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An experimental British TV show, "Buzz" was broadcast in the US for one season on MTV. It was by far the most cyberpunk- influenced program to hit television since "Max Headroom" (also originally British). Each half-hour episode had a loose theme (for example "Stress" or "The Future"), around which were gathered sounds, images, screen text, interview fragments, and fast-moving montages.

Although the style was cool, trendy, cyber-chic, the show was frustratingly devoid of substance. As soon as they would start interviewing someone or lock onto a narrative thread, they would obliterate it with meaningless graphics, noise, and other intentional distractions. This raises an important question. To what extent do we want to actively amplify the information overload and noise-over-information signal that cyberpunk has been so insightful in recognizing and "mirroring"? MTV, in its own right, at its own speed, has barely learned how to communicate anything beyond superficial images. "Buzz" was basically a further compression of MTV. All speed - no density.

This criticism aside, "Buzz" is still a very interesting and important experiment in a new form of art-communication TV.

(G. Branwyn)


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© 1998 The Computer Lab
Gareth Branwyn -

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