Broadcast explores the ways in which artists since the late 1960s have engaged with, critiqued, and inserted themselves into official channels of broadcast television and radio. By co-opting the sounds, images, and presentation strategies of our culture’s dominant forms of mass media, they reveal the mechanisms and power structures of broadcasting systems, and challenge their authority and influence. The exhibition spans four decades of work by an international group of artists. It begins with Nam June Paik’s manipulated news footage from the late 1960s; moves on to Chris Burden’s infamous 1971 hostage-taking of a TV host at knifepoint; then presents TVTV’s iconoclastic broadcast from the floor of the 1972 Republican convention and a 1980 work made by Doug Hall, Chip Lord, and Jody Procter as artists-in-residence at a Texas news station. More recent works in the exhibition include an installation about aliens by Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, the pirate FM radio-station installation that Gregory Green initiated in the basement of his New York gallery in 1995, neuroTransmitter’s live radio transmission, and Siebren Versteeg’s manipulations of recent CNN broadcasts, which starts off with a contextual scene showing all the artifice that comprises a television news set.
Some of the artists’ interventions are hostile (as in Burden’s work); others are more collaborative, as demonstrated by Christian Jankowski’s 2001 broadcast with a Baptist televangelist, shown on public television. In still other instances, an artist’s engagement with broadcasting involves the critical reuse of previously aired material, such as Antoni Muntadas’s analyses of the structures and presentations of newscasting during the Cold War, or Dara Birnbaum’s incorporation of archival media reports on the 1977 kidnapping and execution of German industrialist Hanns Martin Schleyer by the Baader-Meinhof group. Whether appropriating the conventions and programs of broadcast journalism, or engaging in a live TV or radio broadcast themselves, the artists represented here compel us to look more closely at this dominant force in our culture.