AboutHoax: a deliberately fabricated falsehood made to masquerade as truth
Unknown Monsters is a visual arts experiment that generates hoaxes. A collaboration between artists Rob Dunne and Daniel Staincliffe, their works are based on research carried out in Chengdu, China, into hoaxes, social psychology and mythology.
The project is an artistic examination of the structures of mythology and hoaxes, making an active attempt to generate new hoaxes and disseminate them as fact. The hoaxes used have been derived from research into historical examples of hoaxing, the structure of rumours and the understanding of how belief systems and psychological models affect our acceptance or scepticism of ideas. Letters, emails and online interactions - on forums and video sharing websites - are of particular interest to the project, investigating why and how we believe or disbelieve second-hand information.
These hoaxes include a Chinese bigfoot, a river mermaid, prophetically carved artefacts and a fictitious artist, named as an anagram of Unknown Monsters, whose terrible works based on mythology and conspiracy theories spoof art curators and competitions in the UK. The project documents these hoaxes and their production, along with records of the artists' correspondence with academic and governmental institutions, and interactions with the public. Concerned with the hoaxes' dissemination as fact, the project looks to reveal how and why we choose to believe, or disbelieve, the things we encounter.
Unknown Monsters was developed in Chengdu, China with support from Arts Council England, CFCCA and Blue Roof Gallery, Chengdu.