TV Poetry

"TV Poetry" (1993-1997) is a video installation by Gebhard Sengmüller.

TV Poetry

1997, V2_space (right print from 1994 exhibition at V2_); photo: Jan Sprij

TV Poetry is a random poetry generator that uses the words that are shown in television programmes. The system is connected to a satellite dish and scans the incoming stream of fast changing TV broadcasts (commercials, news broadcasts, quiz shows, light entertainment) for images containing text passages, which it filters, processes and reads back out in an ongoing, real-time process as an endless text string. The phrasing is determined solely by the TV schedule and CPU programming.

TV Poetry is an experimental set-up which can be put together at any location. Combined with precisely adjusted receiving equipment, it rapidly scans the various television transmissions it receives for text passages visible on the screen. In an ongoing, realtime process, the text is recognized, filtered out, processed, and output as an endless stream of text, generated by TV programs and CPU programming. Through imponderability, inaccuracy, video noise and misinterpretation within the system, the source text is radically transformed, giving rise to new meanings. Very powerful content (headlines, slogans, ...) "shines through" and tends to remain intact.

Signal processing takes place in parallel processing on separate machines and only comes together in the final stage. The quality of the results in terms of density, continuity and recognizable content is in a direct proportional relationship to the available power and capacity of the equipment (number of TV channels, number and operating frequency of the CPUs, bus width of the connections).

In the exhibition, a monitor continuously displays the gathered text. Another monitor displays selected screenshots of the originating tv programs. On a third monitor, a demo-animation explains the ongoing process. In the set up's acoustic channel, a synthetic voice constantly recites the unfiltered "raw text".


Dutch text

"Tekst gefilterd, bewerkt en uitgestuurd als een eindeloze stroom tekst die door tv programma's gereproduceerd wordt. Door de onvolmaaktheid van het systeem, de ruis in de lijnen en foutieve interpretaties in het computersysteem wordt de tekst en inhoud drastisch veranderd. Opvallend is dat krachtige teksten (slogans en koppen) redelijk in tact blijven. TV Poetry werkt als een volledig decentraal zelf-genererend poëzie systeem."

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