This clip comes from An Anthropological Introduction to Youtube made by professor Michael Wesch in Summer 2008 when youtube was three and a half years old.
At the moment of writing this post in October 2012 the idea of an introduction to youtube seems pretty superfluous – things have moved fast. The top comment for the original video gives some context on this…
But Youtube is very much still here – last night there was an article on Channel 4 news about UK celebrity vloggers.
Professor Wesch’s enthusiasm, which borders on evangelism for the participatory culture of youtube feels quaint now that the site is a more obviously commercial as opposed to social space. ( youtube have been tactful enough not to paste an advert onto the start of the video.)
It’s well worth watching the whole of An Anthropological Introduction to Youtube here.
When I first saw it the section that really struck me and stayed with me was when thepoasm holds up a mirror, breaking the imagined connection we have with her, and revealing the plastic webcam she’s speaking to.
This moment came back to me a couple of years later when I saw Man With Mirror Guy Sherwin’s performance piece from 1976… (on youtube of course)
Man With Mirror was part of the Expanded Cinema movement of the late ’60s and ’70s – an artists movement that hybridised cinema with performance, neo-dadism, sculpture, happenings, aktionism, new media and cybernetics, kinetic art, body art.
One way of looking at Expanded Cinema is, like Structuralist film, as a methodology by which artists looked at the ontology of the moving image. They poked around in its mechanics, the light cone, the projector, the live moment, the screen surface. How does cinema work?
How does it do what it does to us?
Interest in Expanded Cinema has built again in the last few years. It seems to the bioskop that works like Man with Mirror that enfolded live bodies in images have a new relevance in a post-cinematic age when much of our waking lives are lived amongst screens (laptops, tvs, phones, games, cinema) …. and the moving images that circulate through them are as much a part of our reality as the real space and bodies that surround us.