#6 Amsterdam

Video Vortex 6 Amsterdam | bios | timetable | conference program | workshops | practical info | credits | tickets
Download the digital version of the program here!

Location: TrouwAmsterdam
11-12 March 2011

Two years later, the Video Vortex events come back to Amsterdam. Organized by the Institute of Network Cultures, and in a top cultural venue, Video Vortex 6 offers artist presentations (performances, screenings and talks),  hands-on workshops, the launch of the upcoming  Video Vortex Reader II, and a 2-day symposium.

Watch videos of the symposium here.

Conference Themes

Friday, March 11
Online Video Aesthetics
Platforms, Standards and the Trouble with Translation Civil Rights
Online Video Art
Book launch: Web Aesthetics, by Vito Campanelli

Saturday, March 12
It’s Not a Dead Collection, it’s a Dynamic Database
The World of Online Video: Country Reports
In Conversation with artist Natalie Bookchin
Online Video as a Political Tool
Book launch: Video Vortex Reader 2

Tuesday, March 15
Out in public – Evening Screening with artist Natalie Bookchin

10.15 – 12.30 > SESSION 1 >

Online Video Aesthetics

In response to the ubiquitous presence of video on an array of websites and platforms, this session seeks to explore the development of the diverse and distinctive aesthetics of online video. Tackling the tenuous relationship between amateur and professional video production, particularly with respect to the question of ‘quality’, have amateur and professional video grown closer further erasing the ability to distinguish between distinct visual tropes and operating within similar economic arenas, or are they still in competition? Furthermore, how do mechanisms of monetization on many video platforms effect the collision between professional and amateur content and its creation? What techniques aesthetics, genres, structures and practices exist in the realms of amateur and professional online video creation, and where through the maze of the internet are unique forms and practices emerging?

Moderator: Geert Lovink (NL)

Andrew Clay (UK)
The YouTube Rich List: A List of Riches?
Andrew Keen dismisses amateur video as inane, absurd nonsense. Jaron Lanier sees ‘vapid video pranks’ that demean interpersonal interaction and contribute to a fragmentary digital humanism. In contrast, Jean Burgess and Joshua Green regard YouTube as an important participatory space. When ‘ordinary’ YouTube users are incorporated as content partners so that they become ‘professionalised’, what values are being created? Does ‘professional’ participation culture create more monetary value than traditional corporate media on YouTube? Is there more value in learning about how to make money than appreciating the dynamics of participatory culture? What does the burgeoning ‘professionalism’ of the YouTube stars tell us about YouTube as an entertainment medium where most users are viewers rather than producers of videos in a social network? Are Andrew Keen and Jaron Lanier right to be fearful and disappointed?

Florian Cramer (NL)
bokeh porn poetics: On the Internet Film Genre of DSLR Video Camera Tests
While YouTube is dominated by mass media content, Vimeo and Exposure Room are oriented towards video makers and platforms for more literally user-made moving images. Their culture and those of associated blogs and web forums such as dvxuser, slashcam and planet5d, is one of obsessive technical equipment discussions. Feature comparisons, camera hacking and camera flamewars provide a déja vu of the religious wars about computer operating systems of the past. We are witnessing a new filmmaking culture centered on camera and lens test videos. A great percentage of content on video sharing sites belongs to this genre. As opposed to Hollywood and Andy Warhol’s screen tests, cameras have become the new superstars. They fuel a booming contemporary film genre whose medium radically is the message. This talk will focus on the phenomenon of DSLR cinema, as a discourse of no budget empowerment and the tool that gives you instant magic.

Florian Schneider (NL)
An Open Source Mode Of The Documentary?
“We remember nothing; we rewrite memory in the same way that we rewrite history”. In his film Sans Soleil Chris Marker hinted at the potential of an open source approach towards the challenges of political documentary that are connected to collective intelligence and collective imagination in networked environments. How to shape and develop technologies of a self that would be capable of rewriting memory, since we may have finally had enough of all sorts of fabricated fiction that reduce and limit complex realities to more or less paranoid plots and universally exchangeable narratives?

Michael Strangelove (CA)
The Cultural Value of Amateur Video
From the perspective of the market, amateur videos will gain greater value as potential products or as marketing vehicles as they come to imitate the quality and style of professional productions. Dr. Strangelove will explore assumptions about the superiority of professional aesthetics within video production and argue that the cultural value of amateur online videography lies in its production of difference. The market produces value not merely through the production of things but through its substantial influence over the meaning of things. Amateur video production will be described as an inherently subversive practice within capitalism’s mode of production, which depends upon its domination over both the means of representation and the meaning of the represented. Amateur videography thus presents a threat to capitalism’s system of taste- and style-making. Can a decommodified mode of visual production undermine the legitimating and taste-making processes that are essential to the maintenance of a highly unequal and unjust society?

13.30 – 15.15 > SESSION 2 >

Platforms, Standards and the Trouble with Translation Civil Rights

Proliferating platforms and standards for video on the web offer the picture of a vast, and sometimes turbulent, sea for online video. The problem of translation across platforms and browsers that arise to due to conflicts in standards, and diminished access to content through language barriers, often restrict the possibilities for diverse and open video sharing. With this in mind, this session digs into the ins and outs of some of the main video sharing platforms analysing their distinct and competing characteristics; exploring standards for web video particularly in light of the advent of HTML5 and discussions of the Open Web; and a new tool for collaborative translation as videos bound across language borders. It is in these platforms, new standards and language translation tools that the current state of politics and possibilities for the growing ecology and culture of online video come to light.

Moderator: Maarten Brinkerink (NL)

Ben Moskowitz (US)
Video of the Open Web, Not Just on the Open Web
Most web video is wrapped in a proprietary layer and served cold. It’s time to change that. The potential of HTML5 video to revolutionize storytelling is just beginning to dawn on the filmmaking public. This presentation will introduce some practices and paradigms that make a real case for embracing open video, including popcorn.js, dense text annotations, and more. It will also address some challenges in bringing HTML5-powered video to audiences.

Matthew Williamson (CA)
Degeneracy In Online Video Platforms
Degeneracy In Online Video Platforms is a guided tour through a variety of online video platforms. Based on the essay of the same title, this presentation will discuss the multiplicitous presence of several online videos. Borrowing examples from the art world as well as from viral video, this lecture will cover a diverse range of material, from Michael Snow’s Wavelength all the way to the 2010’s übermeme Double Rainbow. This presentation looks at how different platform politics effect the production and consumption of online video.

Holmes Wilson (US)
Universal Subtitles – Collaborative, Volunteer Subtitling for any Video on the Web Using Free Software
Subtitles bridge physical and linguistic barriers to video, and for many (especially deaf and hard of hearing users) they are not an option but a necessity. Despite their indispensability, subtitles are not well standardized or prevalent online — the best technical implementations are proprietary and/or fragmented across online communities. Our goal is to knock down these language and accessibility barriers by building a framework for volunteers to collaboratively subtitle any video on the web. UniversalSubtitles.org is a javascript subtitle creation tool and a community website for wiki-style subtitle creation. It is 100% free and open source, available under the AGPL license. Users have submitted over 5,000 videos and video publishers who request subtitles from their audience often see translations within 24 hours. This talk will cover the history and mission of Universal Subtitles, give a short tour of UniversalSubtitles.org, and discuss where we’re going and how others can help.

15.30 – 17.00 > SESSION 3 >

Online Video Art

Cinema screenings of online material, live video capture and Skype as a medium, animated GIF mashups, and collaborative networked video making, arts practices all made possible with the changing technological landscape of video on the internet. Asking what is currently on the minds of artists who engage with online video, this session explores how moving images on the internet are being used in creative and innovative ways. What sorts of issues are artists dealing with, what kinds of mediums and production methods are being used and developed, and what kind of work is being made? Through artist talks, this session seeks to illustrate the diverse practices and perspectives of artists working in the realm of online video.

Moderator: Josephine Bosma (NL)

Dagan Cohen (NL)
Upload Cinema:  Bringing Web Film to the Big Screen: from Niche to Mainstream
The web is changing film, not only the way content is being distributed, but also the way film is being produced and watched as online video becomes an increasingly collaborative, social activity. With the mass of daily video viewing and uploading, the web is turning into a huge video database. But, how do you find the gems amongst these millions of videos? Enter Upload Cinema: an initiative started to select and present the best of the web in movie theatres. Every month the film club produces a fresh program of inspiring and entertaining internet shorts.  The audience submits films via the Upload Cinema website, then the editorial team selects the best and compiles a feature length program which is screened at movie theatres and special venues. As it starts its third year, what lessons has Upload Cinema learned thus far? How has the concept evolved over time? How does it combine crowdsourced content and curated content? What does the future of Upload Cinema look like?

Ashiq Jahan Khondker (US/NL) and Eugene Kotlyarenko (US)
The Diegetic Desktop
“Diegetic desktop” is a term used to describe a phenomenon happening in a growing number of online video artworks – namely, when the computer desktop is simultaneously the scene of action, the representation of a character’s point-of-view, the means of production, and the means of presentation of the video itself. The growing evidence of this is largely attributed to the conflation of screens-with-cameras in consumer devices, corresponding to a flattening of the enframed experience. As Janus looks at once to both the past and the future, this virtual window/mirror provides a quantum-era bridge between locations in spacetime by being virtually ever-present. Via webcam, Ashiq will speak with Los Angeles-based artist/filmmaker Eugene Kotlyarenko, discussing examples of the diegetic desktop in works of his and of other artists, particularly touching upon the relation to classical narrative cinema technique, and its implications for the experiencing of self-identification as fractured and multiplicitous.

Evan Roth (US)
Animated Gif Mashup Studio Workshop
On March 10th, 2011 as part of Video Vortex, the Animated Gif Mashup Studio workshop led by Evan Roth invited participants to work collaboratively to create a single music video composed of their favorite animated gifs. Animated gifs individually tell the story of one meme but, when archived and mashed together, they can tell the story of the entire Internet at that particular moment. During this presentation Roth will speak about the workshop and show its results

Roel Woeters (NL)
Directing the Audience: What Happens When Media Producers and Consumers Merge?
Trough the democratization of media we see a change in the relationship between producers and their consumers. The internet has shifted the balance of power within the entertainment industry. The gap between producer and consumer is becoming smaller and smaller. Homemade versions by consumers can directly compete with their professionally produced originals. By analyzing two of his latest works, http://www.oneframeoffame.com and http://www.nowtakeabow.com Roel will investigate what can happen when the copy and the original merge into one.

17.00 – 17.15

Book launch: Web Aesthetics, by Vito Campanelli

The INC is pleased to present Web Aesthetics: How Digital Media Affect Culture and Society (Rotterdam: NAi Publishers and Amsterdam: INC Hogeschool van Amsterdam, October 2010) by author Vito Campanelli.
As the most recent publication in their Studies in Network Cultures Series, Web Aesthetics explores how online video, Web interfaces, file sharing, mailing lists and social networks are transforming our experience of the world. While the social dimension of these Web-related forms dominates public discourse, their aesthetic impact is largely ignored. In response, Web Aesthetics intervenes in the field of new media studies and art theory, proposing an organic theory of digital media aesthetics.
Tracking the proliferation of Web technologies, platforms and software, Campanelli offers a catalogue of aesthetic strategies to address their profound cultural impact, arguing that when the Web is located inside sociocultural practices, processes and expressions, it becomes a powerful agent of aestheticization of life on a global scale. During the launch Vito Campanelli will introduce the public to Web Aesthetics.

10.00 – 12.30 > SESSION 4 >

It’s Not a Dead Collection, it’s a Dynamic Database

Now that museums, distributors and TV channels have put their collections online, what is the next phase for these digitalized archives? How can ‘the audience’ be involved in order to avoid a dead online collection with zero comments? Moreover, what forms of social dynamism can be critically forged in the default rush towards greater participation? How to jump through the hoops of copyright legislation, format compatibility and the spatial culture of consumption and production? Who controls the database, and what are the different ethics involved in putting up content from artist collections to indigenous material? Once collaboration comes into play, what impact do conflicting skill sets, different modes of knowledge production and varying social desires have?

Moderator: Rachel Somers Miles (CA/NL)

Arjon Dunnewind (NL)
Impakt Channel: Content with Context
YouTube might be an incredible tool when it comes to reaching worldwide audiences, but when it comes to creating context it’s performing poorly to say the least. Information on basic facts is often lacking and background information, curatorial statements and critics’ interpretations are a rarity. Can YouTube be used as a tool that not only gives visibility but also insight and reflection? Or is it better to move away from this hype-dominated environment and establish new platforms that are dedicated to quality? And how to generate traffic to these platforms? With the Impakt Channel, the Impakt Festival Utrecht is researching these questions and is experimenting with formats to find the best way to make high quality video content available to viewers around the globe.

Sandra Fauconnier (NL/BE)
Mediating Video Art Online
The Netherlands Media Art Institute (NIMk) in Amsterdam is a distributor of a large collection of video and media art. The changing landscape of online video and of internet culture in general challenges NIMk to redefine its video distribution activities and the way it represents and mediates video art online. In the course of 2010 NIMk has researched the user communities of its collection, in the context of the research project Culture Vortex. Next, NIMk’s online catalogue will be redesigned in 2011, aiming to make the collection more lively and participatory, and of opening up more video art to a wider audience. What will be NIMk’s issues and strategies in this area, taking into account the diverse perspectives that video artists take towards video art online, and the role of curators and professionals?

Mél Hogan (CA)
It’s not a Dynamic Database… It’s a Dead Collection?
This presentation surveys Canada’s three largest online video art repositories, all of which encountered severe setbacks in defining, creating, and maintaining an online presence. Of the three, two remain indefinitely defunct, traceable only through the Internet Archive Wayback Machine and local files stored at the various organisations. These examples serve as a case study and springboard into discussions about the larger issues that surround the context of online video art archives, nationally and beyond. Reversing the conference theme “It’s not a Dead Collection, it’s a Dynamic Database” this paper is intended as a provocation about the potential and limitations—dynamism or death—of the web within an archival framework.

Teague Schneiter (US/CA)
Digital ≠ Accessible: Improving Access and Facilitating Use of Indigenous Content with IsumaTV’s Hi-speed MediaPlayers
Historically there has been a problematic relationship between heritage institutions and indigenous cultural heritage, because indigenous people have not been afforded ownership and management rights of their own materials. By adapting existing technologies and acting as a middleman between heritage institutions and communities that desire content to be digitally repatriated, indigenous multimedia platform IsumaTV attempts to provide the technological infrastructure, such as their network of MediaPlayers (server networks) that allow low-bandwidth indigenous communities an equal opportunity to participate, to improve access and usability to Inuit content. Video archives can be uploaded and online for teaching, learning, sharing and strengthening language and culture. IsumaTV seeks to encourage (and build relationships with) indigenous communities and cultural heritage museums and repositories, indigenous language-speakers and participatory media organizations, to embrace more open and participatory paradigms, whilst enabling those that ‘own’ the content to be able to call the shots.

Catrien Schreuder (NL)
ArtTube: Museum Boijmans van Beuningen
In October 2009 Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen launched ArtTube, an online video channel broadcasting videos about art, design and exhibitions at the museum. From the beginning it grew quickly, and at present, contains about one hundred videos produced by the museum, and visited by about 14,000 viewers each month. Initiated as an educational platform, ArtTube is intended to translate, in an accessible way, specialist information present in the museum’s organization, and through the highly popular medium of online video disseminate more of what’s happening at the museum. In her talk Catrien Schreuder will present the website and discuss its aims and possibilities. She will evaluate the experiences with this new educational tool in its first year of existence, offering a look behind the scenes, but also giving insight in the main questions and challenges arising for the near future.

13.30 – 14.45 > SESSION 5 >

The World of Online Video: Country Reports

What are some of the key current issues being faced by different countries in their use of online video? Moving beyond the oft-focused European and North American context, this session seeks to offer a detailed exploration of some of the hot topics, initiatives, and pressing needs of various countries in their development and use of video on the internet by centering on specific projects and case studies.

Moderator: Andreas Treske (TR)

Koen Leurs (NL)
Vernacular Spectacles? Dutch-Moroccan Youth on YouTube
Youth born in the Netherlands from parents who migrated from Morocco experience various junctions in their transitional journeys of adolescence and diaspora. Multiple intersecting issues of age, generation, class, education, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, ‘race’, religion and nationality become invoked. These journeys give rise to the question of whether Dutch-Moroccan youth engage in multiply located self-positioning, or attach to homogenized identity models circulating across online/offline spaces. Triangulating large-scale data of surveys completed in Dutch secondary school settings as part of the Utrecht University Wired Up research project, with in-depth interviews and critical discourse analysis of YouTube material, this research sets out whether we can observe something like a specific Dutch-Moroccan video-fandom practice. Explored here is whether YouTube is primarily used to consume ‘videos of affinity’ (Lange, 2009) and ‘vernacular spectacles’-niche (Androutsopoulos, 2010) (i.e. ethnic-cultural-religious) content that is unavailable elsewhere, or whether YouTube is rather used to consume mainstream global popular culture videos.

Ferdiansyah Thajib (IND) and Nuraini Juliastuti (IND)
A Chronicle of Video Activism and Online Distribution in Post-New Order Indonesia
The exhilaration felt in 1998, at the end of Suharto’s New Order, created a unique sense of momentum for activists working with new technologies. In particular, the sense that video can directly impact local, regional, national and global politics remains strong. However, as activists begin to develop more tactical approaches to changing technologies, how their video will be distributed becomes a recurring question. Access to video-production tools, the internet and mobile technologies, while still limited in Indonesia, is increasing dramatically. The proliferation of video production and the burgeoning online sphere has introduced new ways of communicating that intensify the connectedness of agents from different settings – including those initiating social-change movements, and those who would have once been considered subjects of those movements. This presentation will explore how video activists in Indonesia, appropriate various distribution strategies along with their technological, cultural and historical contingencies to enhance progressive social-change agendas.

Ebru Baranseli (TR)
Presentation Title
Presentation Abstract

14.45 – 15.30 > SESSION 6 >

In Conversation with artist Natalie Bookchin

Natalie Bookchin‘s video installations explore new forms of documentary, addressing conditions of mass connectivity and isolation and exploring the stories we are telling about ourselves and the world. Using webcam footage and YouTube videos throughout her oeuvre, Bookchin poignantly uses video on the net and its revolving cultural, social and political terrain as material and inspiration for her work. In an onstage interview format, this presentation will offer a conversation between Natalie Bookchin and Geert Lovink about online video and her artistic practice.

On Tuesday, March 15th at19:30 at SMART Project Space, the INC presents an evening screening of Natalie Bookchin’s work. Natalie will be present to introduce the work and offer a Q&A with the audience.

15.45 – 17.15 > SESSION 7 >

Online Video as a Political Tool

Video on the internet has opened up a powerful and important place for the widespread distribution of moving images for multifarious political purposes, from grassroots activism, citizen protest and human rights violation witnessing to government “outreach” (authoritative and otherwise) and corporate PR. With these multiple competing interests, this session asks what are the political strategies of online video? Furthermore, are there powerful platforms available for videos in the realm of activism? How do activists deal with and reflect on the nature of online video, with its guerrilla, amateur, viral, remix and lo-fi characteristics? How is online video being used as a grassroots political tool, and conversely what are the ways in which large institutional actors understand and use video as a tool to their own ends, often times against activist intentions? What are the ethics involved in making, sharing and using video on the net as a political tool, and what are the new ways of launching political content effectively when everything aims to be viral?

Moderator: Merijn Oudenampsen (NL)

Patrícia Dias da Silva (PO)
Joining the Online Video Conversation? The Presence of Institutional Actors on YouTube
This presentation aims to describe how YouTube has been embraced by European institutional actors. While the role of politics on the platform has progressively changed, online video has become part of today’s government-citizen communication strategies. Politicians, governments and institutions started publicly acknowledging the benefits of having a YouTube channel, from being a direct way to publish information, to enabling interaction. Additionally, YouTube’s effort towards legitimization implied reaching out to traditional actors and media, instead of maintaining an “alternative” posture. In a mutual co-opting movement, politicians established a presence on YouTube, while the latter fostered such inclusion and highlighted this external recognition in an attempt to escape the “entertainment only” label and gain political credibility. The social media features enabled by the platform, however, have been largely neglected, leading to discrepancies between discourses praising online video as a communication tool and the actual practices by politicians, governments and organisations.

Sam Gregory (US)
Remix Video, Aggregated Video and Human Rights Activism
How does online and ubiquitous video culture, and in particular, approaches based in remix and aggregation relate to a human rights culture that is concerned for the dignity and integrity of victims and survivors, ethical witnessing and the preservation of the intentionality of the original creators of material as well as the original indexical value of the material as documentation of human rights crisis? How do we balance differing ethical responsibilities to victim, survivor and the original intention with the potential of remix, re-circulation, and appropriation, as well as curatorial or aggregational approaches, to speak to the personalization and creativity that generate activism in a younger digitally-literate generation, and produce creative, effective and individualized advocacy videos? Videos considered will include remix videos on police brutality, sex worker advocacy videos, art videos incorporating human rights content, and video work from and about sites of mass atrocity, as well as tools of aggregation such as video walls and mapping approaches.

Andrew Lowenthal (AUS)
The Public, the Private and Media Autonomy.
In days gone by activists often set the scene for the development of participatory media technologies. Until recent moves to undermine Wikileaks by targeting its reliance on various corporate entities, debate on the political economy of the net had been sidelined in favour of Web 2.0 hype. Now that the issue is too big to ignore, what would an autonomous media that could genuinely keep pace with current trends look like? Is it possible, strategic or even desirable? Or how else might we rethink technology in the purpose of social change? What are the liminal spaces or ideas that can be leveraged to draw purpose to such initiatives?

Joanne Richardson (GER)
Making Video Politically
2005 seemed to mark the beginning of the end of media activism. Web 2.0 questioned many of the assumptions of earlier media activism – the call for open participation and the transformation of consumers into producers was revealed as a perfect liberal democratic utopia, which is why it was so easily appropriated by capitalism. Simply putting the means of production into the hands of the people did not automatically shatter oppressive relations of power. There remained other questions to be asked.
This presentation will attempt to ask these other questions by going back to a distinction made by Godard in the 1970s between making political film and making film politically. What would it mean to make video politically today – beyond any simplistic calls for open participation and do it yourself?

17.15 – 17.30

Book Launch Video Vortex Reader 2

The INC is pleased to present the launch of Video Vortex Reader 2 (Institute of Network Cultures, March 2011). Following the success of the first Video Vortex Reader: Responses to YouTube (published late 2008, with a second print and 4000 copies in total), recent Video Vortex conferences in Ankara (Oct. 2008), Split (May 2009) and Brussels (Nov. 2009) have sparked a number of new insights, debates and conversations regarding the politics, aesthetics, and artistic possibilities of online video. Since these issues develop with the rapidly changing landscape of online video and its use, the INC set forth a second time to assemble a great collection of texts that critically explore this online arena. Including texts from internet, visual culture and media scholars, researchers, artists, curators, producers, open-source and open-content advocates, activists, and many more, Video Vortex Reader 2 will be introduced to the public through guest speakers and copies available to take home.

20.30 – 23.00

VeniVidiVortex: Closing Party

Reflecting on our growing digital culture and its increasing audiovisual presence in our daily lives, artists Emile Zile, Anja Masling, Constant Dullaart and more, reveal the possibilities and playfulness of online video to explore, appropriate, and create. Slamming, mixing, melding, mashing, stalling, freezing and buffering will ensue as artists drawing from moving images on the Web beckon you into the vortices of our online video world. From the live collision of video clips to the manipulation of the YouTube interface, the Institute of Network Cultures welcomes you to a closing night of visual sensory over-load through performances and projections.


Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

Out in public – Evening Screening with artist Natalie Bookchin

Location: SMART Project Space, Arie Biemondstraat 101-111 (Auditorium)
Time: doors 19.00 / starts 19:30-21:30
Tickets: 4 euros at the door

The Institute of Network Cultures in association with SMART Project Space is pleased to present an evening with artist Natalie Bookchin. After having the opportunity to see Natalie in an on-stage conversation during the Video Vortex conference, this evening will offer both Video Vortex goers and a wider public the chance to see her work. With Natalie Bookchin present, the evening will show works of hers including Testament (2009) and Mass Ornament (2009) amongst others, a host a Q&A session with the audience touching on the relationship between her artistic practice and online video. Moderator Bart Rutten, from Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.