Graffiti artist not a hacker after all

March 27, 2008 // 8:43 a.m.

Tags: #advertising #clearchannel #digital-signage #hack #skullphone

The worlds of computer hackers and graffiti artists had officially merged this week, thanks to a what appeared at first glance to be a pretty audacious penetration of ClearChannel's digital billboard system in Los Angeles.

Skullphone, an eighteen year old graffiti artist and hacker, allegedly cracked into the storage systems responsible for the animated advertising used on the digital signposts and inserted his own logo amongst the official images.

Although the artist has a MySpace profile – as is almost mandatory amongst disaffected teens the world over – he's keeping shtum on the whys and wherefores of his latest unofficial art installation.

The reason why has quickly become clear, however: ClearChannel Outdoors, the company responsible for the signposts, has come forward to say that there was no hack. Instead, Skullphone simply rented space like any other advertiser. Company spokeswomen Jennifer Gray said in a statement that the artist “paid to get it up,” and that the logo “only ran for two days.”

This hasn't stopped numerous blogs and other news sites reporting the event as a 'hack' – something which I'm sure has done the graffiti artist's reputation no harm whatsoever, and certainly accounts for his silence on the matter.

Even so, the display of Skullphone's logo on digital advertising signs is indicative of two things: the first is that graffiti artists will do pretty much anything to gain notoriety, including pay actual money; the second is that advertising brokers like ClearChannel will accept money from anyone, even an eighteen year old artist who just wants to see his logo in lights for a couple of days.

Are you disappointed that Skullphone isn't the 1337 h4xx0r that he first appeared to be, or do you think he still got one over on the advertising companies? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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