Christoph Draeger b. 1965
The Last News (2002)
For the video The Last News, the artist made a montage of footage from several TV news-reports about catastrophes and from Hollywood movies such as Armageddon or Independence Day, simulating an "MSNBC 24 Disaster and Survival News Channel."2 The images include the top of Big Ben as it is being destroyed, the exploding White House, and a bird's-eye view on Paris which resembles the Ground Zero of a nuclear attack. One short sequence even shows the partially destroyed towers of World Trade Center. Newscaster Guy Smith comments on this 'infotainment' program that runs in the background. Though all found-footage played in the back obviously is fiction, the "LIVE"- broadcasting suggests real media coverage of disasters, terrorist attacks and reports on the "Operation Strikeback with Infinite Justice." While the program is on air, several eruptions disturb the broadcasting. The explosions that were limited to their representation on the studioscreen, increasingly affect the studio itself. Finally, Smith's TV Studio seems to be totally destroyed and he collapses in front of the viewer in a nervous breakdown. Subsequently, Smith loses contact with all his correspondents worldwide and seems to be lost in chaos, to say it with Slavoj Žižek, "in the desert of the real."3 The television signal of The Last News ends in White Noise. In this condensed 13 minute video, Draeger and Reynolds parody sensationalist newscasting through the imitation of common American news programs which combine information with entertainment. In The Last News the newscaster is both eye-witness and victim of the catastrophe he is reporting about. The video provokes various questions: How can the viewer distinguish between fictional reality and documentation? When even the 'expert' reporter is lost in terrible chaos, how is the viewer supposed to cope with bad news? Can evil transcend the safety-screen of our televisions? Where are the limits of the "disaster zone"? (Binswanger 1999: 54–61)