Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The multi-faceted definitions of vidding

Or... "Can't we all just be friends?"

You know, this whole vidding thing that's been going on (which I'm going to call The Great Vidding Kerfuffle of 2009) makes me suddenly really terrified to actually make any sort of statement about vidding one way or another. It seems like such an ephemeral thing, such a contentious thing, and it's obviously something that people care a lot about (myself included) that I'm almost hesitate to say anything about it, one way or another. So... I'm just hoping that I can avoid any possible vitriol or shit-storming in my journal. Please play nice in comments.

The definition of vidding I have used for my thesis is: "a fan-made remix video (known as a "vid") whereby favourite television or film texts are edited to music and shared online", with a second line describing it as "a unique new media form that combines pre-existing sources in new ways which often convey meanings not intended by their original creators".

I was trying to create a definition that was relatively more inclusive, because at the time I was unsure if I was going to include a chapter on trailer mashups or AMVs (although I no longer am for length/focus reasons).

And I can see a hundred contentious issues pop in just my two sentence definition. I think many traditional vidders (coming from the slash/VCR/Escapade line) would take issue with the phrase "new media form", as this refers explicitly to digital vidding and suggests that it has arisen in the last 5-10 years. I've also noticed that vidders tend to avoid the word "remix" as well, as this brings up connotations of DJs, political remixers, and other digital media artists. I've also included that vids are "shared online": while this has not always been the case, I believe it is such at the current moment. The last section I think is especially important: imho, vids often convey new meanings, but not always. I think vids are inherently transformative, but not necessarily interpretive or analytical. That's a criticism that's often heard of AMVs - they're not vids because they are not critical or interpretive. There's a value judgement there. So many vids are simply about joy, about love for fandom, about expressing that joy. And that's what I love about vidding the most: the emotion. (Please don't hurt me.)

So for anyone wondering, here's the type of vidding I'm going to be discussing in my dissertation:

I hope to provide a snapshot of contemporary vidding. It will be heavily informed by the history of media fandom, and I hope to detail the evolution of vidding as a practice and a community from its inception with Kandy Fong's slideshows, through the VCR collectives, and into early digital collectives. But what really interests me is what has happened to this original tradition since the inception of YouTube, new media cultures, and the mainstream accessibility of digital remix.

I am fascinated by the tensions, conflicts, communities, changes, and individuals who are involved in vidding: the new styles, the experiments and ground-breaking changes, and how they affect and effect the original ethos of the group. What happens when new people start joining the group, and the dynamic shifts? When the definition of vidding is no longer so straightforward?

I've been fortunate that I have cast my interview net far and wide, and have managed to talk to AMV editors working on their first live-action vid, YouTube vidding community members, professional editors, VCR vidders with 20+ years unflagging love for editing, mainstream artists, and so-called visual fan-ficcers on three continents, men and women (and some in-between) from eighteen to sixty. But they've all got a few things common: they love TV, they love music, they love the craft of editing, and they all call themselves vidders.

I consider myself pretty lucky, as a researcher, to have shown up on the scene at such an interesting moment.

So I like to consider a more far-reaching and open-ended definition of vidding for myself, but simply for the sake of scope I will be dealing with the Livejournal-based vidding community with its roots in media fandom-- and how YouTube and digital remix culture has affected it-- for my dissertation.

A big part of me doesn't even want to post this at all, because I'm afraid of blowback. And I really wish I wasn't.

1 comment:

Tiffany said...

Hey! I think you've done a great job at narrowing your focus, because when I contemplated the fact that you were doing to study 'vidding' in its entirety I did wonder "what the heck is she going to focus on, there's so MUCH!"
I shed a tear when I read that you wouldn't be using AMV's but your reason for not including them makes sense.
It's awesome that you have so much material from vidders all over the planet! I can only imagine that will be a point for you when it comes time for you to actually defend this puppy.
Yay, now I actually know what you're studying!