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There is no law in France, it turns out, against the improvement of clocks.
January 24, 2012 1:06 PM   Subscribe

This stealthy undertaking was not an act of robbery or espionage but rather a crucial operation in what would become an association called UX, for “Urban eXperiment.” UX is sort of like an artist’s collective, but far from being avant-garde—confronting audiences by pushing the boundaries of the new—its only audience is itself. More surprising still, its work is often radically conservative, intemperate in its devotion to the old. Through meticulous infiltration, UX members have carried out shocking acts of cultural preservation and repair, with an ethos of “restoring those invisible parts of our patrimony that the government has abandoned or doesn’t have the means to maintain.” The group claims to have conducted 15 such covert restorations, often in centuries-old spaces, all over Paris. - Wired.com "The New French Hacker-Artist Underground"
posted by The Whelk (20 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite

 
I still can't believe the people who run the Pantheon re-disabled the clock.
posted by drezdn at 1:15 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I loved this article. It read like a real-life science fiction novel.
posted by mcwetboy at 1:16 PM on January 24, 2012


Conspiring in secret to commit unauthorized acts of beauty and kindness. The exact opposite of terrorists.

Ctrl-F "terro..." yep, it's in there. Of course it is. Everything is terrorism now.
posted by Western Infidels at 1:19 PM on January 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


This is awesome. I want to be one of these people, roaming around under Paris at night. And yeah, the fact that the jerks re-disabled the clock out of some kind of high dudgeon is just insane.
posted by OolooKitty at 1:20 PM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


The War Against Restoration.
posted by The Whelk at 1:21 PM on January 24, 2012


I loved this article. It read like a real-life science fiction novel.

*WHISTLING SMILEY FACE*
posted by The Whelk at 1:24 PM on January 24, 2012


Related
posted by mkb at 1:43 PM on January 24, 2012


I love this. I love this so hard. I wish there was some kind of way I could get involved, but the first rule of UX is...
posted by the painkiller at 1:46 PM on January 24, 2012


I don't think that State Sarkozy can even wrap its ever so deflating head around something like this, but citizens who patiently and resourcefully - on their own dime - pick up where the State has fail to preserve the people's cultural heritage is civic virtue at its finest and should be applauded.

[By the way, the word terrorism occurs in the text but no one is actually accusing this group of terrorism.]
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:49 PM on January 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Gads, give these people medals.

Again, I echo the disbelief that the clock was re-disabled. That act says something about the director, and possibly, the institution. I'd understand if the clock was frozen in place due to some historic event, like a bomb explosion or riot...but it was broken because some lazy bum most likely hit it with a crow bar to avoid walking up stairs.
posted by Atreides at 1:56 PM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Western Infidels: "Conspiring in secret to commit unauthorized acts of beauty and kindness. The exact opposite of terrorists.

Ctrl-F "terro..." yep, it's in there. Of course it is. Everything is terrorism now.
"

Poetic Terrorism, as Hakim Bey would call it.
posted by symbioid at 1:57 PM on January 24, 2012


It really is like hackers - white hat hackers, leaving messages on the shitty security. Nice.
posted by symbioid at 2:04 PM on January 24, 2012


I love this. I love this so hard. I wish there was some kind of way I could get involved,

So do I, this is brilliant.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:05 PM on January 24, 2012


The Whelk: *WHISTLING SMILEY FACE*

Fun fact: it's surprisingly hard to whistle and smile at the same time, at least without looking insane.

posted by filthy light thief at 2:06 PM on January 24, 2012


Ctrl-F "terro..." yep, it's in there. Of course it is. Everything is terrorism now.

Well...the article opines without a source that when news of their exploits first broke some worried that it might "inspire" terrorists. But it immediately tells us that the Paris police see them as completely benign. There's no suggestion that anyone who actually knows what UX is up to thinks that it is in any way a form of terrorism.

That said, I'm not entirely happy with the notion of amateur guerrilla conservation. Conservation--even by trained professionals--is one of the most controversial things in the art world. More damage has been done to great works of art (fine and decorative) by "conservators" and "restorers" (particular restorers) over the years than by deliberate vandalism.
posted by yoink at 2:06 PM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's like cyberpunk but the scifi drugs and flying drone patrols have been replaced by mid-20th century oil paintings and clock repair.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:10 PM on January 24, 2012


Those guys that re-disabled the clock, i'd like to hear a lot more about THEM. Because, strangely (to us anyway), that seems to be the usual response. Remember the reaction Richard Feynman got when he exposed insecurities at the Manhattan Project?
posted by Rich Smorgasbord at 2:38 PM on January 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Those guys that re-disabled the clock, i'd like to hear a lot more about THEM.

I'd certainly like to hear their side of the story. It's not obvious, to me, that if you have a large and valuable antique clock entrusted to your care and a bunch of self-appointed restorers tell you that they've made it all better that the rational thing to do is to just take them at their word and fire it up. Even if it works on a trial run, it's not clear that it's safe to go ahead and run it every day.
posted by yoink at 4:39 PM on January 24, 2012


Related.
posted by homunculus at 8:11 PM on January 24, 2012


Superawesome, Whelk
posted by Yellow at 6:19 AM on January 25, 2012


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