Fwd: Video Vortex: Responses to YouTube (event & discussion list)

From: Geert Lovink <[email protected]>

Video Vortex Conference: November 30 and December 1 2007, Amsterdam (NL)
Organized by the Institute of Network Cultures

First announcement, March 15, 2007

Event: http://www.networkcultures.org/videovortex/
List info:

In response to the increasing potential for video to become a
significant form of personal media on the Internet, this conference
examines the key issues that are emerging around the independent
production and distribution of online video content. What are artists
and activists responses to the popularity of 'user-generated content'
websites? Is corporate backlash eminent?

After years of talk about digital conversions and crossmedia platforms
we are now witnessing the merger of the Internet and television at a
pace that no one predicted. For the baby boom generation, that
currently forms the film and television establishment, the media
organisations and conglomerates, this unfolds as a complete nightmare.
Not only because of copyright issues but increasingly due to the shift
of audience to vlogging and video-sharing websites as part of the
development of a broader participatory culture.

The opening night will feature live acts, performances and lectures
under the banner of video slamming. We will trace the history from
short film to one-minute videos to the first experiments with streaming
media and online video, along with exploring the way VJs and media
artists are accessing and using online archives.

The Video Vortex conference aims to contextualize these latest
developments through presenting continuities and discontinuities in the
artistic, activist and mainstream perspective of the last few decades.
Unlike the way online video presents itself as the latest and greatest,
there are long threads to be woven into the history of visual art,
cinema and documentary production. The rise of the database as the
dominant form of storing and accessing cultural artifacts has a rich
tradition that still needs to be explored. The conference aims to raise
the following questions:

- How are people utilising the potential to independently produce and
distribute independent video content on the Internet?
- What are the alternatives to the proprietary standards currently
being developed?
- What are the commercial objectives that mass media is imposing on
user-generated content and video-sharing databases?
- What is the underlying economics of online video in the age of
unlimited uploads?
- How autonomous are vloggers within the broader domain of mass media?
- How are cinema, television and video art being affected by the
development of a ubiquitous online video practice?
- What type of aesthetic and narrative issues does the database pose
for online video practice?

Conference themes:

Viral Video critique
Vlogging Critique
Participatory Culture, Participatory Video
Real World Tools and Technologies
Theory & History of the Database
Narrative and the Cinematic
Database Taxonomy and Navigation
Internet Video: Art, Activism, and Public Media
Evening Programme / Exhibition

Viral Video critique

YouTube made 2006 the year of Internet video. The video content
produced bottom-up, with an emphasis on participation, sharing and
community networking. But inevitably like Flickr being consumed by
Yahoo, Google purchased YouTube. What is the future for the production
and distribution of independent online video content? How can a
participatory culture achieve a certain degree of autonomy and
diversity outside mass media? What other motives does Google have for
Internet video in terms of searching and advertising? After the
purchase of YouTube, Google was asked to remove a number of clips that
breached copyright laws. What comparisons can be made between the
Napster incident with audio and video-sharing websites?

Vlogging Critique

This section will deal with vlogging criticism. Is video blogging a
form of text-based blogging with other means? How can we develop a form
of criticism, and a critical practice, that is not derogative and yet
surpasses the anecdotal diary level? Is vlogging the next stage of ego
boosting of the blogger, who wants to raise his or her ranking status?
What is a video diary and how can this emerging genre be shaped? Can
there be sophistication in 'vlogging'? How can we overcome the
evangelical that stresses the possibilities of gadget features? And how
can we overcome the amateurish aesthetics of this new genre?

Participatory Culture, Participatory Video

The Web 2.0 holds the promise to create a participatory culture that
can renew the stagnated democracies in the West. In this utopian
approach, the user has the historical task to overcome the old regime
of top down broadcast media and create decentralised dialogues. To what
extent can user-generated video content be energized by presenting the
material as citizen journalism? Is the increased user participation
really a sign of a new political culture or is it a mere special effect
of technological change?

Real World Tools and Technologies

In this session we will investigate the progress that open source and
free software initiatives have made in regard to the development of the
codex and the player that can compete with the proprietary standards
such as Microsoft Media Player. It is not enough to critique the
corporate takeover of MySpace and YouTube and upload alternative
content. Increasingly the intention of programmers shifts towards
Peer2Peer solutions in order to create a truly distributed network in
which content can freely float around without having to use centralised
servers. In this session we will present projects such as;

Theory & History of the Database

Searching databases has become a dominant cultural practice. Instead of
flipping through a radio and TV guide, the cinema programme or the
library, we browse the Internet. In this session we would like to go
back in time and investigate the history of the computer database. What
are the ideological underpinnings of 'taxonomy'? What do we search when
we perform a search? Should the aim be to overcome the fragmented
experience of our contemporary database culture and create overriding
meaning structures that deepen our understanding without having to
compromise on content diversity?

Narrative and the Cinematic

Do these fragmented video databases lead to new narratives and genres?
Does a database like YouTube evoke a skill such as continuous partial
attention, or a contemporary disease like the attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)? Against the medicalization, scholars
have put the ability of users to reassemble short stories into larger
new narratives as a reassuring alternative that replaces old media
skills. The bricollage is assembled by the end-user, not the producer.
Is there a new cinematic experience?

Database Taxonomy and Navigation

How do artists relate to the possibility of building large video
databases? Is YouTube the future of video art? Traditionally, artists
have always worked with found footage but nowadays it has never been
easier to access. The remix culture, online video tools and increased
server space make it possible to create large databases in which
complex interconnected content can be offered to the viewer. What is
the underlining information architecture? How does one navigate Steven
Spielberg's video archive of the holocaust survivors? Or take the
Dropping Knowledge project in which 110 experts answered 100 questions
of the audience, which can be accessed as a database. The same can be
said of large museum collections.

Internet Video: Art, Activism, and Public Media

From 16mm film and video to the Internet and back, activists have
always used the moving image to produce critical and innovative work.
For many, the experimentation with visual language and critical content
has been one and the same. In this session we will explore early
examples of Internet video and investigate how artists and social
movements have responded to the YouTube challenge. Is it better to
integrate your message into large existing platforms or should we
rather let a thousand blossoms bloom and each have our own video
server? Online video databases like YouTube seemingly are the ideal
artist portfolio online, with unlimited uploads and a massive audience.
MySpace is inhabited by bands and musicians, but why don't video
artists and filmmakers occupy YouTube? If we look at the videos on
YouTube, what aesthetics do we find? Is there a homogenous style that
only builds on eyewitness tv and candid camera formats? And now that
music videos and commercials increasingly resemble video art, can we
define how exactly artistic practices influence the look of online
footage? What would it mean to take YouTube Art serious? Is YouTube a
medium and platform in itself for art works or is it merely used as a
promotional device? Many have used YouTube to produce diary-type
performances in which they either played themselves or pretended to be
some character. What status do we give to such ego documents? Is
YouTube used by artists as a tool to intervene in social and political
issues? In this session we will present projects such as:

Evening Programme / Exhibition

Video Slamming
"Short, user-created videos are creating a new kind of watching
experience, one more about 'snacking' than half-hour sitcoms." (The

Much like poetry slamming the use of short video fragments has become a
dominant mode in visual culture. Where are the video files found and
how are they used and played with? Is 'video slamming' the new way of
watching audiovisual files? This session is all about the new ways of
watching, using, and playing with moving images: scratching, sampling,
mixing, but also (meta) tagging, recommending etc. This session will
feature performances, live acts and lectures.

Video Vortex Discussion List:

With this discussion list we like to gather responses to the rise of
YouTube and similar online video databases. What does YouTube tell us
about the state of art in visual culture? Is YouTube the corporate
media structure of the 21st century? What are the artist responses to
YouTube aesthetics?

General information about the mailing list is at:

To post to this list, send your email to:

This list is meant for all those interested in the topic, and will
possibly continue after the event in late 2007.

Practical info:

November 30 and December 1, 2007.

PostCS 11, PostCS building
Oosterdokskade 3-5
1011 AD Amsterdam
T: 020 - 62 55 999

Organized by
Institute of Network Cultures, HvA Interactive Media, Amsterdam

Editorial team
Geert Lovink, Sabine Niederer, Shirley Niemans

Affiliated researchers
Seth Keen, Vera Tollmann

Shirley Niemans

For further information, please contact
Shirley Niemans, shirley(at)networkcultures.org