The New Genres: Video in the Internet Age


The Internet video is now a quarter-century old, inaugurated by the 1993 global multicast of Severe Tire Damage, a rock band comprised of computer scientists, systems analysts, and technical staff at a gig at the Xerox PARC facilities. Or at least that's how one version of Silicon Valley lore goes—Internet history is diffuse and multifarious, and the web's architecture constantly decays and rearranges, not lending itself well to linear recaps. Which is likely one reason why the Museum of the Moving Image has opted to present its exhibition The New Genres: Video in the Internet Age not as a timeline but as a catalog of genre conventions.

Spread over about 30 HD televisions, four iPads, and a large projection of Polygon-produced explainer videos, categories range from fringe online communities like ASMR, the Korean broadcast-eating phenomenon Mukbang, or public transit spotting, to tried-and-true idioms like the vlog or the reaction video. Videos within each subset are randomized and partially user-controlled; some screens with sensitive content, like InfoWars videos, pimple popping, or a Chaturbate livecast, require speciality glasses available at the front desk with photo ID.

Because Internet videos have a certain disposable quality—often watched on small screens or half-attentively—and because they've now been around long enough to form something like a canon and historical arc, the experience of bouncing around a white cube auditorium full of them is akin to being subsumed by the delirium of recent history. Here, YouTube user rx's Bush-era U2 songification can play around the corner from the Trumpian petulance of Disney Channel troll Logan Paul; you can watch Morimoto's famed 11-minute speedrun of Super Mario Bros 3 bookended by sections of Dylan Avery's 9/11 conspiracy video Loose Change; and you can see, on a big-screen HD TV, the CollegeHumor office-wide lipdub of Harvey Danger's "Flagpole Sitta," a video which one YouTube commenter describes as "the most pre-2008-economy-crash thing that has ever existed."

The New Genres is open until September 2nd, and if you time your visit for this Saturday afternoon you can double-feature with new 3D works by fellow traveler in the cinema of attractions, Ken Jacobs—two tours of rubble cities for the price of one.

Exhibition Details

Museum of the Moving Image
36-01 35th Avenue, Astoria, NY 11106
Wednesday–Thursday, 10:30 am to 5:00 pm; Fridays, 10:30 am to 8:00 pm (free admission: 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm); Saturday–Sunday, 10:30 am to 6:00 pm
Closes Sep 2