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YouTube School for Social Politics

The YouTube School for Social Politics (YTSSP) is simple. It is this simplicity that we hope will make it easy to access, easy to re-generate, easy to re-configure as a means of intellectually, conceptually, and creatively engaging our uses of everyday media, from The Old Gray Lady to Facebook and on down the line.

The early stages of the YTSSP had Red76 commissioning writers, educators, and artists to consider an idea they would like to explore further and then, rather than write in essay utilizing text, go onto YouTube and compile a playlist that could expand upon their concerns. In addition, each participant recorded a video forward to their composition.

We held screenings in abandoned storefronts, museums, universities, small art spaces, and even a movie theatre in Vancouver, Canada.

Through contributions from the likes of Robby Herbst, Gabriel Mindel Soloman, Courtney Dailey, Dan S. Wang, Mike Wolf, Juana Berrio, Stephen Duncombe, Ola Stahl, Sam Gould, Steve Lambert, and others we created space for screening and discussing a myriad of sociopolitical concerns - from varying notions on utopic ideals, to colonization, the subjectivity of protest imagery, and beyond.

Finding ways to expand upon the ideas embedded with the YTSSP concept and create new outlets for participation and conversation around these compositions led us, for instance, to create separate print pieces that utilized ideas first discussed within YTSSP essays, or conversations which took place during YTSSP screenings, as well as a video link-up between students in Pittsburgh, Penn, and Tehran, Iran wherein playlists were traded between individuals aimed at discussing the perception of the two cultures across a digital divide.

The YouTube School for Social Politics utilizes surplus knowledge as its driving force, an ephemeral energy source powering sustainable discourse. Scattered throughout YouTube lie countless points of view, disparate moments of histories, both personal and collective. By arranging these video segments - documentaries, personal missives and old family films, newsreels, music videos - new light can be shed on the sociopolitical landscape of history past, and history present. YTSSP invites guest historians, artists, and theorists to construct "essays" of socio-historical inquiry through the assemblage of clips found on YouTube.