Banksy Not Arrested: How 1 Man’s Viral Hoax Duped Millions


[ By WebUrbanist in Art & Street Art & Graffiti. ]

fake banksy spoof photo

By now you may know that the world’s most famous street artist has indeed not been detained by police and his identity remains secret, but how much do you know about the prankster who perpetrated this scandalous subterfuge? For those who missed the start of this affair: a supposedly anonymous author claimed Banksy was unmasked and taken into custody by London police a few days ago during an elaborate sting operation – the story spread like wildfire despite being easy (for those so inclined) to debunk.

free banksy fake identityt

Paul Horner, the man behind the National Report piece, fingered himself as the real Banksy. In reality, he is a serial hoaxer with a history of viral exploits (often involving his own identity) of which this is simply the latest. In many ways, he is a subversive and comedic artist in his own right, arguably not so unlike Banksy after all, who has himself been known to dupe fans for fun if not profit. One could argue that Horner’s artistic stunts simply take other shapes, like writing, coming out of a background of activism and comedy. He is also not the only one who has cleverly used Banksy’s own stunts for creative monetary gain.

banksy not revealed image

His fake story, titled Graffiti Artist Banksy Arrested In London; Identity Revealed, has been shared 3.5 million times on Facebook so far, despite being published on a website well known for reporting fictional (and frequently  hilariously improbable) news. Another early clue: the article’s thin sourcing is relatively transparent: a link to the BBC takes you to their homepage, not an article.

i am banksy tshirts

Beyond that, the article is riddled with inaccuracies, including inconsistent locations and names as well as an image of an arrest that took place years prior in an unrelated incident. Indeed, the further you read, the more ludicrous the entire thing looks, and yet it fooled millions of believers, too gullible or perhaps simply too eager to finish the piece before sharing it. Superficially, in defense of those duped, it has all of the trappings of a real breaking news piece, including seemingly-relevant pictures and videos peppered throughout.

As for Horner, he “has been alternately described as a media troll, a liar and a hack, but he sees his work in a different light: one part activism, one part fan fiction, and many parts subversive, absurdist comedy.” His exploits include (but are not limited to) claiming he was cast in The Big Lebowski 2 (a film that is not even in production) and the mastermind behind a plan to charge Facebook users for pro accounts. Some would call his pranks and pretensions cruel, but in the midst of the controversy, one has to wonder: what does the real Banksy think of all of this? Does he see a kindred spirit or simply someone using his name to turn a profit?

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Subtle Street Art: 27 Easy-to-Overlook Urban Enhancements


[ By Steph in Art & Street Art & Graffiti. ]

subtle street art little people 1

Just knowing that these tiny urban art installations exist – ranging from tiny figures dangling from ATM machines to utility boxes painted to look like miniature skyscrapers – might just inspire you to look at the city around you in a new, more observant way. That’s the hope of the artists behind these 27 subtle works of street art, which are often so small and simple that they’re typically overlooked.

Beautiful Trompe L’oeil Windows in Istanbul
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A tiny intriguing window framed by oversized shutters draws you in for a closer look, until you realize that what you’re seeing isn’t in three dimensions at all – it’s an expertly painted illusion on a wall. Spanish artist Pejac brightened up blank surfaces throughout Instanbul with a series entitled ‘Lock, Poster and Shutters,‘ representing the “perception and illusion of freedom.”

The Little People Project
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Only the most observant passersby take notice of the miniature figures living out their lives in the big city, meticulously created and arranged by a street artist calling himself ‘Slinkachu.’ The Little People Project is an ongoing series of incredibly small installations placing human figures in humorous contexts, interacting with real-world objects like trash, dead insects and sidewalk weeds. The figures are left there to be observed or ignored, with the vast majority of people never even realizing they’re there.

Miniature Cities Within Cities by EVOL
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What looks like an image of a gritty, run-down urban neighborhood is actually a collection of electric power boxes on an urban rooftop. Berlin-based artist EVOL creates cities within cities, typically transforming urban surfaces with stencils. Any rectangular or square object can become a miniature skyscraper. But when the artist has a little more time and privacy to work, the illusion is uncanny.

Yarn-Bombing Sidewalk Cracks
subtle street art yarn cracks

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‘Project Pothole’ by artist Juliana Santacruz Herrera called attention to potholes in the streets of Paris, softening these trouble spots with installations of yarn. Filling the cracks with color, Herrera engages in a passive sort of protest while simultaneously brightening the urban landscape.

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7,000 LEDs Casting Sistine Chapel Ceiling in Whole New Light


[ By WebUrbanist in Art & Drawing & Digital. ]

sistine chapel new lighting

For 500 years, visitors were able to see Michelangelo’s famous 6,000-square-foot painting bathed in natural light, but for the last 3 decades they have gotten a dismal view, the room shuttered and lit by weak halogens – but all of that is about to change. For the first time since outside light was blocked by the Vatican (or, in some regards, since the painting was first created) its 5,000,000 annual viewers will have a clearer-than-day look at this amazing ceiling-spanning classic.

sistine chapel conversion project

Thanks to Osram, a German light manufacturer, the new lighting strategy being deployed will not just rival but actually exceed the capabilities of sunlight, casting color as well as illumination, all without damaging this seminal work. The design had to take into account the complex three-dimensional nature of the space while also using out-of-the-way crevices and architectural details as places to tuck in the lights.

sistine chapel full color

Carefully attuned the actual color spectrum showcased in the work, the array of thousands of LEDs will greatly enhance the visitor experience beyond previous rehabilitation attempts. Meanwhile, since LEDs do not emit energy in the UV band, the frescos will be protected from decay associated with other kinds of light exposure. Also, they will last far longer than conventional lights, making the solution more durable and robust.

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Radiotopia Fundraiser: Support 7 Story-Centric PRX Podcasts


[ By WebUrbanist in Culture & History & Travel. ]


Last year, Roman Mars of 99% Invisible and PRX broke records, raising $375,000 with a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign – this year, Radiotopia aims to collect $250,000 in contributions on Kickstarter page to support its lineup of seven amazing radio shows. So far, this campaign has gained over 2,500 backers and $100,000 in its first 24 hours - to see why, read on and listen to a collection of select stories, one per show, embedded for your listening pleasure below.

radiotopia kickstarter crowdfunding campaign

Funded directly by fans, Radiotopia represents “a new model for audience engagement and revenue growth in public radio” as well as a “collective of the best story-driven shows on the planet.” For their last campaign, designed to make 99% Invisible a weekly production, WebUrbanist brought you seven of the show’s most compelling episodes in an effort to support their crowdfunding endeavors. This year, we are highlighting one episode from each of these unique and compelling podcasts. As fellow independent media producers, we encourage you to check these out for yourselves and show your support for these amazing programs.


99% Invisible has gone from a garage radio startup on design and built environments to one of the most popular and celebrated award-winning audio programs in the world. From this past season, Holdout represents the a great example of how the show explores the intersection of urban planning, zoning laws and esoteric architectural history. At the heart of this episode is the nail house of Edith Macefield, a woman who refused to sell her home at any cost – developers ended up building around it, but, like any good story, the end is not the point, and there are many twists along the way. Bonus: a t-shirt featuring this famous home is one of the Kickstarter rewards you can get for supporting Radiotopia!

radio diaries radiotopia prx

Radio Diaries “tells the extraordinary stories of ordinary life,” enabling citizen journalism since the 1960s and collaborating “with teenagers and octogenarians, prisoners and prison guards, bra saleswomen and lighthouse keepers” along the way. When Borders Move explores the strange phenomena of geographical boundaries defined by landscape features like rivers that stubbornly refuse to stop moving over time. In this episode, personal interviews with impacted individuals are spliced in between larger examples and explanations, showing the human side of these larger historical shifts.

love and radio radiotopia

Love + Radio “features in-depth, otherworldly-produced interviews with an eclectic range of subjects, from the seedy to the sublime.” Bedouin Love is a short show featuring a poignant but “brief conversation of love, death, and camel’s milk” with a guide in Petra, Jordan, an ancient historical site where Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and other films were shot. It represents another side to the tourist experience – those hard-to-capture but powerful person-to-person moments that go beyond the contents of superficial and sanitized travel guides and give you a sense of the day-to-day life and culture of a place.

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Solar-Powered Art Etched with a Magnifying Glass & the Sun


[ By Steph in Art & Drawing & Digital. ]

sun powered pyrography 1

Magnifying glass clutched in his fist, Jordan Mang-osan uses nothing but focused rays of sunlight to burn detailed drawings onto panels of wood. A native Igorot from the Cordilleras of the Philippines, the artist draws inspiration for both his imagery and his unusual techniques from his heritage, using indigenous materials.

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Other than a pencil used to draw on his initial designs, a magnifying glass is his only tool, and no paints or inks are required. Mang-osan holds the glass steady to burn one tiny detail at a time onto the wood.

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It takes several months to complete a single work, slowly moving the glass just millimeters at a time in a technique that’s similar to pointillism. It’s another unusual way to harness the power of fire to make art – see 14 more pyro-centric sculptures and installations including ‘fire sculptures,’ portraits drawn in soot, and graffiti set ablaze.

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City Cinemagraphy: Animated Photographs of Urban Motion


[ By WebUrbanist in Art & Photography & Video. ]

urban puddle test

With compelling attention to depth, detail and movement, French photographer Julien Douvier uses cinemagraphic techniques to capture everything from fleeting moments to frustrating routines that define life in bustling contemporary cities.

urban freeze frame photo

endless escalator

urban leaf bench motion

nature path fall leaves

urban puddle reflection

Working both in black-and-white as well as color, depending on what he is trying to depict, many of his works are simple loops of short time periods – typical cinemagraphs – but others go beyond that basic typology, too.

urban daily grind loop

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In his Routine series, for instance, individuals are looped but also overlaid in multiples within the frame, creating a sense of infinite or endless repetition – in other sets (examples shown below) he utilizes transparency, nature and reflections to enrich each frame.

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