Video Vortex Reader II: moving images beyond YouTube
About the book: Video Vortex Reader II is the Institute of Network Cultures’ second collection of texts that critically explore the rapidly changing landscape of online video and its use. With the success of YouTube (’2 billion views per day’) and the rise of other online video sharing platforms, the moving image has become expansively more popular on the Web, significantly contributing to the culture and ecology of the internet and our everyday lives. In response, the Video Vortex project continues to examine critical issues that are emerging around the production and distribution of online video content.
Following the success of the mailing list, the website and first Video Vortex Reader in 2008, recent Video Vortex conferences in Ankara (October 2008), Split (May 2009) and Brussels (November 2009) have sparked a number of new insights, debates and conversations regarding the politics, aesthetics, and artistic possibilities of online video. Through contributions from scholars, artists, activists and many more, Video Vortex Reader II asks what is occurring within and beyond the bounds of Google’s YouTube? How are the possibilities of online video, from the accessibility of reusable content to the internet as a distribution channel, being distinctly shaped by the increasing diversity of users taking part in creating and sharing moving images over the web?
Contributors: Perry Bard, Natalie Bookchin, Vito Campanelli, Andrew Clay, Alexandra Crosby, Alejandro Duque, Sandra Fauconnier, Albert Figurt, Sam Gregory, Cecilia Guida, Stefan Heidenreich, Larissa Hjorth, Mél Hogan, Nuraini Juliastuti, Sarah Késenne, Elizabeth Losh, Geert Lovink, Andrew Lowenthal, Rosa Menkman, Gabriel Menotti, Rachel Somers Miles, Andrew Gryf Paterson, Teague Schneiter, Jan Simons, Evelin Stermitz, Blake Stimson, David Teh, Ferdiansyah Thajib, Andreas Treske, Robrecht Vanderbeeken, Linda Wallace, Brian Willems, Matthew Williamson, Tara Zepel.
Colophon: Editors: Geert Lovink and Rachel Somers Miles. Copy Editor: Nicole Heber. Design: Katja vay Stiphout. Cover Image: Team Thursday. Priner: Ten Klei, Amsterdam. Publisher: Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam. Supported by: the School for Communication and Design at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (Hogeschool van Amsterdam DMCI). The Video Vortex Reader is produced as part of the Culture Vortex research program, which is supported by Foundation Innovation Alliance (SIA – Stichting Innovatie Alliantie).
To order a hard copy of Video Vortex Reader II email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Geert Lovink and Rachel Somers Miles (eds), Video Vortex Reader II: moving images beyond YouTube, Amsterdam: Institute of Network Cultures, 2011. ISBN: 978-90-78146-12-4, paperback, 378 pages.
I find this video magical. And haunting. And really hard to write about.
I saw George’s video at the EDGY WOMEN festival, in a programme curated by Dayna McLeod, the founder and project manager ofhttp://52pickupvideos.com. Wicked Games was one video among 39 others at the festival, created by 26 artists who currently contribute to 52pickupvideos, or who have done so in the past. It’s an amazing online venue for artists, and is open to newcomers who are willing to take on the challenge of making a new video each week, consecutively, for one year.
What is also worth noting about 52pickupvideos is that it invites artists — in the case of George, a dancer and choreographer — to express, experiment and work through video no matter what their background or prior experience with the medium.
Wicked Games stood out for me at the EDGY WOMEN festival screening, though I haven’t found it easy to pin point why or what kind of effect it has had on me. There is something about the seamlessness of this video and careful crafting of sound that makes the video hard to dissect after the fact, though in the moment – watching it – I was fully captivated.
The plural of ‘Games’ in the title hints at the way this piece is crafted: playful but definitely wicked, too. It captivates and repels. The wicked games in this video are the levels of reality; the intense gaze from the moment the video starts in synch with an accelerated slow-motion that sets the tone and speed of the piece. A swaying man stares into the camera signing Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game over the sound of a very present creaky floor. The man’s gaze is intense but not inviting, and is interrupted by a high contrast black and white version of himself. These ‘interruptions’ bring in an unmistakably iMovie aesthetic to the video, a formal decision that speaks not only to George’s use of video to comment on video, but of editing to comment on movement.
A second chapter begins when the two characters appear in the frame for a forced and constrained dialogue – a gesture marked in the narrative by the ‘main’ character leaning forward, indicating that he is turning on/off the camera. This suggests a new level at which the viewer is expected to interact. The viewer shifts from witness to audience: we are invited to acknowledge the act of recording, the presence of the camera, and a performance that is in itself only made possible by its re-presentation in ‘real time’. In this way, the work demands the attention of its audience, and in turn, the audience makes the work complete.
Les jeux anodins ne sont pas toujours les plus anodins
*** le jeu du pendu par lamathilde
I recently saw this video again at FIFA. I’d seen it on YouTube soon after lamathilde posted it and I asked her if it could also be featured in NMP: she chose NMP’s love issue–a perfect fit–which comes out Nov 1, 2011. But I don’t want to wait until then to write about it.
I think I could spend some time reflecting on how watching a video online and on the ‘big screen’ are part of the same technolandscape now, and to go with that, that I really don’t understand the reluctance to post video art on the web. I don’t think everyone has to, at least not for all videos at all times, but I think certain works, presented within a particular framework and context are essential in these digital times. As someone who likes to review video art, having access to a version online is key for me to watch.now.overandoveragain. I think I’ve watched le jeu du pendu twenty times now, and I thank the internet for that.
I guess my point is that lamathilde’s generous offerings, in the form of video online – and le jeu du pendu in particular – speaks to a particular political viewpoint that equates the sharing of ideas with the possibility of larger and more unpredictable conversations that are long, long, overdue.
What I love about lamathilde, and about her work (these things cannot really be separated after all) is her political sensibilities. She knows how and when to exude power and how to surrender to it. le jeu du pendu is testament to this and to lamathilde’s unwavering attention to ideas of community, love, and the communicative potential of art. These are elements that stand out for me and that seem to make her voice so present in her work. With this voice – spirit, heart, mind, and body – lamathilde recounts her brother’s hanging using the morbid game of ‘hangman’ as a narrative device. The voice vacillates between that of storyteller, sister, and artist, and is in moments necessarily sarcastic, frustrated, tender, sad, authoritative, and forgiving.
In only 1 minute and 39 seconds, lamathildes draws links between death, gender, discourses of power, capitalist values, and the butterfly effect. Through the weaving process of these important themes and by referring to a game largely based on guessing rather than strategy, lamathilde invites the viewer to ponder accountability–how individual actions are each important to the overall well-being of family, community, humanity, and ultimately, oneself.
Dayna McLeod is a writer, video and performance artist whose work is ripe with humour and socially charged situations. She has traveled extensively with her performance work, and her videos have played from London Ontario to London England – across Europe, North America, South America, and a few times on TV. She has received funding for video projects from the Canada Council and the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec.
In the tradition of performance art documentation, Dayna McLeod uses video to reflect back on and comment the outcomes of her experiments and interactions with her audience from a performance that she takes no pains to explain. McLeod’s style, however, makes documentation an afterthought. And, so, rather than documenting her performance, she performs documentation. Hung Over & Boob Cleaning is one of many McLeod-inspired monologue-like rants, infusing hangover wisdom into a solid analysis about the importance and impact of art documentation.
McLeod wonders out loud if video is lazy; she answers this by creating a piece that requires no attention be paid to the project she is referencing. So, this is a performative video that expands the idea of documentation by creating another performance; this basically means that each and every act of documentation becomes — at least for McLeod — another performance to document.
McLeod is the queen of jump cuts and this editing style has become one of her signatures (along with her incredible talent for obsessively crafted remixes/re-tellings, which I will write about later.) McLeod is a performer and has no qualms about addressing the viewer directly – the camera is just another means to invite the audience back in, and to assess the happenings of the previous night together.
In Four Years (adjectives and adverbs) by Cam Matamoros
(every school-day for 3 weeks i got up and made a 3 minute recording of where i thought i would be in 4 years when i finish my degree. an attempt to create routine, an anchor/reference point for the present and stability and hope for the future. then i edited out everything that wasn’t an adjective or an adverb)
This is a piece I wanted to program for a conference screening in New York this summer. The conference is about documentary film, mostly. My proposal wasn’t accepted and maybe that’s because I wasn’t able to clearly articulate the way video art relates to the documentary form. So this is my second attempt to demonstrate these connections, which I think will become even more topical as people begin to relate the content of stories to the way video should be made available, shown, and kept alive.
I write about this video by Cam Matamoros because it’s a video I saw a long time ago and one that has stayed with me since. This affective quality and its connection to memory (mine, the video’s, and the narrative’s) are simultaneously about formal choices and process, and the performance of process itself. This is what Matamoros executes perfectly without trying (and without trying to achieve any particular outcome, it seems).
Ritualistically, Matamoros testifies to the camera, beginning with “in four years” followed by an intimate but mantra-like listing of potential future incarnations and possibilities. Facing if not confronting the camera with an unrehearsed vent forward–the authenticity may have proven to be increasingly difficult to sustain over the course of the three weeks the piece was shot, as the ritual itself settles into a pattern of confessions that are expected and, once assembled, constitute a conversation between then present but now past selves. Silences, yawns, hesitation and contemplation are key in marking the passage of time, adding to the lighting and outfits that suggest perpetual change.
My take on Matamoros’ video is that it is essentially about documenting anticipation, but always falling back into the moment of being recorded. The very process of imagining the future by recording one’s current ideas about the future makes more of a statement about present fears and hopes than it says about the potential for what might be or could be. And I think I get why Matamoros would “edit out” everything but adjectives and adverbs – these are the words that give meaning: they specify, qualify, and limit our judgements on things. Nothing else is needed.
If I love this video it’s because it’s incredibly smart and gentle.
People this 2012 shit is hype presented at FIFA 2011 !!!
“People this 2012 shit is hype” is a conversation about the end of the world.
Assembled from YouTube comments from videos about the 2012 phenomenon, “People this 2012 shit is hype” is a collection of fears and philosophies about the stakes involved in the vanishing of the human race. Based on numerous spiritual, mathematical, scientific, and apocalyptical readings of the Mayan Long Count Calendar, December 21, 2012, is an important date where diverse eschatological beliefs are said to culminate.
“People this 2012 shit is hype” is the second in the COMMENT COLLECTION project, exploring the power of the viewer to tell and re-tell stories.
«People this 2012 shit is hype» sera présenté au FIFA 2011, dans le cadre de Panorama de la vidéo québécoise et Canadienne, commissaire Nicole Gingras. Les dates du festival : 17 au 27 mars 2011.
Co-edited with Frédérick Belzile Distributed by GIV
It’s Not a Dead Collection, it’s a Dynamic Database
Now that museums, distributors and TV channels have put their collections online, what is the next phase for these digitalized archives? How can ‘the audience’ be involved in order to avoid a dead online collection with zero comments? Moreover, what forms of social dynamism can be critically forged in the default rush towards greater participation? How to jump through the hoops of copyright legislation, format compatibility and the spatial culture of consumption and production? Who controls the database, and what are the different ethics involved in putting up content from artist collections to indigenous material? Once collaboration comes into play, what impact do conflicting skill sets, different modes of knowledge production and varying social desires have?
Moderator: Rachel Somers Miles (CA/NL)
Arjon Dunnewind (NL)
Impakt Channel: Content with Context
YouTube might be an incredible tool when it comes to reaching worldwide audiences, but when it comes to creating context it’s performing poorly to say the least. Information on basic facts is often lacking and background information, curatorial statements and critics’ interpretations are a rarity. Can YouTube be used as a tool that not only gives visibility but also insight and reflection? Or is it better to move away from this hype-dominated environment and establish new platforms that are dedicated to quality? And how to generate traffic to these platforms? With the Impakt Channel, the Impakt Festival Utrecht is researching these questions and is experimenting with formats to find the best way to make high quality video content available to viewers around the globe.
Sandra Fauconnier (NL/BE)
Mediating Video Art Online
The Netherlands Media Art Institute (NIMk) in Amsterdam is a distributor of a large collection of video and media art. The changing landscape of online video and of internet culture in general challenges NIMk to redefine its video distribution activities and the way it represents and mediates video art online. In the course of 2010 NIMk has researched the user communities of its collection, in the context of the research project Culture Vortex. Next, NIMk’s online catalogue will be redesigned in 2011, aiming to make the collection more lively and participatory, and of opening up more video art to a wider audience. What will be NIMk’s issues and strategies in this area, taking into account the diverse perspectives that video artists take towards video art online, and the role of curators and professionals?
Mél Hogan (CA)
It’s not a Dynamic Database… It’s a Dead Collection?
This presentation surveys Canada’s three largest online video art repositories, all of which encountered severe setbacks in defining, creating, and maintaining an online presence. Of the three, two remain indefinitely defunct, traceable only through the Internet Archive Wayback Machine and local files stored at the various organisations. These examples serve as a case study and springboard into discussions about the larger issues that surround the context of online video art archives, nationally and beyond. Reversing the conference theme “It’s not a Dead Collection, it’s a Dynamic Database” this paper is intended as a provocation about the potential and limitations—dynamism or death—of the web within an archival framework.
Teague Schneiter (US/CA)
Digital ≠ Accessible: Improving Access and Facilitating Use of Indigenous Content with IsumaTV’s Hi-speed MediaPlayers
Historically there has been a problematic relationship between heritage institutions and indigenous cultural heritage, because indigenous people have not been afforded ownership and management rights of their own materials. By adapting existing technologies and acting as a middleman between heritage institutions and communities that desire content to be digitally repatriated, indigenous multimedia platform IsumaTV attempts to provide the technological infrastructure, such as their network of MediaPlayers (server networks) that allow low-bandwidth indigenous communities an equal opportunity to participate, to improve access and usability to Inuit content. Video archives can be uploaded and online for teaching, learning, sharing and strengthening language and culture. IsumaTV seeks to encourage (and build relationships with) indigenous communities and cultural heritage museums and repositories, indigenous language-speakers and participatory media organizations, to embrace more open and participatory paradigms, whilst enabling those that ‘own’ the content to be able to call the shots.
Catrien Schreuder (NL)
ArtTube: Museum Boijmans van Beuningen
In October 2009 Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen launched ArtTube, an online video channel broadcasting videos about art, design and exhibitions at the museum. From the beginning it grew quickly, and at present, contains about one hundred videos produced by the museum, and visited by about 14,000 viewers each month. Initiated as an educational platform, ArtTube is intended to translate, in an accessible way, specialist information present in the museum’s organization, and through the highly popular medium of online video disseminate more of what’s happening at the museum. In her talk Catrien Schreuder will present the website and discuss its aims and possibilities. She will evaluate the experiences with this new educational tool in its first year of existence, offering a look behind the scenes, but also giving insight in the main questions and challenges arising for the near future.
Annelies Termeer (NL)
– system of notes within videos
– short video documentaries about collections
– short ‘behind-the-scenes’ videos about organizations
– introductory texts for video
– artist biography/videography
– links to personal artists sites
– central repository for video art or organization-based repositories
– using multiple platforms simultaneously (having a channel on YouTube for reach + own website for context)
– link to offline/’real’ public events
– digitizing old works, showcased alongside new works on website
– encouraging established artist to upload full length videos on the web
– artist-driven profile (where they can manage their own ‘accounts’)
– share/embed functions, including twitter, facebook, personal websites, etc.
– develop API to export collection to other sites
– open/public tagging
– permit the creation of ‘playlists’ for public curation (that can be saved)
– moderated or open commenting
– invite model for contribution (like gmail invites) / artist as curator
– open call for submissions vs. curated/selected calls
– moderation and expert respondents/guest commenters
– creating a CSM as template for other organizations to use independently or collaboratively
– video remix as critical responses to video
– showcasing web-based portal into public events and festivals
– addressing different audiences – researchers, specialist, artists, curators, general public
– thinking about deployment for mobile/potable devices (apps?)
– institutional Tweets
– video as clips or full length art videos?
– should video online be free, but be paid for (if) in a curated context?
– what constitute a curated context online?
– funding (online) via donations or pay system? other options?
– licensing – copyright as default or creative commons options?
– focus on quality over # of hits?
– maintain close relationship to artist in order to share ‘ownership’ of collection
– metadata (if and how?)
– collaboration and partners (corporate, art-based, academic, etc?)
– creating layers of access (something different for curators, artists, general public, educators, etc)?
– scarcity as a business model, is this only possible if limited edition videos (remain offline?)
– video formats and codecs (open vs. proprietary / html5 vs. Flash)
– creating ‘archives’ template for organisations to use/share-using open source CMS (Drupal, WordPress, Cargo Collective) vs. custom made sites
Sophie Bellissent: C’est un phénomène évolutif : le pourquoi se transforme, et « moi en train de prendre des photos » ne faisait même pas partie de l’équation à l’origine de cette évolution.
En revenant sur les étapes dissemblables de cette évolution de presque 30 ans, je reconnais un fil conducteur dans Dubois et Arbus (inquiétudes et angoisse en moins) : pourquoi est-ce que je prends des photos ? C’est une question de pulsions et d’écarts.
« [… ] on pourrait rapporter de très nombreuses déclarations de photographes pour qui la coupure, la distanciation dans le processus, se révèle en fait source d’émerveillement, de fascination ou d’angoisse – quelque chose qui, pour eux, fonde toujours, d’une manière ou d’une autre, leur pulsion photographique. » [… ] propos de Diane Arbus :
« Rien n’est jamais donné comme on a dit que c’était. C’est ce que je n’ai jamais vu avant que je reconnais. »
COMMENT COLLECTION #24
Les sources ? De quoi, chéri ?
“Les sources ? De quoi, chéri ?” is a conversation between four major media outlets about wikileaks.
Assembled from comments from news articles about the Assange phenomenon, “Les sources ? De quoi, chéri ?” is a collection of insights and quips about the stakes involved in leaking information in the era of the web. Based on France’s Libération, Canada’s the Globe and Mail, USA’s New York Times and the UK’s Guardian, vastly diverging points of interest and importance surface.
“Les sources ? De quoi, chéri ?” is the 24th in the COMMENT COLLECTION project, exploring the power of the viewer to tell and re-tell stories.