Television is life and Video is Art

Despite rapid technological developments television formats have changed hardly. What we are heading for is what I call 'Pure Television'. Few genres of today's television programs deserve the begin-middle-end concept. The television viewer in the Netherlands seldom waits more than ten minutes before flipping channels, but the programs still have the same structure as decades ago; entertainment with a begin, the middle, and (surprise!) the end. Which zapper in the world is going to wait for the beginning of a televisionprogram? Let alone the end!

Compare television with the newspaper. In a sense the newspaper reader is the zapper avant-la-lettre. Attention is grabbed with headlines, one reads a little, tastes some words, scans the sentences and perhaps reads half a column. The article does have a beginning but gets less interesting the further you go. Forget about the end, zap on.

The evident disadvantage of television is the temporal nature. Time determines what you see, not only on a program level, but even the image itself comes after another, without which there is no movement. Even the pixel is running in lines over the cathode ray tube. No pixels, no image, no television. It is like water running from the tap. The viewer turns on the television and takes a shower with images. Television makers still think that they are determining the qualities of the water. Not any longer. With the Remote Control we adjust our daily shower of images to a pleasant temperature and power.

What is flowing from our screens is still not pure enough to blend our favourite mix. We do have music videos and homeshopping on television and webcams on the internet. News 24 hours a day is going in the right direction but the purity is weak. When the news is interrupted for sports events it is like someone else in the house is using my hot water. I suddenly get cold water! The most beautifull kind of Pure Television I ever saw is the kind you still see sometimes after midnight on local television under names like The Co-driver. A landscape flows by, seen from the dashboard of a car slowly cruising the region.

Comedies, movies, soaps.. that is not television! That is video or pay-per-view. Put the structured story in a box on a shelf and I will one day find the Video. Pure Video. Do not bother me with that when I want to watch: Television. Pure Television.

To hold the attention of the viewer television makers often make the mistake to cut faster, make it more superficial and more sensational. Wrong again. We want to do the cutting ourself, we are in control, we have the Remote Control. The viewer yawns and zaps away when you as a maker scream for our attention. Who wants to play with the kid in the block that always asks you to be your friend? That crybaby is the loser. Zap.

No more Hard Copy and Six O'Clock News with short flashes of the scene of the crime. We want a camera hoovering around the scene of the crime for hours on end. Crime Scene TV. It could be an OJ-like car chase but you could just as well have endless close ups of one single crashed car. The camera is crawling around like a lazy animal. A broken windshield, blood on the stirring wheel... How creepy do you want it? No story please! We will make up the story while we are watching. We will get the news on video, or talk with others to invent a fitting story, but please let us zap peacefully. Remember the kid trapped in a well years ago? It was on the news all the time then. It was another advent of Pure Television.

Now what is Pure Television and what is Pure Video? Pure Video is when the maker actually deserves our attention. We are willing to insert a coin in our screen to see it. We close the curtains and unplug the phone. Usually a very compelling story told in a good way. Movies are a classic example. Books are another. Television is life, Video is Art.