Posts Tagged ‘playlist’

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

Watching Martin Kohout, a work by Martin Kohout recently exhibited on’s year-long “Serial Chillers in Paradise” online exhibition space, is a YouTube channel consisting of (as of the current date) four hundred and thirty uploaded videos.

Kohout began uploading videos to this channel in April 2010 and is still actively doing so.

The content of each of the videos on the channel consists of (in all but a few cases) a webcam capture of Kohout as he himself views another video on YouTube (some of which are his own earlier videos from this very series).

Each video acts as a sort of loop from YouTube to Kohout back into YouTube (and sometimes looping back out to Kohout again if, as just mentioned, he chooses to watch one of the videos of himself watching another video).

In a gallery setting, the playlist would presumably be run through chronologically (although not necessarily); however, for the viewer of the work on a personal computer, there are any number of ways to engage with it.

I, personally, began by viewing the most recent video – Watching Liam Crockard – Hugh Scott-Douglas – ABSOLUTELY @ CLINT ROENISCH.

In this particular video, one views Kohout – whose distinctive physiognomy is anchored by a pair of glasses with large, rounded frames – looking down towards the webcam and the computer screen which displays the video he’s watching.

Because he’s looking down to the webcam, a source of tension in each of these videos is the way in which Kohout’s gaze almost meets the viewer’s own.

It’s sort of like being on the side of a one-way mirror which allows one person the ability to look directly at the other without the other’s ability to look directly back.

As the video goes on, Kohout’s eyes scan over different parts of the screen with a dead-pan expression; at one point, he fidgets and, then, smirks; a bit later, something catches his eye out the window; and near the end, he gives a little smile before again returning to his default dead-pan.

Generally, though, there is only very little variation in Kohout’s performance (he’s just watching the videos) and this minimal, vaguely uncanny fascination persists through the playlist (or at least through the eight videos I personally viewed in full and the four videos I viewed in part).

As one views through multiple videos, the lack of variation in action nudges one towards elements outside of the central action documented in the videos including a heightened awareness of the shifting architectural scenarios, slight changes in Kohout’s hair style and clothing, and, finally, reflective thought regarding the conceptual apparatus of the work.

His seemingly unaffected performance brings up a source of tension in the work regarding the degree to which what one views here is, in fact, an unfiltered view on Kohout as he naturally watches the video or else if it’s a performance of someone as if he was naturally watching the videos.

Kohout knows that his watching is being recorded and is destined to be uploaded to YouTube as part of an art project – does this fact preclude one from saying for sure that he’s naturally watching the videos, and, furthermore, is there a normalizing process in which Kohout’s awareness of the recording process diminishes as the actual naturalness of the performance increases?

Additionally, as one views Kohout responding to the videos, to what degree does the viewer participate in the viewing of the videos he watches (particularly if the viewer is familiar with the content of the video)?

Is one just watching Kohout or is one to some extent watching a version of the video viewed, as well?

To the work’s credit, there aren’t any concrete answers to any of these questions.

What one views here, then, is perhaps a self-portrait demonstrating the ways in which the lines between being and being watched are increasingly blurred.

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

The BAMF! Studies by Chris Coy is a YouTube playlist consisting of fifty-three videos created by other YouTube users (almost all of which are teenage males) in which a character or a group of characters disappear in an inky vapor cloud, only to, finally, reappear in a similar vapor cloud a moment or two later elsewhere in the same physical space.

In each case, the disappearing effect is meant to mimic a similar effect produced by the Nightcrawler character in the X-Men comic book and film series.

“BAMF’S,” as these mimicries are often called, take their name from the distinctive sound made by Nightcrawler every time he disappears in the X-Men films – something in-between slamming and suction.

Taken individually, these videos, which generally run from a couple of seconds to between ten and twenty seconds, to, in some cases, over a minute, are moderately interesting – some videos are more dynamic than others; some videos are funnier than others; generally, though, it’s difficult to read anything into them as they’re fairly self-explanatory.

When re-contextualized in a sequence of videos though, a different picture emerges. Again and again one views teenage boys amidst the trappings of a moderately comfortable suburban life – nice lawns, athletic clothing, family pictures, sofas, outdoor decks, etc.

And again and again, one views these teenage boys in the act of escaping this milieu.

The escapes occur in the form of, on the one hand, the demonstration of the teenager’s supernatural control over his own body in space, and, on the other hand, the execution of an action on a computer.

There’s something pathetic about these forms of escape, but, when viewed as a genre with its own conventions, one might pick up on something more to these videos, as well. In Coy’s words:

[…] an understanding of the vastness of the need to broadcast a coping mechanism to others; like a shared frame in a comic book…