Friday, April 6, 2012


Our evolving relationship to information is bringing a new artistry to collage work. The internet is ripe for collage. The existence of surrealism necessitates an overabundance of reality, and YouTube is definitely over-ripe with that (as is film history, as Christian Marclay's recent video pieces point out). The internet video itself is a fledgeling medium, let alone bricolaged art constructed from it.

Brian Walsh played me the following video the other day and I found it hilarious:

The video was "assembled from clips which were discovered by a Facebook group called "The Lick". Join the group and post your own finds!"

A pieces like this is where the potential in the Internet is evident. Effectively crowdsourced, the online world can be more than just an avenue for porn or trolls, but a tool for creating an elevated equivalent of a collective consciousness. Another example is the Slashdot post, "Gamers Outdo Computers at DNA Sequence Alignments."

The artistic potential for online crowdsourcing is being thoroughly explored through projects like the Youtube Symphony Orchestra, Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir, or the Johnny Cash Project. David Lang and Hilary Hahn recently had similar but unrelated online competitions. Of course, Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead were doing these things ages ago, as were Bjork and The Residents... and there are lots more. Anyway, here's Whitacre's Virtual Choir:

Interesting collages have been assembled by individuals too, things that would be considered crowdsourced if the original artists had been a part of the process. Like this video, collaged together from various people covering Radiohead's Paranoid Android and posting themselves on YouTube. It's a surprisingly cohesive collage, with the original song pretty convincingly intact:

Or this video of over 100 Simpsons openings playing at once:

Or even this video compilation of "window scenes" from the 60's Batman TV show:

Things get darker too, depending on your outlook. Companies like Dell and MTV have also used crowdsourcing to their marketing advantage, creating online video campaigns from youTube submissions. So have countless other groups. In a testament to the transformative power of the digital mob, crowdfunding site Kickstarter is expected to "provide more funds to the arts than the NEA" this year.

Christopher R Weingarten has a nice rant from the 2009 140 Characters Conference about the potentially negative influence of the crowdsourced internet on music culture, saying "it's not the music that's the best, it's the music that the most people CAN STAND... if you let the people decide, then nothing truly adventurous ever gets out."

And finally, there's YouTube comments. God bless them. Check out Stupid YouTube Comments for affirmation of the idiocy of the human spirit.

Good or bad, Kevin Kelly sums it up in his 2007 TED Talk on the next 5,000 days of the world wide web. We are looking through windows into the machine, and these are it's dreams of us.

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