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UPDATED: Aqua Teen Hunger Force LED art shuts down Boston

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Josh writes in with news that Boston police & authorities are detonating blinky Aqua Teen Hunger Force art –

Ignignokt from Aqua Teen has been a reoccuring theme in art projects and random builds. Were these Ignignokts left around Boston a part of an alternative art project gone awry? I love how CBS describes a Ignignokt made from circuit board as a “device”. Very threatening. Even if it was just something random, it sort of shows the folly of our security-obsessed world when a fictional martian can set a major city on high alert.

We obviously had nothing to do with this, but for some reason CNN mentioned MAKE — if the authorities or CNN wish to speak to someone they can call me (Phillip Torrone, Senior Editor at any time – my info is all over the place, I’m not sure what CNN said or why they did not contact us – 206-355-1323)….

More:

  • Hoax Devices Creating Gridlock In Boston, Devices Resemble Cartoon Character – Link.
  • Hoax packages cause alarm in Boston – Link.

Updates:

  • Boston.com – Link.
  • Boston Metblogs – Link.
  • This is NOT the Work of the GRL – Link.
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force Brings Boston to a Halt – Link.
  • Turner Broadcasting “regrets” Boston security scare – Link.

A MAKE reader sent this in, it all appears to be an ad campaign – we are trying to find the transcripts to see what exactly was said about MAKE:

–Being a walking commuter I didn’t hear anything about this until I got to work. There are a couple of people here who have been refreshing boston.com all day trying to get more information, not only because it would affect their commute but because they were worried.

Currently boston.com has in it’s breaking news section the blurb:

Turner Broadcasting is expected to issue an apology for causing today’s series of bomb scares throughout Boston. A statement emailed to the Globe from Turner Broadcasting said: “The ‘packages’ in question are magnetic lights that pose no danger. They are part of an outdoor marketing campaign in 10 cities in support of Adult Swim’s animated television show Aqua Teen Hunger Force. They have been in place for two to three weeks in Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Seattle, Portland, Austin, San Francisco, and Philadelphia. Parent company Turner Broadcasting is in contact with local and federal law enforcement on the exact locations of the billboards. We regret that they were mistakenly thought to pose any danger.”

Related:
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Aqua Teen Hunger Force LED art – Link.

120 thoughts on “UPDATED: Aqua Teen Hunger Force LED art shuts down Boston

  1. As soon as I read the story on Reuters the first thing I though of is: “I bet you $10 that is some makers graffiti art project”

    Turns out I was right. Can you say “overly paranoid society”

  2. Being a walking commuter I didn’t hear anything about this until I got to work. There are a couple of people here who have been refreshing boston.com all day trying to get more information, not only because it would affect their commute but because they were worried.

    Currently boston.com has in it’s breaking news section the blurb:

    Turner Broadcasting is expected to issue an apology for causing today’s series of bomb scares throughout Boston. A statement emailed to the Globe from Turner Broadcasting said: “The ‘packages’ in question are magnetic lights that pose no danger. They are part of an outdoor marketing campaign in 10 cities in support of Adult Swim’s animated television show Aqua Teen Hunger Force. They have been in place for two to three weeks in Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Seattle, Portland, Austin, San Francisco, and Philadelphia. Parent company Turner Broadcasting is in contact with local and federal law enforcement on the exact locations of the billboards. We regret that they were mistakenly thought to pose any danger.”

  3. Are they serious? Hoax devices? And its not funny? Really? I think the signs are cool and entirely non-threatening. Why does the media completely dramatize this, calling them “hoax” and “suspicious” devices? I guess just because its not on a billboard on your local expressway or blinking on your TV, its not OK. It doesn’t even look like anything that could cause any damage, its just a bunch of LEDs! (Apparently also known as magnetic lights, according to the wizards at CBS).

    “OMG IF WE DON’T KNOW WHAT IT IS, IT MUST BE A BOMB!!!!1111”

  4. Yeah, it might be cool or cute. However, they put up a “device” that would be unrecognizable for most people with a battery pack (screams bomb or potential bomb) up around a major city without prior notice or without getting propper permits. It was only a matter of time till they got busted. It’s just too bad that nobody noticed these things 2-3 weeks ago when they started going up.

    Just goes to show you how easy it would be for anyone to attach a bomb and blow up structures throughout a city, and how we do need to be diligent in dealing with these potential threats.

  5. hipersons – People have to adjust their response to unknown things & not instantly suspect fear.

    This morning, I parked next to a suspicious cardboard box. Remote controlled flying baby muncher, or just trash… my bet is on trash.

    If I see a half-full bottle on the ground, I assume it’s unfinished soda, not napalm or anthrax.

    Besides, a bomb is going to be well hidden. And, it’ll be placed inside things, not on the surface (it’s the old firecracker on top of an ant hill vs. buried inside it situation).

    I refuse to live in fear and suspicion.

  6. haha… the police call it a “hoax.” Obviously, their spokesperson doesn’t have a dictionary.

    These aren’t intended to deceive… nor are they fraudulent or intend to gain some sort of unscrupulous advantage.

    ——
    It’s sad that lights and batteries == perception of bomb. Unfortunately, if someone is going to plant a bomb – it won’t be in stereotypical fashion with color coded wires. History should have taught us that…

    I agree we should be diligent to let people have their sense of security. But our news media is connected to us intravenously. Before anything meaningful comes through, our hearts are racing from the needle…

    Great reporting for implicating Make: into this [angry]

  7. This is pathetic. I hate everyone.

    How long did it take the crack team of bomb defuser who probably absorb millions of our dollars to figure out that this was ART – not even abstract art – not a bomb? They shut down highways over a light up sign?

    Not to mention it took them two weeks to notice the things. Imagine if they actually were created with malicious intent?

  8. I just thought of something…. Imagine if hundreds of flyers showing a picture of the moonites were distributed over the Boston area.

    Perhaps similar to a Fawkes mask in idea?

  9. Not to self: how to cripple a city with little or no expense. Real bomb not even needed. All that’s necessary is pathetic paranoia.

  10. Like one of the commenters stated above, real bombs don’t have blinking lights all over them. That only happens in the movies. Real ones are made to look like nothing at all, not to draw attention to themselves.

    The general population is bananas. Want to have continuing fun with the super-paranoids? Here’s a crazy idea: How about taking several hundred sheets of paper, printing the words “This is not a bomb.” in a large font on them, then hanging them all over a major city with tape. It will make for one hell of a demonstration of the general public’s irrational paranoia of things they do not understand as bomb squads are called out to test clearly labeled air conditioners, street signs, telephone poles and fire hydrants for Anthrax/radiation/explosives.

  11. Oh, and they’re not martians, they’re Mooninites. Get it right or face the wrath of the Quad-laser. No one escapes the Quad-laser.

  12. abc is going to have a species about this tonight, the guy that is going to the special said “I have a few word for the people behind this” sigh…
    must be a slow news day, the funny thing is that this guy is acting all mad when he said it, like he took this seriously…

    “Mayor Menino said the hoax cost the state and cities about $750,000. He wants Turner Broadcasting to pay for it all.” go figure it only took about twenty bucks to make…

    I like how they call it a “hoax” like they made it look like a bomb, well I’ve never seen a real bomb but I dough it would be giving me the bird.

    finally if someone was going to make a bomb would you really make it blink… I blame 24 and all those other shows that play on “blinking” bomb threats.

  13. There was a similar incident in Seattle several years ago. A well known local artist/protestor named Subculture Joe was upset that the city had decided to open up a previously closed street that was used a a public square downtown. To he built a giant metal heart sculpture, with a mechanized knife stabbing through it repeatedly. He loaded it into his beat-up, graffiti covered pickup & parked the thing in the middle of the street, slashed the tires and walked away. Everything was basically fine– Police gave him a parking ticket, but otherwise everybody seemed to be getting the joke– until someone noticed that one tiny graffiti on the bumper, out of the hundred or so bits of random graffiti covering the car said “Timberlake Carpentry Rules (The Bomb!)”. On the strength of that tiny bit of graffiti, the police shut down nine square blocks in the heart of the downtown shopping district for four and a half hours right at mid-day. They declared the artist a terrorist. The artist was so terrified that he turned himself in to a reporter, rather then the police since he wanted a journalist with him when the police finally turned up. He was originally tried as a terrorist with the DA calling for the death penalty, but he eventually plea bargained it down to a misdemeanor, Criminal Trespass, 30 days in jail plus court costs (~$300).

  14. @mpayson: PLEASE tell me you’re joking. That’s friggin’ sickening.

    Nope, you’re not joking.
    I think I’ve got a migraine now.

    I find people’s irrationality more and more disturbing every day. This just reinforces my desire to buy an island, declare it the sovereign nation of “New Technica”, and make an IQ minimum of 100 a citizenship requirement. Sealand won’t do, I want some flora and fauna around. Anyone else want to move with me?

  15. Now someone post a picture of a squad car with MOON RULZ spray painted on it and this will be the best news story of the year and that advertising agency will earn mad props for sures!

  16. Go find someone with an IQ of 100. Some are bright, some seem retarded. IQ is a terrible way to measure anything.

    I’d have a raft of exams. The results wouldn’t mean anything, but the insight into how they justified the reaching of the answers, that would be the thing to go on.

    And anyone who didn’t take responsibilty for their own actions wouldn’t be coming in!

    But yes, and I know where to put it too. Can anyone lend me $500 million to get it started?

  17. This is pretty whacked. Looks like we’ll need a Maker’s Solidarity Meetup before long. Any NYC’ers for a night of drinking and kvetching?

    – Bill

  18. We could just leave an old crashed Mac in the middle of Boston and see how long it takes an ignorant passerby to see the picture of a bomb and report it to the bomb squad.

    Why call IT when we can have the bomb squad “neutralize” your problem?

  19. And they arrested Peter Berdvosky.

    http://www.boston.com/news/globe/city_region/breaking_news/2007/01/artist_arrested.html

    From Boston Globe:
    “The tricksters at Turner, a unit of Time Warner, Inc., should pay the bill for the consequences of its lame marketing gimmick.”

    Ha! And McDonald’s should pay for the consequences of their advertising and product.

    I know I’m preaching to the choir… but when you say something like this:

    “…dangers of staging such a stunt in the post-Sept. 11 world.”

    who’s wining this intangible war?

  20. There is a huge fear factor difference between trash on the ground and some electrical component placed with batteries in a very odd place, a place that would take great effort to reach.

    People as individuals are rational, but as a society people will always be unrational and crazed in situations like this. I personally do not live in fear in my everyday life, but society as a whole does.

    If boston had taken no action, people would be REALLY pissed and feel unsafe in their community. So they put on a bit of a show and proved that the system in place works. At best, it was a great opportutinty to test our emergency system, and to have some other asshole pay for it. Too bad it f’ed up transportation in and around the city for an entire day.

  21. There is no way any reasonable person could mistake these for a bomb. It’s batteries LEDs and a circuit board. Just how dumb are Boston cops?

  22. Any relation to blinkies notwithstanding, the whole thing is pretty lame. The ads are more efforts by marketers to be everywhere that people are, which is less and less in front of their TVs.

    So some guerrilla marketers hired some students to co-opt this whole street art thing. A stupid thing because on its own it does nothing. Or is it?

    Boston goes completely apeshit and freaks out even after it was obvious they weren’t bombs. So there goes the reigning paranoia rearing its ugly head. A nice reminder of the times we live in.

    It all comes to it final resting spot right where it was supposed to: the internet. A few dozen Lite Brites in 10 cities? Who gives a fuck? It’s not like anyone’s gonna see it unless it starts appearing on Flickr and YouTube and everyone freaks out or gets excited about the next Space Invader. Or think they’re bombs and get nationwide coverage.

    So now everyone’s talking about Aqua Teen Hunger Force and marketing wins. The ad company will probably be ritually sacrificed, but the name brand got out there.

  23. Welcome to bloody 21st century. Check your intelligence and your sense of humour at the door. Paranoia takes precedence over everything else.

    Sheesh.

  24. Christ. This country is falling apart. Most people couldn’t tell you the difference between branches of government, yet seem fully capable of discerning art from bombs. As if the insurgents in Iraq make IED’s out ouf bright LED’s and post it up on billboards for all to see.

    Isn’t there a mandatory class in high school called critical thinking? As in, think before you open your mouth.

  25. How the Heck is it a Hoax!? Being as its not a True hoax, why are the creators being blamed? Shouldn’t the the ignoramus that claimed it to be a bomb take the responsibility…?

  26. Suppose the LEDs weren’t lit during the day — how would *ordinary* people know that these things are supposed to just light up and be pretty?

    If they were “discovered” stuck to multiple bridges during the morning rush, would you guys expect the authorities to wait until sundown in order to determine what these unidentified black things (with their wires and battery packs) really are?

  27. Sorry girls, but there are actual adults out there that have to actually protect all the silly sheep when they see something new and scary and panic. Not a single one of you girls that accuse these pro’s of overreacting would be worth a damn in the same situation. It’s a perverse and undeserved luxury to sit back in safety and hindsight and throw spears at adults that are worth a damn. Grow up.

  28. I’m a little worried. Does this mean that we have lost the right to freedom of speech in a way? If it does that means the bad guys have won. And very, very cheaply too.

  29. Responding to something suspicious is entirely appropriate. Once it turns out to be a mistake, suddenly claiming it was a deliberate hoax to try to save face is unacceptable. It would only be a hoax if the intent were to get people to believe it were a bomb. There was no such intent. A mistake was made.

    There is absolutely no excusing the authorities in this. They approached the situation with appropriate caution, but became vindictive out of embarrassment when it became obvious they’d made a error. Go ahead, call me a girl — as far as insults go, it’s about as ineffective as you can get.

  30. I love that Cartoon Network suddenly lost all humor, and like any good spineless company, gave in to the real terrorists, the fear mongers. Soon a swat team will break down my door and take me in for my maker projects.

    I guess LEDs + batteries really do equal 5

  31. mikey_d, the board had been up for TWO WEEKS!

    This is a zoning dispute, or whatever you American guys call it. And, because they could, the authorities escalated it to a terrorist incident. A few years ago, everyone would have seen that it was a trumped up charge (like going for attempted murder for a pie in the face) but now the T word trumps everything.

    The terrorists have already won. They wanted your freedom, and they got it. They wanted your peace of mind, and they got it. They wanted your rights to go, and for it to cost you billions. They got it.

    The way to beat the terrorists is to get on with life, and go after the terrorists. It isn’t to stop your life until the threat goes away.

    We had 30 years of the IRA, we just got on with it. There is still, to this day, a “ring of steel” around London. The cops just use it for traffic offences and the politicians use it for raising congestion taxes. Will we ever get the right to go freely to parliament to protest again? Unlikely, under the terrorism acts here, they removed the right to free speech in public, the right to peaceably assemble, and banned demonstrations within some huge distance of parliament.

    Accidently on purpose killed a guy on a tube train? Terrorist suspect. Blown up the wrong house? Suspected terrorists were operating in the area (the residents were probably terrorised by the house being randomly levelled, so technically, they are right for once.) Used a huge amount of force to shut down a city and blow up a small sign? Major terror threat.

    So the terrorists won, all right. And so did those who want more and more control over us.

    The great thing is, to hang a few hundred bombs up and set them all off on a timer, you would simply get the right permits first, saying it was an advertising campaign. If it is pre-notified, it can’t be a bomb, right? It’s only if “The Authorites” don’t know what it is that it becomes a danger. But just ask yourself, a danger to whom?

  32. This is retarded. Boston should pay for the whole thing because apparently their “authorities” actually aren’t authorities, and they are the ones that caused all the expense.

    And really, all that happened was that people got scared for a day and traffic sucked. Do we really need to crucify some bohemian artists just because some unvetted spazz’s call was acted on by every type of rescue department before the call was even substantiated or checked out?

    And doesn’t the bomb squad have some level of electrical training? Couldn’t they have just sent out a couple guys in a van to check it out?

    Those of you who are defending this media freak out need to grow up.

  33. -soapy-,

    as far as the authorities (Boston PD, whoever…) these things were “discovered” at the moment when they were called in as looking suspicious. Did that call comein at 12:30AM when they were lit up, or 9AM when they were just black squares stuck to iron bridges?

    Just because a bunch of geeks on the internet knew about them 10 days ago does not mean that the boots on the ground have any clue what these things are.

    I think all this says more about the way our media runs with any story they can, often speculating and pontificating before any truth is actually known. I say shame on CNN.

  34. randyuko, I’m a sheepdog. Part of our job is to stop the sheep from running around and hurting themselves out of panic. If sheepdogs don’t calm the sheep down without over-reacting (as the police over-reacted), then they aren’t doing their jobs.

  35. RussNelson, I think that’s our gripe. We, as citizens of our respective countries have to deal with panicking sheep. The problem didn’t originate from the dogs, it came from freaked out people that were even more freaked out over media hype.

    mikey_d, I’m sure the bomb squad has the ability to remote x-ray just about anything they want. Regardless of the time, they could have easily (and likely quickly) determined the function. I’d hope a bomb expert knows what an LED looks like (on or off) too :/ Sure, it could have been reported by some person – the bomb squad would react… And then laugh. But I agree with you, the media (yet again) played a huge role in escalating the matter. Freak out enough people for ratings an they won’t be satisfied until the thing is “neutralized” beyond their original neutralness.

    -soapy-, I’m assuming you’re in the UK. You of all people here can claim loss of freedom VIA surveillance. The difference is, you’re not free and you know it. I do agree that the real threat comes with permits submitted by John Smith or some other “generic” name that won’t get filtered out.

  36. People are very irrational these days. I think that some law enforcement officials and government officials should be acting more like friends and less like hangmen. It’s an advertisement, if they were made of of paper there would have been no fuss.

  37. How are you taking it seriously, by causing “widespread panic and destruction.” (reporter question at news conference)

    “Level 3, beware the Gorgarton. He’s in love. ”

    “Shoot him in the head!”

    “Head shot, rampage, killing spree!”

    “You have mastered Moon Master, you are the Moon Master!”

    “No f–king way!”

    “Yes way Err.” (Aqua Teen Hunger Force — Moon Master)

    I always knew that Err was a terrorist. As soon as all those Bostonians saw him flipping them off, they immediately came to the same realization.

    Once again George W. Bush has saved us all from the evils of 80s era video game characters. Thank heaven for God Emperor Bush and the paranoia he has brought to this great country.

  38. What I’d like to know is, where can I get one of those signs?! Or even better, and in the spirit of MAKE, how can I make my own?!!

  39. I agree. I’d be willing to buy a kit for one of these to help fray some of the legal costs.

    The Boston DA needs to wake up and drop these charges. In the mean time, we should help them defray some of the costs associated with these charges.

  40. I see a real potential problem here. Either the TBS folks or someone else will market a Mooninite LED kit. They’ll start turning up all over the world. Then some &#^%head will try to be funny & turn one into a -real- bomb. Then they truly will try to start licensing makers…

  41. How f–king big do you think Al-Quaida is smiling right now over this? If they had one, they would trot Bin-Laden out on the deck of an aircraft carrier, with the “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED” sign, big and boldly displayed. They have reduced us to crippling fear over nothing more than a POSSIBLE threat, imposed by the sign of a CARTOON.

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