Spectra (1996)

In 1996 Copenhagen was designated the cultural capital of Europe (every year there is a new cultural capital and it usual generates some money for cultural events). Some artist friends made a huge performance festival in an old turbine hall in the city centre. They called it Up-date. Me and artist Thomas Björk made a proposition for two performances that would be executed as live TV shows. The shows were fake news magazine dealing with scenarios we identified as being plausible. In the first shock, Spektra 1, we imagined a referendum in USA, Whatlington DC, demanding to be a separate and black only state exhausted by the unwillingness of white people to share power and condemn racism. In the other show, Spektra 2, the scenario was making East Germany a separate state, again, after being humiliated by the West with worse living condition than before the reunification.

To make the whole thing authentic I had used my network in the TV and film industry to attract a real TV news anchor and an operative broadcast unit that would execute the whole operation. We had found two scholars that were willing to go along in the speculative history exercise and we had been able to produce a lot of reportage material using what we could copy with VHS from the existing TV networks. We put a lot of effort into making the jingle captivating with crying children soldiers and what not. One can tell it is a live event from the reverb in the big space. And one can also tell that the audience were dead silent, clearly not knowing at all what this was all about.
The whole exercise was so convincing that many people thought it was actually broadcast. Spektra was a turning point for me in terms a making me aware of how predestined we are to read and understand media codes, and how we believe what we see if it's produced following those codes. After this I started a whole series of work on and with media formats.