The former public face of LulzSec is out of jail and back on Twitter

Attention, Internet: Topiary, aka Jake Davis, the puckish Twitter user who was once the public face of LulzSec, is back.

He was the first Anonymous member to inspire the now-familiar worldwide “Free [___]” movement, a string of campaigns in support of the latest hapless hacker to fall afoul of law enforcement. He was adopted as a mascot and martyr by hacktivists around the world. Generally credited (thanks to his taking credit in interviews) with having hacked the Westboro Baptist Church website, he was a contradictory if intriguing figure, alternately hiding in the shadows and giving interviews in broad daylight.

When, finally in 2011, the police arrested a skinny 18-year-old from the remote Shetland Isles, there was a sense of incredulity: This was the fearless, witty, wily, and dangerous Topiary?

Davis’s trademark wraparound shades became something of a hacktivist icon over the next two years as he was initially released under heavy curfew and restrictions, almost immediately violating them by engaging in TinyChat with Barrett Brown, although it seemed nobody minded. Last month he was sentenced to two years in a juvenile facility, and is now free, having served a mere 37 days.

So, how has prison changed him?

Well, that answers that.

He’s back! Back online and back in school; he’s studying the very cuttingest of the edge of contemporary art at the Barbicon’s Arts School Lab. The prestigious arts institute says the program, which costs £200 per participant and is partly taxpayer-supported, explores the relationship between art and social change. “Arts School Lab requires an open mind because it explores the idea of ‘unlearning’ conventions and education through conversation and practical experiences.” In Davis’s case, that probably won’t take much unlearning. A Twitpic caught him and classmates just “hanging out” at Dalston House, an interactive illusion art installation in London.

Looks perfectly at home.

It’s just possible that Twitter is his art form of choice. I mean, can you fuse a past as “a guest of Her Majesty’s” with humor and come up with this?

Indeed. And some are (at least for now) doing better. Davis is clearly eager to catch up on what he missed, querying his followers “What’s a Carly Rae Jepson?” and asking perhaps the most pressing question of our time.

Photo via attani/deviantART

Lorraine Murphy

Lorraine Murphy

Lorraine Murphy is an Ottawa-based cybersecurity journalist and founding editor of the Cryptosphere. She has a keen interest in WikiLeaks and web culture, and her bylines have appeared in Salon, Vanity Fair, Serious Eats, and elsewhere.