Ryeberg

Ryeberg Playlist: Hail YouTube!

1) An Electronic Correspondence Machine. Handy!

Personal computers didn’t really enter our lives until the late 70s, Internet until the mid-90s, but we had long imagined their uses. Take this video from 1969: how handy our clunky multi-screen “consoles” would be for surveillance, shopping, and sending handwritten messages.

What is selected by the wife will be paid for by the husband. Huh.

2) Hail YouTube!

Slightly short of the mark those 1969ers. We really should have seen Mom, Dad and kiddies playing video games, watching movies, gambling, downloading porn and music, chatting with strangers, and shaping their virtual selves at the various identity stations of cyberspace: Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, Blogspot, Pinterest, Second Life, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

Oh, and how could we forget? Uploading and watching video clips. Here’s the first video ever to be posted on YouTube.


jawed, “Me at the Zoo” (April, 2005)

That’s Jawed Karim, one of the three YouTube founders. He’s at the San Diego Zoo standing in front of elephants. A rather modest video when you consider that in eighteen months, Google Inc. will acquire the company for $1.65 billion USD in Google Stock.

YouTube’s original stated mission, as it appeared in 2005, was equally modest.

Show off your favorite videos to the world.
Take videos of your dogs, cats, and other pets.
Blog the videos you take with your digital camera or cell phone.
Securely and privately show videos to your friends and family around the world… and much, much more!

That “much, much more” could hardly have been imagined. The stats are mind-boggling. Over a billion unique views per month. Users the world over of all ages. 20 hours of video uploaded every minute!

3) Animals Dressed Up Like People

They were certainly right about dog and cat videos though. Here’s the latest pet video to go viral. Hilarious.

4) People Dressed Up Like Animals

You may not remember, but YouTube’s first tagline was “Your Digital Video Repository.” That’s precisely what it has become—a vast, disorganized, immaterial, invaluable archive, which at this point would take well over 400 years to watch.

The British Film Institute has been feeding the repository since September, 2007. Their archivists were able to restore the original colours of this badly damaged 1903 version of “Alice and Wonderland,” just in time to spare you Tim Burton’s faux-atmospheric muddle.


Cecil Hepworth and Percy Stow, “Alice in Wonderland” (1903)

5) I Wouldn’t Want to Have an Orgasm in Front of You But…

To achieve standing in online society you must indeed “broadcast yourself.” YouTube is yet another electronic agora, and crowds gather around the people who show themselves, who embarrass themselves, who disclose, parade, reveal, confess.

Easy to imagine Anne Sexton—if born sixty years later—peering into the camera eye of her laptop, enacting her online persona, video blogging, befriending people by the thousands, updating her status at every whim. It’s so easy to be natural when you’ve got this!


Anne Sexton (10 March, 1966)

I mean that’s for real!

6) Pray That What You Lack Does Not Distract

Now the music’s started, let’s stick with it. From any book of right-ons, Joanna Newsom.


Joanna Newsom, “The Book of Right On” (from “The Milk-Eyed Mender,” 2004)

“Ooooo, it’s beautiful! Better than a poem!” As Anne Sexton might say.

7) Somethin’ Fishy Goin’ On

A few seem to find Joanna shrill and affected. Well, here then is 21-year old Dolly Parton.


Dolly Parton, “Somethin’ Fishy” (“The Porter Wagoner Show,” 1967)

8) This Commercial Doesn’t Care

Fine Porter, let’s interrupt these pretty lil’ gals and watch a commercial. Here’s one that’s decidedly of the age.

The folks at Cullman Liquidation (in Cullman, Alabama) have achieved minor celebrity with this commercial. Views are in the millions (here’s the making of).

Thanks go to comedy duo Rhett & Link of ilovelocalcommercials. They make commercials for small businesses across the US on the dime of their sponsors, Microbilt Corporation. Seems it’s an arrangement that benefits every party.

9) Singing to Strangers

17 year-old Andrey Ternovskiy said he wrote Chatroulette in his bedroom over a period of two days and two nights. The site’s been up since November, 2009.

You zap through people like channels, never knowing who is going to appear. There’s complicity among participants, but the immediate intimacy and snap judgements are a little disconcerting. As are the masturbators. Nonetheless, there’s plenty of room for play, surprise, and genuine superficial pleasure.


Merton of PianoChatImprov, “Chat Roulette Piano Improv #1″ (March, 2010)

Merton has set a trend. Many others are singing to strangers, though not quite as successfully. Ben Folds did a decent Merton earlier this month; he even gathered a crowd of 2000 to watch it; he called it “Ode to Merton.”

10) We’ve Got Talent!

Simon Cowell’s global “Got Talent” franchise, while feeding our ever-resilient Susan-Boyle-diamond-in-the-rough fantasies of instant stardom, feeds YouTube with performances from exotic, faraway places.

The ephemeral art of Kseniya Simonova is permanently recorded into the brains of the tens of millions who have watched this next clip. The TV show format is familiar but the story that 24 year-old Kseniya depicts is not: Germany invading Ukraine in WWII, set to a medley that includes Mark Bernes and a symphonic version of Metallica‘s “Nothing Else Matters.”


Kseniya Simonova, “Sand Requiem” (“Ukraine’s Got Talent 2009“)

English translation: “You are forever near.”

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  • Sylvie

    That Anne Sexton clip is amazing!!! She is so alive, so close to the surface, so in communication with the world. The power when she glances at the camera. “Calling you mine.” Then her pleasure listening to the music I find it’s not fake. She is for real. Thank you!

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Ryeberg has been publishing essays about online video clips since 2009. It's part magazine of ideas, part video show-and-tell for writers, artists and critics. To know more about Ryeberg, go here.