Video Vortex #9: Video theory – data and perspective





Friday afternoon, March 1, 2013

Joshua Neves opens the Friday afternoon dedicated to Video Theory. Does video really resist theory, like is said so often? Multiplicity, assembly, vortex as models for video indeed resist the specificity and singularity mostly associated with theoretical models. Lets look at some possible ‘videographies’, for example ‘video itineraries’: video as being everywhere and everyday on the routes in our lives, fitting in there seamlessly. Another is the ‘documentary impulse’, related more to the content of the video; just think about the 17000 islands project presented earlier. Video as a form of spatial practice thus has different forms. Moreover, it’s not only spatial, but also having a bodily intimacy: there is an intimate relationship with the Internet (not someone on the Internet, but treating the Internet as being someone you can talk to, interact with). For this reason it must also be important to study the infrastructure of online video, with Neves proposing we see this as a ‘media archipelagos’. Such a theoretical model fits the multiplicity, assemblages mentioned before.

What kind of ‘data’ is the basic material for this assemblage of video? Boaz Levin discusses different ways of working with data, from the 60s up to the times we live in now, the times of data visualization. Raw data is being used as material, but then, where is the story, the line or trend to follow? The fabrication of story, identity, and community through mediation can be analyzed in their immediate forms, as the reduction of immediate data. This reduction to for example graphics is a manner of presenting it to the viewer.

Perspective becomes a key point of analysis. More specifically: the first person perspective. In cinema this point of view is almost prohibited, while in online video it is used all the time. As in the (real) First Person Shooter video that is hardly indistinguishable from a video game. What does that mean? And how can we apply this to such ‘objective’ reductions as we see in data visualizations? Peter Snowdon researches perspective as well. Video becomes ‘radically subjective and radically non-dramatic’. However, we must not forget that the real in itself (like raw material and data) is nothing, maybe not even real. It has to be manipulated into a story in order to get a (real) meaning.