Post-Cinema Manifesto

WHAT IS POST-CINEMA?

REALISM

It has been a while since the first human being decided to stream herself on Internet creating Jennicam.[1] It has been a while since YouTube exists. But it has been only a couple of years since filmmakers started creating “real” films (not just YouTube-poop) of the Internet content. On a first glance there is not a big difference between this new phenomenon of filmmaking and the well known genres in video art and film, such as the ones that appropriate “found footage.”

However there are unique, therefore very new properties of the footage on YouTube that could not exist before technologically and socially. Exactly these features of the video material on YouTube  that are substantially different, make this  “YouTube/moving-image-social-networking-platform found-footage-filmmaking” uniquely new.

Those features are:

  1. The real chronological track of everyday life is displayed on video networking platforms in a form of a new-tech diaries.

Non-commercial video on these platforms is often a diary that has not been directed by professional directors like in “Reality Show’s reality.” This property of the videos became possible only because the access to video shooting and publishing technology has been recently given to everyone, not only to the professionals.  Cheap and user friendly technologies have already infiltrated everyday life (in the countries where these technologies are accessible for the ordinary consumer).

Ordinary vlogers on any of the online platforms such as YouTube, LiveStream, Smotri.com, Chatroulette, VK, VBOX, and all other local/national equivalents can now keep track of their real life at the time it is happening, stream it and archive it in a diary form. Many of them talk about political or social events by which we can track and recreate history. Similarly to many diaries, the online ones can reveal surprising details about the past, which we wouldn’t be having without this wide access to the broadcasted material.

These diaries also reveal  the values and the views of the owner of the channel, which helps thremendously sociologists and anthropologysts, who can use them as already finished field work.

And again, these footages are very different to Reality Shows, because in a Reality Show there are preconditions, script writers and directors. Of course vlog makers direct themselves for their audiences – they take roles. But differently to Reality Shows the roles of the vloggers are designed by them, they are the script writers and the producers, therefore the roles they are taking are more authentic, spontaneous and perhaps more real. Reality Shows remain a TV simulatcra of reality.

The authenticity of the vlogger depends on their professionalism. The worse professionals the vloggers are, the most authentic they are. The best professionalists are just actors.  For instance some people who stream themselves live, sometimes just put a camera on and behave as if they have forgotten about it. This is a very new phenomenon of authenticity in moving image, which had appeared once recording and streaming tech became widely accessible. On the Smotri.com channel “Protector”[2] we can see a woman who dies on camera perhaps of alchoholism. She is one of the visitors/tennants of the apartment, which the Protector’s camera is showing. Those are people who mostly spend their time drinking and telling stories to each other.  Sometimes they fix the camera – or talk to it, which means they are aware of its existence. This woman’s friends realize she is death after a while, the ambulance comes and picks her up – all on camera.

2. The new-tech diary making is exhibitionist but also lonesome.

For many people YouTube or Chatroulette is a place where they communicate with people, who they will never see in reality. You perform for the world, you are accessible for the world, but still alone, by yourself in your room, never even seeing your audience, not to speak about making friends with them.

Our practice shows that people who are perhaps the most lonesome are the most difficult to contact in reality. It is very possible that they are afraid they will loose the idealistic perception of the audience as a good listener. Internet trolling and hating is widely known as an online phenomenon and nobody wants to extend it in reality. However there is this dream about “the friend” who is always listening, always loving, always compassionate, a dream, which can be kept alive only if one never meets their audience.

3. The emergence of cultural products such as “YouTube Poop (YTP).”

YouTube Poop[3] has been very successful because of the abandance of video footage online, which nobody can ever watch in its entitery. There is an urgent need for a digest, which YouTube Poop meets.  YouTube Poop gives an easy summary of what is on the tube, functioning as a peculiar journalism for people who get their information online, but prefer to have it already digested and to not make a deep research themselves. The peculiarity of this “journalism” is also in the fact that it is deeply and sincerely biased, therefore it doesn’t function within any existing professional ethics code;

4. The emergence of the culture of the re-post, which permits anyone to do everything with a non-copy righted footage  and by that make it more popular.

The copy-right codes have a lot to do with that. For instance if a footage can be commercially used and make money by distribution offline or on any commercial platform , teh creators of the footage or the film won’t be interested in having it on YouTube. They may make teasers, or other short forms that will promote the product on the other discribution outlets. This happens also with many independent movies, which would not anticipate huge sales, but can take screening fees on festivals for a certain period of time. After their capacity to accumulate these fees ends, they put their work on the Internet under “Creative Commons” license, which helps its future life and popularity. Videos made specifically for YouTube become successful only because someone will re-post them, or make a YouTube Poop out of them.

Often the popularity of indie films online depends on how much audience and publications they have generated during their festival live, however they can relay on all techniques of re-post, re-edit, meme creating and YouTube Poop distributions similar to the videos that were created expecially for YouTube. (This phenomenon has been effectively used commercially by Transmedia Storytelling campaigns).

5. The possibility of an immediate response from the vlogger  to a question by the viewer.

Particularly interesting is the live-chat on video streaming channels, because the audience can ask directly the vlogger to do something, or to answer questions. By that the online audience takes the role of an “editor” or even “director” of the online video footage. This phenomenon has been used effectively by artists, to comment on the voyaristic nature of online watching, and the agression of online viewers, who feel “protected” by their anonimity and technological distance. The live streaming channel: “Diadia Mops” on which an ex-prisoner a.k.a. Mops fulfills requests by online viewers for money. He has a pimp to which the money go. Electroshock is 2000 Russian Rubles – equivalent to 32 USD. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8849K_mKG9s&index=1&list=PLvixhMo6TeSZmGA0INRmydD2hPiMy-MSC

6. The existence of a YouTube community (or any other online video platform community), which although named “virtual” and performing initially on the web – has life in the real world as well.

People from online communities meet in reality as well. Therefore what they do online affects the real world and vice versa. The properties of the “virtual life” inform the communication offline and produce events such as the vlogger boxing “Simonov VS Nemagia.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKeCJJCFy3o

Another example is the video in which the vlogger Falomkin follows the more successful vlogger Talyan on the street, and makes a video to attract Talyan’s viewres to his own channel.

MORE ON PERFORMED REALITY and on the PROPERTIES OF ONLINE FOOTAGE

The footage we can get is constructed according to the features, the rules  and the availabilities  set by the online video platform, which is hosting these videos. We are interested in the footage created by the worst “professionalists,” the ordinary people, the outsiders, “the lunatics.” We think this footage is the most authentic to the media we are looking at. The properties of this footage illustrate the best the opportunities the online video platforms offer for social communication and for creative production to people, who otherwise do not have any opportunities to be on public.

Some of those video properties are:

  1. The camera is the point of contact with the world. The eye contact, the social contact and the art display – the display of the creative activity of the vlogger. We know that the camera is the tool for creative expression, but it is also almost the only tool for social communication and public display.
  2. The vlogger has no direct communication with most of the people who watch her/him, not even via Internet. Therefore we can observe the following phenomenon – vloggers are happy to “talk to us” over the camera but may not want to meet with us in reality ever. The creation of this “safe” exhibitionist space is a protective mechanism for the vloggers, who often might be sociopaths. These people are lonely, but are often afraid of being hurt by meeting with others in reality, so they avoid communication in reality. This makes them choose vlogging to compensate loneliness. Those people usually also have extensive negative experience with online haters, which adds to their unwillingness to communicate in real world.  They want to keep at least some positive image of the people who may be their fans, and not willing to ruin it by seeing them in the real world. Example is Sergey Astakhov who denies all attempts to be reached in reality, although on camera he calls all his viewers “dear” and kisses them by kissing the camera lens.
  3. Some of the vloggers have a style that imitates TV making. The most impressive cliché actions and phrases are copied from popular TV shows.  These properties contradict each other. What we see on youtube is sensationalist, but at the same time authentic and non-spectacular; it is “directed” but also spontaneous; it is fake, but also sincere; it is a “showing off” but also reveals details of the most intimate things. It shows real time, but this real time is interrupted by unpredicted circumstances and accidents.
  4. Most importantly, through online video platforms like YouTube, widely available become voices, bodies and identities that have never had any platform for direct expression. They do not have the chance for direct speach. These people usually have a “mediator” of their oddities: a doctor, social worker, union worker, psychiatrist or a family to make them look OK and to speak on their behalf to the society.
  5. For that particular reason, and because we are most interested in the “worst professionals” we have been blamed of two things: – using the “crazy” people, or “the stupid” people, without the permission of their mentors; – not doing anything – because the director did not “direct” what the vlogger is doing.

The answers to those two questions are:

  • We should not deny and police the voice of anyone, but rather try to understand it, since these voices have already created a platform for themselves through their YouTube diaries. They do exist because of their own will. Incarcerating them within the institution of the hospital is just trying to erase them and make them non-existing, and to disappear from our stage of “normality.”
  • besides the wide tradition of found-footage cinema, that we can build over, there is also a great culture of appropriation and quotation widely discussed as fundamental for postmodernism and subsequent movements, styles and methods such as pop-art, conceptualism; the practices of reenactment and culture jamming. All these have been legitimized as art forms, although they have been using footage produced by “someone else.” Nevertheles we would like to point out that our firts film: “No Place for Fools” might be the first ever feature film produced entirely of YouTube videos in the spring of 2014. As such it is an avant-garde attempt to create something new and built over the already existing practices mentioned above. Therefore our answer to the accuisatons that we haven’t done anything, because the footage is by someone else, is that we bring new ideas to the already rich culture of the use of somebody else’s production for art, based specifically on the properties of the video online production we have discussed extensively above.

 

HOW TO MAKE POST-CINEMA?

 

Look for YouTube persons, styles, contents;

Watch them entirely, follow them live;

Try to communicate with the vloggers;

Make your own movie story out of them;

Be a script writer, actor, director, editor, musician;

Become part of the post-cinema community;

We work as a collective, always open to new contributers;

We collaborate over Internet;

We use Skype as our main tool for communication;

Some of us are immigrants, which made this technology essential for survival,

But also inspirational for artistic expression;

We use technology as transnationals, crossing over borders and merging cultures;

We know several languages, not only by book, but by experience;

And we live these differently speaking cultures,

Therefore we can intertwine them authentically

and not superficially, like many other filmmakers do;

We are not anonymous,

as anonymity in art production often leads to exploitation

by a leader, or a producer;

We intentionally credit everybody who takes part in the production and wants to be credited;

Including people who upload their footage online;

We admire online personalities and consider them THE GREATEST ARTISTS;

(Therefore we don’t make and we can’t ever make YouTube Poop,

which is a degrading form of cut and paste production that humiliates and exploits the vloggers);

We rather want to listen to their voices;

To the voices of the most marginalized ones, the feaks, the holy-fools, the yurodivy–

As they are the most sincere reflections and critics of the world nowadays;

We want to show how interesting, charming and meaningful they are;

We appreciate thremendously the generosity of these people – the vloggers,

who share their life with everybody;

And upload their videos online, for free download and sharing–

Often because they are lonely;

But even more often because they want their voices to be heard;

To not be mediated by medical, psychiatric, educational, family or any other authorities;

We do identify with them, we ARE THEM.

 

Oleg Mavromatti, Boryana Rossa, Viktor Vin4 Lebedev, PO98, Anna Den

November 2016

[1] http://www.news.com.au/technology/online/social/patient-zero-of-the-selfie-age-why-jennicam-abandoned-her-digital-life/news-story/539cd1b26016fcee1a51cfca3895a7b5

[2] http://smotri.com/video/view/?id=v26698243940

[3] YouTube Poop (often called YTP for short) is a type of video mashup, created by editing pre-existing media sources for humorous, confusing or shocking purposes and often containing mature content. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/YouTube_Poop)