Hacking Art & Culture with F.A.T. Lab | Off Book | PBS

Uploaded by PBS on 14.09.2011

F.A.T. Lab is a group of hackers and artists finding ways to make people be aware
of what they're doing online. F.A.T. Lab is meant to be a place where you can, like,
hit publish buttons without having to worry too much.
The internet's a new audience
that could be an art audience with the idea that the
can be a way to be a bit more inclusive.
F.A.T. Lab is about the digital space and it happens to involve relations
to other people, communication.
We're trying to make things that people want
to come to naturally. It is pop art in the era of the web.
Everybody wants to be in a crew but no one grows up thinking 'oh I want to be in a research and development lab.'
We've got colors, we've got cool logos, you know
it's fun, the whole thing's supposed to be fun or it fails.
Really what F.A.T. Lab is people releasing virally on the web.
Paying attention to contagious media, figuring out how those systems work
and we can infiltrate ideas with those systems.
Sometimes I think about it like we're the viral marketing wing of the open-source movement that was never requested. movement that was never requested
We tend to make ourselves stronger by sharing.
I think we've seen that worked with everything from wikipedia to firefox.
So a lot of my work is looking at open-source development models and applying i to the arts.
The intellectual property donors sticker was just this idea that on the back
of your id card you can sign away your organs, so it seems like you should be able to sign away
your intellectual property.
It was meant to point out how ridiculous copyright law's gotten. Public Domain
Countdown is just a clock that counts down to the moment when their work enters the public domain.
I have one for Michael Jackson, one for Biggie.
The source code's online so people can set up whoever they want. It's just pointing out
how long this time frame is.
Especially when it relates to hip-hop music
that grew up around sampling and remixing.
The idea that, legally, we can't remix any Biggie tracks - we can't put a Biggie vocal or another beat for
like sixty years or something - it's just not benefitting any of the people that are actually making stuff.
The arts traditionally rewards mystery and I think people that are making
things on the web feel more natural to just hit that publish button
as often as you can.
So 'release early, release often' was a tenant of the Linus community
so the tag line for F.A.T. was 'release early, release often and with rap music.'
It is this idea of getting used to hitting publish buttons more and more often
tagging on rap music or some popular element that's gonna make people want to click on it.
Speed is important. Especially with culture.
You want to get projects out there as quick as possible.
First there was this speed project idea. Doing fast projects in one day.
People were working that way anyway. We just put out that label of speed project.
Just the stamp that says this project was done in one day. You could check mark one day, one hour. Four hours, eight hours.
If it was longer than eight hours, then
it wasn't a speed project.
I thought it was a good idea to rent an internet cafe for one night and show internet art.
On all the computers. I always have a real program that listed on which machine is which piece.

I really love the format from
the creative side. I think it cuts through and just focuses
on the artist making work and the curator picking work.
Take this art experience and make it something that feels more like hanging out with
your friends. It is a much more accessible medium towards putting and audience right
next to the art maker.
F.A.T. Lab is about culture. When something is making news and especially if it's
related to anything that is pop culture, you gotta seize the moment.
Kanyefy is basically bookmarklet that allowed you to upper-case everything in the same style as Kanye's blog.
Anytime Kanye would post on his blog, it would be in all caps.
Another project I did was called the lower case Kanye, which basically pulled in his blog, cleaned up all the text and made it
easy to read for everyone. Part of what we did was pay homage to him, but also point out his flaws.
So about a year later, Justin Beiber took over Kanye's spot.
He was just blowing up on the internet, like Kanye was, and that was the impetuous for created Shaved Beiber.
So when you install Shaved Beiber, any page that you visit that has the words Justin Beiber or an image
that we know is him,
it will cover it up. When it launched, it got a lot of publicity.
Unfortunately, one of the newspaper articles mentioned that I was deleting him from the internet.
People thought I was finding a way to remove him permanently
which was not the case because it is just a filter in your own browser.
So that started a whole movement from the Beleiber side
where I was getting death threats from these twelve year old girls
from Brazil, Switzerland, China. All over.
You had his fans on one end and then those people that didn't want to hear and talk about him. Just two strong polar opposites there.
The filtration process allows you to say no I don't want to see something.
Shaved Beiber was kind of akin to parental controls.
Instead of for kids, it is for yourself.
We still have these concepts, real and virtual.
But the digital space falls back on to the physical space.
I'm mostly interested in this idea tof how can I make this digital space tangible.
Dead drop is an off line file sharing P2P network.
You can't be tracked.
You just walk out with your laptop and connect to the wall or pole or the curb.
You just need a flash drive.
And some glue or quick cement.
You don't know what's on there, you have to go to that place.
Maybe it is wet and dirty.
You connect there and maybe there is even a virus on there so it is dangerous.
Right now there are five hundred and twenty or thirty or forty
dead drops world wide.
It is symbolic in a way, it is literally connecting digital
space and physical space in a
very simple way. The main topic in all of these projects I do is about this
relation. We are very skilled in making these separations, but
the moment they blur is like 'oh yeah wow I live in all these different
worlds at the same time.'
F.A.T. got invited to TransMedia 10.
There were a lot of privacy concerns happening with Google street maps. People
don't want their homes photographed or they are afraid of being
photographed on the streets. While we were there, Arum had the awesome idea of
building a Google street view car. It looked like the car but when you looked closer, it was
just plastic and cardboard.
Socially it allowed us to hack in to people's relationship with Google.
You could just drive super slow and nobody would complain.
Because you are the Google car!
We had the idea of saying 'we hacked the Google car with a GPS device on it, we are tracking it right now. Here's a map of it.'
I was driving the Google car because I rented it. Gizmodo broke it, MSNBC, all these sites
are actually thinking we legitimately did this.
The whole idea was to use this car to infiltrate in to media.
It all came to an end when Google released a simple press release saying we are not running any street view cars
in Germany at this time.
We got people talking about 'why are these kids running around, pretending like they are Google?'
'I thought Google was great, what's the issue here?'
We were trying to get people to question Google's
monopoly over a huge slice of the web.
We say real and virtual and on and off line.
It is like black and white. But it is not like that anymore.
Everything you do in your day is real.
Reactions are what it's all about. You should have some gut feeling saying 'I like this, I don't like this.'
Instead of just becoming consumers
we need to stay creators.
People should know the internet is not just something they receive on the computer.
It is something they can react with and respond with and repurpose and remix.
As long as you just know that you can do it.