NEWSpeak Still

NEWSpeak is a social generative project that was developed in 2010. Using a programming platform the piece continually “speaks” news headlines generated by an online twitter feed and couples the socially generated audio with an amalgamated video collage of faces drawn from television news. The work critically examines the ceaseless flow of headlines and the social media channels of dissemination that limit the substance of the content they provide.

The title NEWSpeak is a direct reference to George Orwell, and how social media platforms like Twitter accomplish what Orwell spoke of in the novel 1984 – “We’re cutting the language down to the bone” [1] declared Syme in a conversational passage with the main character Winston Smith discussing the new edition of the Newspeak dictionary. Twitter cuts down news stories and newsworthy events down to 140 characters or less, never illuminating any depth in the reporting. The piece was also a response to Lev Manovich’s ideas about ‘totalitarian interactivity’. In his book The Language of New Media, Manovich speaks about how new media forms offer both liberation and imprisonment, and the how utopian dimensions of any new technology also has an inverse dystopian dimension. NEWSpeak was created as a direct response to the dystopian dimensions of social media, by reflecting the endless flow of media and the ways in which we receive a seemingly ceaseless flow of empty information through social media channels.

NEWSpeak (2010) (Video Documentation)

[1] Orwell, George. 1961. 1984: a novel. New York, N.Y.: New American Library, p. 45.