I Look to Third-Tube

March 5, 2008

To wrap up this thread of ideas coming from my bad manifesto videos, I’d like to try to better attend to “Third-Tube,” that manner of video, currently available on the web, that is neither the vlog nor the music video. This kind of video formally marks the hand of its DIY producer (with “bad” production) while also signaling the seriousness of her mind, vision, goals or politics (with “big” ideas). It uses the sketch-like form of the You-Tube video (made and seen quickly, without aims at perfection or mastery, but with some attention to style and with clear goals of communication) so as to make videomaking and viewing a part of daily experience.

Now, it may seem that I’m suggesting that the “personal” nature of the vlog disqualifies it from Third-Tube (which is, of course, an homage to Third Cinema), but that would go directly against my feminist politics. So let me add this simple feminist formula: the personal is the political. When vlogs move to the next step, which is making systematic (theoretical) and communal (political) claims grounded in personal experience, then they move into what I am calling Third-Tube: people-made, simple-in-form, complex in thought, media about the material of daily life that is not beholden to corporate culture and products. This stuff is all over YouTube, and perhaps my next move is to be more thoughtful about what sits in Third-Tube.

I’ve recently come across the research of AnthroVlog on YouTube. Her site “examines how people use digital technologies such as video, blogs, and video sharing sites such as YouTube. We hope to take what we learn to consider new design of online environments and educational programs.For more information see: http://groups.sims.berkeley.edu/digitalyouth.”

Then there’s the Anthropology class at Kansas State that is thinking about YouTube through questions of culture, communication and community.

And AMorrow has been making comprehensive and useful lists of video that functions as art, entertainment, history, social commentary, etc.

Thanks to ZigZigger (Michael Newman) who I met in the hallway at SCMS and who kindly explained the linking function to me.

Slogan Ten

October 1, 2007

“The boundaries between the subject, if not the body, and the ‘rest of the world’ are undergoing a radical refiguration, brought about in part through the mediation of technology. ”
Allucquere Rosanne Stone

On-line documentary presentation on YouTube disturbs the public/private binary, like that of the self/other, opening things up to produce combinations inconceivable without the technology. Yet YouTube forecloses the construction of coherent communities and returns production, consumption, and meaning-making to the individual, re-establishing the reign of the self.

Slogan Nine

September 28, 2007

“The more we assert our own identities as historically marginalized groups, the more we expose the tyranny of a so-called center.”
Pratibha Parmar

YouTube serves the de-centering mandate of post-identity politics by creating a logic of dispersal and network. Yet it fails to re-link these fragments in any rational or sustaining way. There is no possibility to make collectives through its architecture. Information can not become knowledge without a map, a structure, and an ethics.

On Slogans

August 31, 2007

1. “It will be the art of the direct cinema of a slogan. Of communication that is just as unobstructed and immediate as the communication of an idea through a qualified word.”
(Sergei Eisenstein, “Our October, Beyond the Played and the Non-Played”)

This “slogan” written by eminent revolutionary filmmaker/theorist, Sergei Eisenstein in 1928, is the first of eleven I will offer over the next two weeks by way of incendiary introduction to my current thinking about Media Praxis.

Using said slogans—pithy quotes taken from longer works of media theory—I will mark eleven radical possibilities and responsibilities presented by the contemporary phenomena of documentary on YouTube, but as heralded by political media producers writing in the past about the radical possibilities for the various technologies of their distinct times and places. Over the next two weeks, we’ll enjoy on the pretty pages of this blog the rousing watchwords of eleven wonderful writers engaged in political movements before our time. Sadly, it seems that at many, but not all of the media duties our authors lay down, YouTube is failing even as it is built upon technical opportunities desired but unattainable for our sloganeers of the past.

2. “The epoch of the direct materialization of a slogan takes over from the epoch of a slogan about material.” Eisenstein

I am convinced that certain critical components of the hundred-year project of MEDIA PRAXIS are lost in YouTube’s stellar realization of “the art of the direct cinema of the slogan.” What couldn’t Eisenstein foresee? For it seems both prescient, and also naïve of this distinguished communist to harken the slogan for his developing medium, cinema. The slogan is a form that seems so much more apt for our 80-year later use of contemporary technological developments, particularly as displayed on YouTube: cinema-via-the-internet. The slogan, in its several denotations, conceptually links activism and commerce—the simplistic selling of ideas to move people to fight or buy, no matter—in a manner perfected by and definitive of our era, and its definitive medium, the internet. The slogan—a pithy, precise, rousing call to action or consumption, or action as consumption—seems a remarkably astute descriptor of at very least the form of YouTube media, especially in the slogan’s dependence upon brevity and clarity.

Over the next two weeks, I will briefly establish, through slogans, how Eisenstein’s hopes for the slogan are structurally impossible given the architecture, ownership, and advertisements on YouTube. On YouTube, our epoch of the slogan forecloses conversation, community, and complexity. I ask you to think of the following slogans, penned by committed artists from long past revolutions, times, and places, and then followed by my own slogan-responses, as a call to arms for how we might better muster today’s technology to contribute to an ongoing project of improving the possibilities for presentation, interpretation, and abstract social evaluation, human interaction, perception, and epistemology, through media praxis.