May 21, 2008
Some more of that today.
First: “Over the weekend I went to the Getty Museum to see the show on “California Video,” where many of the genres now being produced by vernacular content-creators for YouTube could be seen in the avant-garde practices of video artists of the sixties and seventies: parody, pastiche, remixes of news and political speeches, confessional, and many experiments with the affordances of the technology were well-represented in the exhibition.” Liz Losh, VirtualPolitik
Liz’s observations, ones I did not make myself when I saw the show because the viewing context was so MUSEUMY (dim lighting, round plastic stools, multiple stimuli, random viewers), are interestingly linked to a thread of conversation begun by Chuck Tyron about another video artists’ exhibit in New York, explicitly inspired by YouTube, and then Chris Cagle’s response: “Does You Tube employ a different type of montage?” Category D
We see evidenced here media scholars modeling what we are trained to do: ferreting out what might be specific to this medium, on the one hand, and establishing how it continues tactics and forms from previous media traditions, on the other. While I agree with Chris and Liz that there would be no reason for a YouTube video to use montage, or video form, any differently from how artists have developed traditions over the history of their medium, this question of viewing context and platform seems critical. Videos (YouTube or otherwise) function differently on a box, in a room, on a screen, and this is a type of montage, albeit not within the text itself. YouTube artists have a new sort of palette for cutting (either from one YouTube video to another, as I have attempted to experiment with in my Vertov project described recently on this blog), or across the digital field using and including comments, descriptions, and advertisements as part of the image (as Eisenstein suggests montage within the frame). Chuck’s observations seem useful here: “Her [NYTimes reviewers, Heffernan] comments here vaguely remind me of Benjamin’s approach to the Paris arcades, in which Benjamin sought to make sense of commodity culture through montage, through the connections between things.”