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Tweets sent to this machine are transmitted from one form of media to another and cannibalised at every stage until they emerge as distorted, printed headlines.
The Colors News Machine was created for the latest issue of Colors magazine by Canadian Jonathan Chomko, a interaction designer at Italian communications research centre Fabrica, as a mechanical allegory of contemporary news dissemination.
In the installation, a tweet sent to @colorsmachine is read out by a megaphone, captured on a tape recorder, converted into text and displayed on a television. It’s then filmed on a camcorder and converted into a radio signal to be broadcast via an antenna, which is picked up by a microphone, converted back into text and printed out as a headline.
“Sometimes the news comes through perfectly, but usually there’s a small change in each stage and that makes for really a big difference at the end,” Chomko told Dezeen.
The technological game of Chinese Whispers uses common tools like language detection, Google translation, voice recognition and optical character recognition to replicate the errors that humans can make in digesting and passing on news. “In the end it’s not really about the technology, it’s about humans and the natural bias of hearing what you want to hear,” Chomko explains.
“We are implying that once it’s out there, the news gets replicated and copied and pasted from one media to the other,” adds Cosimo Bizzarri, executive editor of Colors magazine.
“The increased speed in production of news – due to new technology and through access to the job of journalism – plus increased channels that it goes through from technology to technology means the final news that gets to you is possibly very different from what was put out there by a journalist.”
The installation is on show as part of the International Journalism Festival in Perugia, Italy, until 28 April.
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