“It’s all just data in the net”: @Horse_ebooks revealed to be an art piece

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A few months ago, the popular YouTube channel Pronunciation Book started uploading a series of videos counting down from 77. Now, the big secret has been revealed – the YouTube channel and the popular Twitter account @Horse_ebooks were actually conceptual art projects by Jacob Bakkila and Thomas Bender.

No one wants to work on a painting forever

According to the New Yorker, who unmasked their identities, the two even kept their involvement in @Horse_ebooks and Pronunciation Book a secret from their colleagues at Buzzfeed and Howcast. It was initially thought, based on previous piece from Gawker, that @Horse_ebooks was being maintained by a Russian web developer, Alexei Kouznetsov. Kouznetsov initally did run the account but gave the account to Bakkila on September 2011.

Bakilla told the New York Times that he wanted to “perform as a machine” and that the “goal was not to appropriate the account but to become the account”. He even occasionally tweeted links to equestrian ebooks and some non sequiturs on by skimming articles on weight loss, bodybuilding and self-help.

Both Bakkila and Bender have told the New Yorker that they will miss working on the two accounts, telling the magazine that “No one wants to work on a painting forever.”

“Dalton is dangerous”

Pronunciation Book and @Horse_ebooks now make way for a new art project by Bakkila and Bender, called “Bear Stearns Bravo”. Described as a “choose-your-own-adventure” interactive video piece, you play a ‘regulator’ called Franco that is tasked to gather evidence for a secret government trial against CEO of Bear Stearns, Jackie Dalton. You have the choice to decide between gathering evidence by getting testimonies from people you meet along the way, or arresting people.

You can obviously tell what the story is all about – it is basically a critique on Wall Street and its involvement with the Global Financial Crisis.

Playing just a little bit of the game, it fails to satisfy the hype it created. The acting isn’t terrible, but it’s also not that good. The game is filled with caricatures – such as frat boy bankers, and an egomaniac CEO obsessed with greed and risktaking; and the story itself isn’t that engaging. I ended up closing the game after the second chapter.

But hey, I might be wrong. You can play the game for yourself at the Bear Stearns Bravo website.