I Proclaim the stuff of YouTube to be Leprous
February 29, 2008
I turned the manifesta I wrote for these pages (2007-08-27) into 7 YouTube videos about YouTube as part of an experiment I am trying for this year’s SCMS (Society for Cinema and Media Studies) meeting.
This is the fourth from my YouTube series “Mp:me Variant of a Manifesta.”
For the panel, “Technologies of the Self, ” instead of a talk, I will technologize myself and appear only through these 7 autobiographical/theoretical rants mixed into a specialized tour of videos on YouTube. Given that my manifesto is ripped from Dziga Vertov’s 1922 “WE: Variant of a Manifesto,” almost all the other videos on this tour are YouTube variants on his “Man With A Movie Camera.” You can watch the tour by hitting Playall and they will roll for you.
I believe the experiment is a failure, but that’s really okay: it tells us things we might need to know about this newest technology of self. First off, my videos are really truly superbad. I’ve been trying to think how badness affects things on YouTube, and certainly for vlogs it is the mark of sincerity, but since my videos attempt not for sincerity but rather a little “artiness” (but done DIY), they simply look messy, especially compared to the visual brilliance of what I attempt to learn from: the “cinematography” of Dziga Vertov (part 6 of my Manifesta calls for the Death of Cinematography [to be posted here soon], but can I really want that?!) Aesthetics matter if you are trying to convince people in a visual language. I need to keep thinking about BADNESS for sure. Furthermore, the cuts between my videos and those I highlight (which I make YouTube perform for me by using the Playlist function), lag, and so are also sloppy. This again compared to the brilliant rush of editing that is Vertov.
While my critique of YouTube may be pointing in the right direction (as a theory), I do not have enough talent as a DIY maker to produce a powerful enough YouTube form to artfully relay the critique (that’s why he was a genius and I am a hack). Yes, the majority of YouTube videos are “morally dangerous, contagious” in that they promote distraction, consumption, and inaction. And sure, we need to think about how context and community can compliment the best work on YouTube. But as I long as I make these efforts alone, they will stay as limited as those I critique. However, since YouTube need not hold great art, but rather, new forms of communication; and since slogans work through their elegant if invisible but persuasive beauty, perhaps I’m not as far from the zone as I might worry…More soon.