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The Consumer Mutineers

Those who play with or otherwise alter commercial space.


Also known as Commerce Jammers, Consumer Mutineers are those who play with or otherwise alter commercial space.Sometimes this means subverting advertising, like the graffiti artist KAWS adding his own ghostly characters to bus shelter posters, or Ji Lee's Bubble Project, wherein blank speech bubbles are added to public advertising in hopes that passersby will fill them in. Other Mutineers operate directly on the retail environment, like Whirl Mart, which create flash-mobbish in-store traffic jams by slowly pushing empty shopping cartsthrough the aisles of Wal-Mart and Toys "R" Us. Shopdropping - a form of Consumer Mutiny that grapples with the product itself-entails buying or stealing something, altering the packaging or the contents, and then replacing it on the store shelf. There it sits, until an unsuspecting fellow consumer happens upon it and has his or her mind totally blown. The Barbie Liberation Organization is among the most gifted of the shopdroppers, switching the electronic guts of gendered action figures so that Barbie growls about Cobra and G.I. Joe swoons in falsetto over Ken. As much as these mutinies succeed in scraping away a bit of retail's dissent-proof veneer, they can be bewildering to your average shopper, who sees only a defective product rather than a cultural critique.For example: J.S.G. BOGGSFor twenty years, the artist James Stephen George Boggs has been practicing a very arty, risky, and politically volatile form of Consumer Mutiny. Boggs makes his own currency, drawing whimsical banknotes and attempting to exchange them for goods and services as if they were real money. In revealing that cash is nothing more than a pretty piece of paper made by someone we trust, Boggs has shaken the everyday acts of buying and selling to their very foundations. No surprise, then, that the Secret Service has contended that Boggs Notes are illegal, even though they look nothing like the real thing. Here's a Tip: Bring a LookoutConstantly looking over your shoulder makes you seem shady. Bring along a friend whose sole job is to observe the scene and give you a pre-arranged signal if the heat decides to show up. Risk: 2Cost: -P.R.: 5Cred: 3COOLNESS FACTOR: 4.25
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