Welcome to the Meddleverse- The Yes Men
Andy Bichlbaum is a guy from Tucson, Arizona who has held a bunch of jobs and was fired from pretty much all of them.
He has a ‘terminal’ degree in experimental fiction writing, which enabled him to publish a couple of books that made him so rich and lazy that he took up computer programming to pass the time. While ‘working’ as a programmer he spent some time orchestrating the infamous ‘Simcopter Hack’ in which 80,000 copies of a macho video game were found – shortly after being shipped to stores – to be ‘enhanced’ with swarms of kissing boys.
Fired yet again, he became a celebrity among a small but interesting group of lazy queer hackers, and enjoyed the attention so much that he went on to found the notorious “anti-corporate corporation” RTMark.com, a website that matched illegal activist projects with investors and skilled helpers. This Web 0.5 site generated lots of attention in the media and was mistaken as art by a number of curators, who included it in the Whitney Biennial and other major shows. In the course of running RTMark, Andy and his co-conspirator Mike Bonanno accidentally started The Yes Men when a fake WTO website they created garnered them an invitation to speak at a law conference in Austria.
Mike Bonanno is an associate professor of media arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. In 2000, he received the Creative Capital award in the discipline of Emerging Fields. He is also a co-founder of RTmark and the recipient of a 2003 Guggenheim Fellowship, granted for a project that used Global Positioning System (GPS) and other wireless technology to create a new medium with which to “view” his documentary Grounded, about an abandoned military base in Wendover, Utah.
As a student at Reed College, Mike organized a student group called Guerrilla Theater of the Absurd. They performed and documented “culture jamming” acts of protest, including Reverse Peristalsis Painters, where 24 people in suits stood outside the downtown venue of Dan Quayle’s fundraiser for Oregon senator Bob Packwood and drank ipecac, forcing themselves to vomit the red, white and blue remains of the mashed potatoes and food coloring they had consumed earlier; and a middle of the night contribution to the debate over renaming Portland’s Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, wherein the city awoke to find that all of the street signs and freeway exits for another major boulevard had been changed to read “Malcolm X Street.” Mike presented the Reed College Commencement Speech on May 19, 2014, where he announced that the college had decided to divest from fossil fuels, a decision the college had in fact not made.