Marc Lee, Zürich

TV Bot: The ultimately latest news from the world’s definitely most up to date television station

Text by Inke Arns, Dortmund


Switch on your TV. Switch to TV Bot. TV Bot will bring the latest world news to your home sweet home. Always up to date! Always on the air! Multilingually! Interculturally! Tune in on world affairs!

TV Bot reports the happy return home of alleged tsunami casualties, added to it live Webcam images of peaceful American landscapes, in between snow storms in Chicago, snow-covered Arizone landscapes, the island Madeira`s harbour, a harbour in Alaska. Original sound advertising clips from Saudi Television showing Saudi-Arabian businessmen clad in national costume buying mobile telephones. Then the latest search enquiries - just come in on fireball.de - are being played in per computer voice: “playpen, rims, nylon, satellite TV installation, cabbage soup diet, D2 contracts, paste jewellery, Germany, floor lamps, Alicante flight, depressions, riddles, fuel cell construction kits, muscle build-up, soft toy animals, packing cases, air dehumidifying, class reunion, computer parts”. Al Jazeera reports “Suicide Bomber kills 15”, added to it Foxnews reports “England heads towards defeat”, added to it Webcam images of a lighthouse on a grey beach. Telegraph.co.uk reports “Pinochet under House Arrest” accompanying a picture of a Christmas market somewhere in Germany, there are live TV streams along with the latest numbers of Indian Ocean casualties, a basketball game in American Daytona Beach, and finally Radio Japan broadcasts the latest news from Japan – in Russian.

TV Bot by Marc Lee (2004) automatically searches the most recent news items from the Internet and compiles these radio, television, newspaper, and website news - which never are older than one hour – to the world’s possibly most up to date TV program. Since it’s only the novelty criterion that counts – and not in which language the item has been written, which religion or which topic it covers, for instance – TV Bot indiscriminately compiles relevant and irrelevant pictures and news (the most up to date search inquiries on fireball.de, for example) as well as news reports from the most varied continents and cultures, and puts together, from these, a television program almost made from one casting. The only annoying thing is the fact that lingual and text information which often appear in obscure languages (but rather relevant in spite of this), are not to be brought in keeping with the rather arbitrary appearing webcam pictures.

The TV Bot software which is programmed with PHP and a C++ Script for Linux, scans the flow of information and news in the World Wide Web and compiles, from these, live TV streams, live radio streams, live videocams, live imagecams, and newspaper headlines. These news are being continuously indexicalized, analyzed, and verified by the software. For the users only the end result of this process is visible: the recombination and visualization of the Latest World News in the form of the TV Bot program. At the same time the sources in the form of URLs, the time of discovery, and the age of the news (latest update), however, always remain visible for the users.

TV Bot rightly claims for itself to be the world’s most up to date TV station (“Latest World News!”). At the same time the software doesn’t make a difference between relevant and irrelevant information and images. Important news are being combined with completely meaningless webcam images, images of catastrophes with the last search inquiries on fireball.de. While doing so the view shifts ever more in direction of a fictionalizing of the Latest World News seen and heard. And in the end also these are always older than one thinks. Therefore, a station with the Latest World News (LWN TV) would be at least as exciting as a station of the Most Dated World News (MDWN TV) – the program of which would consist of the most dated materials to be found in nowadays’ Net or World Wide Web. And there I want to be a news presenter.


Inke Arns, Director hartware medien kunst verein Dortmund

Translation german – english: Udo Breger

Marc Lee, Zurich
Recent works and participations: Die Algorithmische Revolution, ZKM Medienmuseum, Karlsruhe; Tainment, Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst (NGBK), Berlin; [ NEWS, i'm lovin' it ] 2004; TPC, Zürich; Garage 2004 Festival, Stralsund, Germany; Wozownia Art Gallery, Presented by Transmediale, Torun, Poland; Virtually Swiss, presented by [plug_in] Forum für neue Medien Basel for Jiff Mind, Jeonju Korea 2004; Transmediale.04, Berlin; Offener Kanal Berlin, (Live on Tv); Metaworx, Zürich 2004.