November 26, 2008

Preview: On Media Reality (O Mediální Realitě)

It has been many years since one Orson Welles used his CBS Radio program, The Mercury Theatre of the Air, to stage a modern adaptation of the H.G. Wells sci–fi classic The War of the Worlds. Only Mr. Welles pushed the envelope a bit by transplanting the plot to present–day Grover Mill, New Jersey, and staging the first act as an imaginary radio broadcast.

The end result was panic — especially among those listeners who didn't bother to be tuned in to their local CBS stations early enough to catch the very beginning of the broadcast, and believed the Martian invasion was indeed the real thing. (An "out–of–character" postscript by Mr. Welles, however reassuring, apparently didn't quite convince everyone.)

You can hear the master charlatan recalling his radio vision in the second half of his 1975 non–fiction feature about art fraud, F for Fake, lovingly preserved on a Region 1 DVD set from The Criterion Collection. (At least read Jonathan Rosenbaum's wonderful essay on the film. Go ahead and then come straight back.)

Decades after the radio "invasion", charlatans of a different sort — the Czech media jamming group Ztohoven — staged a different sort of invasion… by hacking into České Televize network ČT2's Panorama.

Take a close look at this preview of the forty-five minute feature On Media Reality (O Mediální Realitě) to see what they did. Pay close attention to when the video goes split–screen, and then especially to what happens with the picture on the right:

©2008 Ztohoven / FAMU Prague / Signalair.

Still doing a double–take, even after you come to realize that digital SFX hacking went portable that June 2007 day in the Krkonoše Mountains?

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