stories. Within minutes the floor was coated in white. The sheets of paper were prescriptions, made out by a “Robert Sackler, MD,” to a Solomon R. Guggenheim, for eighty-milligram pills of OxyContin, to be taken twenty-four times a day. Each script contained a quotation: “If OxyContin is uncontrolled, it is highly likely that it will eventually be abused. . . . How substantially would it improve our sales?”

Read the rest of this story here.

Cockroaches on the Menu!

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Filed under: Art Pranks, Creative Activism, Fact or Fiction?, Prank News, Pranksters, The History of Pranks, You Decide

Roaches are yummy and good for you too! Joey Skaggs’ Metamorphosis: Miracle Roach Hormone Cure hoax remembered…


The Right Chemistry: Cockroach milk a ‘superfood’?
by Joe Schwarcz
Montreal Gazette via The London Free Press
October 12, 2018

It’s not a prank, but any suggestion that the crystals represent a viable alternative to dairy milk for people is a very, very big stretch.

Back in 1981, entomologist Josef Gregor called a press conference to announce a remarkable discovery. He had bred a novel species of cockroach from which he managed to extract a hormone that, when incorporated into a pill, exhibited amazing properties. It cured conditions ranging from acne and allergies to asthma and arthritis! “Roach hormone hailed as miracle drug” crowed headlines. Some 175 newspapers went on to feature testimonials attesting to the wonders of the hormone pills.

Subsequently, Gregor was invited to appear on various television programs where he described that cockroaches were impervious to radiation and that in addition to its curative properties for a plethora of ailments, his pills would offer protection against radiation exposure. It all sounded great, but there was one tiny little problem. There was no Josef Gregor, and there was no cockroach hormone! Gregor was actually Joey Skaggs, a teacher at New York’s School of Visual Arts, who relished pulling off hoaxes to show how the media could be duped into reporting nonsensical stories because of a failure to fact-check. And that was decades before the current wave of publicity about “fake news!”

Watch the video

Recalling the “cockroach hormone” episode, I figured a prankster must have been at work when the headline, “Scientists Think Cockroach Milk Could Be the Next Superfood,” recently scooted across the internet. Obviously, fact-checking was in order. While the headline was typical click-bait, it was actually spawned by legitimate research.

In 2016, a paper in the Journal of the International Union of Crystallography reported some intriguing research about the unique “Pacific Beetle” cockroach (Diploptera punctate). Why unique? Because it is viviparous, meaning the females give birth to live offspring. The term derives from the Latin “vivus” for “alive,” and “parere,” meaning “to bring forth” or “to bear.”

Read the rest of this article here.

The Prank as an Art Form

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Filed under: Art Pranks, Creative Activism, Prank News, Pranksters, The History of Pranks, The Prank as Art

A good prank attempts to shed light on issues to change perceptions or awareness by jolting sensibilities. MutualArt pays homage to Joey Skaggs’ April Fools’ Day Parade. In 2017, it became real with Trump’s Golden Throne.


A Look Behind Some of the Biggest Pranks in Art History
by Adam Heardman
MutualArt
October 8, 2018

Pretty-much-anonymous street artist Banksy was back in the headlines this weekend thanks to his self-shredding picture. We take a look at other classic art-world pranks that have confounded and delighted through history.

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As a street artist and activist, Banksy’s career has consisted almost exclusively of anti-establishment pranks and stunts. On Friday evening, at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art auction, the hammer fell on a print of his Balloon Girl image at a price of $1.1 million. Seconds later, an alarm sounded through the room and the print began feeding through the bottom of its own frame, inside which was a hidden shredder, leaving half of the work in ribbons.

Promptly, the piece’s value doubled. Commodification appears to move as quickly as protest in the contemporary market-place.

Speculation already abounds as to how far Banksy collaborated with Sotheby’s in setting up the stunt. It certainly seems far-fetched that the auction house’s handlers wouldn’t have noticed the machinery in the frame.

But the impact of the prank has been huge, bringing Banksy his biggest burst of media-attention since Dismaland closed. His market-value has increased. Haters have been won over. The search for his true identity is back on. All in all, it’s been a successful prank.

As a space in which publicity, politics, and aesthetics can meet, ‘the prank’ is an established mode within the art world. Here are some of the more prominent and successful examples from art history.

1. Hogarth and Wilson’s Rembrandt RoastRead this here.

2. Joey Skaggs’ Fake ‘Fake Parade’

Prank artist Joey Skaggs

Joey Skaggs is the maybe the most prolific prankster out there. Over the years, the performance artist and writer has staged the thieving of celebrity sperm, “attempted” to “windsurf across the Pacific”, and exposed Western racism by fooling people into thinking that a Chinese businessman was buying dogs to make into soup.

Every April Fools’ Day since 1986, Skaggs has held a Parade with floats, banners, streamers extensive press coverage and pertinent contemporary themes. Except that the Parade doesn’t ever actually take place, existing purely within the press-hype. Fake News.

Until last year, that is. In a neat reversal of his own prank, Skaggs actually did hold a real-life parade on April 1st, 2017 after 31 years of pretending. The march functioned as a protest against Donald Trump’s presidency and was also the largest gathering of Trump-look-alikes in history. The imposters marched to Trump Tower and sat tweeting on golden thrones. Maybe Joey Skaggs’ greatest prank was to make Fake News real.

3. Stromberg’s StickersRead the rest of this article here.

Before Banksy

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The Hippie Bus Tour To Queens revisited…


Before Banksy: Art pranksters and provocateurs who Banksy’d us first
by Mookie Katigbak-Lacuesta
ANC news.abs-cbn.com
October 10, 2018

As that cynical adage goes, It’s all been done before. But at least in the art world, each prank takes on a wildly different form

Banky’s latest stunt at a Sotheby’s auction (a self-destructing artwork automated to shred itself after being sold) recalled other art pranksters who played the system with the same wink wink nudge nudge kind of subversion. There’s a joke that’s being played and it’s not on the artist—which means it’s on whoever believes that the numbers on a price tag equate to the value of a work of art. Other pranksters have also poked fun at institutions that house high art (what is high art anyway?), or at spectators of art who don’t know what art is. Here are a few stunning and smug indictments of all of us art heathens.

Harvey Stromberg’s Stickers

In 1971, Harvey Stromberg wad described by the New York Times as a “photographer, or a media manipulator, or a self-made chance factor, or a guerilla artist or a fraud. All of the above. None of the above.” This description set the tone for how he was regarded in the art world.

One prank he famously pulled was a photographic “exhibit” at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) where he made exact-to-scale photographs of utility objects—light switches, alarm buzzers, bricks, and keyholes, among other things. Using double-sided tape, Stromberg stuck these photographs in spaces it was customary to find them. It was described as the “longest-running one-man photo exhibit,” as it took museum personnel all of two years to discover and remove the stickers. The “show” ran hitchless for two years so Stromberg threw in another prank. He decided it was time to officially “open” the exhibit at the MOMA—complete with formal invitations to both guests and media. If MOMA administrators treated the opening nonchalantly, it would encourage other such pranks; if they treated it as a criminal offense, it would cheapen their position as champions of conceptual art.

Joey Skaggs and “The Hippie Bus Tour to Queens”

Joey Skaggs and his East Village “hippie” friends would be gawked at as city curiosities by bridge and tunnel people—so he decided to change the narrative and turn the show around. In 1968, he rented a Greyhound bus and took 60 hippies to Queens where they could take snapshots of, and gawk at, normal people going about their typical, suburban preoccupations. “Look, it’s someone mowing the lawn!,” one can imagine one of the passengers saying, or “Look it’s a man washing his car!” or even “Why’s the plumber taking so long at Mrs. Robinson’s house?”

Read the rest of this article here.

Meet the Man Who Invented the Roach Hormone Miracle Cure!

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

ART OF THE PRANK movie Blu-rays with 38 minutes of never before seen Extras and DVDs are now available!

**Use coupon code “ABRACADABRA” to magically get $5.00 off of each disc purchased.**

Watch a video promo:

Banksy Shreds His Own Art at Auction

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Banksy pulls confetti stunt with/at auction house to shock art buyers.


Banksy painting ‘self-destructs’ moments after being sold for $1.4 million at auction
CNN
by Andreas Preuss
October 6, 2018

For an artist that’s known for his stunts, this could be Banksy’s most perfect art world prank.

After the gavel fell Friday at Sotheby’s auction house in London, Banksy’s Girl with Balloon was reduced to shreds — another apparent act in the disruptive career of the anonymous British graffiti artist.

The iconic image of a girl reaching out for a red, heart-shaped balloon, sold for $1.4 million and moments later, a shredder hidden inside the “artist’s frame” started its work, according to a news release from Sotheby’s and the art “self-destructed.”

Banksy summed up the stunt with this quote on his Instagram account – “Going, going, gone…” and a posted picture showed stunned onlookers as the shredded art emerges from the bottom of the frame. (more…)

“Hippie Bus Tour to Queens” Remembered 50 Years Later

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Filed under: All About Pranks, Art Pranks, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Media Pranks, Pranksters, Satire

Fifty years ago, artist/activist Joey Skaggs took sixty hippies on a sight-seeing bus tour to suburban Queens. He called this satirical performance his “cultural exchange tour”.

Read his story here on Artsy.net

Here’s a preview…


When Pranks Become Works of Art
Artsy.net
September 19, 2018

Fifty years ago, on a beautiful Sunday morning—September 22, 1968—I stood welcoming my guests onto a rented Greyhound sightseeing bus on the corner of St. Mark’s and 2nd Avenue in New York City. While the rock band the Group Image loaded their equipment into the luggage area on the side of the bus, writer Paul Krassner quipped hilariously about our upcoming odyssey. The 60-seat Greyhound bus was soon to be completely filled with long-haired, beaded, camera-toting hippies—some friends, some total strangers. The plan was to visit the borough of Queens in an ironic reversal, mocking the tour buses that relentlessly came to Greenwich Village and the Lower East Side to gawk at the hippies. It was my cultural exchange tour. We were excited. We felt like pirates on a galleon. After Howard Smith wrote up my plan in his weekly Village Voice column, artist Yayoi Kusama asked if she could come paint polka dots on a troupe of naked dancers when we stopped at a local head shop on Queens Boulevard, where the Group Image would play.

I was young, but already known for my provocative art. In 1966, on Easter Sunday, I had dragged a decayed skeleton of Jesus Christ on a 10-foot-tall cross to Tompkins Square Park on the Lower East Side, to protest man’s inhumanity to man. I took the sculpture out again on Easter in 1967, this time to a Central Park “Be In.” This notoriety may have led to a visit by a neatly dressed, middle-aged black man who rang the buzzer of my loft on East 2nd Street, between Bowery and Second Avenue. He said he had come to buy a ticket for his daughter to ride on my bus to Queens. It seemed highly unlikely, so I told him I wasn’t charging for the sightseeing tour. It was completely free.

He reached in his pocket, pulled out a $5 bill, and insisted that I take it. I told him I didn’t want it, but he literally forced it on me. He then pulled out a badge and said I was busted for illegally operating a tour guide business without a license.

Read the rest of this article here.

Whaling with the Captain Boomer Collective

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Belgium based, Captain Boomer Collective, builds installations that border reality with fictional constructs. Their latest stunt is a beached 15-metre sperm whale looks to have managed to swim up the Manzanares River before coming to an abrupt halt by the arches of the Madrid’s oldest bridge. According to The Guardian the Collective says “The beached whale is a gigantic metaphor for the disruption of our ecological system. People feel their bond with nature is disturbed. The game between fiction and reality reinforces this feeling of disturbance.” As part of the installation, “scientists” from the fictional organization, the North Sea Whale Association, take samples of skin, make autopsies and dissections in front of the public and interact with crowds while remaining in character.

The statue was previously showcased in other European locations such as Paris, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium.


‘A riddle from the deep’: hyper-real whale found beached in Madrid
by Sam Jones
The Guardian
September 14, 2018

After sightings in London and Paris, whale is now making waves in Spanish capital

Photograph: Anadolu/Getty Images

Call me Ishmael. Or, better still, Spanish whale.

Madrid awoke on Friday morning to find that a 15-metre sperm whale had managed to swim up the Manzanares River before coming to an abrupt halt by the arches of the city’s oldest bridge.

The intrepid mammal turned out to be the hyper-real model – previously sighted as far afield as London, Paris and Antwerp – that a Belgian art collective is using to shock people into thinking about the environment.

The installation, by the Segovia Bridge, comes complete with a team of actors dressed as rescuers, who hose down the beached creature.

Photograph: Anadolu/Getty Images

Madrid’s city council said the whale, which will remain stranded until Sunday, was intended to act as a catalyst. “It’s meant to get people thinking, through art, about the kind of city they want to live in and what sort of part they can play in looking after the environment,” it said in a statement.

Captain Boomer, the collective behind the work, said it was aiming for something a little more primordial: “A dumb question from the sea to man. A riddle from the deep … The beached whale is a gigantic metaphor for the disruption of our ecological system. People feel their bond with nature is disturbed. The game between fiction and reality reinforces this feeling of disturbance.”

Madrileños appeared to be taking the cetacean incursion as a badge of honour. One tongue-in-cheek Twitter user regarded its arrival as further proof of the capital’s excellent water. “A sperm whale has come to die in the Manzanares,” they wrote. “WHAT MORE DO YOU NEED?”

NeSpoon’s Doilies

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Doilies writ large.


Street art with a difference: Artist creates spectacular wall-art doilies
by Paulina Alexandra
TheFirstNews.com
August 16, 2018

A Polish woman is taking the street art world by storm with her astonishing murals of doilies.

NeSpoon in Pont-l’Abbe, France, 2016. NeSpoon.

NeSpoon is nine years-old and paints murals. Actually, NeSpoon is in her thirties and has a teenage daughter but after a decade in the corporate world she wanted a clean state.

She changed her hair, took a name from The Matrix (‘there is no spoon’) and embarked on an international career as a fully-fledged street artist.

The Warsaw native is known all over the world now for her intricate doily designs which she renders in ceramic, material and painted form.

Her enormous murals of the delicate lace-work designs have seen her travel to Georgia, Hong Kong and as far away as the remote Western Australian desert.

Portugal, 2014. NeSpoon.

Berlin, 2017. NeSpoon.

Read the rest of this article here.

“Indecline” Ups the Ante with Naked Trump on a Billboard

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Activists Indecline hoist up naked Trump. Let’s hope this clown doesn’t get away with murder.


Billboard pairs naked Trump clown statue with John Wayne Gacy quote
by Emily Van de Riet
CBS46.com
August 17, 2018

LOS ANGELES, California (Meredith) — A billboard in Los Angeles is stirring up controversy after displaying a statue of President Donald Trump as a naked clown.

The billboard reads, “A clown can get away with murder” in all capital letters. This quote is attributed to serial killer John Wayne Gacy, who infamously dressed up as a clown when he killed his victims.

The American activist group Indecline is responsible for creating the billboard. In a statement to CNN, Indecline said the message of the billboard is that American core values are being lost in the current political climate.

The group also said the use of the John Wayne Gacy quote was inspired by Trump’s own statement at a campaign rally in January 2016. At the Iowa rally, the then-presidential candidate said, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”

Indecline said Trump was correct about the loyalty of his base, and that such unconditional support is part of the problem.

Read the rest of this article here.

Early Hoax?

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Filed under: Art Pranks, Fact or Fiction?, The History of Pranks, The Prank as Art

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird, it’s a plane. It’s…


The Painting “Madonna of the UFO”
FlorenceInferno.com
June 9, 2014

The “Madonna of the UFO” or “Madonna of the flying saucer” is a painting located in Palazzo Vecchio in Florence in the Hall of Hercules. Also called “Madonna and Child with the Infant St John”, the painting has been the topic of much debate between art experts and ufologists. While the painting depicts the Nativity with the infant St. John in the foreground, in the background one can see a man curiously watching an unidentified flying object (UFO).

THE AUTHOR OF THE MADONNA OF THE UFO
The painting is of unknown origin, but it probably dates from as early as the sixteenth century. The caption under the picture attributes authorship to either Sebastiano Mainardi or Jacopo del Sellaio; conversely, some scholars attribute it to Filippo Lippi, also known as “Maestro del Tondo Miller,” after the title of one of his last works.

Moreover, we only know that the work comes from the forgotten convent of Sant’Orsola in the district of San Lorenzo in Florence.

THE DESCRIPTION OF THE PAINTING
The painting is round, is one meter in diameter, and is adorned with a precious golden frame; it is located in the Hall of Hercules on the second floor of the Palazzo Vecchio, which takes its name from the coffered ceiling depicting the Twelve Labours of Hercules.

The circular painting bears the usual iconographic motif of the Renaissance: in the foreground the Virgin is seen kneeling with folded hands and leaning toward the baby, who is lying on a hem of her garment.

While the baby Jesus is reaching his hand toward his mother, St. John is attempting to support him. Behind the head of the Madonna, an ellipsoidal object can be seen in the sky, one that is very similar to modern depictions of UFOs. There is also a man painted in the background, a shepherd, with his hand on his forehead and his head turned toward the sky. Next to him is a dog that is also looking in the direction of the flying object.

Read the rest of this article here

Read more about this at Historic Mysteries.

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.