Breaking News is a two-part project about the re-interpretation of the ceaseless data we call “current events.” The first part is a news literacy workshop initially conducted in Buffalo at the Gloria J. Parks Community Center. Children between the ages of seven and eight years old discussed what they consider news, how it disseminates, and recent newsworthy events. They learned to visually deconstruct a newspaper and then reinterpret articles and headlines into drawings and collages. Beyond the pedagogical purpose of the workshop, it served as a means to gather content that informed the second part of the project: the gallery installation.
Based on the premise that we live in a media-saturated world, the project seeks to investigate how young children digest major world events such as Obama’s election, Michael Jackson’s death, Swine Flu - inescapable "realities" that momentarily consume media outlets and seep into our lives. The content generated by the children in the workshop is integrated into the news media visualization presented as part of the gallery installation. The visualization itself consists of a textual feed of current headlines accompanied by computer-rendered illustrations of personalities who have established an understanding of news media in the United States. The illustrations and text help generate new interpretations of what we consider "the news."
The primary component of the installation is the Breaking News application that is built with Processing. The application is projected onto a wall and controlled via a trackball and push button that are embedded into an office work desk. The application displays a series of 2D illustrations of famous news-related personalities wrapped onto a 3D sphere. Behind the portrait is hidden the logo of the broadcast company that the individual is most closely identified with; the trackball allows users to turn the 3D sphere. When the user pushes the button adjacent to the track ball the virtual sphere spins and stops with a randomly selected portrait and logo or with an iconic news photograph. Famous news photographs are interspersed with the news personalities. Below the 3D sphere are real time news feeds from a variety of online sources. The visuals are accompanied by the theme songs from televised news.
Other elements featured as part of the Breaking News installation are a selection of drawings and collages from the workshop, video and printed content used in the workshop to contextualize specific articles, documentation of the workshop itself as well as other related sculptural objects, such as the radio guns previously created for a street performance and now tuned to broadcasting radio news.