Larry Johnson from the New Media Consortium has invited me to participate in an online conference in March. I am thrilled that I will be presenting in any context with prolific writer and expert on all new media and culture phenomena, Henry Jenkins!
Here’s my title and abstract - comments welcome while I construct my talk over the next couple of weeks!
Evocative Spaces and Aesthetic Grabs: How youtube and video blogging are redefining self expression
I will begin this talk with a discussion of how youtube and video blogging have become a mediating space for what Sherry Turkle calls “evocative objects”: objects, or in this case spaces, that we use to think about ourselves. I argue that the act of viewing ones-self in public performances, and acknowledging public commentary on those acts, provides dual reflective lenses which serve to reconstruct, reinvent and redefine one’s identity. To demonstrate I discuss a number of examples in which the nature of the autobiographical is countered and transformed through the performance of self for the public.
Next I will draw on Senft’s notion of “the aesthetic of the grab” - a way of re-articulating the dynamics of spectatorship and participation in new video communities. I will discuss the notion of commodity fetishism and the ways in which “grabbing” bits and pieces of other people’s video performances is then being reconstituted into one’s own performances of identity. This includes but goes beyond one’s amusement at memes, desire for a shared cultural context and networked solidarity, in that it presents a “shopping for truth” about one’s place in the world. It also includes the notion that what is public and telepresent can be owned and manipulated for one’s own desires.
Finally I will raise the question about what it might mean for the millions of youth participants in youtube and videoblogging with respect to ethics, consequences and reputation management in an age where the personal is political.