Colloque, 29 avril 2016

How to Pronounce

Sandy Baldwin
Narrations contemporaines: écrans, médias et documents, événement organisé par Leverhulme International Network for Contemporary Studies et Chaire de recherche du Canada sur les arts et la littérature numériques ALN

My talk focuses on two YouTube channels, Pronunciation Book and Webdriver Torso, both famously enigmatic “Internet mysteries,” and both recently solved. Both channels signify screens, through their organization as a YouTube channel and through the way specific videos simulate television or film frames and imagery. Both signify writing as well, using the form of the written character and a thematics of reading and speaking. Intense speculation surrounded both, with arguments for their authorship and intention by aliens, spies, and artists. The revelation of the fact that one was a teaser for an over-corporate ARG and the other a video quality test for YouTube left palpable disappointment.

Certainly, this outcome can be read in terms of the collapse a discourse of desire and its proffered communication from some other in the form of cryptic writings; that is, we wanted these to be significant, artistic and subversive, we wanted them to convey some sort of truth of the internet. Instead they expose the inscription or logo of various corporate others (and notably Google’s ever presence). What if such machinic inscription is on every screen on the web? And what if we refuse the bitter pleasure of “solving” these mysterious YouTube channels?

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