ZTOHOVEN is not the Anonymous of the Czech Republic: They're funnier.
Imagine hacking a public television station, and replacing the weather report with footage of the same countryside that features an early-morning atomic bomb exploding. In the US, that would equal instant prison. In the Czech Republic? Art-prank outsiders ZTOHOVEN have been embraced by international art circles, and the video of the stunt recently went to #1 on YouTubeEurope with nearly a million views.
While the prank itself took place this past June, the video of a super-imposed atomic blast on a Czech Republic public television morning weather report by prank-art group ZTOHOVEN only recently took off, and is now as popular in Europe as the recent Tom Cruise Scientology video is in the US.
Attention to the ZTOHOVEN prank — as well as the group's awe-inspiring video — has been steadily gaining momentum, to the point it is now getting international play in traditional major media media outlets such as BBC News and International Herald Tribune. And today's coverage in the New York Times obviously breaks even more new ground for ZTOHOVEN/teh lulz.
The group's members now face criminal charges even after Prague's National Gallery awarded the group the new NG 333 prize for young artists — 333,000 koruna, the equivalent of $18,350.
What seems to most be capturing everyone's attention is that provocateur's pulled off such a silly prank without an entire nation losing their minds. First most on everyone's minds? This question: "What if this had taken place in the States?" In other words, there are some places in the world where people are NOT taking themselves so seriously. In fact, if there is a point to made here, it's that there are some places where well-thought out fun equals $$$ and LULZ.
Here's the group's artistic statement:
"We are neither a terrorist organization nor a political group, our aim is not to intimidate the society or manipulate it, which is something we witness on daily basis both in real world and in the world created by the media.
"Whether the reasons are political interests, market interests, financial interests or interests of supranational companies – we meet hidden manipulation and attempt to invade the subconscious mind of citizens with specific products or ideology, using all available means. We do not think that a subtle distortion of such system or an appeal to pure common sense of people and their ability to remain unaffected are harmful, not even in a democratic society. That is why, several years ago, the art group “Ztohoven” penetrated the public sphere of Prague, questioned the space given to advertisement generally and the space given to specific adverts. On the 17th of June 2007 this group attacked the space of TV broadcasting. It distorted it, questioned its truthfulness and its credibility. It drew attention to the possibility of using images of the world created by the media in place of the existing, real world.Is everything we see daily on our TV screens real? Is everything presented to us by the media, newspapers, television, Internet actually real? This is the concept our project would like to introduce and remind of. We believe that even the free space of public service broadcaster is able to endure such action and such impeachment. We hope our action will become an appeal for the future and remind the media of their duty to bring out the truth.
"Thank you for independent media and free space for our society."
The group still faces criminal charges in the Czech Republic, but as the anything heavier than a light fine seems unlikely. “It’s not that we would not have supported this kind of art, if they had come to us,” Ladislav Sticha, the spokesman for Czech Public Television went on the record as saying.
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