Hacks and Hoaxes (EN)



Digesting Duck created by Jacques de Vaucanson in 1739 __ 1


when we knowingly engage with a system, be it complex or simple, natural or technical, virtual or physical, we usually gain knowledge about it, by first observing and later by manipulating it. in those create by human beings ( e.g software systems or social systems ) we often find a raison d’être articulated as function or usability. we are designers of systems.

in this project we want to observe/learn/negotiate with different systems by enganging by means of two different methods: hacks and hoaxes.


Richard Stallman ( initiator of the GNU project ) explains about hackers who program:

What they had in common was mainly love of excellence and programming. They wanted to make their programs that they used be as good as they could. They also wanted to make them do neat things. They wanted to be able to do something in a more exciting way than anyone believed possible and show “Look how wonderful this is. I bet you didn’t believe this could be done.”

a hack is a technical intervention into a system, that exploits a weakness or an unanticipated usage or application of the system. according to wikipedia a hack is a playful and exploratory activity: Hacking entails some form of excellence, for example exploring the limits of what is possible, thereby doing something exciting and meaningful. Activities of playful cleverness can be said to have hack value and are termed hacks


the well-crafted lie was unrightfully discredited for too long.

the hoax is closely related to the hack, however related to media communication systems. the hoax plays with signs, language, and codes in a way that untruthfulness is produced in a clever, entertaining, and self-distributing fashion. occasionally hoaxes are used to criticise or start discussion.

in summary, a hack is a rather technical intervention while the hoax is of a more narrative psychological nature. but both manipulate existing systems in an inventive, entertaining, investigatory, and playful manner.



  • circuit bending (hack)
  • dennis p paul: nullstecker (hack)
  • julian oliver: newstweek (hack, hoax)


  • the yesmen (hoax)
  • james auger: audio tooth implant (hoax)
  • digesting duck (hoax)
  • the amazing ping-pong robot (hoax)
  • fake waterproof iphone ad (hoax)

link collection under dm-hb.de/short/haho


in this project we will manipulate existing systems in inventive, entertaining, investigatory, and playful ways. the results will be disseminated2.


Dienstag 14.00 – 18.00 Uhr
Raum 3 04.090

M-MD + M-MA-2
Media Design + Special Topics in Digital Media
Monday 10:00–14:00 + 14:00–18:00
Room 3 04.090

in collaboration with Andrea Sick.

  1. Digesting Duck created by Jacques de Vaucanson in 1739 ( wikipedia

  2. we are not interested in hacking as a criminal activity or in the hack as an ugly workaround