When authorities had Dzhokhar Tsarnaev cornered following the Boston bombing, many of us were watching the action unfold live on CNN. But the climax we were dreading never came. In fact, there was no climax at all. Instead, Anderson Cooper brought the story to a conclusion by reporting a tweet that Tsarnaev had been captured.
No doubt, those of us watching CNN then took to Twitter, completing the odd circle of news and communication. This is the chain of modern behaviors at the heart of The News Machine, an art installation that simulates the 24-hour global news cycle on a micro scale, created by Fabrica for Colors #86.
It’s also totally absurd.
The “machine”–which is really a series of discrete pieces of broadcast and recording equipment–starts with your tweet (sent to @colorsmachine). A megaphone reads the tweet aloud. A tape recorder converts the sound into text. A monitor displays the text. A camera watches the monitor, and converts the image back to a radio message. A radio antenna broadcasts the tweet (again!). A radio reads the tweet aloud (again!). A microphone listens, converting the speech to text (again!). And a printer publishes the tweet to paper.
Needless to say, there may have been some elements lost in translation. And that’s entirely the point. Fabrica is a technological commentary on the state of the media, our own compulsion to share and the consequences of these habits. And its tacit thesis is very difficult to reconcile: Even by stating the truth, you could be helping to spread misinformation.