Auburn has a long, proud tradition of creatively trolling the Tide before the Iron Bowl. In 1961 (the year Alabama finally won a national championship), “ingenious Auburn students… scored a success at the University of Alabama” by spelling out “War Eagle” in winter grass seeds that quickly sprouted behind Denny Chimes. A similar stunt was pulled after the 2010 Iron Bowl. And in 1993, this happened.
What happened Friday night, though—an “00:01” writ large on both sides of Haley Center with the illumination of classroom lights—was, quite simply, art.
I interviewed The Artist.
Though the scale and simplicity of the display—we’re talking Clock Tower Caper of ’77 level stuff—makes it, like the very moment in football history it references, dang near untoppable, The Artist had no idea his work would get the attention it has.
“I didn’t foresee it being so popular,” The Artist says. “I wasn’t sure how it would look. I figured—I hoped—people would notice, but I didn’t know for sure.”
At first, it was just Yik Yak.
“It had 100 votes. I still wasn’t sure if it was going to go much further. Then around 11 p.m. or midnight a couple of people told me there were already some stories about it. I was like, ‘holy cow, you’re kidding?'”
The masterpiece, which was conceived a year ago with a friend, took around two hours.
“I mapped it all out. I drew a map of all the windows,” The Artist says. “I went through and got all the doors ready, hall by hall, floor by floor. I got all the doors barely cracked. I pulled the shades up and turned the lights off.”
Then he set up for his attack run.
“I ran down each hall, flicking the lights on and then locking the door behind me.”
That was the quad side. He texted some friends to see how it looked. It looked so great they convinced him to do the stadium side, too, with their help.
There were some corrections to make, and he made them. But the unlit classroom pixel at the top of the 1 in the photo most people have seen still bothers him.
“There was a sign on the door that said ‘warning, alarm will sound.'”
The Artist retreated. Then he went back.
“I almost did it again, but I just chickened out. I was like, if an alarm goes off, even if I get away, the police might show up and probably turn off all the lights.”
Now that would have been criminal.
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