Subject : A Dual-Media Hybrid
by : Annina Zimmermann
Date : 2005/01/29
Link : http://www.mapping-new-territories.ch/exhibition/56_k_tv/56k_tv_e.html
new Territories, Neue Kunsthalle St. Gall, exposition de groupe avec
Knowbotic Research and Marlene McCarty. 29.1. 27.3. 2005. L'exposition
a été initiée et facilitée par l&Mac226;'Office
fédéral de la culture / sitemapping.ch. Partenaire de production
est [plug.in] Bâle.
A Dual-Media Hybrid
56kTV bastard channel the international online art
project curated by xcult.org at the invitation of the Arts Council of
Switzerland Pro Helvetia
"What conditions does online art have to take into account and question
in order to be regarded as a genuinely creative response to this new means
of communication?" The projects concocted since 1985 by Basel-based
curator Reinhard Storz, editor of www.xcult.org, together with Studer/vdBerg,
examine selected contents and at the same time test the specifics of the
medium. In his latest project in collaboration with Pro Helvetia, Reinhard
Storz has once again broken with several seemingly unchallenged internet
conventions. 56kTV bastard channel is an internet platform
which, according to Storz, "is writing its own story as the history
of a broadcasting company." The television parody takes the
form of a work in progress, and thus gratifies the online users
need for constant updates. Since its premiere in November 2004, 56KTV
has offered seven so-called programmes, with new programmes being added
monthly until spring 2005. Storz commissioned the programmes from artists
in Basel, Berlin, Geneva, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Ostrava, Paris, Seoul,
Tokyo and Zurich.
The online simulation of television puts the conventions of two different
media to the test. Bastard channel flies in the face of the webs
constant worldwide availability by adopting the programme structure of
television: programmes can be accessed only at certain times of day, which
differ according to international time zones. Storz uses this artificially
imposed restriction, as he says, "to give the finger, in media terms,
to the surf-now mentality". In doing so, he holds up a mirror to
our attention spans and to the web as a time-based medium. What is more,
the new site, unlike others, is not designed for the latest hardware,
but for a modem speed of just 56k. In this way, the media hybrid is a
cross between the full-blown promise of a television station and the modest
technical equipment of the average home.
The individual programmes have a certain leeway within this tongue-in-cheek
meta-history of television. Exonemo undertakes the most obvious transformation
of the computer monitor into a television screen in the programme "ZZZZZZZZapp",
with digital pixels sending fuzzy analog signals across the screen as
on a television with poor reception. For their aesthetic exploration of
what Storz calls the "boundary zone before the image target",
the duo Exonemo, who are in great demand as videojockeys and musicians
in Tokyo, fish images from spam mail and simulate the sounds, producing
different variations whenever the audience tunes in to bastard channel.
Some of the other programmes refer more or less explicitly to the various
broadcasting forms used in television, such as news, talk shows, or erotic
advertising. In Beat Brogles www.onewordmovie.ch project, we can
go online and create brief plots in the nature of a TV series. We can
type in three search terms Spock meets Sally, Skippy eats Flipper
whereupon the software developed by Brogle and Phillipe Zimmerman
immediately trawls the internet for images and presents them as a rapid-fire
slide show. Since there is no programme yet that can recognise images
and sort them by content, the images posted on the web are selected by
the name of the file, shedding light on the linguistic appropriation of
images, which is often intuitive and shaped by subconscious thought patterns.
Most of the other "broadcasts" deliberately adopt the non-participatory
form of television in programmed sequences of sound and image. The contribution
by Nathalie Novarina and Marcel Croubalian features a North American talk
show host winding up the studio audience in a programme titled "News
from the Dead". Before our eyes, in the repeatedly interrupted, snowy
image, a ghost-like little figure can just be made out in the white noise,
whispering through the online ether. It caricatures the hunger for sensation
that talk shows pander to, trivialising even such a breakthrough in telecommunication
as talking to the dead.
Young-Hae Changs series "View and Plan of Seoul. A Transpacific
Intrigue", is a lyrical 13-episode take on soap opera. This story
of a female secret agent is set in a Starbucks in Seoul, with words taking
the place of actors. Needless to say, the news is represented as well,
and is best left running in the background, like a television in the kitchen.
Marc Lee developed a "Live Stream TV-Bot" for bastard channel,
which trawls the web in search of live webcams and TV streams, diverting
the images to home screens where they are commentated by current news
headlines. Unlike most online communications, the contents are always
brand new: breaking news. In this way, Lee surpasses the material offered
by commercial news pages, while the slow and uneventful images strangely
mute the sensationalist language.
Shu Lea Cheang also exploits the formal discrepancy between image and
text in this case to point out a simultaneity of events so unbearable
that we tend to filter them out in everyday life. Barely censored images
of naked women flood the computer. The sheer mass of images seems to reproduce
itself autonomously like the addictive potential of consuming pornography.
We are reminded of the extent to which the internet, like most new media,
owes its dynamics to commercial porn production. The slow download speed
is both appealing and tormenting. Shu Lea Cheang exploits emotionally
what the sex industry exploits financially. The "cost" is counted
not only by the image of a clock, but by the rising toll of AIDS victims
in Africa during the time it takes to download the images. Sexualised
recreation and political repression are linked here in a double morality
so gruesome that only a cynic can watch for any length of time.
Shu Lea Cheangs contribution leaves aside the illusionism of the
television monitor and addresses the location of the image the
monitor as "desktop" by superimposing pop-up windows.
Jimpunks furious choreography of sound and image, too, uses the
floss of computer culture, setting Google dialogues, spam headers, pop-ups
and typograph-ically constructed figures to a soundtrack of computer noises:
error alerts, the digitally simulated click of a camera lens, beats, Indian
drums. Underscored by stills from websites and snippets of film music,
the wandering, emerging and fading windows take on a filmic character.
They are pre-programmed, rehearsed as it were, but the almost simultaneous
download of data onto the screen makes them seem like a live performance.
The last of the programmes to be called up in the first phase vaguely
recalls seers and psychologists who promise life-changing help by phone
from the screen. Birgit Kempker, with the aid of programmers, has developed
her literary alter ego into a Sphinx for the internet. The quiet, briefly
looped sounds of the Sphinx breathing and clucking, and the image of a
silvery mechanism shining in the shadows evoke an enigmatic female robot
that responds to our questions by taking our keywords, mirroring them
and re-arranging them to create a new poetic meaning. Or perhaps it was
the author herself, who writes, "The Sphinx is a complex system,
cutting and sphinxing pathways between realities. Tracks through the snow,
ant roads, the flightpaths of swallows
That could mean that in order
to understand something, one has to take it in, perhaps even eat it. The
Sphinx of Pontresina and her machine, the Pontresina of the Sphinx, listen
to the questions each in their own way and learn from one another as well
as from the questions." The Sphinx thus becomes a strange metaphor
for the internet.
P.S. Just what is it that we want from television and, essentially, from
any electronic medium? Insight or distraction? Studer/vd Berg recently
added a wickedly tongue-in-cheek mystery game to the bastard channel,
which ironically deploys the media as getaway vehicle. Stranded in an
anonymous hotel room, we try to click our way out into multimedia nirvana.
The good old pen, that humble and antiquated agent of self-determined
thought, features too as something to adjust the aerial with.
Text: Annina Zimmermann
Jimpunk utilise lui aussi les composants de la culture informatique pour
sa chorégraphie effrénée dimages et de sons:
il anime des dialogues Google, des titres de " spam ", des
" pop-ups " et des personnages formés de signes typographiques
en les accompagnant dune piste son faite de bruits dordinateur
annonces derreur, mais aussi simulation numérique
dun obturateur de caméra, " beats " et tambours
hindous. Sous-tendues dimages fixes reprises sur des sites Web et
de bribes de musiques de films, les fenêtres qui bougent, surgissent
et sévanouissent acquièrent un caractère cinématographique.
Même si elles sont préprogrammées, " apprises
par coeur " pour ainsi dire , elles ont laspect dune
performance en direct, à cause du téléchargement
presque simultané des données sur lécran.