YouTube, the den of a new conceptual art that ignores itself
23 Apr, 2019
Art brut: Which has not undergone any intellectual elaboration; spontaneous; escaping any cultural norm.
Since its creation, YouTube has been constantly evolving. The famous video platform has now become a real generator of creative content. Among popularizers, musicians and other cultural critics, one can only appreciate the quantity and increasing quality of the videos offered. In this effervescence, a new type of youtuber emerges. Unclassifiable, bizarre, sometimes disturbing, these newcomers often provoke strong reactions while leaving you perplexed. Newcomers, not quite. Indeed, weird things have always existed on YouTube. The difference is that today these youtubeurs generate thousands or even millions of views and are beginning to attract advertisers.
Who are these UFOs from the YouTube game?
The first impression they leave us is often pejorative. Another madman who indulges in his delusions in front of a camera.
But on closer examination, we are dealing with a kind of bizarre marriage of conceptual art and raw art, an art in which aesthetic quality is almost always relegated to the background. Everything is based on the idea, the concept, which is repeated over and over again in the videos. No intellectualization of the content, no reference to make the content credible or to integrate it into an existing artistic movement. However, it would seem that there is some purpose in these videos, even if the authors leave it buried under a naivety that reinforces the authenticity of the concept. Are we dealing with the emergence of an artistic trend that ignores itself? Or are we just faced with the continuity of YouTube’s own “What The Fuck” quirks?
The most meditative
Cemcem (9 Million views)
The concept is simple (as often in this trend): the youtuber looks at something for a given time. A rather long, very long time. As you watch the videos, you can watch him for hours looking at a mirror, a taco, watching the Netflix jingle or a clip in honour of the yellow vests, on a loop. The video in which he watches the Netflix “tudum” jingle has more than 500,000 views and has even been commented on by Netflix itself.
One would be tempted to say that with his channel, Cemcem questions our relationship to the passing of time and boredom. His creation is a mixture of admiration and pity. Admiration because we can only be admiring his performance (10 hours, after all!) and pity because we recognize a caricature of our own stupidity caused by our consumption of entertainment.
But actually it’s just a guy who watches things for hours.
The most revered
Mohamed Henni (171 million views)
Life is hard for Mohamed Henni. He is a fan of the “Olympique de Marseille” football team, he must have known better days. The desire to smash his TV after a defeat must have gnawed at him more than once and as the easiest way to get rid of a temptation is to give in to it : Mohamed smashed his TV. But he filmed himself doing it. And then he started again, over and over again. Over time he has refined his style. It starts with a speech between annoyance and puns finely found to make fun of his favorite team, and ends in apotheosis with an explosion of LCD screen in good and due form. Golf club, baseball bat, axe, backwards kick, everything goes to satisfy this need to express frustration.
One would be tempted to say that with his channel, Mohamed Henni explores loss of control in an era where all emotions must be controlled. He questions our relationship to the passion so much sought after and shows that the latter has no other way out of disappointment, then total destruction.
But it’s actually just some angry guy kicking up TV sets.
The most destructive
Hydraulic Press Channel (329 million views)
As its name suggests, the main actor in this channel is no other than a hydraulic press. We see the latter crushing, through the videos, a whole bunch of things from a water bottle ,to a tire, to even plasticine. The videos were played at normal speed, then at slow motion and from different angles so as not to lose any of the action. We find ourselves absorbed by these videos, some of which have more than 20 million views. Sets to music, some videos include moments of great beauty while stimulating our infantile desire for destruction.
One would be tempted to say that with its channel, Hydraulic Press Channel sublimates object misappropriation. He freed the hydraulic press from its original function to make it the star of his YouTube channel. The hypnotizing achievements of this press make it an artist whose productions bring out the beauty in the chaos of destruction.
But it’s actually just a hydraulic press that crushes stuff.
The most abstract
Webdriver Torso (20 million views)
Webdriver Torso transports us into the most complete abstraction. There are more than 100,000 videos of about ten seconds in length with blue and red squares on a white background reminiscent of Mondrian, which change size and position with a more or less high-pitched beep in the background. Until a year ago, this channel published new videos every 5 minutes. Today, it publishes some of them every 3/4 months. There are many theories about its real function. The theses range from an attempt at extraterrestrial communication to tests of publications by YouTube, there are also a large number of videos presenting more or less far-fetched theories.
One would be tempted to say that with this channel, the author explores abstraction on the Internet. He lets the spectators fill the void created by the total lack of meaning of these creations. These red and blue squares become a catalyst for more imaginative theories than each other. In this way, we become the main actors in the channel.
In a world where many people seek glory on YouTube, this channel offers it to its subscribers by letting them fill the void it generates.
But it’s actually just blue and red squares on a white background, with beeps.
YouTube may not yet be the cradle of a new “art brut”, it still lacks its Jean Dubuffet (the gentleman who defined what “art brut” was).
Nothing new, we didn’t want impressionists in their early days…