The Politics of Design in TV and Music Video: Selected Projects
Het Nieuwe Instituut and the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision announced an open call for two researchers to work in residence. The open call invited researchers to reflect upon the politics of design in television and music video, and in the process to engage with the rich collection of the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision.
Between the announcement of the open call on 6 October and the deadline on 16 November, Het Nieuwe Instituut and Sound and Vision received 25 entries. Topics ranged included the architecture of simulation, Eurovision as European ritual, deepfake technology as a design tool in music video, colour grading and forms of othering in post-production, TikTok as meta-music video, post-revolution Iranian diasporic music video production, the K-Pop music industry and political actions by fans, and the representation of the built environment in Southern European trap music.
All the entries were studied by members of Het Nieuwe Instituut and Sound and Vision teams (Delany Boutkan, Erick Fowler, Johan Oomen, Katía Truijen, Jesse de Vos), who made a pre-selection of 15 projects that best exemplified the criteria announced in the call.
The pre-selected proposals, along with the entire submission set, were made available to a selection committee composed of Guus Beumer (general and artistic director, Het Nieuwe Instituut), Liselotte Doeswijk (television and design historian), Jason King (associate professor, director of global studies, and director of writing, history ane emergent media studies at the King New York University’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music), Johan Oomen (manager research and heritage, Sound and Vision), Eliza Steinbock (assistant professor in cultural analysis at Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society), Katía Truijen (senior researcher, Het Nieuwe Instituut) and Jesse de Vos (research and new media, Beeld en Geluid). The jurors were asked to read all 15 pre-selected proposals and invited to nominate any other projects for inclusion.
The selection meeting was held on 27 November 2020 via Zoom. Proposals were evaluated on the basis of their engagement with the theme, originality, relevance and connection to the collection of Sound and Vision. During the pre-selection and selection process, Het Nieuwe Instituut and Sound and Vision’s team members and members of the selection committee abstained from voting on proposals by individuals or groups with which they are affiliated or have a conflict of interest.
The committee recognised and awarded a research residency to two projects of EUR6,000, and decided in addition to award three more proposals with a research stipend each of EUR2,000. The selected proposals demonstrate urgency and ambition, experimental ways of archival research, and cross-disciplinary and critical approaches to the theme of the call. The committee’s decision and the report were published and presented on 4 December 2020.
- Archivo Auxiliar (Gabo Barranco, Ayesha Ghosh, Ramon Jaramillo, Frankie Ventura, Alicja Wozniak) with Cyberstreams
- Bartlebooth (Antonio Giráldez López and Pablo Ibáñez Ferrera) with Selling Bricks. Urban video clips, built environment and spatial politics.
- KMworks (Miruna Dunu and Karin Fischnaller) with Deep Decisions? The Politics of Deepfake Technology as Design Tool in Music Videos
- Jord Viader Guerrero with Infinite Scroll as a Symbolic Form
- Albert Figurt with The Self Splintering Evolution of Web Music Videos
by Archivo Auxilliar
“Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, in Mexico City, as elsewhere, electronic music nightlife invited individuals across race, class and sexuality to safe and inclusive spaces. Nightlife was a place for personal expression and collective experience, creating bonds between strangers. Producers and performers used siting, lighting, sound and acoustics to create a range of atmospheric environments that unified the community.
As the public health response has dismantled nightlife worldwide, digital events have begun to replace physical parties and clubs. Tactile and collective experiences have been translated into cyberstreams, bounded by the frame of screen and camera. From live streams to VR events - cyberstreams have created new arenas for design, identity presentation, and consumption. By studying the spatial, social and sound production in streaming events, we hope to understand these new experimental typologies.”
Selection Committee comments:
Cyberstreams is an original and topical project by the multidisciplinary and transnational collective Archivo Auxiliar. The collective proposes unique research into the social, spatial and sonic dimensions of live streaming in this pandemic moment. The jury recognises the importance of the project and the multidisciplinary approach that is offered by the collective. In their proposal, the Archivo Auxiliar collective addresses our changing relationships to sound, and between performers and audiences. During the Covid-19 pandemic, performers are challenged by the fact that they aren’t able to tailor their music to a dedicated space and its acoustic qualities, and they have to be creative in finding ways to maximize sound in these ‘cyberstreams’, creating customized and unique sound experiences. Archivo Auxiliar questions how the platforms that we are forced to use during the pandemic make us rethink our relationship to sound, and how that forces us to rethink our relationship with each other as well. They ultimately - and ambitiously - aim to understand how social relationships can possibly be maintained in these cyberstreams. The committee finally recognises the potential of the project to add interviews and other footage to the collection of Sound and Vision, and therefore encourages the collective to include one or more case studies from the Netherlands. They also invite the collective to reflect further upon diversity in live streaming and subsequently the selection of case studies.
Selling Bricks. Urban video clips, built environment and spatial politics.
by Bartlebooth (Antonio Giráldez López and Pablo Ibáñez Ferrera)
“Beyond glittering objects and avant-garde architecture, recent rap and hip-hop historiography has intensely depicted the anonymous built environment of urban peripheries across Europe. How do architecture and the built environment illustrate the narratives constructed by urban music? What are the architectural implications of this type of video circulation? Why has brutalism been the backdrop for urban music in Southern Europe compared to the contemporaneity present in the nedertrap? What aesthetics have these built objects defined? Selling Bricks examines the differences between the built environment in the northern and southern peripheries of Europe, through the Spanish trap scene and the Dutch nedertrap as case studies, represented by urban video clips. It will do so through video fragments, captures, geolocalisations, and relevant voices from music, spatial practice and visual culture that allow us to approach the implications of these phenomena. The project builds upon a long-term research project exploring the relationships between modern and contemporary architecture and ‘urban music’ focused on Southern Europe.”
Selection Committee comments:
Selling Bricks addresses modern and contemporary architecture in rap music and is at the intersection of architecture and music video. It proposes a new chapter in a long-term and well developed research endeavour by Bartlebooth, by comparing the built environment in Spanish trap and Dutch nedertrap music videos. The selection committee recognises the ambition and relevance of the project, and is positive about the proposed format to develop an interactive video-essay, combining video fragments, geolocalisations, and voices from music, spatial practice and visual culture. The committee invites Bartlebooth to consider a cross-cultural perspective beyond comparing the Spanish and Dutch trap scene, with trap emerging from the US and with different manifestations of the genre around the globe, and to interrogate the use of the term “urban” in urban music. Finally, the committee recognises the potential of the project to include captured YouTube videos in the Sound and Vision collection.
Deep Decisions? The Politics of Deepfake Technology as Design Tool in Music Videos
by KMworks (Miruna Dunu and Karin Fischnaller)
“Deep Decisions? proposes the investigation of deepfake technology in music videos, deconstructing its mode of production, its potential of replicating existing cultural and social biases based on the data fed into the generative adversarial networks (GANs), its copyright controversy and impersonation danger, and speculation about its future development in terms of artistic value and media impact. Video material from the Sound and Vision collection will be extended with new material generated through interviews and deepfake experimentation. Interviewees include deepfake designers, amateur makers, scientists, musicians, policy makers, politicians, archive experts, and historians.”
Selection Committee comments:
Deep Decisions? is a compelling and timely proposal on deepfake technology as a design tool in music videos. As the technology is not new but relatively nascent, and examples of music videos using deepfake are growing, the committee recognises the importance of research in this area, as deepfake technology so far has been covered merely from a journalistic angle, emphasising negative and problematic applications of the technology. The subject thus presents an open field of research, and the committee is positive about KMworks approaching deepfake as a creative technology as well, while being well aware of the discussions surrounding the theme and its history. The committee appreciates the effort to look into historical predecessors of deepfake in the collection of Sound and Vision, and to invite AIs as research collaborators. The proposed outcome of a music television show is original, and yet maybe too ambitious considering the time frame and research stipend, and the committee encourages KMworks to revisit the methodology, calendar and proposed format.
Infinite Scroll as a Symbolic Form
by Jordi Viader Guerrero
“The algorithmically mediated, generally vertical, endless scrolling user interface has become omnipresent as the online visual infrastructure for distributing the audible and the visual. Recently adopted metaphors such as virality give off a sense of informational overflow, contextual collapse, and temporal contraction whose design analogue can be found in endless scrolling interfaces. Or, inversely stated, these metaphors are a reaction to the experience triggered by this audiovisual technology. Infinite Scroll as a Symbolic Form approaches TikTok as a single (yet fragmented) piece: a meta-music video that configures a shared space where the symbolic is redistributed. This framing will lead to the exploration of TikTok’s fragmentation in various loose communities that largely follow political lines and often revolve around viral pieces of music.”
Selection Committee comments:
Infinite Scroll as a Symbolic Form is an ambitious research project on TikTok as meta-music video and the politics of scrolling. The committee is impressed with the scholarly insights and original take on technologies of circulation, and is fascinated by the project’s aim to examine the political splintering on TikTok. They acknowledge the need to explore and unpack these issues in the present moment, and to consider the users’ (haptic) input and its entanglement with algorithmically generated content. The committee encourages Jordi Viader Guerrero to consider a cross-platform analysis beyond TikTok, in order to follow the development of infinite scroll, and to further engage with contemporary research on the politics of scrolling and intersectional approaches. Finally, in relation to the Sound and Vision archive, it would be interesting to reflect upon how to document and archive the experience of infinite scroll.
The Self Splintering Evolution of Web Music Videos
by Albert Figurt
“Case scenario: what if you're not only a composer, but also a talented multi-instrumentalist (aka you can master several instruments)? Augmented case scenario: what if you want to give it a try at self-sufficient multi-playing (aka work on introspective, stratified pieces of music)? Case scenario on [a]steroids: what if you also would like to showcase a visual outcome of your lively efforts? Well - you could become a traditional one-(wo)man band, thus relaying on a body-related, live or performance-based approach; alternatively, you could opt for an experimental self-replicating endeavour, thus producing a meta-physical, audio/visually remixed and interface-based outcome! Introducing ‘Self-Splintering Multi-Channel Video-Songs’, in which musicianship meets DIY video practice, multi-track recording becomes multi-screen performance and standardised video clips metamorphose into split-screen ego trips.”
Selection Committee comments:
The Self Splintering Evolution of Web Music Videos investigates DIY artistic production and competition in music video culture, the performative musical body rather than the fictionalised spectacular body, and online video dialect. The committee was fascinated by the notion of ‘self-splintering’, and finds the proposal conceptually, empirically and aesthetically highly insightful. Furthermore, they acknowledge the relevance of the subject, and the need to investigate how people are imagining and performing their own self and individuality in this contemporary era. They are positive about the project expanding this field of research. The committee invites Albert Figurt to expand the range and diversity of case studies, and to further reflect upon the relationship between fragmentation and splintering, as well as considering notions such as augmentation, expansion and multiplicity.
Next to For the Record, Het Nieuwe Instituut and Sound and Vision, together with the International Institute for Social History, launched the open call Open Archive for three six-month positions to create a new audio-visual work based on the open collections of the three institutions. The results were announced on Monday 7 December on: www.openarchief.com.