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A selection of five video works

Updated on October 5, 2009

We were asked to present five works in our class at school. The assignment was unclear what kind of works it should be, we just had to bring five works. It was also unclear if the works were supposed to be paintings or if it could be works in some other medium. In our general understanding, we assumed that it should be works of art, but even that was not exactly clear from the description of the assignment.

I decided to select five videos found on youtube. The five videos listed here were the first five works that came to my mind. Of course there are thousands of other videos and works which I could have chosen, but these were the first that I could think of, so I chose those five. These five videos are not necessarily videos which I think are brilliant works of art. They are just five works which I like to show in connection with online video.

Gertie the Dinosaur at 0.44 seconds. Animation by Winsor McCay, 1914.
Gertie the Dinosaur at 0.44 seconds. Animation by Winsor McCay, 1914.

Video Nr. 1 - Little Nemo

Whenever I am asked to show something, always the first thing which comes to my mind is 'Little Nemo', the comic stories drawn by Winsor McCay in the beginning of the last century. A hundred years after they were first published, these comics are still totally amazing. It wasn't until youtube that I was able to also see his animations. Several of his animated works have been uploaded to youtube, including his famous animation film 'Gertie the Dinosaur' from 1914. Dinosaur Gertie is said to be the first distinct character in animation.

The animation 'Little Nemo', from 1910, is even older, 99 years by now. It is most likely the first color animation ever, colored in by hand, all 4000 frames. I think the movements in this short animation are completely amazing. I especially like the part where they are looking into those funny laughing mirrors. (At least I assume that's what they are doing.) This was made in a time when there were no computers at all. It was made in a time when people most likely could not even imagine that at the end of that same century it would be possible to render an animated 3D dinosaur in one afternoon.

I also really like the connection he makes with drawing, when Little Nemo draws a princess next to himself as part of the animation. And even more I like the end of the film, where the animator (Winsor McCay) steps out of the animation and his hand comes in holding the drawings. These are effects which are often used in cartoons and animations, but he thought of that already in 1910! Before anyone had ever made an animation before... Truely amazing!

Video Nr. 2 - The Machine is Us/ing Us

This video also starts with drawing by hand. But it then quickly developes into more recognizable images of our lives now, in the beginning of the 21st century, the so-called 'Web 2.0'. This is a video I wished I had made myself. It was made by Michael Wesch, an assistant professor at Kansas State University and it explains the so-called 'Web 2.0' in just under five minutes.

Little Nemo and the Web 2.0
Little Nemo and the Web 2.0

The video shows how linear text becomes digital, how digital text is structured and how you manage to find the information you need in the huge mass of data. The web is referred to as 'the machine'. A machine which you are feeding information, each time you do something online. Even now, when you click on a link inside this article, you are teaching the machine. And by teaching the machine you are creating connections. Connections between data, between information and between people, people who are using the machine, people sharing, trading and collaborating.

What makes this video so great, is the soundtrack of the video. It is a track by an artist called Deus. And ever since I watched this video for the first time, I have been wondering if that is the same Deus as the band from Belgium. If you follow the link in the description of the video, it turns out that this Deus is from Ivory Coast and that the music can be downloaded at, a community of music published under Creative Commons licenses. It is interesting to me, that I will probably always associate the track with this Web 2.0 video.

Video Nr. 3 - I'm Not The Girl Who Misses Much

The third video which came to my mind, was this video by Pippilotti Rist. I came across this video some time ago via the related videos of some other video. Although Pippilotti Rist is a famous video artist, I had never heard of her when I saw this video the first time on youtube. I was quite surprised to find this work on youtube. What I found the most interesting about this video, were all the comments which were posted to this video.

First of all there were the obvious comments, which you could expect to come with a video work like this. There was a comment that said something like "dress properly and learn to focus your camera before you upload a video". And then there were the comments which just said something like "this is garbage". But at the same time there were so many comments, which would explain why this is true art. There were so many comments, in which people really took their time to explain why this is a beautiful work. And so many comments, in which people would explain in a very friendly way, that, even if you don't understand the work, you should at least respect it and not just leave a stupid comment.

There was also one comment, which seems to be removed again by now, in which someone wrote: "I am studying art, so I know what art is. And this is not art!". That comment was so naive, that I kept thinking about it. There was another comment which said "Can someone please explain me why this is art!". And then there was a comment which said: "I don't understand why everyone who tries to explain why this is art, gets the thumbs down signs and everyone who says that this is garbage gets the thumbs up signs.". That comment had a lot of thumbs up signs.

What this video illustrates for me, is that a good video survives even on youtube. This video has over 100,000 views and has a rating between 4 and 5 stars, despite all the viewers who write "this is garbage". I really like this video as an example where viewers explain the work to each other. And I think that the fact that this video is available via youtube, creates a whole new audience for video works like this. This is a kind of video, which in the past you would only see inside a gallery. A lot of people, who would never go inside a gallery, might now come across it via a related video on youtube. And all those people who initially write "this is not art", will still keep the experience of seeing it and they will maybe look at it differently the second time they come across this video.

Click here to watch the video on youtube, if you want to read the comments.

Video Nr. 4 - The Original Human Tetris

This is a video which I found because it was a featured video on youtube. It was on the first page of youtube, so I clicked on it... I don't know anything about this project or the artist. I just watched the video on youtube. It is a video by Guillaume Reymond, called Human Tetris.

I really like this video. I think the idea to play a classic computer game with human people in a theatre is just brilliant. And the way how he implemented this idea is really great. I especially like the details, such as the next group of people, the next tetris block, which is already sitting and waiting in the top right corner. What makes this piece so great, are the sounds which are completely done with a human voice, which really fits with the concept.

What I like the best about this video, is that he is playing such a bad game of tetris! This person puts all this work together to realize this project, all those people, a theatre, placing the people on their chairs, moving them. It must have been so much work to create this video. And then he selects such a badly played game of tetris as the example which he is going to visualize! Of course, if he would take a well played game, it would take him much longer to realize the video, because he would be playing much longer, but still.. ;-)

Again, I like the details, for example the detail that in the last moment, when it is already almost 'game over' (at 1.52), there is still one row of pixels faw away in the back, which is full and which disappears from the game. And he even manages (at 1.20) to almost clear the whole playground. But then, right after that, the game suddenly becomes so fast!

Video Nr. 5 - Brickloader

Here is another video inspired by the Tetris game. This video is made by Miha Ĺ ubic, a student from the Famul Stuart School of Applied Arts in Ljubljana, Slovenia. I am teaching sometimes on this school and I had seen some of the sketches for this video already before it was finished.

When the video was first uploaded to youtube, I expected it to become a successful video on youtube. But by now, three months after it was uploaded, it only has just over a 100 views. I really wonder why no one has discovered this video yet online. And I wonder if my hub How to get 1,000 views on youtube would help this video to get some more views.

I have selected this video here in this list of five videos to symbolize all the amazing video works which I have seen on youtube, made by creative, talented people all around the world. Video works made by people, who are just working really hard to make their art works, but who are never really discovered or reach that big audience that we all dream about. I know so many people with great ideas and I've seen so many people who are really good at something. And I always wonder why most of the videos on youtube which reach millions of views, are just so boring... whereas so many really interesting videos are hidden and almost impossible to find between the thousands of videos which are uploaded every day.


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