When pranksters create internet hoaxes for fun – or for profit – it becomes difficult to trust what we read or see online.
Jokers and for-profit marketing companies are now devising elaborate online hoaxes, taking advantage of the in-built desire among consumers and media outlets to believe what they really know is unbelievable.
Hacking giant video monitors in New York’s Times Square? Kanye West launching a web startup? Fakes like these are just about believable enough.
Fakes that are just believable enough? Sounds familiar….
In the accompanying video, one of the kids behind the ‘Kanye West web startup’ hoax explains why he dragged Kanye West’s name into his little personal prank: ‘We realized this would probably only be funny to us and our friends, and so we need a name bigger attached to it’ — which sounds very familiar… very VERY familiar. Am I right, friends?
But the Korrektiv Konnektions don’t stop there. About halfway through the video, a professor type mentions that Evelyn Waugh and friends staged a fake art exhibit in London in 1929! Did everyone else know that already? I didn’t know that.
This celebrated hoax involved all the leading social figures of the time, and was the brainchild of Brian Howard, the effete socialite dilettante, upon whom Evelyn Waugh modelled the languid Anthony Blanche of Brideshead Revisited. Flushed with the success of his twenty-fourth birthday party, a ‘Great Urban Dionysia’ with Greek mythology as its theme, Howard then dreamed up a project that would not only be a good prank, but might also serve the dual purpose of launching him as an artist.
With his great friend Bryan Guinness, who was at that time married to Diana Mitford later to become the wife of Oswald Mosely, he carefully planned an exhibition of paintings by an imaginary artist. The show opened on July 23 1929 at Bryan Guinness’ house at 10 Buckingham Street, London SW1, advance information having been leaked to the press. Lady Eleanor Smith was suitably duped when she reported in the Sunday Despatch: ‘BRUNO HAT. What will be almost a cocktail party, is the private view of the exhibition of paintings by Bruno Hat to be held in London next week. Bruno Hat is a painter of German extraction, and his work is mainly of the abstract type, seemingly derivative from Picasso and De Chirico….’
This natural, intuitive modern artist was in fact Tom Mitford, Bryan Guinness’ brother-in-law in heavy disguise and with a very affected German accent, who sat in a wheelchair and answered questions during the packed private view.
And Waugh himself even wrote an introduction to the exhibition catalogue, called ‘Approach to Hat’:
Now everyone is aware that what has come to be termed “abstract” painting has only just begun to be “taken seriously” in England. Some years ago Mr. Roberts and Mr. Wyndham Lewis achieved a certain success in that direction, but the acknowledged masters, such as Picasso, Gris and, perhaps, Marcoussis, have only recently found a market in this country. Artistically, we are incurably unpunctual.
The painting of Bruno Hat presents a problem of very real importance. He is no Cezanne agonisedly tussling to reconcile the visual appearance of form with his own intuitional perception of it. Like Picasso, he creates it. Though the experienced eye can see at a glance that his work is entirely free of Picasso’s influence, it is to that artist that we go so far as to compare him. Picasso is the greatest painter of our time for one reason: this reason is that he is the most inspired of all the creators of abstract pictures. Those experts who have seen Bruno Hat’s work definitely accredit him with a similar power, developed, because of his youth only, to a less degree. The significance of this cannot be sufficiently stressed. It means, among other things, that Bruno Hat may lead the way in this century’s European painting from Discovery to Tradition. Uninfluenced, virtually untaught, he is the first natural, lonely, spontaneous flower of the one considerable movement in painting to-day.
Hitherto, good abstract painting has been the close preserve of its Hispano-Parisian discoverers. Bruno Hat is the first signal of the coming world movement towards the creation of Pure Form.
And that got me thinking… and thinking… and thinking…
GET THEE BEHIND ME, SATAN!