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THE WORK OF ART IN THE AGE OF UBIQUITOUS NARROWCASTING? WHAT EARLY ARTIST-LED INTERVENTIONS INTO TELEVISION BROADCASTING CAN TEACH ARTISTS ABOUT PUTTING THEMSELVES ONLINE. 1

SARAH COOK

You press the red button next to the screen and settle into the plush interview chair. There is the sound of canned applause and the words of an out-of-sight host flash up, flattering you and thanking you for your appearance. You smile your best smile for the web-camera and edge closer to the microphone, ready to answer questions about your famous, glamorous life. Welcome to the Fantasy A-List Generator, a project by UK-based artist group Active Ingredient, which suggests that television as we know it today can be completely automated and outsourced. 2 Questions from interviews with ‘actual’ celebrities are culled from video clips available on the web, the customised software generates the routine, and you choose your costume from the props available in the small personal interview booth. Without a green-room, makeup artists, talent handlers, assistants, and background researchers, the end product is amusingly like what we see on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross or The

1. Preface/Acknowledgments: This paper is adapted from a talk given at Video Vortex in Amsterdam and the research which resulted in the international group exhibition Broadcast Yourself, co-curated by myself and Kathy Rae Huffman for AV Festival 08: Broadcast, at the Hatton Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne, and Cornerhouse, Manchester (2008). Information on the exhibition is available from www.broadcastyourself.net. The original abstract for the talk at Video Vortex read: It’s all to easy to be swept into the hype of centralised social networking sites and content distribution platforms such as YouTube and forget that so-called ‘Web2.0’ is the marketer’s answer to the truly open file-sharing potential of the Internet. It is worth remembering what artists did in response to the emergence of increasingly commercial television channels and how they first used the web for ‘broadcasting themselves’. Tied to these experiments is the key question of the role of the curator in supporting and sustaining independent practices within an increasingly homogenized media landscape. How are these 2.0 platforms being used to market and distribute information about art projects, and does it work? This paper considers what other open models of practice are available to curators for preserving independent practice, discussing wiki-enabled voluntary programming of moving-image based organisations such as the Star and Shadow Cinema (Newcastle). Thanks go especially to Kathy Rae Huffman and the artists for their collaboration, but also to others including Josephine Berry Slater and Anthony Iles at Mute Magazine, Tom Sherman, Dieter Daniels, Renee Baert, Beryl Graham and others for their important early work on the subject and their critical feedback and consideration of this more recent research. There were many art projects I could have mentioned, and have, with difficulty, chosen only a few of those in the exhibition, and some not in the exhibition, to describe here. 2. Fantasy A-List was a commission as part of the exhibition Broadcast Yourself , 2008. Active Ingredient are Rachel Jacobs and Matt Watkins. The project is online at www.make-tv.net

Profile for Institute of Network Cultures

VideoVortex  

The Video Vortex Reader is the first collection of critical texts to deal with the rapidly emerging world of online video – from its explosi...

VideoVortex  

The Video Vortex Reader is the first collection of critical texts to deal with the rapidly emerging world of online video – from its explosi...

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