The mask as global phenomenon to protest. A commentary of the pop culture activist icon with background information of the origin.

The loosely affiliated and ever-changing band of individuals who call themselves Anonymous have been variously described as hackers, hacktivists, free-expression zealots, Internet troublemakers, and assorted combinations thereof. By all accounts the group has no clear hierarchy or leadership, or even any internal agreement about what exactly it is. And yet, as you’ve encountered news and speculation about Anonymous – maybe from reports about coordinated denial-of-service attacks on financial institutions that stopped doing business with WikiLeaks, or the group’s association with Occupy Wall Street – you may also have noticed its memorable logo: a suited figure with a question mark where the head should be, set against a U.N.-style globe. You’ve also likely seen the visual symbol that’s made its way onto the streets: a Guy Fawkes mask borrowed by Anonymous from the V for Vendetta graphic novel and movie for use in real-world protests. How did this chaotic, volunteer-driven non-organization manage to create a visual identity stronger than many commercial brands?

Read more in BRANDED PROTEST the book.

About Rob Walker

Rob Walker writes about design, technology, business, branding, the arts, and other subjects. His column, The Workologist, appears in the Sunday Business section of The New York Times, and he is a contributing writer to Design Observer. He is the co-editor (with Joshua Glenn) of the book Significant Objects: 100 Extaordinary Stories about Ordinary Things (2012), and the author of Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are (2008), and Letters From New Orleans (2005). The Hypothetical Development Organization, a collaborative project co-founded by Walker, G.K. Daby and Ellen Susan, was included in the U.S. exhibition at the 2012 Venice Biennale. From 2004-2011 Walker wrote the column “Consumed” for The New York Times Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Bloomberg Businessweek, Fast Company, Wired, The New Republic, Slate, Print, and many other publications. He is often called on as an expert commentator on the subject of material culture and branding, notably in the documentary Objectified.
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