These 5 YouTube Vids Deserve To Be In The MoMA
Since its launch in 2005, YouTube has been the go-to jamboree of the internet. From music videos and professional podcasts, to thousands of cats and publicly-shared home videos, there isn’t a genre that the website lacks. However, in a sea of content, it can be easy to overlook individual works that are notably superior.
Below we’ve compiled some seriously underappreciated YouTube videos that are so artfully well done, they’re better suited for the chemical white walls of the Museum of Modern Art than the dark depths of YouTube. You can take pictures, but please, no flash.
Ken Burns Says “Jazz” 3 Billion Times (actually 2.97 bn) in Under 3.5 Minutes by Bill Baird
Using exponential scaling, Bill Baird turns a Ken Burns soundbite—”Jazz!”—into a mathematical monstrosity. The video, edited on Final Cut 7, combines elements of computing know-how and free-form jazz, represented here through fractal noise. As the video gets increasingly distorted, Ken Burns transforms from subject to numeric function. The effect is staggering.
Wendell’s Hat Thief by Normal Bob Smith
In his decade-long series, Amazing Strangers, video documentarian and artist Normal Bob Smith captured the lives of the circus-like cast of characters that inhabit NYC’s Union Square. This particular episode, “Wendell’s Hat Thief,” is a straight shot of live theater—a drama that sets off when Teddy, a seemingly high student from The New School, steals a slime green felt hat from Wendell, the resident clown dressed in a mishmash of hand-sewn thrift wear. The short, unfolding amid a throng of unsuspecting tourists and teens playing hacky sack, captures the (kind of pathetic) essence of Union Square.
I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up! by Dave Fothergill
Drawing its name from the motto of Life Alert—that wearable medical alert system for seniors—”I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!” pits humanity against the unerring machine. The metallic, slowly-spinning fan never stops tripping up character models, tossing them aside like worn-out rag dolls. Functionally, the video is a CGI-produced crowd dynamics test. Aesthetically, however, it falls somewhere between the slapstick humor of Monty Python and the far-off observations of Where’s Waldo.
Marco Rubio Dry Mouth by Totally J/K
Totally J/K was an LA-based comedy show, hosted by Upright Citizens Brigade affiliates Joe Mande and Noah Garfinkel. Their YouTube channel found comedy through editorialization—one project, “The Andy Rooney Game,” presented the first and last sentence of Andy Rooney’s 60 Minutes segment without comment. In “Marco Rubio Dry Mouth,” the duo isolated every instance of audible dry mouth in Marco Rubio‘s 2013 response to Barack Obama‘s State of the Union address, and played them in sequential order. The video prods at our pathos, as we watch a helpless Rubio lip smack away and fumble for a travel-sized bottle of water.
Murlo & Famous Eno – Ariel (VIP Mix) by Mixpak
Mixpak, a Brooklyn-based electronica label, used CGI in order to pair ornate, flatly-shaded masks with Londoners Murlo & Famous Eno’s screwball grime soundtrack. The horrific masks hover over an unadorned column, spinning and illuminating alongside a discordant, birdsong beat. The timeless masks call back to grim folklore, and preside over listeners, judging them openly.
Stay tuned to Milk for more YouTube deep cuts.
Main image by Kathryn Chadason. Additional image via Mixpak.