The Null Device

Posts matching tags 'détournement'

2014/9/1

The Village Voice has a profile piece on the Satanic Temple, the new group pranking the US Religious Right in the name of the Prince of Darkness, and the latest manifestation of the long and somewhat varied tradition of Satanism; this time, as détournement. This particular Satanic Temple seems to have been founded by a Brooklyn-based journalist named Doug Mesner (who goes by the name “Lucien Greaves”, his legal name being presumably insufficiently Satanic-sounding), possibly emerging out of a mockumentary project about “the world's nicest Satanic cult” praising right-wing Christian politicians in Florida, but since then has gone on to hold a “pink mass” on the grave of the mother of anti-gay religious preacher Fred Phelps, posthumously turning her lesbian, and commissioning a rather handsome-looking statue of Baphomet, to be placed outside the Oklahoma State Capitol alongside the Ten Commandments monument, testing the sincerity of state lawmakers' commitment to religious freedom. In fact, most of their work seems to centre around turning the US Constitution's neutrality on actual religions and the entrenched privilege of the Religious Right (as seen in recent court rulings, such as those allowing corporations to have religious values which override their employees' rights) against each other; they campaign (on constitutionally-protected grounds of religious exemption) against corporal punishment in schools and, most recently, have used this angle in a campaign against restrictions on abortion.

Unsurprisingly, the Satanic Temple gets a lot of hate mail from the usual good ol' boys. Perhaps also unsurprisingly, though, their most strident (or at least coherently so) critics are other self-identified Satanists; namely, the Church Of Satan, the Satanic sect founded by Anton LaVey in the Sixeventies, and since inherited by one Peter Gilmore, who has nothing nice to say about the new kids, and keeps saying it:

"When a fellow in horns — with an adopted moniker fit for a 1970s hairdresser — tea-bags a tombstone while some 'goth' rejects swap spit on the grave, it seems to us to be a parody of Satanism rather than a representation of some actual philosophical or religious organization." Those lines were written by Magus Peter H. Gilmore, leader of the Church of Satan, on the Church's official blog. It's one of several denunciations Gilmore has issued against the Satanic Temple in the past year.
One would expect the Church Of Satan to resent upstart groups on its turf, especially ones whose activity and media-savviness is making the older group look tired and past its prime. (And the Church Of Satan does not seem to have done much since Anton LaVey died; apparently the older Church, whilst shunning publicity, does have private events for those who have earned entry to them; they do not say what sorts of events these are, so they may just be exclusive hot-tub parties with septagenarians who have first-hand stories about the wild old days). The generational divide also shows a chasm of values; the Church of Satan, founded in the 1960s, was both a product of the explosive “youthquake” that upended the authoritarian, conformistic values of 1950s America, and also a reaction to its mushier peace-and-love aspects; its philosophies of hedonism, pride and vengeance against one's enemies borrowed from Nietzsche and Ayn Rand (who wrote a foreword to its The Satanic Scriptures). The Satanic Temple, meanwhile, is a product of the current age; more liberal, more media-savvy, and essentially humanistic, to the point of being conspicuously (and, some would argue, contemptibly) nice. If LaVey Satanism was a reaction against the suburban docility of Eisenhower-era America and namby-pamby hippie crap, then might Greaves' Satanism be a reaction against the equivalents in post-Reaganite America: the sort of Randian dog-eat-dog values embodied both by the political/economic mainstream and the old Satanic counterculture (who, to be fair, were into them first)? If so, the Church of Satan comes off rather badly, looking like an aging hipster whose countercultural stance has succeeded beyond their wildest dreams, infusing the mainstream with its values and leaving them with just some tatty old clothes which no longer fit and the claim of having done it first.

The Satanic Temple's website is here; they also have an online shop with T-shirts and mugs.

culture détournement performance art satanism usa 0

2013/12/16

After it emerged that Thamsanqa Jantjie, the sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela's memorial ceremony, had actually been making it up and just moving his arms about meaninglessly, Slavoj Žižek (no fan of well-meaning liberalism, to say the least) argues, with supreme cynicism, that his doing so was not so much a fraud as a deeper form of honesty, laying bare the hypocrisy of liberalism:

Now we can see why Jantjie's gesticulations generated such an uncanny effect once it became clear that they were meaningless: what he confronted us with was the truth about sign language translations for the deaf – it doesn't really matter if there are any deaf people among the public who need the translation; the translator is there to make us, who do not understand sign language, feel good.
And was this also not the truth about the whole of the Mandela memorial ceremony? All the crocodile tears of the dignitaries were a self-congratulatory exercise, and Jangtjie translated them into what they effectively were: nonsense. What the world leaders were celebrating was the successful postponement of the true crisis which will explode when poor, black South Africans effectively become a collective political agent. They were the Absent One to whom Jantjie was signalling, and his message was: the dignitaries really don't care about you. Through his fake translation, Jantjie rendered palpable the fake of the entire ceremony
Of course, actual deaf people might not agree with this assessment.

cynicism deafness deception détournement fraud hypocrisy nelson mandela slavoj žižek south africa 1

2013/10/25

We Need You Now (More Than Ever), a video by Danish artists Wooloo, in the style of We Are The World-style celebrity charity ensemble records, sardonically imploring the Catholic Church to dip into its vast wealth and bail Europe's economies out:

WE NEED YOU NOW (MORE THAN EVER) from wooloo on Vimeo.

This video is being screened until 17 November at the Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art at Röda Sten in Gothenburg, along with Chilean artist Fernando Sanchez Castillo's Pegasus Dance, an amorous ballet for two riot-control water-cannon trucks set to a languid waltz:

art détournement europe juxtaposition military urbanism satire video 0

2013/10/19

Book of Lamentations, a review of the American Psychological Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition as a work of dystopian literature:

If the novel has an overbearing literary influence, it’s undoubtedly Jorge Luis Borges. The American Psychiatric Association takes his technique of lifting quotes from or writing faux-serious reviews for entirely imagined books and pushes it to the limit: Here, we have an entire book, something that purports to be a kind of encyclopedia of madness, a Library of Babel for the mind, containing everything that can possibly be wrong with a human being. Perhaps as an attempt to ward off the uncommitted reader, the novel begins with a lengthy account of the system of classifications used – one with an obvious debt to the Borgesian Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge, in which animals are exhaustively classified according to such sets as “those belonging to the Emperor,” “those that, at a distance, resemble flies,” and “those that are included in this classification.”
As you read, you slowly grow aware that the book’s real object of fascination isn’t the various sicknesses described in its pages, but the sickness inherent in their arrangement... This mad project is clearly something that its authors are fixated on to a somewhat unreasonable extent. In a retrospectively predictable ironic twist, this precise tendency is outlined in the book itself. The entry for obsessive-compulsive disorder with poor insight describes this taxonomical obsession in deadpan tones: “repetitive behavior, the goal of which is […] to prevent some dreaded event or situation.” Our narrator seems to believe that by compiling an exhaustive list of everything that might go askew in the human mind, this wrong state might somehow be overcome or averted. References to compulsive behavior throughout the book repeatedly refer to the “fear of dirt in someone with an obsession about contamination.” The tragic clincher comes when we’re told, “the individual does not recognize that the obsessions or compulsions are excessive or unreasonable.” This mad project is so overwhelming that its originator can’t even tell that they’ve subsumed themselves within its matrix. We’re dealing with a truly unreliable narrator here, not one that misleads us about the course of events (the narrator is compulsive, they do have poor insight), but one whose entire conceptual framework is radically off-kilter. As such, the entire story is a portrait of the narrator’s own particular madness. With this realization, DSM-5 starts to enter the realm of the properly dystopian.

(via cstross) dystopia détournement mental illness psychology 0

2013/5/10

An interesting article about the origins of Discordianism and its influence on British pop pranksters The KLF, and in particular, the esoteric significance of their best-selling pop-house album The White Room and the lesser-known film they made of the same title:

The ideas behind the book can be traced back to the late 1950s, when Hill and Thornley attended California High School in East Whittier, a rural Southern Californian town that was then nestled amongst vast orange groves. In school they were viewed as nerds. Hill was short, squat and introverted, while Thornley was tall, very thin, and bursting with a nervous energy. They both shared an enthusiasm for pranks and strange ideas. They were also both keen on bowling alleys, largely because they served alcohol and remained open until two in the morning.
It was in one such bowling alley in 1957 that Thornley showed Hill some poetry that he was writing. It included a reference to order eventually arising out of chaos. Hill laughed at this. He told Thornley that the idea of ‘order’ was an illusion. Order is just something that the human mind projects onto reality. What really exists behind this fake veneer is an infinite, churning chaos. For Hill, an atheist, the failure to understand this was the major folly of the organised religions of the world, all of which claim that there is an organising principle at work in the Universe.
The article goes on to mention Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson's initiation into Discordianism through their editorship of the Playboy letters page, in which formed what would later evolve into the Illuminatus! trilogy; Aunt Twackie's, the experimental art space set up by Liverpudlian poet Peter O'Hallighan; and the theatrical version of Illuminatus! that was performed there, which caught the attention of two artists named Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty, who, years later, started making music as The KLF, and the set of events which led to The White Room.

(via MeFi) discordianism détournement history klf pranks 0

2013/3/17

In 2003, US mass-market clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch approached Slovenian Marxist philosopher Slavoj Žižek to write some ad copy for them; he took them up on the offer, and the result (NSFW) consists of goldenly sunlit vintage-soft-porn-style photographs of naked good-looking young people, with Žižek's unique brand of macaronic Freudian-Lacanian theorising superimposed over a proportion of the pages, in bold sans-serif face. A representative example of the text:

Žižek reportedly said that the assignment took him 10 minutes of free associating, and that he found it less demeaning than the US academic sector:

But Zizek bristled at the suggestion that there was anything unseemly about an internationally renowned intellectual writing copy for a clothing catalog. ''If I were asked to choose between doing things like this to earn money and becoming fully employed as an American academic, kissing [EXPLETIVE] to get a tenured post,'' he growled, ''I would with pleasure choose writing for such journals!''
Which sounds like a Marxist take on the “punk rock” philosophy mentioned in an earlier post: if the bourgeois-capitalist system is (a) bullshit and (b) inescapable, and the supposedly “credible” parts of it are the worst by their pretence of being something other than bullshit, why not show the lie of the system by shunning its serious institutions and engaging solely with the most honestly base and tawdry aspects of it: populist cinema and mass-market clothing chains?

(via MeFi) détournement freudian marketing marxism punk slavoj žižek 1

2013/2/28

As Pope Sidious I Benedict XVI prepares for his last day in office, before taking to the freshly minted office of “Pontiff Emeritus”, someone seemingly hacked his Twitter account, posting over 100 tweets, all in (varying) Latin and addressed to various celebrities and organisations. They were all deleted pretty quickly, but a few choice examples were preserved here:

@BillGates Hey debemus occursum dent. Nos ambae faciunt terribilis products populus coguntur uti.
@BillGates Hey we should hang out some time. We both make shitty products people are forced to use.
@charliesheen Hey relinquo in XXXVI horis. Occursum mihi in Vegas cum kilo of cocainum?
@charliesheen Hey I get off in 36 hours. Meet me in Vegas with a kilo of blow?
(“kilo of cocainum”? “terribilis products”?)

catholic détournement hacktivism humour pope benedict xvi pranks twitter vatican 0

2012/3/20

Russia's rogue film translators have struck again: this time, a pirate version of the Margaret Thatcher hagiography The Iron Lady has Thatcher admiring Hitler and vowing to “crush the working class, crush the scum”:

In a scene from the original film, two Conservative advisers tell Thatcher that she needs to soften her image after they watch her being interviewed on television. In the Russian version, which has been dubbed to have her say that she would crush the working class, an adviser responds: "Of course you went a bit over the top ... One of them [the workers] could be literate and have a television and see everything and tell all the rest," he says, "and then rumours would spread that you are a pitiless, heartless bitch."
Creating a new script over pirated films is nothing new in Russia; one famous translator working under the pseudonym Goblin made his name by making entertaining versions that were sometimes better than the original. But this seems to be the first time that a mainstream film has been so radically changed to fit in with a political viewpoint, in which Thatcher and her ministers are shown as part of a world conspiracy, controlled by shadowy leaders. The script veers from the hysterical to the absurd – at one point Thatcher says she intends to deliberately start the Falklands war with the help of fellow fans of her favourite free market economist, Milton Friedman.
Which looks like a cross between the Russian tradition of détourning Western popular works (see also: Lord of the Rings from a Mordorian progressive/rationalist perspective) and the Downfall parody video. Apparently the pirated translation has fooled at least one film critic, who quoted the dialogue in a generally positive review.

détournement film margaret thatcher russia 0

2012/3/14

Some hackers in Germany have automated the process of generating semi-random T-shirt designs. The result is Zufallsshirt (“chance shirt”), a sort of Borgesian infinite library of quasi-ironic T-shirts. It generates a huge number of combinations of phrases (mostly in German, though with quite a few in English), words and clip-art. Some look like the sort of thrift-store attire hipsters wore 15 years ago, others like miscellaneous ravey wordmarks pumped out by T-shirt labels, and others are rectangles of acrostics of random words.

Some of the results are more presentable than others; one might believe that “Budapest Bicycle Flux” was a semi-obscure math-rock band whose gig the wearer happened to catch in some college-town bar back in the day, and there are situations where one might plausibly wear a T-shirt reading “I Reject Your Reality And Replace It With Cupcakes”, which, alas, cannot be said for some of the outputs, such as “your vagina is a wonderland”, or a grid of words including “Hitlerponys”, “Mörderpenis” and/or the decidedly euphemistic-sounding “wurstvuvuzela”. There are no permalinks and no way of keeping a design other than by buying it (i.e., getting it printed and shipped, which is done by a Leipzig-based mail-order T-shirt printing company). Or by saving the .png file of the image from the website. Anyway, I suspect that the creators have made a fair amount of money, and quite a few people have drawers full of odd-looking shirts from a parallel universe.

Interestingly enough, after clicking through the site for a while, a reader with a limited grasp of German may find their German comprehension improving slightly; perhaps the flood of meaningful (if nonsequiturial) sentences exercises the language pattern-matching parts of the brain in some kind of process of combinatorial fuzzing, reinforcing plausible word sequences.

(via MeFi) dadaism détournement germany hacks language random text t-shirts 0

2012/3/13

Art Threat has an article about VOINA, the Russian radical performance-art collective responsible for happenings protesting against the corruption of the Russian state, its abuses of human rights, and the complicity of the mainstream art world. Their projects have included provocations such as sliding live sheep down a pro-Putin election banner at a book fair opening, staging mock hangings of gays and foreigners in Moscow to protest the Mayor's hostile stance to both, spray-painting a giant phallus on a drawbridge opposite the headquarters of the security services in St. Petersburg; though a lot of their ire is also directed at a bourgeois contemporary art world they see as more oriented to catering to the corrupt elites than questioning the state of affairs:

At the Moscow Art Fair in 2007, they staged It’s Time to Whip Russian Art, inviting members of the public to participate in a public flogging of a man dressed in white lying on a white sheet with an S&M whip dipped in red paint, a protest against elitism and conformism in Russian contemporary art.
“All our actions have political underlying messages, but we use art language only. We speak in images, symbols, which are mostly visual. We don’t use the language of political journalism. Politics is just a main theme of our works. In the current socio-political situation in Russia, an honest artist can’t be mute and make glamorous “masterpieces” for oligarchs, who decorate their “brilliant” dachas.”
VOINA's actions have, perhaps unsurprisingly, brought the full brunt of the Russian security state down upon them, with all the brutality and arbitrariness that this entails.
“Being captured, the artists with handcuffs on their hands and plastic bags on their heads were thrown into a minibus and were carried from Moscow to St. Petersburg on the iron floor for ten hours. During this trip, cops kicked Oleg, the ideologist of the art group, in the kidneys and head. Two weeks later the human right defenders and the medics, who visited the arrested artists in prison, found hematomas on Oleg’s body in the kidney area and handcuff marks. Leonid had serious bruises.”
British street artist turned crypto-celebrity Banksy has offered to pay the bail for Oleg and Leonid (cited as US$133,000), though his offer was rejected. There is a web site which claims to be a defence fund here.

art dadaism détournement politics russia street art 0

2012/2/2

And more on unintended consequences: in the US state of Vermont, the decals on police cars are manufactured by prison labour. Now, it turns out, one creatively-inclined inmate has made a subtle, and unilateral, improvement to the state crest on the logo, by inserting the silhouette of a pig (hidden as a spot in the cow on the state logo):

"This is not as offensive as it would have been years ago. We can see the humor," Flynn said. He said the artist has talents that could be used elsewhere. "If that person had used some of that creativeness he or she would not have ended up inside."

(via tyrsalvia) détournement pigs pranks unintended consequences usa 0

2011/5/31

A group of hackers in Germany have built a device disguised as a wall-mounted power supply which connects to wireless networks, intercepts packets and subtly changes the content of pages from news websites:

The Newstweek uses ARP spoofing to change the text displayed on several news sites. After doing some field research, placing and configuring the device, there’s a simple web frontend that configures the man-in-the-middle hack. Right now, the Newstweek only allows a few news sites to be targeted, but the team is working on allowing anyone to add their own targets.
There is a technical walkthrough of its construction here. Unsurprisingly, it's basically a Linux-based wireless access point, hacked into a new case and running a customised version of the OpenWRT firmware.

Meanwhile, Charlie Stross extrapolates on more serious applications of such technologies:

This sort of gadget is, in bulk, extremely cheap — I bet you could order them for well under $100 in batches of a thousand and up. Say you're a repressive regime, but not so repressive that you can just haul random dissidents off to the torture chamber without paying lip service to due process. How hard would it be to plant these things in your targets' homes, so that you can gaslight them by interfering with the news they're reading? Call it a digital agent provocateur. Say you're the DHS and you want a steady stream of clueless Al Qaida wannabes to arrest and show on CNN to keep everyone afraid enough to go along with your PATRIOT Act extension? Plant these in the homes of young muslim males who hang out at the wrong mosques, crank up the volume of hateful news, and see who snaps ...

disinformation détournement hacks linux pranks 0

2011/4/7

Jeff Koons Must Die!!! is a new art installation by multimedia artist Hunter Jonakin. It consists of a video arcade cabinet running a first-person shooter game involving the eponymous artist and his works:


The game is set in a large museum during a Jeff Koons retrospective. The viewer is given a rocket launcher and the choice to destroy any of the work displayed in the gallery. If nothing is destroyed the player is allowed to look around for a couple of minutes and then the game ends. However, if one or more pieces are destroyed, an animated model of Jeff Koons walks out and chastises the viewer for annihilating his art. He then sends guards to kill the player. If the player survives this round then he or she is afforded the ability to enter a room where waves of curators, lawyers, assistants, and guards spawn until the player is dead. In the end, the game is unwinnable, and acts as a comment on the fine art studio system, museum culture, art and commerce, hierarchical power structures, and the destructive tendencies of gallery goers, to name a few.

(via MeFi) art détournement jeff koons videogames 1

2011/1/3

An art exhibition in Berlin involves a hall divided into two parts, each of which containing six reindeer. One half of the reindeer are (possibly) fed fly agaric mushrooms, fabled by Lapp shamans to give their urine hallucinogenic properties. In the centre of the hall there is a hotel-like suite, which may be rented for €1,000 a night; the suite contains a minibar, which is stocked with bottles of urine collected from the reindeer; however, the bottles are not labelled as to which reindeer they came from. The title of this show is Soma, though an alternate title is "how to make hipsters pay €1,000 to drink piss". Pabst Blue Ribbon is the main sponsor.

Dorothée Brill, the museum's lead curator, says: "As far as we can tell, nobody's done anything they shouldn't have." Staff at the restaurant, however, report that some guests "drink the minibar dry".

art berlin bizarre drugs détournement hipsters pranks 0

2010/11/7

2010/11/6

A resort in the Maldives has been offering wedding packages to (mostly Western) tourists, where, for $1300, they can have a "traditional Maldivean" ceremony. Unbeknownst to the tourists, the actual ceremony consisted of a stream of obscenities and nonsequiturs in Dhivehi, directed at the clueless couple. This only emerged when a staff member uploaded the video of one of the ceremonies, originally taped for the couple in question, to YouTube:

“Before buggering a chicken, check if the hole is clean. That is because the people of the countries that you are from are familiar with the taste of the ****holes of chicken,” he chants, still with hands held over the couples’.
The concluding chant is delivered in a gentler, softer voice: “Keep fornicating frequently, and keep spreading hatred among people. The children you will have from this marriage will all be bastard swine.”

détournement maldives postcolonialism pranks tourism 1

2010/9/20

Some prankster has been stickering the Barclays branding on London's rental bicycles (a.k.a. the Boris Bikes), prefixing the imperative "fuck" to the sponsor's name:

It's not clear whether they're specifically cheesed off with Barclays' customer service or whether they just dislike the fact that something as ideologically pure as a bicycle should be tainted by the name of a bank.

(via Arbroath) bicyclism culture jamming cycling détournement fuck london 0

2010/8/24

Some culture-jammers in New York have affixed official-looking "Spoiler Alert" signs to LED train attival signs in the subway.

Their rationale is that the recently installed signs erode faith in the system, create false hopes, erase the "mystery and magic" of the Subway and "threaten historical social behaviors, rendering obsolete the time-honored New York tradition of leaning over the platform edge with the hope of glimpsing headlights from an approaching train".

culture jamming détournement nyc public transport society 3

2010/8/18

Modern audio processing technology can work wonders, such as, for example, turning a song by manufactured pop star Justin Bieber into a 35-minute glacial ambient soundscape, in an Icelandic touristcore vein. Apparently the trick was slowing the original down by 800% with the right software. (Which makes me wonder whether or not that is, in fact, how artists like Jónsi make their music, or at least the backings.)

détournement music touristcore 0

2010/8/16

Handily printable journalism warning labels, for putting on newspapers with dubious journalism in public places:

dishonesty détournement journalism spin 1

2010/7/8

And now, interrupting regular (or even irregular) blogging to introduce a side-project I have recently been working on: The Postmodernism Generator for iPhone. This is an iPhone port of the venerable Postmodernism Generator, which has been around the web, in various forms, for a decade and a half. The iPhone edition runs on the same engine, albeit slightly extended and cleaned up (aside: stopping a 15-year-old command-line C program from leaking memory enough to run acceptably on a phone involves considerable work), with some improvements (you can adjust the target length of essays and, optionally, use surnames from your address book in authors' names). Additionally, the grammar has been updated somewhat, with new content (for example, it now knows about Lady Gaga, Slavoj Žižek and Quentin Tarantino films made after Jackie Brown); these changes will be ported to the web-based version shortly.

The Postmodernism Generator for iPhone is available from the App Store, here. It's priced at the lowest price point (US$0.99/£0.59/0,79€/AUD1.29), which gets you a virtually infinite cornucopia of dense verbiage at your command, with or without a network connection, for amusement, befuddlement or plagiarism*.

Note: The Null Device does not encourage the use of the Postmodernism Generator for plagiarism.

détournement iphone personal postmodernism pranks self-promotion 3

2010/6/22

Another reaction to the changing economics of recorded music: American indie band The Fiery Furnaces are protesting the falling monetary value of recorded music by declining to provide it; and so, an indie Atlas shrugs and, instead, releases a "Silent Record":

The Fiery Furnaces’ next album will consist of instruction, conventional music notation, graphic music notation, reports and illustrations of previous hypothetical performances, reports and illustrations of hypothetical performances previous to the formation of their hypotheses, guidelines for the fabrication of semi-automatic machine rock, memoranda to the nonexistent Central Committee of the Fiery-Furnaces-in-Exile concerning the non-creation of situations, Relevant to Progressive Rock Division, conceptual constellations on a so-to-speak black cloth firmament, and other items that have nothing to do with the price of eggs, or milk, or whatever the proverbial expression ceased to be.
Upon release of the record, the band will organize a series of Fan-Band concerts, in which groups of perfectly ordinary Fiery Furnaces’ fans will perform, interpret, contradict, ignore, and so on, the compositions that make up Silent Record. Write to thefieryfurnacesemail@gmail.com to nominate your post office break room, truck stop parking lot, municipal arts center, local tavern, or what-its-name to host one of these ‘happenings’. By ‘happenings’ I mean, what will be in the future, perfectly normal rock shows. And propose yourself for Fan Band participation.

(via Ian W.) culture détournement fiery furnaces music the recording industry 2

2010/4/3

A New York-based group of culture jammers calling themselves TrustoCorp has been droplifting parodic products into supermarkets:

Banko$ 1. Grab Can 2. Smash Face

culture jamming droplifting détournement nyc pranks 0

2010/3/26

The New York April Fools' Committee is proud to announce New York's 25th annual April Fool's Day parade:

The theme for this year's parade is "Up, Up and Away." Led by Grand Marshall Ben Bernanke, the parade will kick off with the Where's-the-Money Marching Band playing this year's theme song by the Fifth Dimension "Up, Up and Away in My Beautiful Balloon." Color commentary will be provided by Sarah Palin for her new Fox TV show "We Make It Up, You Believe It." Thanks to a contribution by a secret donor in honor of the parade's 25th anniversary, 10,000 red, white and blue helium balloons, each with a crisp one-dollar bill attached, will be released along the parade route.
The floats this year will be led by Richard and Mayumi Heene with their Homemade Helium Flying Saucer Float. Next will be the Northwest Airlines Flight 188 "Siesta" Cockpit Float with pilot Timothy B. Cheney and first officer Richard I. Cole napping. Then a North Korea Missile Launch Float will launch H2O bombs into the crowd.
The New York April Fools' Day Parade was created in 1986 to remedy a glaring omission in the long list of New York's annual ethnic and holiday parades. These events fail to recognize the importance of April 1st, the day designated to commemorate the perennial 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 of Fools from parading look-alikes.
Those wanting more information are urged to contact the committee chair, Joey Skaggs.

april fool's détournement joey skaggs pranks 0

2010/2/24

An unemployed sysadmin in Russia hacked into a video billboard and reprogrammed it to show a pornographic video, causing a traffic jam as drivers on a nearby road stopped to gape at the video and record it with their mobile phones.

The hacker, from Novorossiisk, used a server in Chechnya in an attempt to cover his tracks, though was unsuccessful; the Interior Ministry managed to track him down. (I wonder whether he'd have had more luck had he chosen a less politically fraught staging point.) He is now facing two years imprisonment; meanwhile, security rules for video billboards have been tightened.

I'm thinking something like this would make a good plot device; imagine a gang of assassins/bank robbers planting logic bombs in a few strategically placed billboards; at a preset time, they start showing porn, causing instant traffic jams and trapping their victim/blocking their pursuers. Or international jewel thieves hack video screens in an exclusive reception to show Goatse-style shock porn; as the attendees are momentarily stunned by the shock, unable to react, the bandits (dressed as waiters, naturally) act quickly, snatching the valuables and making their escape. Police have a hard time piecing together what happened afterward.

(via Boing Boing) crime détournement hacks porn pranks russia security 2

2009/10/2

A news story recently appeared about a new installation by a US conceptual artist named Richard Whitehurst: an exhibit reachable only by a tunnel, with the artist waiting to rape anybody who attempted to pass:

I've constructed a 22 ft tunnel out of plywood that leads into the project room. There is no way in or out of the project room except for this tunnel. As you travel through the tunnel, it gets smaller and smaller, making it so that you have to crawl and put yourself in a submissive position in order to reach the tunnel's destination. At the end of the tunnel the subject will find me waiting in the project room and I'll try to the best of my ability to overpower and rape the person who crawls through.
I want to make it clear that I plan to make the experience as unpleasant as I possibly can to anyone who dares to crawl through the tunnel. I will try to the best of my ability to make them regret their decision.
The Rape Tunnel was apparently the sequel to an earlier work, the Punch-You-In-The-Face Tunnel, over which Whitehurst is still involved in a lawsuit with a model over her broken nose, as described here:
In 2007 at the Seward Projects Space in Columbus, I had my first breakthrough with an installation that was to be the prototype for this current one. It was called THE PUNCH-YOU-IN-THE-FACE TUNNEL. It was the same set-up as THE RAPE TUNNEL except at the end of the tunnel I’d punch the subject in the face instead of raping him or her. The impetus was completely reactionary to the current state of art, and motivated by pure frustration.
As it turns out, I ended up breaking the nose of the third person to crawl through the tunnel, an aspiring model. She went to the hospital and eventually sued me. Her modeling career was put on hold. The civil case was long and drawn out and the matter still hasn’t been resolved. To this day she still has unpaid medical bills. The point of this long aside is that all this took place two years ago, and I’m still having an impact on this young lady’s life, something not many other artists could claim about their work
Or would have been, had the story not been a hoax, apparently intended to "spark conversation". In that it seems to have succeeded.

(via nicky_j) art détournement hoax rape 0

2009/8/26

Some anonymous culture jammer visited Bristol Zoo and affixed to the outside of a visitors' café a plaque framing it as the "Human" enclosure, drily writing up the behaviours and characteristics of H. sapiens:

The human diet is very adaptable to regional crop varieties and personal taste, with some groups able to live almost exclusively on chipped potatoes and sugary drinks.

Groups of humans are often fed by unrelated individuals in exchange for tokens made of paper, metal and plastic -- behaviour which can frequently be seen inside this enclosure.

Of course, given the location of this prank, one does wonder whether or not it's the work of a certain local artist.

(via Boing Boing) anthropology banksy bristol culture jamming détournement pranks 1

2009/6/19

The editor-in-chief of a commercial academic journal has resigned after the journal accepted for publication a nonsensical, computer-generated article:

Bentham confirmed receipt of my submission the very next day (January 30, 2009). Nearly four months later, I received a response — the article was accepted. The acceptance letter read:

"This is to inform you that your submitted article has been accepted for publication after peer-reviewing process in TOISCIJ. I would be highly grateful to you if you please fill and sign the attached fee form and covering letter and send them back via email as soon as possible to avoid further delay in publication."

The letter was written by a Ms. Sana Mokarram, the Assistant Manager of Publication. She included a fee schedule and confirmation that I would pay US$800, to be sent to a post office box in the SAIF Zone, a tax-free complex in the United Arab Emirates.

The journal, "The Open Information Science Journal", is published by a company named Bentham, out of an office in a tax-free zone in the United Arab Emirates, and charges authors to publish papers, whilst making the journals freely available. The ostensible difference between this and a vanity publisher is that TOISCIJ ostensibly subjects its submissions to a peer review process, thus ensuring that, for example, a charlatan couldn't burnish their credentials merely by writing a cheque. Unfortunately, it appears that the peer review process seems to resemble the papers sitting in a pile for a few months; consequently, those who have had papers published in the journal have probably wasted US$800 in doing so.

The paper in question ("Deconstructing Access Points", by "David Phillips" and "Andrew Kent" of the "Center for Research in Applied Phrenology"), incidentally, may be downloaded here. It contains howlers such as:

Our implementation of our methodology is pseudorandom, wearable, and collaborative. We have not yet implemented the centralized logging facility, as this is the least private component of our method.
Gaussian electromagnetic disturbances in our mobile telephones caused unstable experimental results. Note that vacuum tubes have less jagged effective floppy disk throughput curves than do autogenerated robots.

cs détournement pranks pseudoscience random text scams 1

2009/4/24

When US filmmaker Andrea Wachner was invited to attend her 10-year high-school reunion in the affluent Los Angeles suburb of Palos Verdes, she didn't want to go; so she recruited an exotic dancer to pretend to be her, fitting her with an earpiece and coaching her interactively on the people she was meeting. Tattooed, scantily-clad "Cricket" claimed that she was Andrea, had had reconstructive surgery and suffered amnesia after a car accident, and that she was working as a stripper to pay for her graduate school tuition. She was followed by a camera crew, ostensibly making a documentary about the daily lives of artists. Cricket finished off her performance by doing a striptease to a Lisa Loeb song.

Most of the people were taken in by this, or at least sufficiently uncertain to not raise a fuss in case they ended up making fools of themselves, and found out only later, when Wachner posted video to YouTube, as a teaser for a 40-minute documentary titled "I Remember Andrea Better" she was making on the incident.

(via Boing Boing) class détournement gargoyle gibson's law pranks psychology usa 0

2008/12/24

Some unidentified pranksters in Nottingham have put up official-looking signs advising that it is legal to urinate in certain areas.

They feature a toilet sign and include the words: "Public Urination Permitted After 7.30pm".
The prank also featured a laminated note, headed with the logo of Nottingham City Council, which said the scheme was aimed at reducing the mess faced by residents outside their homes.
The notice reads: "In an attempt to reduce late night public nuisance, during the holiday period, Nottingham City Council has designated several public urination areas across the city. This urination area will be cleaned daily between the hours of 5am and 6am."
The council is advising people not to follow the advice on the signs, and sending staff around to remove them as quickly as it can. So far, no photos of the signs seem to have made it to Flickr.

culture jamming détournement pranks signs uk 0

2008/10/17

2008/2/4

The culture jammer calling himself The Decapitator has released a video of his latest stunt—hijacking a consignment of copies of free commuter tabloid TheLondonPaper, modifying them by gruesomely beheading David Beckham in a mobile phone ad, and then droplifting the doctored copies near Old Street, all in the space of 3 hours.

(via Wired News) advertising culture jamming david beckham détournement london media pranks the decapitator 0

2008/1/30

The latest thing to do on the London Underground: swapping station names around on maps, confusing tourists:


(via london-underground) détournement london london underground maps pranks 2

2008/1/5

Six members of Prague-based art group Ztohoven are facing trial for hacking into a television feed showing images from a webcam and superimposing a mushroom cloud over a mountain landscape. If convicted, they face 3 years in jail; that's one year for each 111,000 koruna (approximately US$6,150) they were awarded by another arm of the Czech state, Prague's National Gallery, for the same project.

(via Boing Boing) at czech republic détournement guerilla art pranks 0

Some anonymous guerilla artist has been hacking the heads off models in advertising posters in London. Dubbed the "East London Decapitator", he or she creates meticulously photoshopped overlays, with the figures' heads replaced with gory stumps and the surroundings splattered with blood, and pastes them over the advertisements. Nobody — not squeaky-clean Disney stars, not pop singers, not even computer-animated characters — is safe.

There is a Flickr photo set here. It's pretty entertaining, as long as he/she doesn't escalate into beheading actual live models or something.

(via Wired News) advertising art culture jamming decapitation détournement guerilla art london pranks 1

2007/10/21

Conceptual Terrorists Encase Sears Tower In Jell-O:

"Your outdated ideas of what terrorism is have been challenged," an unidentified, disembodied voice announces following the video's first 45 minutes of random imagery set to minimalist techno music. "It is not your simple bourgeois notion of destructive explosions and weaponized biochemical agents. True terror lies in the futility of human existence."
According to a 2007 CIA executive summary, the terrorists responsible for masterminding the attack are likely hiding somewhere in Berlin's vast labyrinth of cafés. Though officials said they didn't know if any of those involved in carrying out the plot were still in Chicago, several dozen local performance artists and interpretive dancers have been brought in for questioning.
Hayden said the CIA is working closely with the National Endowment for the Arts to cut off all grants that may serve as funding for the group. In addition, the Department of Homeland Security has begun monitoring any large purchases of gravy, tinfoil, pig's blood, and barbed wire in hopes of preventing another aesthetic tragedy.

(via Schneier) art conceptual terrorism détournement satire situationism surrealism terrorism 0

2007/6/28

Someone has invented a must-have accessory for the radical urban itinerant, a means of getting free accommodation whilst striking a blow against car culture: a tent shaped like a car cover, which turns any parking space into a campsite:

(via Gizmodo) anti-car design détournement pranks protest subversion 1

2007/6/16

Anti-corporate culture jammers The Yes Men recently infiltrated the Gas And Oil Exposition in Calgary, Canada, posing as oil company representatives and putting forward a modest proposal to turn the bodies of all those who die in the oil crash into fuel:

As security guards led Bonanno from the room, Bichlbaum told reporters that "Without oil we could no longer produce or transport food, and most of humanity would starve. That would be a tragedy, but at least all those bodies could be turned into fuel for the rest of us."
Noting that "150,000 people already die from climate-change related effects every year," he added, "That's only going to go up - maybe way, way up. Will it all go to waste? That would be cruel."

(via Boing Boing) a modest proposal culture jamming détournement oil pranks the yes men vivoleum 2

2007/5/23

Somebody has been going around the London Underground with specially printed transparency stickers, adding a station named "Brown Punk" to the Hammersmith & City line:

And then there's the graffiti all over town, reading "Alphabet of Brooke Shields" or its variations.

(via london-underground) détournement graffiti london tube 0

2007/2/27

The latest innovation in the guerilla insurgency against advertising: printable cold sores:

Printable cold sores allow us to take action! Bring these people back down to our level, and tell advertisers that you don't agree with their message. How can you help? It's easy...
  1. Download the printable cold sore sheet. This is optimized for use with 1" x 2 5/8" Avery Easy Peel Clear Mailing Labels, #18660.
  2. Print it out on a transparency sticker sheet.
  3. Tag an subway poster that seems appropriate.

(via Charlie Stross) culture culture jamming détournement 0

2006/9/11

Not one to rest on his laurels, Banksy has been up to more pranks. His most recent has been placing a hooded detainee mannequin in Disneyland:

The hooded figure was placed inside the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride at the California theme park last weekend.
It is understood to have remained in place for 90 minutes before the ride was closed down and the figure removed.
There is more about the stunt here. Meanwhile, Banksy is organising a "three day vandalised warehouse extravaganza" in Los Angeles this weekend. Given that it's on both his website and the BBC News, I wonder whether the LAPD or FBI will raid it.

(via Boing Boing) art banksy disneyland détournement 0

2006/9/7

And here is what looks like Banksy's making-of video for his Paris Hilton project.

(via Boing Boing) banksy détournement paris hilton video 0

2006/9/6

And eBay have pulled the Banksy/Paris Hilton album listing. Not surprisingly, given that it's unlikely that he licensed Hilton's likeness or trademarks (including "That's Hot!™", which reportedly appears on the CD), or indeed the original CD artwork mashed up to make the item. In this permission-based society, there is no such thing as fair use for purposes of parody, unless you have a legal department the size of Time Warner behind you.

banksy détournement ebay paris hilton 0

2006/9/5

Someone has posted photos of Banksy's Paris Hilton CD, from a copy found in a HMV in Birmingham:

There's also a copy on eBay. Bidding is currently running at £250, with just under 10 days to go.

(via jwz) art banksy détournement mashup paris hilton photos pranks 0

2006/9/3

"Guerilla artist" Banksy has now branched out into music; he has created a counterfeit Paris Hilton album, and droplifted 500 copies into shops in the UK:

On the cover of the doctored CD, Ms Hilton's dress has been digitally repositioned to reveal her bare breasts; on an inside photo, her head has been replaced with that of her dog.
On the back cover, the original song titles have been replaced with a list of questions: "Why am I famous?", "What have I done?" and "What am I for?"
Instead of Ms Hilton's own compositions, the replacement CD features 40 minutes of a basic rhythm track over which Banksy has dubbed Ms Hilton's catchphrase "That's hot!" and other extracts from her reality TV programme The Simple Life.
I wonder how one would go about obtaining one of these improved Paris Hiltons.

banksy droplifting détournement paris hilton 0

2006/7/7

Police in Berlin have arrested two men on suspicion of placing cement-filled soccer balls around the city, along with spray-painted messages reading "Can you kick it?"

The two are accused of causing serious physical injury, dangerous obstruction of traffic and causing injury through negligence, police sai

berlin détournement pranks 0

2006/6/29

Could this be the greatest ever prank played on a 419 scammer? The prankster, who received the usual proposition to help in the transfer of vast sums of money from Africa, posed as art dealer "Derek Trotter" and convinced the scammer or an accomplice to produce incredibly detailed wood carvings of a Creature Comforts figurine and a Commodore 64:

(via Boing Boing) 419 commodore 64 détournement nigeria pranks 0

2006/5/5

A group of pranksters calling themselves Improv Everywhere, who seem to specialise in causing surreal happenings, not unlike the Cacophonists, recently invaded a big-box retailer, dressed to resemble staff. They didn't have actual replica uniforms, though found that instructing volunteers to wear shirts the right shade of blue, khakis and belts was enough. Chaos ensued; customers asked them for help (and often got it), Best Buy footsoldiers were amused, and management freaked out, thinking this was a heist of some sort. Eventually the police were called, though to their dismay found that there was nothing they could arrest the pranksters for, as they weren't impersonating staff per se, and nor were they trespassing, as they had not been asked to leave.

(via schneier) best buy détournement improv everywhere pranks 0

2006/5/3

In Toronto, vandals/hacktivists have managed to break into the commuter train system's electronic announcement/advertising signs and reprogram them to announce that the Prime Minister eats babies.

It appears that this was a case of electronic vandalism," said Stephanie Sorensen, corporate communications and media specialist for the GO Transit commuter system. "We assume it was a hacker. We haven't identified the person who did this but we're working closely with the contractor who runs the signs to fix the problem."
Screens on GO Trains have been shut down since Monday. Sorensen said she expects they will remain off line for a few more days until password-protected technology is installed to protect them from computer hackers.
Oops!

détournement hacktivism pranks 0

2006/1/25

These people appear to have been putting official-looking stickers on Tube trains, prohibiting talking, sitting and eye contact, among other things:

(via london-underground) détournement englishness humour london london underground pranks satire 0

2005/9/20

An artist in New York has pasted 50,000 blank speech bubble stickers to ads and posters, waited for the public to fill them in, and then photographed the results. The results included political commentary, existential angst, ribald humour, self-promotion and personal messages.

I Steal Music, and I'm not going away! Nice ass! Date me (please!)

(via jwz) advertising détournement ipod new york 0

2005/9/8

Guerilla Drive-Ins are a cross between a drive-in cinema revival, illegal raves and Make-style improvisational techno-larrikinism. Some people in Santa Cruz are reviving the mid-20th-century American custom of drive-in movies, only this time reclaiming public space using a car fitted with a video projector, a FM transmitter and a movie; those in the know are notified in advance by email.

Films scheduled include cult classics (Dawn Of The Dead, Harold and Maude, Delicatessen) and worthy documentaries and dramas (The Take, The Yes Men, City Of God). It's an interesting idea, though, IMHO, it would have been more ideologically sound if they used bicycles instead of cars.

(via gizmodo) diy détournement film larrikinism public space punk 0

2005/4/27

Heavy Trash, an anonymous collective of architects, designers and urban planners opposed to wealthy Americans' retreat into gated communities, has installed Berlin Wall-style viewing platforms at the gates of three such communities in Los Angeles:

"When public services and even local government are privatized, when the community of responsibility stops at the gates, the function and the very idea of democracy are threatened. Gates and barricades that separate people from one another also reduce people's potential to understand one another and commit to any common or collective purpose."
"There are now more than 1 million homes behind such walls in the greater Los Angeles area alone," according to Setha Low, a professor at the City University of New York.

(via worldchanging) détournement gated communities usa 2

2005/4/14

Someone has written a program for generating random computer-science papers, designed to scam dubious conferences, apparently with some success:

One useful purpose for such a program is to auto-generate submissions to "fake" conferences; that is, conferences with no quality standards, which exist only to make money. A prime example, which you may recognize from spam in your inbox, is SCI/IIIS and its dozens of co-located conferences (for example, check out the gibberish on the WMSCI 2005 website). Using SCIgen to generate submissions for conferences like this gives us pleasure to no end. In fact, one of our papers was accepted to SCI 2005!

The authors intend to attend the conference in question and deliver a randomly-generated talk.

A sample of its output (without the authentic-looking graphs), excerpted from a paper titled "Refining DNS and Suffix Trees with OWLER":

We have taken great pains to describe out evaluation setup; now, the payoff, is to discuss our results. We ran four novel experiments: (1) we deployed 86 Atari 2600s across the underwater network, and tested our checksums accordingly; (2) we ran 34 trials with a simulated instant messenger workload, and compared results to our hardware deployment; (3) we measured flash-memory space as a function of ROM speed on a Motorola bag telephone; and (4) we asked (and answered) what would happen if mutually replicated vacuum tubes were used instead of I/O automata. All of these experiments completed without LAN congestion or 10-node congestion.

I take my hat off to them. When I wrote the Postmodernism Generator, all those years ago, I was sceptical of the possibility of successfully generating convincing random text in a more objectively verifiable field, such as computer science. I guess that, if those responsible for reviewing the paper aren't bothered to actually read it and attempt to assemble a mental model of what it states, one can get away with anything.

computer science dadaism détournement pranks random text 2

2005/3/25

Subversive underground artist and/or attention-seeking tosser Banksy strikes again, this time droplifting four artworks into famous New York museums, disguised as an old-age pensioner. (via 1.0)

banksy droplifting détournement new york 0

2004/11/23

Supporters of cultish fringe politico Lyndon LaRouche (he's the guy who claims, among other things, that the Queen controls the world drug trade and Beatlemania was created by the Occult Directorate of British Intelligence) recently held a rally at the University of Washington; pranksters join the rally, wearing tinfoil hats and wielding signs calling for an escalator to Mars and railing against toaster-based mind control, the B-battery cover-up and the media's conspiracy of silence on the government sabotage of the Trans-Atlantic Bridge; pictures here and here. (via bOING bOING)

détournement pranks psychoceramics 1

2004/10/24

A piece of logo-jamming seen near Chalk Farm tube station:

détournement photos starbucks stickers 1

2004/9/12

The French underground explorers/guerilla art collective responsible for the recently discovered underground cinema speak to the Graun:

Huddled round a table in an anonymous Latin Quarter bar, the group's members - of whom only Lazar wanted to be named - relate past exploits: rock concerts for up to 4,000 people in old underground quarries; 2am projections in a locked film theatre; art and photo exhibitions in supposedly sealed-off subterranean galleries.
The Chaillot underground cinema is now definitively closed, even to a drill-toting and determined urban explorer. But even if the Paris police may have reluctantly (and with considerable embarrassment) decided its builders were neither terrorists, neo-Nazis nor satanists, they would very much like to charge them with some offence. "As far as we know, they've been reduced to going for theft of electricity," said Lazar. "However, we covered our tracks so well that the electricity board has apparently told them that short of digging up every cable in the district there's no way of knowing where we took it from. But they're not happy. They've seen a tiny fraction of what we do, and it's a big deal for them."

catacombs cinema détournement france guerilla art la mexicaine de perforation paris troglodistes underground ux 0

2004/9/9

Police in Paris have stumbled across a secret underground cinema in the catacombs. The fully outfitted cinema was protected by a sophisticated alarm system and adorned with symbols including swastikas and stars of David. Its stock of film turned out to be mostly 1950s film noir, with nothing illegal or even offensive.

"The whole thing ran off a professionally installed electricity system and there were at least three phone lines down there." Three days later, when the police returned accompanied by experts from the French electricity board to see where the power was coming from, the phone and electricity lines had been cut and a note was lying in the middle of the floor: "Do not," it said, "try to find us."

There is an extensive network of catacombs under Paris, most of which is off-limits to the public, though frequented by groups of "cataphiles", who sound somewhere between the Cave Clan and the troglodistes in the film Delicatessen.

The recent discovery of three newly enlarged tunnels underneath the capital's high-security La Santé prison was put down to the activities of one such group, and another, iden tifying itself as the Perforating Mexicans, last night told French radio the subterranean cinema was its work.
Patrick Alk, a photographer who has published a book on the urban underground exploration movement and claims to be close to the group, told RTL radio the cavern's discovery was "a shame, but not the end of the world". There were "a dozen more where that one came from," he said. "You guys have no idea what's down there."

catacombs cinema détournement france guerilla art la mexicaine de perforation paris troglodistes underground ux 4

2004/5/7

Some time around 1980, Californian prankster John Trubee took some LSD, wrote some whacked out lyrics and sent them to one of those Nashville-based song recording companies, who sent him back a record of a country-and-western version of his opus, which became the "Blind Man's Penis" song, and a favourite on college radio. Now, someone has done a Flash-animated video for it.

blind man's penis détournement john trubee outsider music pranks 0

2004/3/8

Left-wing demonstrators at Yale infiltrate pro-Bush rally dressed in formal attire, holding "Blood for Oil" signs and chanting slogans like "Defend Enron". The authorities had trouble distinguishing the "Billionaires for Bush" protesters from actual Young Republicans.

"I thought it would be great to support global warming," a demonstrator who would give his name only as Seymour Benjamins said. "You can see how white I am, and global warming gives better tans."

Then again, who needs to parody the pro-corporate right when there are Objectivists quite sincerely talking about "life-giving" pollution; and is "Defend Enron" all that far removed from the "Campaign for the Moral Defense of Microsoft" that the Randroids mounted a few years ago?

détournement george w. bush protest usa yale 0

2004/3/4

In the tradition of the "Starbucks: Make a New Friend" mashup:


(via bOING bOING)

détournement execution ipod mashup starbucks vietnam 0

2004/1/20

2003/12/28

Pranksters dress lobster in Barbie outfit; this repeatedly saves its life as amused lobstermen throw it back. (via Charlie's Diary)

barbie détournement lobsters pranks 1

2003/11/18

Jimmy Cauty's follow-up to his Queen-in-a-gas-mask postage stamp: images of Big Ben exploding like the World Trade Center, labelled "5-11" after the date of Guy Fawkes' Day. The images have triggered widespread public outrage on behalf of 9/11 victims:

Gareth Glover, who helped set up the Robert Eaton Memorial Fund, told the Brighton Argus newspaper: "The images are very cheap and highly insensitive. In my opinion they should be treated with the contempt they deserve."

Cauty's defense is that the images are Tackling Uncomfortable Issues.

Mr Cauty said: "Any uncomfortable reaction to this new artwork may reflect the proximity of the subject. If Blacksmoke 5-11 depicted the government buildings in Baghdad or Kabul, would we pay attention? The war on terrorism starts here."

I wonder what the outraged citizens make of all those computer-generated animations of Big Ben blowing up that were all the rage in action films some years earlier.

(A word of advice to Mr. Cauty: if you wish to avoid public outrage, spraypaint your art pseudonymously on a wall. Nobody expects Banksy to steer away from subject matter verging on the obnoxious (i.e., his stencil of Auschwitz victims wearing lipstick). Come to think of it, could Banksy and Jimmy Cauty be one and the same? The Queen-in-a-gas-mask piece did look somewhat Banksyesque.)

9/11 art big ben détournement jimmy cauty klf london sensationalism terrorism the long siege 2

2003/10/24

Via Jim, this page of silly Tube maps, including one with the station names removed (see how many you can name), and this one in German (amusingly enough, Mile End is "2.4km Ende" in German). And here are some (mostly) sensible Tube maps; and a link to some brilliant stickers found added to line maps (I think I may have seen some of those when I was last over there).

détournement german language london underground maps stickers 2

2003/10/19

Subversive/"subversive" stencil artist Banksy has done it again; this time he has snuck a piece of artwork into Tate Britain; the piece consists of a found oil painting with police tape stencilled onto it, and is meant to be a protest against how obsession with crime and paedophilia is ruining Britain, or something to that effect. Another version of the painting is being sold in another, hipper, gallery, along with a video of Banksy (in disguise) hanging the piece in the Tate.

banksy droplifting détournement 0

2003/9/16

North Carolina cops are searching for a guy who successfully passed a $200 bill bearing George W. Bush's portrait and a drawing of the White House complete with lawn signs reading "We like ice cream" and "USA deserves a tax cut." With copy of the bill in question. (via bOING bOING)

détournement fraud george w. bush pranks 0

2003/8/7

In San Francisco, culture-jammers have closed down at least eight Starbucks shops, or at least made it look that way. The unnamed freedom fighters/economic terrorists poured glue over the shops' windows and stuck up "FOR LEASE" signs, as well as faked press releases on Starbucks letterheads announcing that the company has had a crisis of conscience and decided to go out of business:

"The global economy requires a relentless substitution of quantity over quality and shareholder value over human values," it read. "At our current market level, Starbucks cannot in good conscience guarantee all of our beans meet both our rigorous quality standards as well as our commitment to social responsibility. We are moving over and making room for local coffee bars."

Police are in hot pursuit, and the good citizens of McWorld can rest assured that the perpetrators of his heinous crime will be brought to justice. (via jwz)

détournement pranks protest starbucks 2

2003/8/2

Online Journalism Review interviews David Mikkelson of snopes.com, where he talks about his role in debunking the "Hunting for Bambi" hoax, and other things:

We have a section on our site called Lost Legends. We just made up the most outrageous things we could think of, made them out to being true, then put them out there to see if people would suspend their common sense. The most popular one is that we say that Mr. Ed was not a horse [but was a zebra]. We made up that the song "Sing a Song of Sixpence" was actually a song pirates used to recruit each other in the days of Blackbeard. It turns up on the "Urban Legends" show broadcast on a cable channel that it was true. They read it and thought that it was true.

(via TechDirt)

détournement journalism pranks urban legends 0

2003/6/19

Ben Rocknerd interviews Jimmy Cauty, one half of pop dadaists The KLF, who's also recently responsible for a controversial culture-jam based on British postage stamps. The interview will appear in an upcoming Big Issue.

détournement interview jimmy cauty 0

2003/3/26

Bravo! Anti-global-warming campaigners culture-jam Poems on the Underground, the long-running art project on the Tube in London, replacing poems with anti-Esso and anti-Bush screeds:

Sing a song of Esso
A packet full of lies
and oily greasy dollars
to help the climate fry
When the wallet opened
George Bush began to sing
"The planet may be burning
but I don't see a thing"

(via Meg)

activism culture jamming détournement environment london london underground 0

2002/12/18

It turns out that the black boxes labelled "Fear" on the New York Subway were an art project, by a student from the New York School of Visual Arts. The artist in question will be charged with public endangerment, becoming another casualty of post-9/11 paranoia.

"Terrorists are the last true performance artists." -- Laurie Anderson

"The greatest surrealist act would be to point a loaded revolver into the crowd and then fire at random." -- Andre Breton

andre breton art détournement laurie anderson new york paranoia the long siege 7

2002/12/17

Unknown prankster, performance artist or random lunatic tapes black cardboard boxes labelled FEAR to walls and girders of Union Square subway station in Manhattan; police evacuate station, fearing terrorist attack. This reminds me of the case of the paranoid schizophrenic who taped vials of water to lamp posts in Milwaukee, to detect a radio station broadcasting into his head, two years ago.

art détournement new york paranoia pranks terrorism the long siege 0

2002/10/15

Santiago Sierra is an artist who specialises in winding up the art world and using the medium of "art" to criticise the world we live in. As previous works, he has hired labourers to masturbate or to blockade galleries, recorded street riots in Argentina and distributed CDs to gallery patrons with instructions to play them out loud, and most recently, invited patrons to a gallery opening where the gallery was blocked off:

Last month, a steady stream of them turned up to the opening of the £500,000 extension to the Lisson Gallery in London, expecting canapes and cocktails. Imagine their frustration at being confronted by a sheet of corrugated iron across the entrance. "It was as though they were saying: 'Just get me inside and give me a drink. That's what I've come for.'" So the invitees weren't so much frustrated at being deprived of an aesthetic experience, but angry because they couldn't get inside for champagne and nibbles? "Obviously," says Sierra. "I mean, there were 10 other openings in town that night. And the aesthetic experience was right in front of them. The corrugated sheet was beautifully made. They just weren't ready to look at it."

Now that's what art is about, I think; more so than pretty landscapes, portraits of sportsmen and prime ministers and safe, bourgeois decorative objects. More in the realm of conceptual terrorism.

art conceptual art détournement santiago sierra 0

2002/8/12

A Washington Post article on the whole Obey Giant phenomenon and its origins. (via Reenhead)

andre the giant détournement giant shepard fairey street art 1

2002/7/25

Alternative points of view: Pro-war activism is not just for hairy-backed bloggers and talk-show callers: pranksters and conceptual artists can do it too.

Partridge calls the protesters "TV babies" who are spoon-fed reactions and for whom war exists only conceptually. "These folks are not thinkers; they are only a crowd that operates with a unit mind," he says.
Partridge says he happens to actually believe war is groovy, but he especially likes to upset people with his revolutionary ideas. Before this protest, Partridge visited a group of hard-core Christians who were condemning the "sinners" downtown. He started handing out pamphlets that said, "Christ is for sissies."

He seems somewhat more lucid than the Ayn Rand zealots who hold pro-Starbucks demonstration to piss off the Nu Marxists; or indeed the My Country Right Or Wrong crowd, for that matter. (via rotten.com)

contrarianism détournement pro-war protest war 1

2002/7/21

THIS IS A HEAVY PRODUCT: Some witty Londoner has printed stickers modifying Tube maps, adding imaginary details such as chasms (marked with "Mind the Gap") and alien spaceships to otherwise featureless Tube lines. (via 1.0)

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2002/5/4

One woman takes a Nigerian mail scammer for a ride. (via bOING bOING)

419 détournement nigeria pranks scams 0

2002/2/27

Buddy Weiserman vs. Prince Jubril Turey of Sierra Leone; or the story of how an anonymous prankster took a Nigerian 419 scammer for a ride (persuading him to catch a bus across Africa and chicken-dance in Ghana in the hope of snaring his mark). (via bOING bOING)

419 détournement nigeria pranks spam 0

2002/2/5

Culture jamming: A group of the militant unemployed calling themselves the Dole Army have hoaxed Australian tabloid TV current-affairs shows into running a story about the unemployed living in drains, emerging only at night to scavenge for food. The Murdoch papers and radio talk show hosts are undoubtedly outraged. The Cave Clan could not be reached for comment.

cave clan détournement pranks 2

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