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:
What do you get when you mix homegrown science videos, an expert comedian, and experiments made for your garage? Discover Magazine’s new web television show, Joe Genius.
We chat with Jonah Ray, the show’s host, about the show, his start in comedy, and his favorite video games.
Discover Magazine: Could you describe your road to Joe Genius? How did you get your start as a comedian?
Jonah Ray: When I was 19, I moved from Hawaii ["born and raised"] to Los Angeles to do comedy…. I started just working at record stores and being a roadie for my friends’ bands, going on little tours. It took about a year to realize that was a horrible life! (laughs) I looked into some open mics in the LA Weekly and started going almost every night.
Discover: How did stand-up lead to your other work?
Ray: I started doing stand-up primarily. UCB [Upright Citizen’s Brigade, a sketch group] opened out here in LA, and I started taking some classes. Just from doing stand-up, I got more attention from people. I became a writer’s assistant on The Andy Milonakis Show which was a sketch show on MTV. I was really bad at it—so they fired me–but during the same conversation they hired me back as a writer. That’s what started my writing career in comedy. Shortly after that, I did Live at Gotham show and stand-up on Comedy Central. I started working on a web series called the The Freeloaders Guide to Easy Living on a site called Super Deluxe which was an offshoot of Adult Swim…. I did some writing and performing on Human Giant which is a sketch show on MTV. I also started performing and writing on more shows on G4.
In comedy, in the beginning it feels like one thing will always beget another. Really it’s about doing everything you can all the time trying to push yourself and being prepared when things come up. That’s usually how it happens. It’s kind of a mishmash of finding work where you can and doing the best job you can.
Discover: How is Joe Genius different from your previous work?
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.”
This week, YouTube began trying to obliterate one of the most popular internet memes of all time, the Downfall parodies featuring an enraged Adolf Hitler, after a copyright claim by the German production house that owns the movie’s rights.
The parody videos all use a clip from the 2004 German film Downfall about Hitler’s final days. In the clip, Hitler–played by actor Bruno Ganz–lashes out at his staff when he is told that he cannot win the war. As with any foreign film, the movie came with subtitles.
Over the years, fun-seekers have replaced the original English subtitles with absurd substitutes. So instead of ranting about the war, the subtitles express Hitler’s rage over Kanye West’s famous outburst, his toilet being clogged, or the collapse of the real estate market. The satirical videos have been hugely popular over the years, with some clips racking up hundreds of thousands of views. But the clips apparently didn’t just generate a lot of laughs, they also irritated the company that owns the rights to the film, prompting the company to ask YouTube to take them off the site.
It’s rainy and drab outside and the only thing making us feel better is watching videos in which Applegirl shows off her amazing abilities with the iPhone. This YouTube sensation performs hit songs using a collection of apps on several different iPhones. Yesterday it was a three-phone version of Beyonce’s “Irreplaceable,” and today she’s taken a stab at Lady Gaga’s “Pokerface” using four phones.
She seems to use a mix of looping drum beat apps, guitar chord apps, and, for Pokerface, the T-Pain autotune app for that modern vocal sound. Here’s a look at both videos. However, here’s a heads up–Applegirl doesn’t get into the swing of things with Irreplaceable till 1:34 into the video and the cat making the rounds in Poker Face is very distracting.
Discoblog: Book-Balancing, Rubik’s Cube-Solving, Pi-Reciting Geek Girl Goes Viral
Discoblog: The Mother of all Rube Goldberg Machines!
Discoblog: Will Watching Videos of the Great Outdoors Make Cows “Happy and Productive”?
Discoblog: Quirky Musicians + Clever iPhone Apps = the MoPho Orchestra
You would think that kids these days would have something better to do with their time than balancing 15 books on their heads while manipulating Rubik’s cubes and reciting the mathematical constant pi to a hundred digits.
But no. In the latest geek-tastic viral video, a young lady who calls herself “Bookonmyhead” carries out just this stunt. The video was posted in November but just went viral in the last few days; by now it has racked up more than 131,000 hits. Mashable says the girl is 18-year-old Lauren.
The 42-second video is pretty cool but comments left on YouTube allege that Lauren had solved the Rubik cube prior to the taping and that the books were superglued together—which is why they didn’t slither right off her head. Whatever! When was the last time you balanced 15 books on your head, messed with a Rubik cube, and got so many pi digits right? We thought so. Now watch.
Discoblog: The Mother of all Rube Goldberg Machines!
Discoblog: A Rubik’s Cube Could Tell Us Which Arm Is an Octopus’ Favorite
Discoblog: Crop Circle Plants Pi in a Barley Field
DISCOVER: The Rubik’s Cube Solution That Could Improve Your Life
You can learn to solve a Rubik’s cube from YouTube—so why not how to deliver a baby?
Twenty-eight-year-old Marc Stephens, now a father of four, had planned an at-home birth with his wife, Jo, but the hospital had no midwives available when baby time came a-calling. So instead, he tapped his memory for lessons he’d learned about childbirth from a series of how-to videos on YouTube.
For the science-inclined, there is something very sexy about the periodic table and how, by a simple accounting of protons in atomic nuclei, its neat rows and columns reveal the peculiar behaviors of elements—the irreducible components of our world. Anyone who has taken time to ponder the periodic table has his or her favorites, whether it’s based on their explosive properties (potassium), their illustrious namesakes (curium, named after the Curies), or their silly abbreviations (Uup, Uuh).
An amazing team at the University of Nottingham has been sharing its love of the periodic table by making short Youtube videos of all 118 elements, from helium to ununoctium. The team goes to great lengths to showcase the elements, including handling vials of highly toxic arsenic and traveling to frosty Ytterby, Sweden (the birthplace of yttrium, ytterbium, terbium, and erbium). Check out the entire Periodic Table of Videos.
Their latest video is called “What Element Would You Like for Christmas?” in which they pose that question to researchers, all of whom seem to have a ready answer. One researcher selects neodymium, for its Christmas-y colors; more than one picks platinum, the most expensive element. What would you pick?