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:
The Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan may seem the ultimate arbiter of contemporary art success, with space on its rotunda walls reserved for the world’s buzziest artists. But this October the museum will showcase 25 videos made not by famous or even up-and-coming artists. Instead, the museum is preparing to welcome the unknowns–from YouTube.
The museum and the video site are pairing up on a project they call YouTube Play: A Biennial of Creative Video. Participants can submit videos (one per person) created within the last two years, until the July 31 deadline.
As one might expect from a collaboration with a site that features both dancing birds and baby delivery how-tos, the competition has few entry restrictions. The hope, as described in a promotional video, is to tap the truly “new” and “to reach the widest possible audience, inviting each and every individual with access to the Internet to submit a video for consideration.”