Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking

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Better Than Breaking Your Ankle in a Pothole

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

Chicago Artist Jim Bachor has a solution for road maintenance.


Artist Who Filled New York Pothole with Trump’s Face Sees Artwork Removed by City
by Zachary Small
hyperallergic.com
August 8, 2018

Some people have a face for movies. Others have a face for potholes.

In Chicago, Jim Bachor is known for beautifying the city’s dilapidated streets by filling its concrete craters with beautifully crafted mosaics of flower bouquets. There, passersby are so enthusiastic about Bachor’s street art that he has all but gained official approval from authorities to continue his work. In 2014, the city’s Transportation Department even told the Chicago Tribune that “Mr. Bachor and his art are proof that even the coldest, harshest winter can not darken the spirits of Chicagoans.”

images by Jim Bachor

But Chicago is not New York. Our streets are danker. Our potholes are bigger. And our Department of Transportation is crueler. (Shout out to the MTA!) Appropriately, then, Bachor decided to debut a new series of mosaics for this concrete bunghole where dreams are made up called “Vermin of New York.” The compilation includes dead rats, cockroaches, and pigeons — oh! — and President Donald Trump’s face.

image by Jim Bachor

“I assume most New Yorkers hate him,” Bachor replied to Hyperallergic’s request for comment.

Some people have a face for movies. Some people have a face for television. some people have a face for radio. Others, apparently, have a face for potholes.

Speaking with the New York Post, Bachor added that “it could be seen in both ways — one that you’re honoring our president or that you get to drive over Trump.”

Read the rest of the article here.

Trump’s National Guard

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

Russia sends it’s finest to guard Trump’s Hollywood star. Thanks Linda and Harold.


‘Russian’ soldiers stand guard at Trump’s Walk of Fame star
by Melkorka Licea
NY Post
July 28, 2018

Two ‘Russian’ guards have been standing careful watch over President Trump’s shattered star along the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The satirical Soviets were first spotted Wednesday, after the star was shattered by Austin Clay, who turned himself in and is facing felony vandalism charges.

9gag.com

“Well played, California,” @thepaperword chimed in.

Funnyman Jimmy Kimmel aired footage of the stone-faced duo on his Thursday show.

“That’s what comrades do for other comrades,” he quipped.

Trump has been dogged by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and most recently, criticized by his deferential treatment of strongman Vladimir Putin at the Helsinki summit.

“I wonder if trump actually ‘gets’ the satire here, or the irony,” wondered @dennisp101155.

Clay is the second person to wreck the star since Trump became president. Cops busted a man who took a pickax and a sledgehammer to the star last October.

The most recent vandalism sparked a series of protests and demonstrations, and even a knock-down brawl Thursday night.

Anonymous Art Donor at Colorado Capitol

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

Seems no one wants to pay for a Trump portrait. Thanks Jim.


Prankster puts Putin’s portrait in Trump’s place in Colorado
AP
July 28, 2018

The Colorado Capitol’s wall of presidential portraits is missing one — President Donald Trump.

KUSA-TV reports the group that collects private donations for the portraits hasn’t received a single dollar needed to hang Trump’s picture.

But on Thursday, a prankster placed a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin on an easel below the blank space on the wall where Trump’s portrait would go.

Putin’s portrait was removed by a tour guide, but not before state Sen. Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder, tweeted a picture.

The presidential portraits cost about $10,000 and are paid for through donations.

Jay Seller of the Colorado Citizens for Culture, the group that collects the donations, says it took about four months to collect the money for the portraits of former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush.

Prickly Putin Penis Parable Presented on Wall Street

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

Say that three times fast. It’s a mouthful. Thanks Erin


Pussy Riot Stages Protest at World Cup Final

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

Pussy Riot World Cup field invasion protests Russian dictatorship.


Pussy Riot claims on-field protest at World Cup final
by James Ellingworth
AP
June 15, 2018

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian protest group Pussy Riot has claimed responsibility for four people who ran onto the field and disrupted the World Cup final.

The punk band says in a statement posted on their Twitter feed Sunday that the disruption was a protest.

The four people who charged onto the field in the 52nd minute simultaneously in what appeared to be old-fashioned police uniforms were tackled to the ground by stewards. Croatia defender Dejan Lovren pushed a male protester, helping a steward to detain him.

Before being hauled away, one woman managed to reach the center of the field and share a double high-five with France forward Kylian Mbappe, who had a shot saved a minute earlier.

“Hello everyone from the Luzhniki field, it’s great here,” the group said on Twitter , and released a statement calling for the freeing of political prisoners, an end to “illegal arrests” of protesters and to “allow political competition” in Russia.

Their statement also referenced the case of Oleg Sentsov, a vocal opponent of Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, who was sentenced in 2015 to 20 years for conspiracy to commit terror acts. He denies the charges and has been on a hunger strike since mid-May.

The balaclava-clad women of Pussy Riot, a Russian punk rock group, rose to global prominence with their daring outdoor performances critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2012 that sent two members to prison for nearly two years. Putin was watching the game alongside his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron and FIFA president Gianni Infantino.

FIFA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The protest was briefly shown on international TV broadcasts, even though FIFA policy is usually to cut away from field invasions.

Trump Gets a Sign From Above

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

Don’t look down Mr. Trump.


Trump To Be Greeted In England By 650-Foot Crop Circle With A Very Rude Message
by Ed Mazza
Huffington Post
July 12, 2018

Massive message should be visible from the left window of the president’s chopper on Friday.

President Donald Trump may not want to look out the window as he passes over the English countryside later this week.

An artist has turned part of a field at Moat Farm in Stoke Mandeville into a 650-foot crop circle with “Fuck Trump” written in Russian, according to local newspaper Bucks Herald.

The Herald said the crop circle should be visible from the president’s chopper as he flies to a meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May at Chequers, the premier’s country home.

Read the rest of this article here.

It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, Nope… It’s Trump Baby Balloon

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

Fun interview with Leo Murray, creator of the Trump Baby Balloon that will fly over London’s Parliament building to greet President Trump in London on July 13, 2018. Although, Trumps’ handlers plan to keep him far away.


‘Trump Baby’: Meet the Mind Behind the Inflatable Infant Set to Greet Trump on London Trip
by Chantal Da Silva and Chiara Brambilla
Newsweek
July 10, 2018

When London activist Leo Murray first came up with the idea to put a 20-foot “Trump Baby” blimp in the sky in time for President Donald Trump’s trip to Britain this week, he never could have anticipated just how well the plan would take off.


Trump baby / Leo Murray

Within weeks, an online fundraiser aiming to generate £5,000 to help fly the giant balloon reached more than £28,500 in donations. The blimp, which depicts Trump as an angry smartphone-wielding infant, will be floating outside the Palace of Westminster on Friday.

Watch the interview with Leo Murray here:
http://www.newsweek.com/b3b85d32-9593-4a25-87f6-8dcd2a591673

“This has wildly exceeded my expectations,” Murray, 41, told Newsweek. The British activist said his Trump Baby balloon has not only “captured something of the essence of the president’s character,” but has also managed to encapsulate an important moment in Trump’s presidency. (more…)

Cold as I.C.E.

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

Art Collective Indecline and cartoonist Rob Rogers writ large.


Bay Area Protests Trump’s Child Detention Policy with Billboard and Projection
Hyperallergic
by Benjamin Sutton
June 21, 2018

A clandestine modification of a junk removal billboard and a nighttime projection of a political cartoon called out the president’s family separation policy.

Is the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) advertising its brutal practice of separating migrant families? If you were driving along Interstate 80 in California’s East Bay last night or early this morning, you might have seen what appeared to be a billboard for ICE flaunting its inhumane expertise — “We make kids disappear” — alongside the Munchian image of a shocked and screaming child.

The ignoble advertisement is in fact the work of satiric and shadowy public art collective Indecline, whose members scaled the billboard (which formerly promoted 1-800-Got-Junk?’s ability to “make junk disappear”) in the night and transformed it into a provocative indictment of ICE. At the time this article was published, a spokesperson for Indecline said that the modified billboard was still in place.

Read more here.

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.

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.

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.

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.