Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Czech artists face jail over television fake

An extraordinary highjack of a Czech weather television broadcast might land a group of maverick artists in Jail. Echoing the 1938 War Of The Worlds broadcast, viewers were stunned to see a nuclear mushroom cloud rise over a mountain during a live weather broadcast. The imagery is incredibly realistic, but was a complete fake inserted by the Ztohoven collective artists group, who are thought to have hacked into the television signal. They have now been charged with scare mongering and propagating false information, and if found guilty could face three years in jail. In a statement Ztohoven said:

"We are neither a terrorist organization nor a political group, our aim is not to intimidate the society or manipulate it, which is something we witness on daily basis both in real world and in the world created by the media.Whether the reasons are political interests, market interests, financial interests or interests of supranational companies – we meet hidden manipulation and attempt to invade the subconscious mind of citizens with specific products or ideology, using all available means. We do not think that a subtle distortion of such system or an appeal to pure common sense of people and their ability to remain unaffected are harmful, not even in a democratic society. That is why, several years ago, the art group “Ztohoven” penetrated the public sphere of Prague, questioned the space given to advertisement generally and the space given to specific adverts. On the 17th of June 2007 this group attacked the space of TV broadcasting. It distorted it, questioned its truthfulness and its credibility. It drew attention to the possibility of using images of the world created by the media in place of the existing, real world. Is everything we see daily on our TV screens real? Is everything presented to us by the media, newspapers, television, Internet actually real? This is the concept our project would like to introduce and remind of. We believe that even the free space of public service broadcaster is able to endure such action and such impeachment. We hope our action will become an appeal for the future and remind the media of their duty to bring out the truth. Thank you for independent media and free space for our society."

Unfortunately for their artistic aims, it appears that several viewers suffered heart attacks, believing they were watching the beginning of a third world war. You can watch the footage at the BBC.