Snowfall DESTROYS Three Cars is an ongoing curatorial project with Zoë Sparks, with a focus on Youtube and other online repositories of human information. Like the internet at large, these screenshots, videos, webcams, texts, and websites are often aggressively hilarious, sometimes sad, and frequently both. Snowfall is, fundamentally, aggressive moments of peak human detritus gathered most lovingly.
Our first public screening of curated Youtube material was 2011.
In contrast to more conventionally manicured forms of mass visual media, YouTube offers the possibility of videos with subtler, more precise aesthetics that are closer to the metal of life. This level of closeness always has the possibility to be fascinating and rewarding—in a space like this the atmospheres that crystallize can have a poetic effect, allowing you to see an angle on being alive that viscerally resonates with you on contact although you've never imagined it. It can take work to have this experience—it can be tempting to detach from what’s happening and even casually mock it. This might feel safer and easier, but it's less rewarding—if you're willing to get right up close to these videos and stay there they'll bear more intriguing fruit.
That isn't necessarily to say that we endorse all of these videos. Some are twisted or misguided; others we do find genuinely beautiful. But all of them cast an interesting light on the interacting cultural and natural systems that produced them. The smoothest way to get into them, if you're looking for an angle, might be to treat them as having been selected dispassionately, and watching for your own reactions as you view them like you would in a museum context.
Watching with attention, one goes through the surface of the banal and emerges in a place where value judgements fail. Thinking this way, everything dissolves; the borders between a happy birthday and an industrial demo; the too-tame wildlife, a demolition derby; everything points at one another, becomes available.
This substrate of human media piles up in layers, a world-deep; one can excavate tunnels of viewed-ness in the mass; each link leads to another. But the act of watching (and certainly of categorizing, of curating) is violent. Which is to say; it is impossible to watch invisibly, without altering. My own viewing habits are taken into account by the sorting algorithm of Youtube. My playlists have redefined how these objects exist in relation to one another. Strangers are linked by my insistence that the video of the stranger-cat follows that of the chemical diagram. And it begs the question; are we failing these special things and their makers by crudely gathering them together and presenting them in such a way?
We have found that showing this computer-screen media at a large scale is helpful, as is audience entrapment. Perhaps the social pressure of the theatre is enough to make one look harder, or perhaps it is simply that the playlist has become a movie, and may not be clicked away from. Still, we find these pieces to be of fundamental importance; we hope that you can hold them as holy (like an icon or reliquary) in the same breath that they are silly, absurd, sad, tender, beautiful, disgusting, cute, hilarious, or triumphant. Thank you for spending the time.
(Please note that as we are interested in preserving the very particular quality of Youtube and internet based media, we do not download the videos and some have been deleted since the screening.)
- 2011 -- http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLB8367A3D7478C3A4
- 2012 -- http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLdm5JOTaGssCIjfIfzIuEEdaYXH4jARsr
- 2013 -- http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLdm5JOTaGssD2GIz0G7UXmBCGNKs3MVa
- 2015 -- https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLZq1-oIPehfSTZFXtLx7BYYU45fK1q22m
- Text from public talk at Lawrence Arts Center; Youtube Distillation; curating internet ephemera for pleasure and personal success.