Thursday, 28 June 2007

An Artistic Hoax

by Charles Pooter

(All images in this article can be enlarged by clicking on them).

In April the following rather pretty photos started appearing on UFO websites, including the website of the popular Coast to Coast radio show:

Last month (April 2007), my wife and I were on a walk when we noticed a very large, very strange "craft" in the sky. My wife took a picture with her cell phone camera (first photo below). A few days later a friend (and neighbor) lent me his camera and came with me to take photos of this "craft". We found it and took a number of very clear photos. Picture #4 is taken from right below this thing and I must give my friend credit as I was not brave enough to get close enough to take this picture myself!
- "Chad"
It was later claimed that the photos were of a UFO spotted in the Lake Tahoe area on the California/Nevada border.

Today a link to a website was posted on Digg. The site, written by someone calling themselves "Issac" is entitled Explanation of the Recent "Strange Craft" Sightings. It describes the CARET project (Commericial Applications Research for Extraterrestrial Applications) and Issac's involvement in this unlikely enterprise:
My story begins the same as it did for many of my co workers, with graduate and post-graduate work at university in electrical engineering. And I had always been interested in computer science, which was a very new field at the time, and my interest piqued with my first exposure to a Tixo during grad school. In the years following school I took a scenic route through the tech industry and worked for the kinds of companies you would expect, until I was offered a job at the Department of Defense and things took a very different turn.

My time at the DoD was mostly uneventful but I was there for quite a while. I apparently proved myself to be reasonably intelligent and loyal. By 1984 these qualities along with my technical background made me a likely candidate for a new program they were recruiting for called “CARET”.
The rest of the page is well-written and reads like a short science fiction story. Issac goes onto descibe his reaction to the "reality" of ET life, his work reverse-engineering alien technology, the deciphering of the holographic language that allows UFOs to fly and finally how he smuggled secret documents out of the Palo Alto research facilty (modelled on Xerox PARC). Which brings us to the documents:There are plenty more on the site. Someone is very good with photoshop.

There is a long tradition within UFOlogy of leaks of supposedly classified documents. From the notorious MJ-12 documents to the Santilli autopsy movie to the laughable SERPO project, the leaks (need I say) always turn out to be hoaxes. Some have even suggested that the more credible "leaks" were cold-war disinformation designed to put the enemy off the scent of decidedly terrestrial military projects. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, hoaxes have been of a decidedly lower quality. The SERPO hoax mentioned above was particularly poor, featuring internally inconsistent documentation, farcical technical details and supposed whistle-blowers using English consistent with the average MySpace resident. Presumably, if the US Government used to leak fake UFO information, they have no need to now. Private individuals just haven't been able to match the quality of a CIA-funded effort.

But what about a global corporation? There is increasing speculation that the photos, documents and Issac's website are part of a viral marketing campaign to promote the Microsoft computer game Halo 3:
Using the Firefox browser, I went to the site mentioned above and clicked on View -> Page Source, and saw that the background was a file called "ar.jpg". When I entered, lo and behold, up came a hazy but unmistakable image of a detail of the ubiquitous UFO's wing; that image is over to the right. Many of you have already leapt ahead, linking ar.jpg" to AR: Adjudant Reflex. That is the basis of the theory that these UFO images were seeded on the Internet to promote Halo 3.

Also, the circular image with radiating lines that appears in a viral email would appear to match those visible on the UFO.
If this turns out to be correct, I have to congratulate Microsoft on the least irritating and most artistically pleasing viral marketing campaign that I've been infected with.


Anonymous said...

the comment you received from the anonymous source that worked for the program and had to come forward, all that can be said is : Nice graphics work, sorry to tell you that it was computer generated and superimposed on the backgroud

Pritchard Buckminster said...

From Micrososft:

Microsoft has told Eurogamer that the Halo 3 viral marketing campaign we talked about earlier is called "Iris", and has furnished us with more details.

"'Iris' is a spiral campaign designed to take gamers on an incredible journey through the Halo Universe," a spokesperson for Microsoft told us. "Led by an 'unknown' hand, users will discover bits of previously unknown information about the Halos, the Flood, the Forerunners, and the true origins behind the Halo trilogy."

Pritchard Buckminster said...

Rob said...

The writing on the "UFO" and associated documents is simply flipped / reversed Japanese "Katakana" character fonts -- the same flowing green character fonts used for the MATRIX movies. I laughed when I saw it re-stylized for use on this bogus "alien spacecraft". I'm sure the Japanese are all getting a good laugh out of it, too.