- Cornelia Goethe Centrum für Frauenstudien und die Erforschung der Geschlechterverhältnisse (1)
Media masters and grassroot art 2.0 on Youtube
- Communication in the Web 2.0 context mainly works through images. The online video platform YouTube uses this form of visual communication and makes art forms of Western societies visible through their online videos. YouTube, as cultural reservoir and visual archive of moving images, accommodates the whole range of visualising creative processes – from artistic finger exercises to fine arts. A general characteristic of YouTube is the publishing of small everyday gestures of the ‘big ones’ (politicians, stars), like small incidents and their clumsiness in everyday actions, e.g. Beyonce´s fall from the stage or Tom Cruise’s demonic pro-scientology interview. Through their viral distribution on different platforms, these incidents will never be covered up or disappear from the public view. At the same time big gestures and star images are replicated and sometimes reinterpreted by the ‘small people’ who present themselves in the poses and attitudes of the stars. Generally, a coexistence of different perspectives is possible. YouTube allows polysemic and polyvalent views on the everyday and media phenomena. This article relies on YouTube research 2 that started in 2006 at the New Media Department of the Goethe University of Frankfurt. The results of the research have already presented representative forms and basic patterns, that is to say, categories for the clips appearing here. These kinds of clips, recurring in the observation period, have an impact on the basic representation of art or artistic expression within moving images on this platform. Methodologically the focus leads to the investigation (which has to be adequate to the specifics of the medium, or ‘media adequate’) of new visual structures and forms which can create – consciously or unconsciously – an art form. After focusing on the media structures, it will be discussed whether any and, if so, which ‘authentic’ new forms were developed solely on YouTube and whether these forms are innovative and can be characterised as avant-garde. This article first takes a small step in evaluating how to get from a general communication through means of visuality in web 2.0, an often endless chatty cheesy visual noise 3 – to the special quality of a consciously created aesthetic. From where do innovative aesthetic forms emerge, related to their media structures? 4 Are they the products of ‘media amateurs’ 5 or do we have to find new specifications and descriptions for the producers? The definition of a ‘media amateur’ describes technically interested private individuals who acquire and develop technology before commercial use of the technology is even recognisable. Just as artists are developing their own techniques, according to Dieter Daniels, media amateurs are autodidacts who invent techniques, rather than just acquire knowledge about them (see for example the demo scene, the machinima, brickfilm producers as well as many areas of computer gaming in general 6). The media amateur directly intervenes in the production processes of the medium and does not just simply use the medium. What is fascinating is the media amateur’s process of self education – not the result – and the direct impact on the internal structure and the control of the medium. 7 Media amateurs open a previously culturally unformed space of experience. This only partially applies to most of the YouTube clips in the realms of the visual arts; it is here most important to look at the visual content. This article discusses all these concepts and introduces new descriptions for the different forms of production: the technically oriented media master, the do-it-yourselfer, the tinkerer, the amateur handicraftsman and the inventor. It outlines a basic research project on ‘visual media culture’ (a triangulation of research on media structure and iconography) of the presented online video platform. It is a product of the analysis of clips focusing on the media structure, analyzing the creative handling of images and the deviations and differences of pre-set media formats and stereotypes.