Perry Bard: Video in the Age of YouTube

As I mentioned once before on this site, on January 19th the BFA Fine Arts and BFA Visual & Critical Studies Departments co-sponsored a lecture by electronic media artist and SVA faculty member Perry Bard. Titled Video in the Age of YouTube, the presentation covered Bard’s ongoing new media art project Man With a Movie Camera: The Global Remake.

An image from Man With a Movie Camera: The Global Remake, showing a scene from Vertov's film (left) and a participant's response (right).

As the title suggests, Global Remake is based on the 1929 film Man With a Movie Camera by experimental Russian film director Dziga Vertov. The original film was something of a visual manifesto on avant-garde filmmaking, portraying a day in the life of an average Soviet city from sunrise to sunset, without the use of actors, sets, props, or a script. Footage was shot on-scene in Moscow, Riga, and Kiev, and then edited by Vertov into a sometimes-dizzying flow of images, many of which contain sly references to the cameraman and the process of filming. The final product also incorporates a wide range of editing tricks and film-specific techniques, including stop motion animation, double exposures, split screens, jump cuts, and difficult tracking shots. (You can learn more about Vertov and his film here)

A public projection of Global Remake in Manchester, England.

In Global Remake, Bard has opened up the process of reinterpreting Vertov’s work to anyone with a camera and the ability to post short film clips on the Internet. The project’s site breaks the original 66-minute film down into a series of short clips that encompass individual shots, none more than a few seconds long. Participants can pick one or more shots and then upload their own filmed responses. Each day, a new version of the complete film is built by the site’s software, which selects randomly from the clips available for each sequence. The result is an ever-shifting montage constructed from the input of people all around the world. Visitors to the site can watch the whole thing in a side-by-side format, with Vertov’s original on the left and the latest remake on the right. Viewed together, the two films carry out a visual dialogue that is by turns fascinating, perplexing, amusing, and deeply beautiful.

Another side-by-side image from Global Remake.

In her lecture, Bard spoke about the particular challenges of the project, and the difficulty in making it genuinely global (for one thing, to date she has had no submissions whatsoever from Africa, and has had to rely on collaboration with professionals—such as journalists—to get material from some other regions).

A screen shot of a scene from Global Remake on the project's web site.

To learn more about the project, you can visit its site at this link. Anyone with an interest in participating is encouraged to check out the site and download clips.

Visual & Critical Studies