After several years of configuring the studio bunker in Washington, DC into a stage for Internet Broadcasting – deep in my subterranean world of media alchemy and transformation – I began to think about the idea of a peer-to-peer broadcast network, a collective of artist-broadcasters, a new form of cloud-based theater: the Third Space Network.
“The role of the media… forces us to ask what kind of a world and what kind of a society we want to live in, and in particular, in what sense of democracy do we want this to be a democratic society?” – Noam Chomsky, Media Control
“We are contaminated by the Broadcast.” – Gene Youngblood
While the mainstream media largely dominate the discourse and narrative of the daily news cycle, we have, since the dawning of the Web some twenty-five years ago, seen this tight grip of control loosening at an increasing rate. The emergence of citizen-journalism via the blogosphere in the early 2000s, followed by the explosive and ubiquitous presence of social media in the late 2000s, has empowered the individual in the act of distributing their own view of events as they unfold: anyone with a mobile device is transformed into a broadcaster exposing an inside glimpse of the world and its crises as never before. Arab Spring and other recent revolutionary movements have taken their cue from independent journalism via the global networks.
[Television] finally blurred the line between truth, reality, and mythology, mixed it all up so we got confused and we can’t figure out what’s real anymore… It might just be that ultimately television is so powerful, so influential, and so addictive, that we can never find the truth. – Barry Levinson, Poliwood, documentary about the 2008 presidential campaign
Like the great filmmaker Barry Levinson, as a kid I too grew up with a television set in my house beaming in the daily dosage of sitcoms and fantasy suburban portraits of America. And like Levinson, I am in full agreement: television is a powerful entertainment medium, “yet at the same time it may be the most disastrous invention that ever happened in the history of mankind.”
Radio is no longer the sole province of broadcast studios beamed out on exclusive high frequency airwaves from towering antennas. Radio DJ’s, pundits, shock jocks, and the rest, used to be outsized mega-personalities – Howard Stern, Big Daddy Tom Donahue, Wolfman Jack – who reigned supreme in the glory days of radio. In recent years however, the paradigm has flipped to the other extreme: in the age of ubiquitous streaming media, all you need is a laptop and a microphone, or even just a mobile phone, and you can broadcast anywhere in the world.
We have seen the rise and fall of a long lineage of authoritarian strongmen: Hitler, Mussolini, George Wallace, Saddam Hussein, Vladimir Putin, Bashar Al-Hassad… and now Donald TRUMP. All of these men used techniques of propaganda and disinformation within the political system to manipulate and rally support. But none of them grabbed hold of the spotlight and rose to power in the way that TRUMP has.
“Can I have a pledge, a swearing? Raise your right hand. I do solemnly swear that I – no matter how I feel, no matter what the conditions, if there’s hurricanes or whatever – will vote, on or before the 12th for Donald J. Trump for president.” – Donald TRUMP
It started out as just fun and games. A publicity hungry mogul playing a cold, ruthless mogul. It soon turned very ugly: this is what happens when the twisted reality of celebrity culture infiltrates unimpeded the landscape of American politics. What began when the TRUMP, “You’re fired,” a somewhat tongue-in-check game of executive moxie, transformed itself into a frightening brand of authoritarianism and mind control that rivals nothing we have seen since the fascist regimes of World War II.