Artists Stephen Zeigler and Calder Greenwood gave downtown residents a living installation inspired by the classic film They Live, with signage and actor dressed as an alien in a business suit as seen through Roddy Piper’s magical glasses that reveal the truth of existence. From the film’s official description:
They influence our decisions without us knowing it. They numb our senses without us feeling it. They control our lives without us realizing it. THEY LIVE.
A rugged loner (RODDY PIPER) stumbles upon a terrifying discovery: ghoulish creatures are masquerading as humans while they lull the public into submission through subliminal advertising messages. Only specially made sunglasses make the deadly truth visible.
Shepard Fairey credits the movie as a major source of inspiration: “They Live was… the basis for my use of the word ‘obey’. The movie has a very strong message about the power of commercialism and the way that people are manipulated by advertising.”
As a tribute to the film with some of the same messaging in mind, Zeigler/Greenwood’s guerrilla performance weirded out business people and security guards as they popped up in various locations. Check out the “moment of realization” from the film, where OBEY is revealed as the essential message of the ruling aliens.