Elegance ?

Adrian Miles’ lecture on the Tom Sherman’s Vernacular Video reading. Starting with an overview of the two versions with the expanded version on nettime. Miles argued that the longer version clarifies ideas discussed in the first version but does not cover what he thinks is an important point. He discussed how differences between the two are useful in terms of understanding the reading, with the idea that both are as important as each other.

Then there was some evaluation of the context around the writing. Miles then pointed out that the writing style has connections with a manifesto. Sherman as an artist aims to produce as Miles states “an agenda for action”. In the context of the course IM1 there are certain aspects that are relative, with the aim to positively and constructively work with the ideas that progress thinking around the concept of a networked video practice. He stated from his perspective the critique, ‘is about building new things”.

Arts practice in this context is replaced with the media professional practitioner. Video outside of art has taken off in a broader sense, well beyond the walls of the white cube, art gallery. The reaction to this is for artists to meet this head on by making video art within these new environments, where that work considers the atttributes of what has become a (vernacular) video type style.

Miles stated: “…that Vernacular Video is a form of slang video.” It has informality, immediacy. This type of video is everyday and is not made for the specific requirements and protocols of a white cube gallery, for example. Instead it has an intimacy and is not about being an opus, a large-scale high post-produced artifact. The issue is whether video art can be produced at this level within this domain and still have a certain acceptable quality. A quality that distinguishes it from everyday video practice. Miles raises the point as to whether this type of content can be seen as being high end, rather than looked down as being amateur, low-fi and inferior. Part of the argument being whether slang and informal dialogue has a certain type of sophistication, where street language for example has complexities that have been developed and progressed over time.

Miles’ previous 12-second TV blog post as a reference to how atrocious this informal short video content can be.

I was thinking about twitter and how over time you develop better and better ways to work within the 140-character constraint and (share) the information you want to get out in a short form. This is not just how you write but also how you use links, the networked nature of this tool. This is a light bulb moment in terms of thinking about constraints and how for me having seen this tool as potentially another time-wasting fall into the banal – there is another side which is about practising with these social networking tools and seeing what is udner the surface. You only get that through use, obviously. It is bit like riding a bike over and over and getting to know the limitaitons and potential unknown capabilites that could be explored further. You learn to work within those constraints. In the end it is how you steer twitter to a position where it works for your needs. Stephen Fry on twitter is an example of this…

Also, Miles pointed out how twitter brings back for example, social conversation in the workplace. This is a good point and I have noticed already how it functions on this level even to the point where you can see varying networks emerging around people through the follow feature. Another aspect that is revealed through use and engagement.

The Skittles website example – www.skittles.com is as an example Miles used to demonstrate how a commercial company can utilsie social networking , with all the content added externally by the public using flickr, even to the point where the branding has been adapted to work on wikipedia. The Skittle example provides an example of the way Media is being altered significantly, all part of the shift to post-industrial media and a “radically different media ecology”.

On wikipedia some are critical of this experiment.

Sherman quote referred to at the end of the lecture from the section ‘Aesthetics Will Continue to Separate Artists from the Public at Large’. p.3

If artists choose to embrace video culture in the wilds (on the street or on-line) where vernacular video is burgeoning in a massive storm of quickly evolving short message forms, they will face the same problems that artists always face. How will they describe the world they see, and if they are disgusted by what they see, how will they compose a new world? And then how will they find an audience for their work? The advantages for artists showing in museums and galleries are simple. The art audience knows it is going to see art when it visits a museum or gallery. Art audiences bring their education and literacy to these art institutions. But art audiences have narrow expectations. They seek material sensuality packaged as refined objects attached to the history of art. When artists present art in a public space dominated by vernacular use, video messages by all kinds of people with different kinds of voices and goals, aesthetic decisions are perhaps even more important, and even more complex, than when art is being crafted to be experienced in an art museum.

What is relative with Sherman in regards to the earlier idea of “building new things”, Miles suggests is the idea of an engagement with the real-world, along with Shermans’s argument for ‘elegance’ which seperates out a media professional practitioner and video artist – “an informed practice”.

The question remaining is how to think about this idea of ‘elegance’ in relation to drafting a manifesto for networked video practice. What is elegant about slang, the vernacular, a street language? What do I like about Hip-Hop music? What is good hip-hop compared to bad hip-hop?

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