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Youtube Video Biography

Franklin20's picture

 For my project I was really interested in the quote by a youtuber Tyler Oakley: “Just because I make videos doesn’t mean that I have to make the same kind of video every time…people that make videos are not just one dimensional who produce one thing for one type of person every single time.” (Tyler Oakley, Save the Drama Fo’ Yo’ Mama). For my project, I wanted to experience representing myself on youtube.

Below are two videos. For my Visual Anthropology class, the students were challenged to make a Video Biography (“Video biography #1”). Then I made a supplement video biography(“Video biography #2”). Video Biography #1 and #2 are compiled together and are in the first youtube video entitled "Video Biography". The second video, “Little Pieces,” is comprised of footage from my personal life during the last three years. I made this video this week to both augment my Visual Anthropology project and so that I could create something new for a creative project for GIST.

One of the most anxiety provoking aspects of this project was figuring out how I was representing myself on the Internet. My first video biography (video biography #1) is completely fictional. I re-staged a jazz combo that I dance in Jazz Ensemble for a video project. My goal was to highlight some of my experiences as a dancer, and experiment with filmic staging and editing. I had two main concerns when I uploaded this video to youtube: first, that people would think that I was super arrogant and cocky (considering that I danced to the song “I’m A Monster” by The Ranger$) and also that I would be judged on the dancing (which is not as good as it is when we do it in the studio where we aren’t trying to do turns on pavement, were we aren’t freezing cold, where we have more space, and where we aren’t wearing such bulky clothing). Interestingly, I feel that video biography #1 better represents who I am than video biography #2 which is made up of footage of a real performance that I was in, interspersed with personal footage of my life and rehearsals. The reason why I feel the first video characterizes me better is because it is so tongue-in-cheek. Those who know me well know that I do not take myself very seriously, that I like hip hop music (both of these factors went into my song selection), that my favorite color is purple (which is why the dancers wore something purple), and that I primarily dance at Bryn Mawr (I started dancing last year and the only classes that I have ever taken were at Bryn Mawr). The other video seems a bit too sentimental to suit my personality. Maybe it is because of the song (“Please Don’t Go” by Mike Posner) which is about being heart broken and maybe because interspersing video montages of my personal life seems incredibly sentimental and indulgent; I don’t know, I just feel that the first version is more representational about who I am.

            The reason why I feel that uploading the first video, Video Biography #1, is so anxiety provoking is because it can be easily misconstrued. It is comprised of a lot of coded information. Factors such as the song choice, the location, the costumes of the dancers, etc all convey biographical information about who I am. Yet, to many of those who look at the video, they just see a hip hop dance not notice the symbolic significance of various parts of the video. This ultimately asks, where is information formed? Is it in the intention of the speaking subject or is in the reception of the person perceiving the stimulus. Based on my experiences with this project, I would argue that it is a mixture of both. The speaking subject is conveying potential information when the subject puts out a stimulus. Even if the viewer does not perceive that as information, it does still potentially have informative properties. However, the formation of meaning from this potential information is still very focused on the perceiver who must weed out what he or she views is noise and what is information.

            To augment this project, I uploaded a video of a collection of footage that I have from the past few years of my life. Theoretically, this would be more biographical than the other videos; it was all taken from real footage from my life. Yet, there does seem to be a hint of staging in this footage. The subjects who are filmed in the video are aware of the camera’s presence; sometimes the subjects even talk to the camera. The awareness of the camera alters the subject’s behavior. Even if it is as simple as angling your body so that it is captured by the camera during a conversation or making looking up at the camera, even a slight change in the subjects behavior alters the tone of the event and is different than if there was not a camera presence involved. This is pertinent to Barad’s discussion of how looking a particle affects the behavior of the particle. In a filmic perspective, the seeing eye of the camera, no matter how big or small a presence it may have, has an affect on the behavior of those around. 




Liz McCormack's picture

truth in art

Great to see these creative projects.  The consideration of the huge informational content in visual media was interesting--so much more complex than for example, simple spoken text, but essentially made up of the same elements--encoding through content choices, staging, music, editing, etc and then the decoding by an audience.  Your reflection on which videos you felt better represented you and why, anticipated particular decodings you knew would not accurately represent you.   So, is that where the compelling nature of art comes in?  It is highly deliberate and full of intentiality, and as a result, somehow manages to portray a "truth" better than the real thing--  e.g., your Video Biography #1.