A Look at the Probable Genesis of QAnon

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Filed under: Creative Activism, First Amendment Issues, Media Literacy, Political Challenges, Prank News, The History of Pranks, Truth that's Stranger than Fiction

When media literacy and critical thinking are absent, the world becomes a much more dangerous place. Check out this very illuminating Buzzfeed link as well (in the 2nd paragraph below).


QAnon: the Italian artists who may have inspired America’s most dangerous conspiracy theory, by Eddy Frankel, The Art Newspaper, January 19, 2021

An anonymous left-wing art group known in the 1990s as Luther Blissett are wondering what they have unwittingly helped create

Q, the 1999 novel by the anonymous Italian art collective Luther Blissett, has notable similarities with the workings of QAnon

As the US Capitol was overwhelmed by Donald Trump supporters in early January, one figure stood out: with his painted face, bare chest, fur hat and American flag-draped spear, Jake Angeli became one of the most photographed rioters of the day. He is also known as the “QAnon Shaman” and has been seen waving a “Q sent me” placard in other protests.

QAnon is America’s most dangerous conspiracy theory, and if you pull hard enough on its threads, the whole tangled mess lands, somehow, at the feet of a group of Italian artists. It might sound like a conspiracy within a conspiracy, but, as Buzzfeed first reported in 2018, chances are that QAnon, at the start at least, took inspiration from an amorphous organisation of leftist artists who, for most of the mid-1990s, called themselves Luther Blissett after the 1980s English footballer.

They used the Watford and England striker’s name as a nom de plume, perpetrating countless media hoaxes, pranks and art interventions. They started raves on trams that turned into riots, they released albums, wrote books and manifestos, they mocked, questioned and undermined the mainstream, and they grew and grew until hundreds of people around the world were calling themselves Luther Blissett.

In the process, with their media-jamming hoaxes, they helped lay the groundwork for QAnon, a conspiracy theory about a secret satanic cabal of child abusers which controls the world. During the 2016 presidential elections, it famously gave rise to the rumour that Hillary Clinton ran a paedophile ring in a pizza parlour, Comet Ping Pong. More recently, QAnon has become a mainstay of far-right protests and riots, including the US Capitol insurrection. Read more…

A Corporate Jab

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

The Covid vaccination program needs all the help it can get. Kudos to Danielle Baskin.


Cheeky prank or sign of the end times? Internet gets confused by bizarre fake website offering CORPORATE SPONSORED Covid jabs, From RT, 19 Jan, 2021

A website that claims to sell ad space for Covid-19 vaccinations has triggered both laughter and existential dread, with many expressing despair over the possibility that the absurd gimmick could actually be real.

The facetious marketing service appears to be the creation of Danielle Baskin, a designer, artist and self-described instigator of “internet pranks.”

“Rolling out the vaccine is expensive. That’s why some countries are opting into the BRAND-AID® program. Corporations subsidize government costs by paying for a tiny ad that goes on people’s arms after the injection, so their brand can reach audiences at vaccination sites,” Baskin tweeted from her personal account. The message included photoshopped images of band aids featuring logos of various corporate brands, including Chili’s restaurant chain, Comcast, and John Deere tractors. Read the whole story here.

I Got Maced: The Mini Musical

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

Imagine her surprise when she got maced!
H/t Meral


From Brandon Ethridge: “This is the unaltered voice of Elizabeth from Knoxville. I hope you enjoy my piano accompaniment.”

“I GOT MACED!” The Mini Musical, starring Onion Elizabeth of Knoxville

Get Your Personalized Trump Presidential Pardons!

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

Now you can customize a framable Donald J. Trump Presidential Pardon for anyone you’d like. Get them before it’s too late!

As seen on Boing Boing, January 5, 2021

Norman Savage, RIP

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

Norman Savage was a poet, author, friend and long-time co-conspirator. In addition to participating in performance pieces, he also doubled as me, even though we didn’t look or sound at all alike, on numerous occasions.

He was always game for some sly fun.

Here’s a brief journey through some of our hijinks together.



In 1986, Norman played the part of a diet commando in my Fat Squad hoax, where you could take out a contract on yourself and commandos would keep you on your diet.

In 1988, when Entertainment Tonight asked me to appear for a story promising the inside scoop on great hoaxes and hoaxers—how the news media falls for their stories, what to watch out for, and how not to be fooled—I sent Norman to appear as me.

In 1990, Norman played a “Hair Today, Ltd” scalp donor in a photo taken for Mark Dery’s article “The Merry Pranksters and the Art of the Hoax” in The New York Times.

Read more…

Trump’s Presidential Lie-brary Imagined

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Exit through the grift shop…


Imagining the Trump Presidential Lie-brary
by Sarah Rose Sharp
Hyperallergic.com
November 13, 2020

The digital rendering, made by an anonymous New York-based architect, is complete with a COVID memorial, jail cells, and disinformation.

With Donald Trump’s failure to win reelection officially confirmed (aside from in the minds of all but the criminally delusional, including Trump himself), it is time for DJT to start thinking about his legacy. Fortunately, the Donald J. Trump Library is already up and running, presenting a comprehensive overview of a man who defied every expectation about him, including those that foresaw him somehow being able to be a competent or dignified President of the United States.

The library, designed by an anonymous New York-based architect, has something to highlight all parts of DJT’s run in the Oval Office! There’s a COVID Memorial that gives visitors a quiet place to reflect on all the people who have died from the disease, promoted by disinformation campaigns, the oppositional-defiant disorder of his voting block, and of course, mistrust of science. Read the rest of this article here.

Re-framing Russian Farming

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Filed under: Parody, Political Pranks, Prank News, Propaganda and Disinformation, Satire

Russian technology has come a long way…


RUSSIAN CYBERPUNK FARM

“They say that Russia is a technically backward country, there are no roads, robotics do not develop, rockets do not fly, and mail goes too long. It’s a bullshit.”

Rudy Giuliani Gets Caught with his Hand in the Cookie Jar

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Filed under: Media Literacy, Media Pranks, Political Pranks, Prank News, Spin, Truth that's Stranger than Fiction

A scene in Sacha Baron Cohen’s news movie “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” exposes Rudy Giuliani, ex-Mayor of New York and Donald Trump’s personal attorney, in a compromising position. He makes a play for a sexy young journalist who is interviewing him and gets caught on film appearing to put his hand down his pants. Rudy says he was just tucking in his shirt.

You decide. Watch the footage of the scene here:

And here’s Sacha Baron Cohen’s response in character as Borat defending Rudy.

Read more at The Guardian: Rudy Giuliani faces questions after compromising scene in new Borat film

If Your Medical Bills Make You Sick, Sell Them.

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Filed under: Art Pranks, Creative Activism, Media Pranks, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, The Prank as Art

Here’s a creative prescription for managing your medical bills.


Oversized hospital bill paintings sold to pay off medical debts, by Oscar Holland, CNN, October 5, 2020

An art collective has come up with a novel way of paying off three people’s medical debt: turning their hospital bills into huge paintings and selling them to collectors for thousands of dollars.

The paintings were sold for the same amount owed on each bill, with the money used to pay off the applicants’ medical debts. Credit: MSCHF

New York-based MSCHF, which is known for its irreverent art projects, identified Americans with sizable medical debt, including one with a bill for over $47,000. The group then hand-painted the invoices on 6-foot-tall canvases and sold them on the art market for precisely the amount owed.

Beyond settling these individuals’ debts with the money generated, the artists aim to make a wider commentary about the US health care system. Over 137 million people in the United States reported medical financial hardship, a 2019 study found.

Read more here.

James “The Amazing” Randi, RIP

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Filed under: Illusion and Magic, Practical Jokes and Mischief, Prank News, The History of Pranks, Truth that's Stranger than Fiction, Urban Legends

The world of social activism has lost another warrior.

I had the pleasure of meeting James Randi, a magician and great debunker of fake psychics and other charlatans, in 1986 when we both appeared on The Afternoon Show, a San Francisco TV talk show on KPIX. We both performed magic tricks. He removed the male host’s watch from his wrist. I removed the female host’s panties. (Having prepared ahead of time to appear on the show along with him, I had hidden a pair of female panties in my pocket and pulled them out to top Randi’s magic trick.) Riotous laughter ensued.

He later was the narrator of an Arts & Entertainment documentary called Scams, Schemes and Scoundrels which covered numerous dead scoundrels and me. You can watch the clip here.

Read his Obit in The New York Times

The Art of Protest, a New Film by Indecline

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Check out Indecline’s new film in Rolling Stone. h/t Dino


From: Indecline Debuts ‘The Art of Protest’ Documentary, Rolling Stone

In activist-artist collective Indecline’s new documentary, protest art is shown as not only relevant, but necessary for change

When Indecline started work on their documentary The Art of Protest in late 2018, they wanted to tell the history of resistance art. Over the previous two years — since they broke onto the national consciousness with their naked-Trump, guerilla-art instillation The Emperor Has No Balls, the activist-artist collective has staged numerous pieces of public art in protest of the Trump presidency. To tell the story, they reached out to Colin Day (director of Saving Banksy) and started shopping around the idea to streaming services. But as the pandemic unfolded, and the Black Lives Matter movement reignited across the streets of the nation, their mission changed. As a representative for Indecline puts it: “What was once set up to be a deep dive into the history of resistance art, soon became a ‘call to action.’”

Now, the 45-minute film — executive produced and distributed by Zero Cool films and premiering here on Rolling Stone — traces the history of protest art, from the Civil Rights movement through the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests. It does so in a way that is equal parts gut-wrenching and exhilarating, illustrating how despite the passage of time, little has changed. To this end, they were careful in their curation of who to talk to: not only did they bring in the heavy hitters most associated with the modern protest-art movement — like Shephard Fairey, Nadya Tolokonnikova, Tom Morello, and Dave Navarro (who also helped to finance the film) — they were careful to incorporate a wider range of voices. Leaders from youth-run 501(c) The Sunrise Movement talk about uniting movements, while the Yes Men discuss bringing absurdity to Capitol Hill. Atlanta’s Ash Nash remembers organizing the “Kaeperbowl” in Atlanta in 2019, spurring artists across the city to paint images of Colin Kaepernick in public places as the Super Bowl rolled into town. Damien Echols, one of the West Memphis Three, speaks to being literally saved from death row by protest art.

At the heart of the film is Indecline’s work over the past four years. Read the rest of this article here.

As Bugs Bunny would say: Comment Ca Va, Doc?

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Filed under: Art Pranks, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Political Pranks, Practical Jokes and Mischief, Prank News, Pranksters

Whether you’re raising awareness about food waste or trying to keep people from smoking, tons of carrots seem to be the way to do it…


32 tons of carrots dumped on London street for art installation, by Ben Hooper, September 30, 2020

Angry French tobacconists dump tons of carrots on Paris streets, by Robert Myles, July 24 2015

The Writing’s on the Wall

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Filed under: Creative Activism, First Amendment Issues, Political Challenges, Political Pranks, Propaganda and Disinformation

Read a Trump lie on air at Radio Free Brooklyn and help promote voter registration.


Wall of Lies

A public art project displaying more than 20,000 Trump lies with voter registration drive

October 3rd – October 4th noon to 7pm
at Pine Box Rock Shop, 12 Grattan Street, Bushwick

Independent community radio station Radio Free Brooklyn (RFB) announces “Wall of Lies,” a groundbreaking visual art project one month before the presidential election of 2020. The project demonstrates the unprecedented lack of honesty from our current Commander-in-Chief.

Wall of Lies is a 50-foot by 10-foot outdoor mural with the 20,000+ lies told by Donald Trump (so far) while in office, documented and fact-checked by The Washington Post. Wall of Lies will be on public view on Grattan St from noon Saturday Oct 3rd until 7p Sunday October 4th.

“The countdown to Election Day is underway and Americans are already beginning to vote across the nation, in this time where misinformation is rampant, we feel it’s vital to use our voice to call out these untruths in a visually-provoking way,” says RFB Executive Director Tom Tenney.

The socially-distanced live event accompanying the mural includes a voter registration drive, and a live Radio Free Brooklyn broadcast on Sunday from 3-6 pm, Radio Free Brooklyn will be inviting members of the public to read some of Trump’s most egregious lies on the air.

“The original idea of the project was for a radio marathon, 24/7 on-air reading of all of Trumps’ lies on Radio Free Brooklyn for a full week before the election,” said Tenney, who has been in touch with The Washington Post and granted access to its database of Trump’s false and misleading statements. “However, once the pandemic hit and our operations moved to remote locations, the project was shelved. It was artist Phil Buehler who suggested reviving it as a visual art project.”

“It was just too good an idea not to happen somehow,” Buehler added, “since I’ve been making large-scale panoramic photographs of political events, a gigantic mural of all the lies seemed the perfect match to Tom’s original idea. Seen from a distance, it looks like chaos – perhaps an apt metaphor for this presidency, but when you step closer, you can read the individual lies, which are in chronological order color-coded by categories like coronavirus, Russia, immigration, the environment and jobs. Then when you step back, you can recognize patterns in Trump’s lying.”

The final piece of the project came together when Heather Rush, the owner of Pine Box Rock Shop, coordinated with grassroots voting activists Rep Your Block to set up voter registration next to the mural.

Read more in the Bushwick Daily: “Wall of Lies” Mural in Bushwick Will Display Over 20,000 Donald Trump Lies.

Political Activism as Publicity Stunt

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Sacha Baron Cohen congratulates Donald Trump on the occasion of his massive, very great victory over Joe Biden in the first presidential debate of 2020.


Sacha Baron Cohen capitalizes on debate with fake ‘Borat’ Trump endorsement, by Ian Mohr, Page Six, September 29, 2020

Sacha Baron Cohen used the debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden on Tuesday night to seemingly drum up buzz for his expected “Borat” sequel by releasing a fake Trump endorsement from Kazakhstan.

It was reported earlier in the day that Amazon had bought the new “Borat” film.

Baron Cohen has in the past stolen the spotlight at events from the Cannes Film Festival to the MTV Movie Awards to promote his films in character. This time, he released a video on a Twitter feed purporting to be the Republic of Kazakhstan. The clip also included a logo for the fictional group, Kazakhs Against Foreign Meddling.

The trailer posted to Twitter proclaims, “Vote for Trump or you will be crushed.” It also calls Trump the “strongest premier in history,” and makes fun of the president’s stands on the coronavirus pandemic, Black Live Matter, #MeToo and other hot-button topics.

But the clip says as a disclaimer, “This ad may contain false information.” Baron Cohen has been a vocal Trump opponent in Hollywood.

Read the whole story here.

Shining a Light on Worker Protests at the Guggenheim

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

Guerrilla projections highlight workers concerns.


“Open for Exploitation”: Artists Project Messages on Guggenheim Museum Ahead of Reopening, by Hakim Bishara, Hyperallergic.com, September 29, 2020

The artist-activist groups Artists for Workers and the Illuminator organized the projections in solidarity with the Guggenheim’s unionized workers and workers of Guggenheim Abu Dhabi.

A guerrilla projection on the Guggenheim Museum’s facade, reading “Seeking New Management” (all images from Illuminator)

Yesterday, September 28, the artist-activist groups Artists for Workers (AFW) and the Illuminator descended on the Guggenheim Museum in New York for a series of guerrilla projections on its facade. The action was held in solidarity with the Guggenheim’s unionized workers and workers of Guggenheim Abu Dhabi ahead of the museum’s New York reopening this week (September 30 for members and October 3rd for the general public).

Traffic was scarce on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue when an old white van parked in front of the Guggenheim at 7:40pm last night. The vehicle, retrofitted to raise a large projector through an opening in its roof, belonged to the Illuminator. This is the third time that the group directed its projector at the Guggenheim’s spiral structure: It did it with the group Gulf Ultra Luxury Faction (G.U.L.F.) in 2016 and 2014, and with Visual AIDS in 2015.

Members of the Illuminator setting up their projector in front of the Guggenheim

Read more here.