Camera, computer, TV tuner, software, Internet connection
Empire is a live image collage inspired by the film ‘Empire’ by Andy Warhol that in 1964 pictured with a static camera the Empire State Building in a 8 hours movie.
The tower, center of this work which started in mid 2010, is the TV tower of the ‘Empire of Media’ Mediaset, the TV network founded by Silvio Berlusconi which expanded into a huge media holding. Mediaset, in addition to television (cable, digital and pay tv), nowadays includes publishing, web, information, advertising, sales and movie production. Connected to Mediaset, and to the Berlusconi family, there are several companies, such as the publishing giant Mondadori, or insurance and banking companies such as Mediolanum, to mention only a few.
In Empire, every 15 minutes a new collage is created over the live picture of the tower, adding actual images of some media diffused by the Mediaset group: TV, magazines, newspapers, books and websites.
The article on ‘Artivism’ by Martina Coletti, D’Ars magazine, June 2010
Each new image of Empire the “Flash of Empire” is automaticaly created every 15 minutes (“In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes”) by means of a custom software, Emperor, coded by the author in Visual Basic .NET.
This software that runs 24/7 on a small notebook also controls other applications for collecting specific media of the collage.
The live image of the tower is captured by a digital camera, a Canon S5IS at full optical zoom that provides a 8 Mega pixel image. The camera is controlled by PSRemote software using a USB cable.
Live TV is caputred by broadcast aerial signal (most probably coming from the tower) using a USB digital TV tuner (Hauppage Nova TV) and VLC to chose the channel and take the snapshot. The 3 channels selected for the collage are the Mediaset historical channels: Canale Cinque, Italia Uno, and Rete Quattro.
The front page of the newspaper “Il Giornale”, owned by the Berlusconi family since 1979, comes from the newspaper aggregator Funize. It is grabbed by a script that uses curl
The TgCom Website , the web extension of the main newscast of the TV channel Canale Cinque, is grabbed with a Internet Explorer API.
Weekly and monthly magazines, and books are gathered manually from the different publishers’ sites belonging to the holding and synched to the computer using Dropbox.
Date and time and time are also stamped on the image to tag it at the specific moment.
The collage of the flash 10×15 cm at 500dpi is created using .NET graphic APIs.
A low resolution image 600×400 pixels and the corresponding thumbnail of 60×40 pixels are uploaded to www.theitalianempire.com using CURL.
In Empire website homepage you find the latest image created, There is an archive of the previous “Flashes of the Empire” and for each day, there are 96 of them. The 96 images can be viewed all together in the “Days” section.
To support the project you can buy a print of a “Flash of Empire” (delivered as postcard of 10×15 cm) or of a full day of 96 flashes “Day of Empire” (fine art print of 160×90 cm). Each image, both the postcard and the poster, is unique and printed only once.