Hacker-Artist's Mantra: 'Fun Makes The Politics Go Down' | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

Hacker-Artist's Mantra: 'Fun Makes The Politics Go Down'

Play associated audio

Evan Roth knows how to get a rise out of the people and organizations he targets.

Over his career, the Michigan-born "hacker-artist" has taken on Google, the Transportation Safety Administration, and — most bravely of all — Justin Bieber's fans, Beliebers.

Some might call him a prankster, a rabble-rouser, or an enfant terrible, but Roth prefers "hacker-artist" despite the connotation that "hacker" might hold for some people.

He tells weekends on All Things Considered host Jacki Lyden that the hacker community that inspires him views "hacking as something that's a gift-giving culture. That's something that has to do with the playful, clever interventions into existing systems."

Roth's work has been exhibited at top museums and galleries worldwide, but he says he also tries to appeal to "the bored at work network" that exists online. And he does that using the mantra: "fun makes the politics go down."

"I love this idea that you can make politically motivated content that people click on not because of the politics but just because they want to see people driving around in a fake Google car," he says.

And he did just that with his colleagues at the Free Art and Technology (F.A.T.) Lab using a rental car, duct tape, cardboard and a few Google decals.

The result was a video featuring a fake Google driverless vehicle breaking rules with impunity. They got lost, ran over traffic cones, almost hit bicyclists, and drove donuts in front of Google's offices in New York City. "For me, this was a hack," says Roth. "But for me the end goal ... is personal empowerment."

Roth, whose new solo show opens Oct. 10 at Paris' XPO Gallery, is asked if his Internet age work can withstand the test of time in the art world.

"Without a doubt, yes," says Roth.

"Looking back 50 or 100 years ... institutions are going to want to see what artists were doing with this new medium."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

WAMU 88.5

Remembering The Maryland Roots Of An American Gospel Legend

Rev. Charles Albert Tindley is considered one of the founding fathers of American Gospel Music, and at least one historian in Berlin, Maryland, would like to hear more about his Maryland roots.

NPR

Sweet Deal? Chocolatier Lindt Buys Russell Stover

The purchase would make the combined company the No. 3 chocolate maker in North America. The deal's value is estimated at around $1.5 billion.
WAMU 88.5

Maryland's Andy Harris Defends Move To Block D.C. Marijuana Bill

The Maryland Republican Congressman who moved to block a bill that would decriminalize marijuana in D.C. defended his actions and criticized the move to boycott businesses in his district, which includes popular tourist destination Ocean City.

NPR

Looking For Free Sperm, Women May Turn To Online Forums

Bypassing commercial sperm banks, thousands are logging on to websites where women can connect with men at no cost. Anecdotes abound, but the scope of the unregulated activity is unclear.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.