A few months ago I attended a reading from Anneke Smelik. It was about her book ‘Ik, Cyborg’. During the reading she explained the main subjects in her book and two experts asked her questions and the public could do that too. By my opinion it was a very interesting reading, even though I had not much knowledge of the subject. Smelik stated that we all have become cyborgs in the western society. We’ve gotten so used to the use of our computer, the internet, our mobile phones, a watch et cetera. We probrably would have a very hard time when we would have to stop using all this. Technology has become one with our bodies and lives. What do you think about this statement? Have humans really become half robots? Were we always a sort of cyborg by using tools? Or are we still fully human?
The development of digital technologies has made possible the exchange of information worldwide and especially the emergence of distribution platforms and social networks has contributed to the appearance of a new form of culture based on the process of sharing.
These practices of collaboration imply that information is no longer spread in one way but in a multidirectional process allowing the consumer to respond and contribute to this material. This accessibility to digital tools has enhanced the possibilities of the old consumer to become also a producer of digital content, expanding the activity of amateurism.
One of the most extended ways to respond to these digital contents is remixing, understood as the activity consisting in taking pre-existing materials to combine or re-interprete them into new creative art forms. This remix culture is based on the assumption that every emergent culture is built on the past and art is always influenced by previous forms.
The concept of remix has traditionally made reference to a type of music composition that became very popular in the late 1960s. Nowadays the term is still used to describe the activity of taking previous music samples to create a new song under the forms of remix or mash-up but also it has been extended to other fields like visual arts.
We can underline a lot of examples of the use of remixing, mostly based on the copy-paste technique. In this way, they could be found in a lot of areas, from music to literature. In the literature field, William S. Burroughs inspired by the collage technique used by the painters developed the cut-up method to create new texts. This method consisted in cut up passages from own books or other writers works and paste them together in a random way.
Otherwise, one of the most popular uses of remixing at this time are “supercuts” inspired by the fan culture which is organisated around the consume of media products. In that way, remixed videos are created as a way to tribute on or in the opposite to make fun of the original work. These kind of videos started proliferating on the internet and becoming viral with the coming of youtube.
In the link placed below you could find a few examples of “supercuts” that make fun of hollywood movies clichés although I guess most of you have already seen one at least.
Souriez, Vous Etes Filmés
Following with the theme of the last post, Martin de Nijs’ creation can be as well related to the aspect of Privacy and Surveillance we dealt with during the last class. But this time instead of using the Warhol’s phrase, I will mention the one by the “street artist” Banksy.
In some way, social media-connected people of 2012 play with the idea of fame through the production of masses of images in the Internet platform each day, in a manner that is reminiscent of Warhol’s own quotation about those “fifteen minutes of fame for everyone”. Likewise, the point that connects two of the most influential contemporary philosophers, Foucault and Deleuze, is this fact of watch without being watched what probably inspired Bansky for his re-appropriation of Warhol’s quote.
As Foucault stated, some institutions, from their architecture and hierarchic structure as a way of control, were disciplining the human being. Prisons, hospitals, factories, schools,… All them buildings built depending on the model of “Panopticon”: Everyone who was there could be controlled from a single location and by very few people. Thus, the discipline is enrolling in the body of the person, so after a short time period spent in these places, the prisoner, the mad, the worker, the student, is watched over by himself, is self-censored.
Following the line of Foucault, Gilles Deleuze proposes the postmodern society as a “society of control”. Is no longer necessary the Panopticon: the technology created the needed elements for this disciplined man and there is not scape possible from the surveillance. Everything is related to that control system in our society, and this way, everything is just about the “looking to” the others, being under surveillance for no reason. That’s why the quotation of Bansky would fits here, and similarly the project of Marnix de Nijs, in the way the camera he places in the exhibition captures images of the visitors with the aim to create a instant stardom of them and at the same time preventing these people from being anonymous.
Us Dutchmen think we’ve finally come up with a talent show concept that’s different from all the others. The Voice of Holland treats it auditioners like no other talent show, and the show has attracted attention worldwide. People seem to love the “fair chance” the candidates are getting.
The idea is this: talent scouts cross the land in search for promising musicians, who are then invited to the audition rounds of the show. In the audition round, a four-man jury consisting of musical professionals has to decide whether or not they want a certain participant on their team. Each member of the jury will coach a team of singers, and one of those singers – and therefore one coach – will eventually win. During the auditions, the jury doesn’t get to see the participants; when they’re choosing for a certain candidate, they’ll have no idea what their possible future pupil will look like. If they’re impressed by a certain voice, they get the chance to turn their chair around. When more than one coach decides to turn around, participants get to choose which one of them he or she would like most as a coach.
This seems like a fair way of doing auditions, since the appearance of the aditioner doesn’t play as big as a role. In shows like Idols and The X-Factor, attractive people often get the benefit of the doubt, even when their singing isn’t perfect. This show concept should rule that out.
I’ve watched the show a couple of times, and there’s one thing that keeps bugging me about it. It often happens that when a coach turns their chair and comes to face an attractive participant, the coach will at the end of the performance make a positive remark about their appearance. The coaches keep saying things like “your voice is wonderful, but now that I’ve turned around I can see you’re absolutely stunning, so I’d love to have you on my team.” For some reason, that sounds like a peculiar thing to say when you’re a coach and jury member in a show that claims to be purely about talent, and not just about looks. If we want to keep these talent shows completely fair, maybe we should have the candidates performing behind a fancy folding screen until after they’ve won.
(on the lecture ‘Celebrity Culture’ - May 08)
The last post. (It's secretly a big, awesome party)
A few weeks ago we were shown the use and the effects of Youtube. It changed the way the ‘normal person’ could have an impact on our culture. The man behind the screen is no longer watching, but sharing, editing and most important of all, uploading.
Since it would take too much time/effort/attention span I am not discussing every theory that popped up during that class. Instead, I am giving you this playlist, that I put together of some really great and enjoyable videos that are displaying certain interesting forms of editing, prosumerism, new technology, and how this new culture fits in a larger perspective.
Okay so here is the link to start the playlist.
You don’t have to watch all of the video’s, there are multiple video’s that fit a topic. Just pick the ones you like and watch them. The whole playlist is 1 hour and 10 minutes long. (good for a rainy day)
The playlist starts off with the video ‘Kara’ by Quantic Dream. It is a professional company who made this and it’s made to underline the power of the playstation 3. It is said in the video, they played this in real time on a playstation 3. You can’t play this on a nintendo 64, nor on a Wii. This tells us with consumer technology, you can reach higher than a consumer level art object. (side note: watch it, it’s beautiful and heart wrenching.)
The playlist continues on with short films. The second video is a film called: My Name is Lisa. Not only comments this video on the subject of video blogging, vlogging it also shows that everyone can make these kinds of films, even without a producer or a film festival. (again…soulcrushingly emotional.) Two other short films come after, one really funny and dynamic and a dark science fiction one (Dutch and I think it’s shot in Nijmegen!) It really shows how much you can do with a reasonable camera and an editing software.
The next batch of videos are about remixing. The first four focus on the mixing between words, sounds and images. Forming words to make them different, moving, making them detached from the traditional forms of words and into the realm of animated images. Words are so important that they are becoming more and more intergrated in video in ways we could never imagine. It can be not that radical as in Stephen Fry’s statement, but it can stand on it’s own like in the word as image video. I think the changing from image to words is something very new and very interesting to happen nowadays.
The next two show the mixing between sound, music and video. In both cases, there is sound mixed in with the video which is not of the original video. The first video is an excerpt from the movie the great dictator. You’ll hear a track from the inception soundtrack playing with it. Both of these bits are very far apart in time although now they are fused together like it always was meant to be this way, this is mixing at its best. The second video is a music video but not quite. The guy in the video is not actually singing the music, that has been done by a very different youtube user. This man simply puts a video to it. This happens quite a lot and therefore I deem it a big and important element in the remix culture.
The last theme: Art through the ages. These two videos show that although video clips and amateurism on the internet are very new and very different media than painting or sculpture, there is and always will be a link between the old and the new. This new culture is self aware.
The very last video simply shows that being somewhere in the right place on the right time with a camcorder pointed the right way can be the cause of something oh, so beautiful.
Watch, enjoy and experience life. (I’m sure that that’s a slogan of some stupid company but who cares.)
Summary Ten: Privacy/Surveillance
We talked about a very current issue, which is online privacy. A lot of people complain about the fact that they can be tracked online and the fact that basically anyone can look up their personal information because of their online presence.
We discussed this issue, using Foucault’s definition of ‘Surveillance’. Within the setting of the panopticon, surveillance creates a clear top-down hierarchy, where the watcher has power over the watched, because of the internalization of the “gaze” through discipline.
However, on the internet there is no such hierarchy, because of it’s rhizome-like structure. Everyone controls everyone on the internet, creating what’s called “coveillance”. There can even be a reversed power relation online between the watcher and the watched, called “sousveillance”. A good example of this are the Wikileaks, where the gathered information from watchers is being exposed to the normal people.
The power relations between people can be traced back and mapped perfectly on the information network of the world wide web. There are several websites designed to do just this.
Like mentioned before, there is a lot of criticsm about this Surveillance. For instance, Richard Spinello claims that everyone has the right to 3 aspects of privacy: solitude, secrecy and anonimity. He thinks this is increasingly impossible in the information culture that exists online and in society. Another example is Acta, an organization that wants to constrain information on the internet. Famous street artist Banksy quipped about this issue that “in the future, everyone will be anonymous for 15 minutes.
An example of the remixculture is Lucky TV I think. It is a part of the program of the ‘Wereld draaid door’ on the Dutch television. The program uses the image of television journal or sometimes other images for example from youtube to mix those with new text. He makes a way of satire. Lucky TV deals with satire and mixing. Sometimes it seems so real that you may think that it is real and you have to search for the lucky TV logo to make sure that it isn’t real. The man behind Lucky TV is Sander van de Pavert. I think the new way of using the images from the television (and sometimes youtube films) for mixing with another text and satire is a perfect way to make people think about the items in the news or the items that seem to matter in the world. Maybe it is a little hard sometimes if you know that it isn’t real, does that matter than? I think what he does is art to and I don’t know if it can be called amateurism, because it is something Sabder van de Pavert works the whole day to create a video for ‘de wereld draaid door’. I think you have to practice a lot before you can make those films. That is what he says in an interview in the NUKS the paper of Cultural studies, he practices since he was a kid. So I think it is really a form of art. What do you think? It seems like everyone can mix images with music and make it to an perfect video. I know I can’t because I don’t want to spent the whole time on my laptop for that. But why should we call the mixing of films amateurism? Or is this example of Lucky TV a very different item than the mixing videos on youtube? Do you agree that Lucky TV is art?
When we discussed viral video’s on the internet in class last Thursday, I shortly wondered how or if there was stuff you can call ‘virals’ in the pre-internet era. I forgot about it, untill I came home yesterday and there was a program on television about Top of the Pops.
Top of the Pops? I hear you think. What’s that got to do with virals? Well, Top of the Pops showed songs which were high up in the charts those days. Of course, those charts were also a kind of viral, for they influenced the taste of music for a lot of people, mostly youngsters who wanted to be hip. Nowadays, kids are talking about some awesome Youtube-video they saw, which encourages his friends to watch it also and this goes on forever untill the video has got millions of viewers. This video can be a music-video, so you basically get the same idea as with Top of the Pops.
I wondered if you could think the same about programs like Top of the Pops, which spreaded popular music even more (kids saying: ‘I saw/heard this great band last night.’ and his friends start listening to it as well) or maybe even Funniest Home Videos, which can be the predecessor of Youtube. In a way, Funniest Home Videos spreads the same kind of videos as Youtube does nowadays.
Can we take this even further, to the pre-television era? Or can we call magazines viral-spreaders as well? For I remember the dreadful time I read rubbish magazines which I won’t give you the name of about popular music, so I knew what was ‘cool’ to listen to. Is a musicmagazine always a way of spreading virals, like the OOR does with hottest bands to watch (or something like that), which promotes bands who could be the nexr big thing? Or am I just talking nonsense and is ‘viral’ something which we can only relate to the Internet?