Video of the Day: Urban eXperiment, the French Hacker-Artist Underground
Much is made about our city's storied history in subversive art, with iconic groups like the Billboard Liberation Front, Survival Research Laboratories, the Cacophony Society, and the Suicide Club. A group in Paris, however, gives all of it a run for its money, if not a shellacking.
Meet the secretive Paris Urban eXperiment, aka the UX. It came into being in 1981, when the group came across (stole) plans detailing Paris' numerous underground passages, catacombs, and tunnels, and went exploring. Then UX started throwing events down below: staging plays, throwing up a movie theater and a bar, serving guests at a restaurant. The group also -- and here UX becomes part of the holy underground -- began restoring stuff. Fixing things.
Often stuff the French government would have liked to fix but didn't have the money for, like the Wagner clock at the Panthéon, which one morning, after 40 years, simply started to chime. That's lovely. The group is supposedly behind 15 such covert restorations, most of which we know little about -- the French police have a unit dedicated to UX, after all. The group is intensely secretively, but tonight you can get a peek under the curtain at the talk "Preservation without Permission: The Paris Urban eXperiment," in which UX's spokesman, Lazar Kunstmann (probably not his real name, because it means "art man" in German), appears tonight with Wired's Jon Lackman, who wrote about UX for the magazine.