Theme: Remote Relationships, Intimate News - remote relationships, intimacy and dislocation, the relationship between audience and the work (swansong) and the shift in TV generally, where the relationship between viewer and producer becomes more intimate (C4 news snowmail etc)
Host(s): Chris Helson (Artist - Swansong The Act ), Sarah Jackets (Assistant Producer - The Act )
Guests: Claire Morris (Choreographer worked on Virtual Bootleg), Toni Roig Telo (Academic), Fay Rusling (Writer worked on Pope & Guthrie's Recommended Dose), Jeanie Finlay (Artist), Dominic Robson (Lecturer / Technical Manager worked on Virtual Bootleg)

With Introductions over, Chris gave a brief outline of his project The Act.

Reality/ Unreality
a.. On the 19th March 2002 the day before the TV swansong web cast, BBC World's top story was the 'discovery' of an Inca city called Corihuayrachina, the video opens with footage shot from a helicopter of an excavated Inca site called Choquequirao, the BBC's Peter Greste voice over informing us "This is the place local Indians call Corihuayrachina". They don't, they call it Choquequirao. Corihuayrachina is a different site two days walk away, the site is covered with flowers and grasses showing a few signs of exploratory excavation made by the team who discovered it, and with the ruins still buried, the BBC used footage of Choquequirao.

b.. Had the story not been so remote, would these false images have been used? Suggested that Chris contact the BBC and ask them (watch this space). For some reason we were shocked by this blatant use of false images by the media, memories of library footage of Palestinians dancing in the street, and so we discussed the essence of truth until the group sank into a silent contemplation.

c.. Reference to another Inca site close by called Cota Coca uncovered by a team that followed Chris in and arrived one week later. In an email reply to Chris, the explorer Gary Ziegler wrote " the exaggeration of the NGS (National Geographic Society) powered media concerning Corihuayrachina? You may know that a number of us were upset about hyperbole over the size and importance of the site." Full transcript of our email correspondance.

d.. Iconography of news story, the need for a defining image.

e.. ( note from Jeanie Finlay) As well as the 'defining image', there was the sense that without the image the news would be given less profile / priority. Example given as the difference between the reporting of the twin towers and the bombing of the Pentagon on September 11. Both tragedies with massive loss of life. The plane going into the second tower was very televisual, the images told the story so much more than the image of the smouldering Pentagon. This image (plane going into the tower) was repeated over and over again as it looked so spectacular / defining. Does / can the image make the news a 'whole' story? Is that why the BBC crew added library footage to their telling of the Inca village story?

Amateur News Footage
a.. The defining image is often amateur footage: of the plane flying into the first of the twin towers, the assassination of JFK (super 8), the Concorde crash.

b.. Questions as to the changing nature of news images through the democratisation of digital video equipment (because of its relatively low cost), and therefore the increased chance of the moment being captured. And in a world already seemingly at saturation point with 'real' and simulated images we had a discussion around the control of images through editing. Mass dissemination of 'News' images as pornography. ref: "Degree Xerox of value" (Baudrillard - Paroxysm p12 ISBN 1 85984 241-0).

c.. And the future? Chris showed the group an article about third generation mobile phones, 3g phones are able to provide video and audio on demand at 2.4Mbps. Rather than the reporter standing outside the significant event/ building, will those involved in the story be providing the footage; from inside the Church of the Nativity, on the forth plane, within the Jenin refugee camp, inside the tower, on the front line. Uploading live to portal sites or direct to the global news networks? TV news already pull web feeds to use themselves. In comparative terms very few people carry a video camera and far less a satellite phone and laptop. What happens to the media space when everyone within the breaking news story is able to send live broadband video footage from the camera on their mobile phone?

a.. Liveness- fascination with the breaking news story, voyeurism, empathy, where were you? becomes important, its all you have? I was standing in a crowd of people outside a television shop watching, on multiple screens, as the first of the Twin Towers collapsed.

b.. Story of news/ chat site who described having virtually no hits for three hours after the first plane crashed into the tower, then being overwhelmed by hits as people began to look elsewhere for information/ interaction.

c.. 'World' News, context local / global: two examples of western news networks lack of coverage: UN report highlighted Mozambique and Angola 1980 - 88 US and British backed destabilisation of Southern Africa, supply of 'military aid' to civil wars that left 1.5 Million people dead ( 3600 every week ). And Chomsky: A New Generation Draws the Line (p14 ISBN 1-85984-789-7) "..US-supplied helicopters and jets...5-7,000 (Turkish) troops with helicopter gunships crossed into Iraq to attack Kurds there once again - in a "no fly zone", where Kurds are protected by the US airforce from the (temporarily) wrong oppressor".

a.. Good afternoon. Everyday at about 6pm I get an email from John Snow at Channel 4 News. John tells me what kind of a day he has had, and he tells me something about what news stories he will be presenting in about an hours time, but the language, content and context are from a much more personal perspective than The News itself. Sometimes I write back. Best wishes as ever, see you at 7, John. .. thoughts of Peter Finch

b.. Discussion around the changing proximity of the interface, the communal act of sitting watching the tv news eating your dinner with family and friends and the online community meeting through a physically closer, more intimate, screen.

c.. Note from Chris that a quick count of the emails he sent and received that were directly related to the making of The Act number over 500. Ref: article "Exploring Space by Not Going There"

d.. 12 mile high tower. Pringles with wings.

Chris Helson & Group 2002