Volume 3, Issue 8: Catching Up
Video art month, I'm teaching a video essay class, and much more!
Welcome back to Notes on Videographic Criticism! It has been awhile. Buckle-up, because this newsletter is going to be a long one.
March shaped up to be Video Art Month on The Video Essay Podcast and Recycled Screenings. On the pod, I interviewed Amanda Kim, director of the new documentary, Nam June Paik: Moon Is the Oldest TV. We discuss Paik's life and work, how Kim approached the project, archival documentary practice, the role of community in Paik's life and in the creation of this film, Paik's shaping of video art and today's internet culture, and more.
Even if you have not yet had a chance to see the film (which is still hitting festivals and slowly making debuts around the world), the conversation is still worth checking out. You can also stream works by Nam June Paik via Internet Archive, here.
[I’m trying very hard to grow the podcast’s YouTube page. Please subscribe! Thank you!]
Over on Recycled Screenings, three works by the Montreal-based video and performance artist Dayna McLeod are available to stream until May 1. From my curator’s statement:
To watch these works (and the others we mention in our conversation) is to see key facets of Dayna’s artistic practice: an emphasis on performativity, humor, and the deconstruction and reconstruction of the world through queer and feminist artistic traditions. I first got to know Dayna through her interest in videographic criticism. So to watch this earlier work, which draws from video art, performance art, found footage, and remix practices, is to see how porous each of these definitions can be. I mention them not to thrust a definition upon these works, but as a useful way of understanding the artistic traditions that infuse Dayna’s work. And that is the word I think of when I watch these videos and hear Dayna talk about them: work. The labor of creating, of embodying that which she brings to the screen. To watch these works is to see a process. To see creation as a lived act.
Watch the films, a conversation between Dayna and me, and read my full curator’s statement, and a creator’s statement by Dayna at Recycled Screenings. Again, the works will screen through the end of the month! And please consider making a donation, which always goes directly to the artist!
What follows next belongs in the ~ personal news ~ category of things. A few things have happened in my world since the last newsletter. As of this month, I am now a PhD Candidate at the University of Amsterdam, based in the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis. My project (which will consist partially of videographic essays) sits at the intersections of videographic criticism, archival practice, and the American avant-garde. I’m happy to share more with anyone who is interested!
I also recently joined the team at the venerable film magazine Cineaste as an assistant editor. I’m so excited to be able to help in the decades-long work of this magazine, and to play a small role in its history.
Finally, I've very pleased to share that I am teaching an online course at the University of Massachusetts Amherst this summer, “Video Editing & Film Montage.” Registration is open to all, so if you know of anyone who is looking to earn a credit or two, or just learn the ins and outs of video editing, paired with basic theories of film montage, then this is the class for them! Learn more here. And register here.
I’ve recently had a great time running one day video essay workshops at two universities (via Zoom). First, I joined Barbara Zecchi’s course at UMass Amherst, “Gender, Film, Theory and Practice.” And then Eva Paris-Huesca’s course, “Latin American Cinema Directed by Women,” at Ohio Wesleyan University. As part of the second workshop, we made PechaKucha’s using Lucrecia Martel’s 2011 short film, Muta. Here’s the one I made:
In February, we published a podcast conversation with Adam Tinius, the creator of the popular YouTube Channel Entertain the Elk. As part of the conversation, we discussed the various phases in YouTube video essay history. This sparked a separate conversation in a video essay Discord server, in which Queline Meadows (a former guest of the show) offered a detailed history of these phases. Queline generously gave permission to reprint this history below:
Off the top of my head, I might organize the YouTube video essay "waves" like this:
1st generation (pre-2016): Every Frame A Painting, Nerdwriter, Lindsay Ellis, Now You See It, Mike Rugnetta (PBS Idea Channel) - They all established the YouTube video essay style/voice. I remember Tony Zhou once talked about having to develop his editing style around YouTube's copyright system.
2nd generation (2016-2019): kaptainkristian, Royal Ocean Film Society, Entertain the Elk, Accented Cinema, Patrick H. Willems, Contrapoints, Broey Deschanel, Jacob Geller, Karsten Runquist - building on the 1st generation and also injecting more of their own voice (and face!) by going on camera. There's definitely an idea of a "YouTuber" being a specific person presenting their ideas to you, so the YouTube video essay began to incorporate more elements of vlogging. This is also when "BreadTube" started and the video essay form moved away from just film to include cultural/political commentary and so on.
3rd generation (2019-present?): CJ the X, Yhara Zayd, F.D Signifier, Ben From Canada, eurothug4000, and 100 more channels - More video game video essays popped up here (though they've always been around) and the vlog/talking head commentary style became much more popular. This is when BreadTube blew up and that community was absorbed into the larger video essay sphere on YouTube. In 2021, Polygon published a "history of video essays" that viewed the form in relation to BreadTube...I don't agree with this but it shows how the word "video essay" has a MUCH larger scope on YouTube now: https://www.polygon.com/22417320/best-video-essays-youtube-history. Those super-long video essays started around here too.
Coming soon to The Video Essay Podcast is a conversation with Bianca Stigter, director of the brilliant documentary, Three Minutes: A Lengthening. Be sure to try and watch the film before our conversation if you can. It is available to stream/buy/rent!
News & Notes
A CFP via Johannes Binotto: “IN THE WORKS. Makings and Unmakings of the Video Essay”, an international conference at the Lucerne School of Art and Design, Switzerland November 2-4, 2023. Deadline April 20. More here.
The great film festival FILMADRID has once again put out a call for video essays in collaboration with MUBI. Deadline April 24. More here.
Screenworks has extended the deadline for a forthcoming special issue, "New Entanglements," which " invites practice-researchers to submit works exploring the theme of film-philosophy from an artistic perspective." New deadline is May 1st. More here.
CFP: Tecmerin has issued a call for video essays for issue 11. The deadline is May 2, 2023. Learn more here.
Via Alan O’Leary: “Call for contributions to a special issue of the journal ELLA – Education, Literature, Language: Literature and the Video Essay. Researching and Teaching Literature Through Moving Images
Co-editors: Adriana Margareta Dancus (University of South-Eastern Norway) and Alan O’Leary (Aarhus University)
This special issue explores how the video essay can function as an academic and pedagogic resource in the study and teaching of literature. ‘Literature’ is understood in a broad sense to encompass narratives in different genres and media, including picture books, comics, feature and documentary films, narrative apps, and computer games.
Contributors will produce own video essays (5-12 minutes) accompanied by an academic guiding text between 1000-1500 words that fleshes out the relevance of the topic, positions the video essay in a larger academic context, and provides critical reflections on the process of making the video essay.
Full call and timetable here.
Abstracts (300 words) and a one page-mood board which visualizes the project should be sent to Adriana.M.Dancus@usn.no by May 31, 2023.
We welcome contributions in English, Danish, Norwegian or Swedish.”
On June 28: “B-Film and the Department of Film & Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham invites PhD candidates who are exploring audio-visual approaches to their research to attend a one-day colloquium. This will engage with identities and methodologies of creative practice research and include discursive and practical exercises. There will be a keynote talk from Dr Richard Langley, who completed his audio-visual PhD in 2012 and currently supervises seven practice-based students, while fostering a strong creative practice research community at Birmingham.” Register and learn more here.
"CO-VIDeos: a Collective Videographic Project on TV Series and the Pandemic"
“In the context of the financed project "TV Series in the Pandemic Era » (Université Paris Cite - IDEX 2022-2023), Ariane Hudelet will be curating a collection of short video essays dealing with our personal connection to TV series during the pandemic period. The parameters are:
- 3 minutes max
- Your video will feature footage from a series – a scene, a brief sequence, or a montage of scenes or still shots
- A voiceover, or text on screen, will explain why this particular series resonates with your experience of the pandemic (either because you watched it in lockdown or because it shed light on a particular aspect of the pandemic period, for instance). The video can be in any language, but an English version is required (via subtitles for instance)
Please contact email@example.com if you wish to contribute. Video essays allow a more personal take on the material, balancing a poetic and an analytical approach. They will provide a different way to tackle the emotional connection that the serial form particularly encourages, especially in a very uncertain period. The main project deals more broadly with the effects of the Covid pandemic on the serial form, in terms of production, representation, and reception. It will lead to a special journal issue (to be determined) including a video essay section.” The tentative deadline is June 30, 2023, but could be extended beyond the initial publication.
Via Barbara Zecchi: “Teknokultura. Revista de Cultura Digital y Movimientos Sociales of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, is calling for articles and video essays for a thematic issue on “Right to Rage: Subjectivity and Activism” which will be published in January 2024. Deadline for submissions: June 30, 2023. More here.
Volume 5 of the Essay Library Anthology, “Secrets,” is now available to watch. Anyone wishing to learn more about The Essay Library and be notified of future project should visit their website.
Many congratulations to Liz Greene for winning the BAFTSS Practice Research Award for Videographic Criticism, for “Spencer Bell, Nobody Knows My Name.” Additional congratulations to Cormac Donnelly and Lucy Fife Donaldson, who won runner-up and honourable mention prizes, respectively. More here.
“A Guide to the Creative Reuse of Archive Film” by Ciara Chambers (h/t Catherine Grant)
Many congratulations to Ariel Avissar’s TV Dictionary project reaching 100 “episodes.” Watch Ariel’s “100th Episode Special.”
An online lecture by Alan O’Leary: “The Nebular Epistemics of Videographic Criticism”
Via the Harun Farocki Institut: The ABCs of the Essay Film by Christa Blümlinger & Harun Farocki is now available for free as a PDF (h/t Catherine Grant.) Download in German. Download in English.
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