This blog post started with a promise to Scott Stulen from the Walker Art Centre in the Residents Bar at the Da’Vinci Hotel, Derry at 4AM on the 12th September to try and write about practices that I, and separately he, have been working on. Scott was in Derry for Culture Tech Festival to present the Internet Cat Video Festival and talk on the opening plenary of the festival conference; “The Culture of Technology”. We discussed the similarities and differences between the Internet Cat Video Festival and the /v/IRAL /v/IDEO /d/ISCO that I was presenting at the festival. I would like to write some of the reflections we had on our curatorial practices down to give context to what often seems like videos from the Internet playing in a nightclub or an Art Centre. I can only write about my project and our conversations.
For me it is important to understand the form the project takes, it’s starting points and what exists in the space when the project is “performed” or “enacted”.
The Website: The project uses a Tumblr Blog to aggregate content from the public, this mean that new videos or tracks can be suggested by visitors to the site and the content and playlist updates regularly. For me, it is important that the Tumblr is used as the brand, and format of Tumblr has become synonymous with throw away internet culture, fan art, memes, porn, and teenage scrapbooking. It would be easier to use other tools, and give both more control over the process and the aesthetic, but the Tumblr is important to the ethos of the project as a whole. It would also be easy to remove for instance the .tumblr suffix to the URL, hiding or masking the Tumblr origins of the system but it is important to retain links between the project and the cultures of “Tumbling”. This site is more that an archive, crowdsourcing mechanism or advertising mechanism. The Tumblr in its form is part of the structure of the work and part of the process of producing.
The Club: The project has run a couple of times and is still developing. At present the work plays on a big screen which fills the stage, and the sound blares out across the club PA system. The mix is a back to back mix, lasting roughly 2 hours, of music based “viral video” taken largely from Youtube. As a bench mark figure I usually take over a million hits, and I usually use external sources such as Unruly or Buzzfeed to confirm reach and “cultural penetration”. There is no DJ booth, only the screen, the dance floor and the club, which is important to me in terms of the emphasis on the video content and also that the project is not authored or collaged from a visible place (this often leads to “can you play NUMA NUMA that’s my favourite”.
All of the mix is preauthored, and premixed, the project is not a VJ or DJ project or set, and is not a demonstration of the craft and skill of beat synch and track transition, but instead hopes to focus on something different. I have tried to strip the project back and make it as simple as possible to produce and interpret. I have worked on a number of Club Nights and have DJ’d (not very well) on a number of occasions but this process, project and experience is supposed to be something different both for me and the audience.
For me, it is an experiment, I am interested in what happens when the videos are taken out of their context and given a new purpose. The videos are often music parodies, and as such use the same temp, structure, beat and melody as the original tracks with often altered lyrics. There are obvious exceptions to this such as the work of groups like Auto-Tune The News, Lonely Planet and a lot of the news remix work I use in the mix. I am interested with this project, not in how the videos fit together but how they work within the club. What does this music do in the club, how do people dance to it, is it still funny.
Often these videos are designed and produced to consume singularly at your office desk over a cup of coffee, on a bus over wifi, or through social media sites and our relationship to the text is on an individual basis. These are then shared (so I can claim some cultural capital) but they are often experienced not as a group. I am interested in situations and occurrences which unfold both on the dance floor and around the tables when these are videos are played out in a new context with a group viewing. For instance, the work of parody artist Baracka Flacka Flames and his video Head of State based on the track Hard in The Paint by Waka Flocka with its crude parodies of race and gang life, depicting President Obama as a “one hood ass nigga” features in both mixes of the project. The depictions in the video seem different when the video plays out on a large projection screen and 2, 60 inch plasma screens in the club, the joke becomes lost in the club and the video and track becomes something different, maybe closer to the media it is parodying but it in the recontextualising of the video it both loses and gains something when it enters the new setting. This is one example of a track that is used but for me it is about seeing how the audiences and media change as the media is recontextualised, reconfigured and remixed. This work rarely makes it to other reconfigarings of the internet viral video such as RudeTube, or Clipaholics, and in some instances such as Dramatic Look Gopher is already appropriated, remix and reused content.
When chatting to Scott Stulen we ruminated on the similarities and differences between our approaches on some of the same topics and the future of both project. We discussed the “internet offline” and how internet videos operate in different spaces (given that a large majority of views on Youtube Videos come from Embeds in other sites which gives them new contexts and configurations). We discussed remix, video collage and bricolages but after all musings maybe /v/IRAL /v/IDEO /d/ISCO is a party but I am currently working on a paper to formalise some of these musing and make some situated claims about reconfigured, recontextualised and remixed videos, balancing context and situe to content and audience to submit to ROFLCon this year.
For more on the project the is a project Tumblr and the original mix is available online on Vimeo and there was also an unperformed mix in the form of a playlist made for the last American Election based on Henry Jenkins work on Remix as a way to understand the political in America.