Doug Hall, Chip Lord, Jody Procter
The Amarillo News Tapes, 1980
Installation with video, 28 minutes
Courtesy the artists
News desk environment built by AV Festival and Cornerhouse
This installation consists of a recreation of the news desk from KVII-TV (Channel 7) in Amarillo Texas and the video documenting the residency there in 1979 by Doug Hall, Jody Procter and Chip Lord. Their residency with KVII-TV was supposed to be part of a series of artists’ residencies organised by Doug Hall (this one at a regional news station; one with a professional sports team; and one in politics, in the Carter White House, which was abruptly terminated shortly before it was to start), and so stands as documentation of their artistic intervention in the TV studio. Collaborating with local newsmen, they combined documentary, sociology and parody in this analysis of news gathering, dissemination and presentation. Local anchorman Dan Garcia coaches Hall, Lord and Procter on their style of delivery and deadpan KVII reporters read absurdist copy provided by the artists. In contrast, footage of the devastating effects of a nearby tornado, presented without commentary, speaks eloquently and disturbingly to events that the media cannot control or manipulate. The Amarillo News Tapes deconstructs the role of television in legitimizing and contextualizing events.
Doug Hall writes: “This videotape reflects my interest in examining cultural institutions. In The Amarillo News Tapes, we were interested in observing and dissecting what makes news in a small, Midwestern television market. The tape shows the three of us in our respective roles as anchor, weatherman, and sportscaster, interacting with the real Pro News Team on the set. In such episodes as: ‘Opening Routine,’ ‘Liberal Fire,’ and ‘Two Stories,’ we attempted to draw attention to the oddities of language and theater that are a part of television news. Although these sections are humorous, our purpose was not to parody the news for its own sake but to examine its style and ritual which is as much about fiction as it is about fact.”
Prior to the working on The Amarillo News Tapes Jody Procter and Doug Hall were founding members of Bay Area art collective T. R. Uthco. Chip Lord had been a member of Ant Farm, an innovative countercultural collective working in media, architecture and spectacle, formed in 1968, which also had disbanded by 1978. T. R. Uthco collaborated with Ant Farm on the project The Eternal Frame in 1975. The artists’ media events, site structures, performances and videotapes merge an irreverent pop humour with cultural and political critique.