In this brief interview, COLL.EO, discuss their latest project, INTERVALLO, an update to a 1960s Italian TV show meant as a "warning sign" of things to come.
COLL.EO is a collaboration between Colleen Flaherty and Matteo Bittanti established in 2012. Active in both San Francisco and Milan, COLL.EO creates boldly unoriginal media artworks, uncreative mobile sculptures, and uniquely derivative conceptual pieces. COLL.EO's work has been exhibited in the United States, Canada, France, Cuba, Mexico, and Italy.
Their project INTERVALLO is currently featured in TRAVELOGUE.
The interview was produced by RANDOM PARTS, an artist run collective located in Oakland, California.
RANDOM PARTS: According to your statement, INTERVALLO pays homage a TV program - or rather, interlude - titled Intervallo which is basically unknown outside of Italy. What was this televised interlude about, and why did you decide to appropriate its format and subvert its message with video game imagery?
COLL.EO: The original Intervallo was an interstitial show produced by Italy's national public broadcasting company, Radio Televisione Italiana (RAI), between the 1960s and 1970s. Its "official" function was to fill the gaps between scheduled programming or during unexpected interruptions of live broadcasting and missing satellite feeds. Intervallo was basically a photo slideshow accompanied by soothing classical music. So, what's so special about it? Well, the original Intervallo, shot in black and white, depicted flocks of sheep. You read that right: flocks of sheep. You don't need to read between the lines to figure out that the National Broadcaster was telling its audience that they were a bunch of sheep, that is, "Someone who mindlessly follows and emulates anything and everything in the name of fame/recognition. A waste of flesh and brain cells." (Urban Dictionary) A televised lullaby, Intervallo's real message was: "Viewers, you are a bunch of morons. Look at you, glued to the screen, happy to be brainwashed by demented advertising, idiotic talk shows, celebrity crap, and political propaganda." A decade later, Berlusconi used his media empire - and especially his television networks - to take full control of Italy, as Erik Gandini has cogently illustrated in his 2009 documentary Videocracy. In a sense, Intervallo was a warning sign of things to come that nobody read. We updated Intervallo using imagery from a contemporary racing game set in an idealized, "postcard Italy", promising pristine vistas, economic empowerment, and fame through motorized bliss. And players of Forza Horizon II dutifully oblige: they collect supercars, dream of endless material wealth in a world where air pollution, accidents, and peak oil do not seem to exist, and drive around without really going anywhere. Like TV, video games are weapons of mass distraction: they promise agency and autonomy, but all they produce, in reality, is acquiescent, passive users. And that's what makes them terribly interesting. Video games are meant to be exploited and subverted.
RANDOM PARTS: How did you find the screenshots of each slideshow?
COLL.EO: We collected the images by downloading them one by one from the online community hub of Forza Horizon II. We picked each image instead of downloading them in a batch, automatically. That was part of the process. As you can imagine, that took some time. We collected hundreds, if not thousands of screenshots, and then identified recurrent themes - e.g., glitches, bugs, ghosts, and so on. We edited them, adding the original soundtrack from RAI's Intervallo. There's a visual narrative unfolding in each of the four episodes we've released so far. It's up to the viewers to decode the meaning of each video. They can watch INTERVALLO while the game console loads the new game.