3 projects based on 50,000 broadcasts of NPR News

Over the last years, I’ve worked with very different kinds of data. But no matter how different in origin or shape, the desire of the data was always the same: it wanted to be seen. It would refuse to offer meaning and refuse to be shared until it was a thing on the page, a swoosh or a spike, perhaps a pulsing color. Data that wasn’t visual made no sense whenever it was called to duty, while data that was beautiful didn’t even have to make sense before it was already greeted with smiles & nods.

But a few months ago, I came across data that didn’t ask to be visual. It wanted to remain unseen, because it always had been that way. Perhaps you can imagine my mix of self-doubt and skepticism (mostly self-doubt), thinking about months of work that no one would ever “look at” (even if they wanted to). But this skepticism gave way to a deep fascination as I spent time with this material and gathered more & more of it. The name of this strange, unwieldy matter? Radio news. More than 6 years of it. …


When 6 years of radio news are cut into a million pieces

dont-play-with-your-news.com

Don’t Play With Your News appears in a series of 3 projects, for which I collected & processed over 50,000 NPR news broadcasts. Read more about the series & its projects here: Breaking the News.

Radio news is a monologue of authority. For those who experience it daily, the ritual of radio news has an oracular quality: an ethereal voice with an invisible speaker delivers statements about a world we cannot see from where we stand. An asymmetry of knowledge lowers our guard for seeking truth and prompts us to accept new conclusions. …


What counts gets counted: 6 years of numbers in radio news

truth-and-quantity.com

Truth & Quantity appears in a series of 3 projects, for which I collected & processed over 50,000 NPR news broadcasts. Read more about the series & its projects here: Breaking the News.

Numbers are believed to be humanity’s original motivation for creating written language. Sumerians developed the first known scripts in order to store records of trade, accounting & agricultural production, while written language for poetry, literature and knowledge only appeared much later. Today, these numeric origins still cast their shadow in the way we construct & experience the daily record of our world.

Numbers create categories and abstractions as we count things that are deemed to be the same and should be counted together. 7 oranges are reduced to the same kind of cardinal object, one next to the other; 100,000 refugees lose their individuality; 7 victims are separated from “7 others.” The precision of numbers charms us with a scientific voice of irrefutability: the more quantified a narrative, the more believable it becomes in our understanding, regardless of its accuracy or relevance. A world constructed and upheld by numbers refuses to investigate the intangible as well as the infinite, leaving many of our most existential questions unanswered. …


Silence, pause & human breath in 6 years of radio news

silent-sky.com

Silent Sky appears in a series of 3 projects, for which I collected & processed over 50,000 NPR news broadcasts. Read more about the series & its projects here: Breaking the News.

A radio news program that was broadcast 6 years ago has since traveled 6 light years into the universe. This is enough time to reach the nearest solar system, which is trillions of miles away.

About five percent of radio news is silent, the short breaths and pauses we faintly hear. …

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