television

8 Rules for TV

We don’t believe in the lonely genius. Neither in resistance, withdrawal or anarchy.

We believe in (science) fiction, the realism of our time. The future is neither a nightmare nor a daydream.

We speculate even as we try to minimize uncertainties. We try to come up with stories, answers and possibilities, not with mere observations.

We try to make complex ideas seem simple. Build arguments, form positions, create a tagline, be populist.

We believe in compression. If arguments don’t survive compression, they are bad. No piece should be longer than five minutes. Better two.

We are not going to talk about everything to absolutely everyone. We will leave that to contemporary art and architecture.

We make programs with recurring episodes, not unique masterpieces.

We try to think politically about the relations between subjects, whether human or nonhuman.

Stop looking at yourself. Look around you. Interesting things are always close by.


 The Sony AV-3400 Porta Pak Camera

Television

In 1967, Sony introduced the first Portapak system, a battery-powered, self-contained black-and-white video recording system. A camera and a separate record-only video recorder, to play back the tape you needed another machine. Earlier TV cameras were large and relatively immovable, the Portapak let you shoot outside of the studio and tape was reusable and inexpensive. It had a great influence on video art, guerrilla television, and activism and helped trigger a range of activity linking video with social change. Collectives such as TVTV, the Videofreex and the The Raindance Foundation came up with new countercultural movements and developed alternative communication apart from the television networks. Hermine Freed wrote in 1976: “Just when pure formalism had run its course; just when it became politically embarrassing to make objects, but ludicrous to make nothing; … just when it became clear that TV communicates more information to more people than large walls do; just when we understood that in order to define space it is necessary to encompass time––just then the Portapak became available.”


President Nixon talks to the moon.

In 1969 CBS showed a 31-hour TV super-special about the Apollo 11 landing two humans on the moon. And the world was watching. Live.

Television became a democratic promise, a mass medium, pop culture and counterculture at the same time. In Germany, TV still has a “Bildungsauftrag”, an educational mandate stated in the constitution.

At the beginning of the 1980s television was at its peak, CNN and MTV were introduced, television was everywhere and everybody wanted to be on TV. Ronald Reagan, a former film and TV star was elected President in 1980.
37 years later when the next TV star became President, TV had imploded long ago. It hardly survived as trash and came back as a web-streaming and home-box-office-cable platform behind paywalls. The democratic promise and the mass medium, “more information to more people” is long gone.


President Reagan one second before he is shot by John Hinckley Jr.

In the meantime the internet has its new ways to tell stories, short and loud, spreading this notion of urgency, dramatizing, shouting at the viewer, compressing the content and the argument. The average human attention span has fallen after the year 2000 from 12 seconds to eight seconds, while Goldfish are still at nine seconds. So web series like Bref, Nas Daily or Vogue’s 73 Questions react to that. And they do it well.


Kyan Khojandi in  Bref

Nowadays you can broadcast via YouTube, the cameras are not expensive and record on super effective SD-cards. Everybody can do it. You just have to get the right people together to come up with content and visual strategies to reach an audience and change the discourse at the same time. Not to withdraw from the process but to accelerate it. And there is a huge chance that this new form of television becomes again a democratic promise, a mass medium, pop culture and counterculture at the same time.

Television was always very close to the real world. At its best it was about what is and then concluded what could be. The responsibility was not only to show the present but to imagine the future and furthermore to imagine how we might change its direction. Television was and is a utopian concept. Television gathers data, makes polls, establishes facts and analyses them, but only when it creates stories and fiction it establishes values. It becomes political. That’s why it’s so important by whom these stories are told.

                                             

 

Front end: Holger Friese
Back end: Max Kossatz
Broadcast Operations & Concierge: Christopher Roth