Sunday, April 03, 2005
We've been to dada-like games, we've rediscovered mail art. Do you still want more meaning? Do you think art shouldn't forget the world it lives in? Then go to Wordnews, a project by Benjamin Fischer which displays the current news in an automated form resembling a dadaist poem, but with a message. The news that appears more often are shown in larger letters. (More about the technical side of the project here).
As this short Italian review suggests (excellent site, with some articles in English), Wordnews uses and puts into focus the "news looping" phenomenon in the current media: once a news trend starts, all the media go after it, anxious to get everything in "realtime". This causes a great homogeneity of information, with the exact same words and phrases reappearing constantly.
What is good about this work, though, is that it's not what one could call a critique. Nobody is pointing the finger. Benjamin Fischer shows us an echo of what we hear - while we forget the weight of the words that keep showering us endlessly. The words, here, stand alone, sometimes connected into phrases, often not. And we have to create the stories, write them, pronounce them for ourselves. We have to make sense of the raw information, deprived of the comforting context of the articles that contain it.
It is only important to remember that this is not a reflection of the world, or even of the media world, but of the world that is most heard on our media: the English-speaking, US-centric world. It is globalization in the narrowest of senses, underlining the common denominators and excluding the unique. For the acute observer, Fischer's work is also a warning.
The work is currently presented at the Oberwelt e.V. gallery in Stuttgart. It is the artist's first solo exhibition. It's great to know that some software-based works actually leave the internet and its haunting, virtual atmosphere from time to time.