At the time of the TV swansong launch, Helson will travel to the next site chosen by international rolling news networks as the top story, and work/ live within the media space created there. In this soon-to-be-famous place, Helson will explore the use of simulation and iconography within the constructed media frame.

24-hour cable news networks need to be present at the breaking story, and to achieve this they either try to be omnipresent, generate the story and/or become a key player. Sustaining a breaking story requires that 'real time' absorb the future into the present, where virtual predictions and scenarios become the commodity.

Without 'live' action, 'rolling news' presenters talk via life-size studio screens to correspondents who stand in front of the significant scene, often a generic government building or busy street where the architecture and landscape are imbued with meaning. Only occasionally do they realise unique live action, the prize commodity.

The site and the situation of Helson's project will not be known until a day or two before the launch of TV swansong, he will have to be prepared to travel anywhere. The work will be in the form of a video stream on the web site, however, it will not be a news 'story', narrative or alternative view of the war. The content will be led by the artists process of exploration and therefore can not be known. However, it is likely to be in the form of an event . Helson reconstructs spaces, creates structures for people to enter and explore, not usually physical structures, more often space remade with signs, invitations, projections.

The recent attacks on New York and Washington, and the resulting 'war' are likely to dominate international news schedules throughout the production of TV swansong. The central idea for the project remains the same, however , given the scale and significance of these recent developments Helson will focus his research on this rolling story. The new war, we are told, is like no other, one where a network of nation states is battling against an invisible network, not tied to any one particular land and fought with political acts, economic controls, in secret, with new technology and with missiles, bombs and food and medicine dropped on the same land. The media frame on this war will shift and with it the icons and images.

Prior to working 'live', Helson will research some of the forms employed by BBC World / CNN to simulate future events and their reconstruction of the place, exploring the making of history by news networks, the role of 'experts', the media's need for prophets and how western values are assigned to specific places through the use of simulation and iconography.

A number of different approaches to realising the project are possible: spending time with a team from BBC News 24 (or CNN, ABC, Reuters) prior to the launch and on site, or working independently at the chosen site, making and streaming work with a satellite phone, dv camera and laptop. Material would be uploaded to the WWW over a period of days at the site.

Chris Helson is based in Kirkudbrightshire, and is currently working on an RSA Arts for Architecture project at Grizedale, Cumbria, and on a new work for the Scottish Parliament.



BBC News Online-
News 'under the radar'