Workshop: Credible Fictions – Deceptive Realities

A workshop investigating fake on-line businesses and global corporate conglomerates

“The difference between reality and fiction is that fiction needs to be credible.” -Mark Twain


Past workshops:
Oct 2015: esc medien kunst labor Graz/Austria as part of the Steirischer Herbst 2015.


Abstract: In the workshop the artwork “Megacorp.” is used as an entrance point to deeper investigate fake business networks that are created to remain anonymous with the intention to commit fraud. We will explore how fake online identities and company representation are created by using a number of open source intelligence tools (osit). Additionally we will illustrate strategies that activists use to uncover fake companies of criminal organisations. Since these companies appear and disappear rather quickly, the “Megacorp.” collection is an attempt to archive these websites with the intention to create a local dubious repository allowing further investigations.



Thank you Sabina Köfler from radio FRO for your interview about the workshop:



Task 1: Real or Fake? check the website and answer following questions:

Look for hints and clues that can  prove that the website is real or fake.

– Look & feel: 
How does the Logo look like?
Do all links work or are some links misleading to other pages?

Does the page look trustworthy? If not, why?


– Language: Grammar, Spelling, Wording:

Are there some unfamiliarities or bad grammar used?


– Domain name:
Is there another company under the same company name?
Is there a same website registered under the .com, .net, .at, etc.?
Can I find other information about the company online?

– Contact information:
Is there a way to get in touch with someone?
Is the contact email using the TLD or is it a free email service? (gmail, hotmail)
Is it a valid address? Can I find the address through OSM, Google.maps, etc. 
If there is a phone number provided, is it a valid number?
Does the country code fit to the address? 
Can I find the phone number in a phone book? 
– Imprint / Impressum:
Is there one?
Is it a registered company?

– Does the website use content copied from somewhere else?


Company HQs from the Megacorp. network are located in the capitals of New York, Los Angeles, London, Madrid, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Accra or Lagos. During the Megacorp. exhibition, we organize virtual walks to visit some of the addresses and verify if the companies are ‘clones’ of real companies or fake companies. The virtual walk will be documented and will be added to the exhibition in form of a photo series and a video documentation. In this workshop we focused on fake businesses in Germany:

Task 2: Virtual passive reconnaissance: investigation tour
Selection of 15 businesses that are located in Germany.
Find information about the companies:
Look them up on maps and streetviews (if available)
Is there info available about the company?

Take screenshots of your map and streetview findings and we include them in the installed work. Please name the companies accordingly. The gathered intelligence and screenshots are added to the installation video: