When the List Galleries for the Wiesner Arts and Media Building at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology opened in 1985, the initial exhibit was an assortment of modern art. Now, MIT students in general and hackers in particular are well-known for their respectful attitude towards campus art, and the night before the exhibit opened they made their own addition.

Outside of the door of the gallery, they left an inverted garbage can, mimicking the display pedestals inside. On top of it, they placed a cafeteria tray, complete with glass, plate, salad bowl, fork, and two spoons-- but no knife. Next to this fine piece of artwork was a description:

No Knife

A Study in Mixed Media Earth Tones, Number Three

Realized by James Tetazoo December 1984

The artist's mode d'emploi relies upon minimalist kinematic methods: space and time are frozen in a staid reality of unrestrained sexuality. Temporary occasionalism, soon overcome by symbolic nihility, pervades our earliest perception of the work. An overturned throwaway obelisk functions as symbolic pedestal; the work rests upon a manifestation of grey toned absence. Epicurean imagery is employed most effectively by Tetazoo; the glass, the porcelain, the plastic move in conflicting directions and yet are joined in a mood of stark pacifism. The sterile lateralism of the grouped utensils (sans knife), conveys a sense of eternal ennui, framed within the subtle ambience of discrete putrefaction. The casual formalism of the place setting draws upon our common internal instinct of existential persistence to unify us with the greater consciousness of human bondage.

The next day, the janitor came by and was horrified to discover one of the pieces of artwork left outside the door by mistake. "No Knife" was brought inside and displayed in the gallery for a week before the curator finally noticed that this art was not as artistic as the rest of the exhibit, and the hack was removed.

Text copied from the Journal of the Institute for Hacks, TomFoolery and Pranks, with thanks. The book also contains several more hacking stories with photographs and copies of relevant text, for those interested.