Reality TV

A series of projects and discussions that explore television as an active public sphere.

28 January–26 February 2006 / Casco HQ

Reality TV is a series of three projects and discussions that explore television as an active public sphere through critical, experimental, participatory and self-organized models of television production, conscious spectatorship and durational television. While the term “reality television” has become a kind of misnomer for a genre whose connection to the “real” has become increasingly tenuous, Reality TV gives three different takes on the social implications of television. 

Copenhagen Free University’s Media Landscapes Utrecht LIVE is an event in which people come and watch tv in public. It is part of a series of tv-programs where CFU travel the television channels of cities watching tv with local guides armed with a remote control, recording the sessions as part of an ongoing investigation into the way in which people watch television in particular localities. Media Landscapes from Vienna, Stockholm, Hamburg and London are on view in Casco’s space, installed in front of a large mirror. 

This mode of conscious television viewing will be stretched to a durational mode of spectatorship in a twelve-hour screening of the first reality television series, the groundbreaking An American Family (1973). This programme changed the face of American television and inadvertently captured the social changes of that era – addressing subjects that took place within private life that had not previously been televised, including a divorce and the son, Lance Loud’s open homosexuality – holding up a mirror to a shocked American public. An American Family has rarely been shown in Europe. It will be introduced by one of its filmmakers, Susan Raymond, who will also participate in a discussion with Stuart Comer (Curator of Film at Tate Modern) and Eggo Müller (Assistant professor in Television Studies, Utrecht University). This is followed by screenings of two documentaries that followed the history of the Loud family, An American Family Revisited (1983), and Lance Loud! A Death in An American Family (2003).  

Spectatorship turns to production in the last part of the series in which Telestreet groups Candida TV and InsuTV lead a two-day workshop. In Italy one might say that the reality of television takes place underground in the form of over 80 tv stations that have sprung up to counter Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s control of 90% of the Italian tv market. Uncovering this media-mystification by transmitting local forms of television in the shadows of mainstream media, Telestreet comes from the desire of people to express themselves through audiovisual language. Telestreet does not only have a local reach, an important aspect of what they do is the network that has been formed on the Internet, where they distribute their productions to create new forms of media and social activism. The workshop will give an overview of the telestreet network, covering how it works, the problems it faces and technical solutions for independent video communities, as well as showing some of their productions. 

Copenhagen Free University has also been producing television for the Copenhagen-based self-organized network tv-tv, which describes itself as “everyone’s television.” They take part in a discussion alongside Annalissa Pellizza from the Telestreet network Orfeo TV, and Claas Hille of Utrecht’s local television station, Meer TV, discusses their work and how it relates to the political situations in their own particular localities.

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