Artists behind prank “nuclear blast” acquitted of wrongdoing
On Tuesday, seven Czech artists who hacked into a Czech TV broadcast as an artistic prank last year were acquitted of criminal wrongdoing. In June 2007 members of the group known as Ztohoven tampered with Czech TV equipment in a piece aimed at showing the impact of the media. Members hacked into a live feed on Czech TV’s weather programme Panorama and in a flash superimposed a doctored image of a mushroom cloud rising on the horizon.
Many viewers were somewhat jolted by the unexpected image and the stunt by Ztohoven provoked legal action by Czech TV. The broadcaster filed criminal charges against members for spreading false and alarmist information. But many in the artistic community, including the head of the National Gallery Milan Knížák, commended Ztohoven for the piece and last December the group was awarded the National Gallery’s NG 333 prize for young artists. The head of the National Gallery Milan Knížák:
“In my view it was a good gesture which told us that the social space is much more important space than the inside of galleries and museums.”
In the end, Tuesday’s verdict was more or less expected by most, including David Brudňák, the only member of Ztohoven to speak to reporters; any kind of prison term would have almost certainly seemed unduly harsh. But that might not be the end of it: the prosecution, which had reportedly been seeking 200 hours of community work for each Ztohoven member, may still decide to appeal.