In June, the Guggenheim Museum announced a collaborative video contest with none other than YouTube. Yes, you read that right: YouTube, the video website overrun with videos of cats and each tween’s latest shopping spree.
The contest was open to anyone and everyone who has made a video in the last two years. A total of 23,000 videos were submitted and judged by a panel of artists and curators, and the competition’s 25 winners were announced last night. These 25 videos will be on display at the Guggenheim Museum in New York through the weekend, and all the shortlisted videos will stay online indefinitely. While there was some excitement about the prospects of such a venture, the New York Times isn’t impressed by the final product:
At the time of the announcement, there was much talk about originality and discovery, which sounds rather hollow now, compared with the low quality of the 25 finally selected.
Ouch! When the competition was announced, some feared that it would dumb down the video art world, while others dreamed that it would break the community open to embrace YouTube’s DIY creativity and modern folk art stylings. The critics over at the New York Times seem to think the winning videos did neither, and fell somewhere between sophisticated video art and YouTube folk art:
One way to explain the lackluster quality of the first incarnation of “YouTube Play” is that almost none of the final 25 works, which are being screened in a gallery at the museum this weekend, fit either of those categories…. They seem to occupy a third sphere of slick and pointless professionalism, where too much technique serves relatively skimpy, generic ideas.
You can take a look a the 25 finalists and the additional 100 “shortlisted” videos online. In addition to the “Birds on the Wires” video above, here are some of my other favorites from the top 25:
“Bear untitled — DO Edit” is a tragic love story done in 8-bit by Christen Bach:
This video, called “Words,” has made the rounds of the interwebz before, but I think it deserves another mention, in case you haven’t seen it:
This video, called the “The Huber Experiments–Vol 1,” is a great use of high speed video. Who wouldn’t want to play with their food?
And another video that makes great use of technique, “Bathtub IV” by Keith Loutit:
Other videos that have been getting attention in the media include a video interview/spontaneous music video “Die Antwood – Zef side (official)” with South African Rap Trio Die Antwood, “This Aborted Earth: The Quest Begins,” by Michael Banowetz and Noah Sodano, “Noteboek,” created by Dutch video artist Evelien Lohbeck, and “I Met the Walrus,” by Jerry Levitan, Josh Raskin, James Braithwaite and Alex Kurina. ABC News liked a rap-Disney mash-up:
“Wonderland Mafia,” by Lindsay Scoggins of Tampa, Fla., fuses rap and cartoon. The Disney film “Alice in Wonderland” has been mashed-up with the hip-hop of Three 6 Mafia. Scoggins says the video “is meant to illustrate a disjointed amalgamation of the media one encounters in adulthood (versus) childhood.”
And even the New York Times found something it didn’t hate:
Amid all the artifice of the final 25, Lisa Byrne’s documentary short “Taxi III Stand Up and Cry Like a Man” may burn a hole in your heart. The third in a trilogy, it consists of interviews with taxi drivers who survived paramilitary attacks in Northern Ireland during the conflicts of the 1980s and ’90s.
I’m sure I missed some good videos. If you think I’m completely off base with my choice of favorites–or if you think the New York Times is being too cranky by far–tell me about it in the comments.
Discoblog: Guggenheim & YouTube: The High Art/Low Art Mashup Is Complete
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Discoblog: Scientist Dance Styles: Glee Episode, Spanish Whodunnit, Internet Love Orgy
DISCOVER: Museum-Worthy Garbage: The Art of Over-Consumption (photos)