Colors News Machine
by Fabrica


Tweets sent to this machine are transmitted from one form of media to another and cannibalised at every stage until they emerge as distorted, printed headlines (+ movie).

Colors News Machine by Jonathan Chomko of Fabrica

The Colors News Machine was created for the latest issue of Colors magazine by Canadian Jonathan Chomko, a interaction designer at Italian communications research centre Fabrica, as a mechanical allegory of contemporary news dissemination.

Colors News Machine by Jonathan Chomko of Fabrica

In the installation, a tweet sent to @colorsmachine is read out by a megaphone, captured on a tape recorder, converted into text and displayed on a television. It's then filmed on a camcorder and converted into a radio signal to be broadcast via an antenna. It's then picked up by a microphone, converted back into text and finally printed out as a headline.

Colors News Machine by Jonathan Chomko of Fabrica

"Sometimes the news comes through perfectly, but usually there's a small change in each stage and that makes for really a big difference at the end," Chomko told Dezeen.

Colors News Machine by Jonathan Chomko of Fabrica

The technological game of Chinese whispers uses common tools like language detection, Google translation, voice recognition and optical character recognition to replicate the errors that humans can make in digesting and passing on news. "In the end it's not really about the technology, it's about humans and the natural bias of hearing what you want to hear," explains Chomko.

Colors News Machine by Jonathan Chomko of Fabrica

"Once it's out there, the news gets replicated and copied and pasted from one media to the other," adds Cosimo Bizzarri, executive editor of Colors magazine. "The increased speed in production of news plus increased channels that it goes through from technology to technology means the final news that gets to you is possibly very different from what was put out there by a journalist."

Colors News Machine by Jonathan Chomko of Fabrica

The installation is on show as part of the International Journalism Festival in Perugia, Italy, until 28 April.

Colors News Machine by Jonathan Chomko of Fabrica

Last year we reported on an installation in London that took random snippets of news harvested from the internet, muddled them up and printed the resulting amusing headlines on a traditional wooden letterpress, intended to show that the more information we consume, the less we understand.

Colors News Machine by Jonathan Chomko of Fabrica

Here's some more information from Fabrica:

A behind-the-scenes look at modern journalism

COLORS Magazine will take part in the International Journalism Festival in Perugia, Italy, from April 24th to 28th with a preview of its new issue Making The News.

Today, 60% of British newspaper articles are copied from press releases and wire agency dispatches. American newspaper sales have shrunk by half in the last ten years. While traditional journalism is showing signs of crisis, new ways to make news are emerging. In Waziristan, Pakistan, where foreign journalists are forbidden, local photographer Noor Behram gathers and distributes unseen images of the aftermath of American drone attacks. Largely ignored by state television, footage of Egyptian anti-government protests are broadcast by activists in a makeshift outdoor movie theatre in Tahrir Square, Cairo. And in Mexico, where 52 journalists have been killed over the past seven years, the anonymously-run, crowd-sourced Blog del Narco has become a leading source of information on gang-related murders.

COLORS 86 takes a look behind the scenes of modern journalism, revealing tools and mechanisms used by old and new newsmakers: from paparazzi stakeouts to censorship, media hoaxes to photo-retouching tricks, not to mention cameras installed on drones, declarations of war via Twitter and Al Qaeda's activities on Facebook. To learn more, stop by the Raffaello room of Hotel Brufani at 11am on April 24th, where COLORS editor-in-chief Patrick Waterhouse will share his thoughts on making a magazine that, since 1991, has stood out for its striking photography and in-depth “slow journalism”.

The News Machine, an interactive installation designed and created by young talents at FABRICA, will also engage festival attendees from April 24th to 28th at the Spazio Cantarelli in Piazza della Repubblica 9. The installation is in continual motion, creating, transmitting and cannibalizing its own newsfeed across different media to stand as a mechanical allegory of newsmaking today.

COLORS is a quarterly, monothematic magazine founded in 1991 under the direction of Oliviero Toscani and Tibor Kalman. It is distributed internationally and published in six bilingual editions (English+Italian, French, Spanish, Korean, Chinese and Portuguese). The COLORS editorial team is part of FABRICA, Benetton Group’s communications research centre, and is composed of an international team of young researchers, editors, art directors and photographers. It is assisted by the constant collaboration of a network of correspondents from every corner of the world.

Founded in 2006 by Arianna Ciccone and Christopher Potter, the International Journalism Festival is an event held in April each year in Perugia, Italy. It is a program of meetings, debates, interviews, book presentations, exhibitions and workshops that bring together the worlds of journalism, media and communications.

  • Dylan Quan

    This is the modern day kid’s game of telephone.

  • David

    This is great – I think your point is made very well.

    Nice one.

  • Greenish

    I skim-read this and thought it looked ridiculous, then I watched it and experienced that old glee of being a child playing chinese whispers, coupled with a sharp pang of guilt from my lunchtime gossip.

    Half of all news stories from the US contain factual innaccuracies? I’d go so far as to say half of anything ever said or written probably does, whether we know it or not.