Video is everywhere, like a space in which we move, an ocean we can dive into. But video is no longer the video we once knew. To address this techno-social shift, Andreas Treske sketches the outlines for a philosophical and practical understanding of online video, offering up a theory for the YouTube generation.
Video is examined up close and as a societal phenomenon. The images of a video constantly refer to other images, to the user and to the world outside. There is a ‘thickening of the image’. Videos also exist in relation to each other. On YouTube each video is accompanied by dozens of suggestions commercials and comments. Or consider TED-talks: every presentation refers to many others, all connected in a network and easily changing from one hype to the next.
Useful for comprehending this relational context is the philosophy of Peter Sloterdijk, who describes human society in terms of ‘spheres’. Online video can be understood as similar to bubble stuck to other bubbles, coming together to from foam within the connected sphere of the human environment.
Most prominent effects so far is video as a means of protest in the squares of the world, where revolution is filmed an uploaded in real time. Video isn’t a defined movie-object watched individually, but a movement of millions of video simultaneously, causing a cascade of reaction throughout the world.
Video Vortex 6# is covering a session on online video aesthetics:
In response to the ubiquitous presence of video on an array of websites and platforms, this session seeks to explore the development of the diverse and distinctive aesthetics of online video. Tackling the tenuous relationship between amateur and professional video production, particularly with respect to the question of ‘quality’, have amateur and professional video grown closer further erasing the ability to distinguish between distinct visual tropes and operating within similar economic arenas, or are they still in competition? Furthermore, how do mechanisms of monetization on many video platforms effect the collision between professional and amateur content and its creation? What techniques aesthetics, genres, structures and practices exist in the realms of amateur and professional online video creation, and where through the maze of the internet are unique forms and practices emerging?
Some of you heard it already in Split: the 5th edition of the Video Vortex conference series will be held in Brussels. Video Vortex V is announced for November 20-21 2009, and will be hosted by the Cimatics festival… With this second Brussels meeting the goal is also to set up Video Vortex as an organised network, making it more sustainable.
submissions – http://cimatics.com/entries/
24/7 DIY video summit has finally posted the curated selections and presentations that went with them, from the summit in early 2008. The videoblogging selection which can be viewed in one long hit on YouTube or as singular clips down the bottom of the page.
Been catching up with Jay and Ryanne who are over from the states in Melbourne. They have come to hang out with Adrian Miles. So, there has been lots of video talk with some inspiring future visions surfacing on the fringes of conversations. There has been kangaroo mobs, a lecture in intergrated media amongst other catch ups.
Found this in my inbox sent by email from Dr Strangelove who has a blog called ‘Watching YouTube’ on which he has collated over 270 academic articles on the video-sharing website. Included in this bibliography is a list of articles on tagging and taxonomy subjects related to YouTube. From the bibliography list:
Crane, Riley, and Didier Sornette. ‘Viral, Quality, and Junk Videos on YouTube: Separating Content From Noise in an Information-Rich Environment.’ In Proceedings of AAAI symposium on Social Information Processing, 2008.
Ding, Ying, Ioan Tom, Sin-Jae Kang, Zhixiong Zhang, and Michael Fried. ‘Mediating and Analyzing Social Data.’ In Proceedings, Part II, On the Move to Meaningful Internet Systems, OTM 2008 Confederated International Conferences, Monterrey, Mexico, 9–14 November 2008.
Geisler, Gary, and Sam Burns. ‘Tagging Video: Conventions and Strategies of the YouTube Community.’ In Proceedings of the 7th ACM/IEEE-CS Joint Conference on Digital Libraries, Vancouver, BC, 18–23 June 2007.
Lin, Wei-Hao, and Alexander Hauptmann. ‘Identifying Ideological Perspectives of Web Videos Using Folksonomies.’ Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence Fall Symposium Series Papers, Menlo Park, CA, 2008.
Paolillo, John C. ‘Structure and Network in the YouTube Core.’ In Proceedings of the 41st Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, 7 January 2008.
Ulges, Adrian, Christian Schulze, Daniel Keysers, and Thomas M. Breuel. ‘A System That Learns to Tag Videos by Watching YouTube.’ In Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 415–24. Berlin: Springer, 2008.
These are my quick notes from Adrian Miles’ recent lecture for the course Intergrated Media One in the Media department at RMITR University. I have attempted to quote what was said vrebatim and paraphrase other points from my own perspective.
The three references being referred to below:
“What would it be to think about the Internet as a studio?”
This reading in context is related specifically to video blogging practice rather than online video more broadly. There is an understanding that video blogging is seen as a type of documentary practice. Miles has written about this previously and identifies blogging as a documentary practice in that essay.
Miles, Adrian. “Blogging and Documentary.” OzDox. Sydney, November 9th, 2006.
The Lumiere Manifesto, Miles suggests focuses on the camera as a recording device where the camera records what is in front of it. But, they are not stating that this is treated as being a direct recording of reality, instead it is about looking at what is around you and capturing moments that have significance for you personally.
“Simply stop and look around at the world…”
What they promote as a manifesto is easily carried out due to accessibility to hardware and software but also because the treatment of the content is simple and does not require complicated scripting, expensive hardware/software and post-production.
In this manifesto what these writers and makers advocate has a very different approach to video –sharing websites like YouTube, which is dependent on the constant addition of content. In comparison the are wanting content producers within the specific constraints outlined to make short duration videos that have a certain beauty, resonance, poetics amongst the plethora of video content online.
The emphasis is not about narrative in this manifesto, with the focus more on the “subjective and objective” with a connection to the personal.
In this overview of Miles’ own essay he opened with the comment that video should be seen as having the same qualities as a blog. Key characteristics here is granularity, time and links.
Granularity in nutshell, is about video being more porous, like the way you can have access to copy and paste parts (quoting) with text. In the end this is about systems that allow video to be more granular.
Miles writes more about this idea of granularity in a section in a book chapter titled ‘Programmatic Statements for a Facetted Videography’ available in the Video Vortex reader pdf download.
Miles argues that softvideo in a simplified analysis is about video content being highly granular, made up of small bits that remain self-contained, enabling the ability to arrange them into a multitude of configurations. Miles, using the example of a linear edited sequence being made of a number of shots on the timeline, argues that a potential softvideo quality is lost, when all these individual shots are merged together when the final edit is exported into one video file.
The underlying motivation for the softvideo essay is that online video broadly should not just be seen as a delivery platform for old genres where the Internet is merely a distribution environment.
Podcasting was used as an example of this popular type of approach towards online video where nothing is changed in the content in terms of it being re-purposed for the Internet, as a different platform. wih different characteristics. A comment Miles used in a previous lecture “The ipod is treating your content like a book.” Turning this around – what is there beyond the podcasting approach?
“If we take the networks as the starting point for making – what will these objects look like?”
Time as a concept within these broadcast models radio, TV, cinema is transferred directly to the Internet and seen as being fixed and “industrial”. Within a networked environment like a computer and the Internet time does not need to be fixed in this way.
As an example of this argument, Miles has demonstrated the way QuickTime as a multimedia software, that includes video does not rely on the cinema editing software model of frames per second to playback a duration of time. QuickTime can hold a frame and play that frame for whatever set duration is created. This is an approach that responds to how time can be manipulated in a digital environment compared to transferring the film frames constraint in the analogue medium of film into non-linear software like iMovie and Final Cut Pro. This software approach towards video editing ties in with the similar approach taken towards the Internet being used as a distribution platform for TV and radio content.
Links are also an affordance, that need to be utilised in networked video. Granularity is a result of the ability to create multiple links between bits. Remembering as discussed above that film editing is fixed but also made up of whole lot of parts as shots that are edited together. In other words granularity has always been evident even in film editing but never been utilised as the focus remains on the end result, the large singular artefact rather than the parts that make up the edited film.
But, it seems to be an ongoing struggle to get online video to be seen as being anything else but a narrative that emulates previous media like cinema and televison. Software that has invigorated the potential to explore the softvideo affordances like granularity; time and links has come and gone. Ezedia the software we are currently using in this course stopped being updated a few weeks ago. Live Stage Pro has had a similar fate. What do we work in now (Keynote the Mac version of Powerpoint)? Perhaps there are some answers in the shift to open video being explored by Mozilla within the firefox browser? Making video a first class citizen of the Web
Softvideo as a concept in the end as Miles pointed out invigorates an inquiry to look at alternatives outside the status quo with the objective to find out why this may be important.
“What would you make, and why is it worth doing?”
With this essay it pays to remember that it comes from the context of video art. Video art is what is being challenged here.
The accessibility of hardware and software has changed. In the past equipment was expensive and only accessed through arts funding. With this in place how does video art make itself special? – Could it be by making itself even more elitist as a “high art practice”? The response is not to continue the high-art elitist approach, which sees video art as being only made available in the white cube.
The difference being argued for is about aesthetics (to use Sherman’s word “elegance”), being used to differentiate the artist from the populist mass online video practice, taking place. Video Art takes itself into the ‘vernacular’ domain, with the challenge being to work out what type of approach makes aesthetics “relevant”.
Perhaps one approach could be focusing on form. The same formalist approaches that made video art distinct as arts practice in the gallery, could be applied within the environments where video is more broadly being articulated and distributed. Formalism in art responds to medium as a way of discerning an arts practice. For example in painting Pollock draws attention to paint as a viscous material. Painting as a practice moves to being more “self-reflexive” with the focus on form rather than content. The focus is on the medium itself as way of separating itself out from other arts practice like sculpture, for example.
What could eventuate if that formalist approach was taken in these new environments?
A while ago Jay sent across some information on HTML 5 which has functionality to include a video tag. – W3 HTML 5 video overview He talked about testing Firefox 3.1 which has video tagging and embedding built in – 3.1 is still in beta.
Using audio and video in Firefox supports ogg and wav for the moment. All looks early days still as many attributes do not seem to be supported yet. But, other tests seem to be appearing around the fringes to get this moving.
I am fishing for more information to bring this together with this post ending up being a bunch of links and me needing more information from people immersed in this stuff.
Before GL turned up in Melbourne awhile ago for the mc workshop there was some excitement from kein.org about firefox supporting OGG Theora (opens source video format) which hit the video vortex list. On the videoblogging list Michael Verdi’s test with OGG on Firefox, a video screencast even. Upcoming presentation by Chris Blizzard on behalf of Mozilla at the open video conference in NY June 19-20. and a welcome and informative why open video? post by Blizzard (Jan 26, 2009)
There’s one exception to this: video on the web. Although videos are available on the web via sites like youtube, they don’t share the same democratized characteristics that have made the web vibrant and distributed.
In this video screencast demo on OGG in firefox the HTML 5 canvas function is revealed…no flash or QT “the user can interact with the webpage while the video is being displayed” April 15, 2009. This is out there and potentially opens up what has been sort after for sometime in earlier hypervideo research – dynamic access to points within the video while it is playing.
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?