Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Zone Trip 9

On Saturday, Feb. 21, 2009, over 20 people gathered in a secret desert location for Zone Trip #9 - Destruction in the Zone of Mass Destruction. The purpose was to commemorate the end of analog television broadcasting. About 30 old picture-tube-style televisions and a couple of computer monitors were gathered by the participants and creatively destroyed in a somewhat spectacular fashion. The next day it was all swept into piles, loaded into trucks, and hauled to the dump, leaving no trace of the chaos. See a 2-minute video of the mayhem.

There is something about the love/hate relationship people have with TV that prompts a few of them to smash them. There are a number of short videos online showing people smashing individual TV's. A few videos show more coordinated efforts involving large numbers of televisions.

The seminal event that spurred a lot of television abuse was a 1975 film short called Media Burn. An art collective called the Ant Farm produced this video as a parody and critique of modern media. The film concluded with a modified 1959 Cadillac driving through a flaming wall of TV's. I recently found a YouTube video with an excerpt from the film.

I suspect this groundbreaking (and TV breaking) event inspired at least one other similar event. In 1982 The Plasmatics made a music video for their song "The Damned" where they upped the ante by driving a school bus through a wall of televisions.

One year later, in 1983, Godfrey Reggio created a movie called Koyaanisqatsi which has a sequence in it of a wall of televisions being destroyed. I don't have any evidence to suggest that he was inspired by the Ant Farm or the Plasmatics but the timing suggests that the previous videos could have been an influence. I don't have a clip of this one.

This is the end of an era. Television equipment has changed. The old style pictures tubes pop explosively when smashed which is particularly satisfying. Today's TV's no longer use big, heavy, glass vacuum tubes. These new types of screens won't be near as much fun to smash.

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