Wednesday, November 01, 2006

I Want My Youtube

In META/DATA, I make reference to the avant-pop phenomenon, that is, a distributed community of artist-activists who are both trained in and have a predilection for avant-garde art and philosophy, but who also find themselves totally engaged with the digital pop culture. Today it seems fitting that before students graduate high school, some of them are already imagining what it would be like to become media-savvy artists and activists. Many of them have already learned how to build their own websites, experiment with podcasts, and feel comfortable writing for or appearing in front of the camera. Many of them also appear to have been born with the capacity to "go meta" with the data (for example, this site by a 17-year old animation artist). I see this move toward digital sophistication in many of my students. There has been a tremendous change in the culture over the last few years. Seven years ago they came to my digital art classes wanting to learn Photoshop. Nowadays that would be considered old hat for the majority of them and what they really want to learn is how to become new media producers whose work has an artistic and political edge that will both gain the credibility of their peers and possibly make some impact in the social networking scenes they are part of.

By becoming producers of media experiences instead of just passive consumers, emerging avant-pop net artists challenge the status quo consumer culture similar to the way the lefty blogosphere is starting to shake up democratic politics in America.

Of course, the fascination with new media technologies like video blogging is partly narcissistic as in "I want my video blog" or "I Want my Youtube" fifteen minutes of fame. But it goes beyond that too: because you can keep creating new material and building your audience over time. As a participant in an expanding, socially networked, online culture, you're part of the audience too. What we see evolving now on sites like Youtube is a video-making community whose collaborative networking is on the verge of developing a distributed video art language that reflects the way young people think. As we have been discussing in my undegraduate seminar, there are three layers of literacy that need to be integrated into an emerging, avant-pop, net art lifestyle that utilizes Web 2.0 as the primary tool to create new work: writing-reading-alphabetic-rhetorical literacy, computer-mediated network literacy, and digital design / visual literacy.

You must also have the capacity to (gradually) develop your skills as a remixologist, someone who can play these different literacies off of each other as a kind of (inter)subjective performance manipulating the personal with the political, the agitated real with the supremely fictional, and the autobiographical with the auto-ethnographical.

Leading figures in the mainstream media discourse are applying these cutting-edge skills-sets in ways never seen before. It's happening in political blogs and, more importantly, fake news shows. What we used to call the "segment" is now the perfect clip size for video blogging. So if you want to attack the Bush adminsitration, you don't go all punditlike on CNN and try to get your message across that way (besides, they're not interested). Who would want to aspire to that phony baloney when you have so many other options at your disposal. Instead, you go all South Park and Jonathan Swift-boat your targets. You watch the Colbert Report and the Daily Show and see how they contextualize the events of the day and learn how to hone your own writing and performing skills. A lot of this is about video writing. It's about comedic timing. About customizing your shtik.

Adrian Miles, who started theorizing on video blogs over six years ago, says video blogging is like being Jean-Luc Godard with a cable modem. Does someone like Ze Frank feel like he's ushering in the nouveau cinescripture for the avant-pop generation?

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Monday, October 30, 2006

It Must Be A Boulder Thang ...

Local Yokels of the World, Unite!

This blog has already mentioned Boulder's organic farmers' market , the great food coop, the gorgeous opportunities the seasonal change brings for (questioning the status of) nature photography, the recent VJ Persona performance inside the new black box space located in the recently opened ATLAS building.

Add two more points of interest for the season: Boulder gets more mainstream recognition for being a great place for world-class athletes to train for marathon racing (check this article in today's New York Times) and the upcoming Colorado premiere exhibition of DJRABBI's Society of the Spectacle (A Digital Remix) will open at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art on November 3rd and run through late January.

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