Critical Writing Index

From TVTV to YouTube: A Genealogy of Participatory Practices

by Stephanie Tripp

Journal of Film and Video, Spring 2012, v. 64, no. 1-2, pp. 5-16

"This article seeks to trace a genealogy between early practices in video as social experiment and contemporary video production as part of a globally distributed 'participatory culture'."

The author provides context on the 60s sociopolitical climate and technological developments that allowed such alternative media movements as Videofreex, TVTV, and the People's Video Theater to exist. The rise of "guerrilla television" is evaluated, with focus paid to TVTV's legendary, cheeky documentary from inside the 1972 Republican convention, titled "Four More Years." With a rise in arts funding for video in the 1970s, and concurrent lessening of urgency to reach a wide public, participatory video splintered into "guerrilla television producers" reaching out to the masses, and "community video activists" content to operate and collaborate within small communal circles. The authors finds that a range of factors -- including drifting interest, and the co-optation of experimental video by the mainstream -- contributed to the decline in visibility of participatory video culture. More recently, online participatory video has flourished with the rise of sites like YouTube. Given the imposing archive of online video, the author focuses attention on activist videos where experimentation with current technology and nonconventional storytelling, as in previously mentioned early video work, are used to challenge the mainstream. The achievements of such collectives with online presence as Press Pass TV and Reel Grrrls are discussed. The author wonders about "financial sustainability" and "social consequence" of online video; one issue is that traffic still revolves mainly around corporatized "hubs." She concludes that it is important to continue to develop an understanding of online activism in a lineage with early participatory video, acknowledging shared goals and challenges between them.

ITEM 2012.035 – available for viewing in the Research Centre

Videos, Artworks and Artists Cited

Mayday RealtimeDavid Cort and Curtis Ratcliff

Women's Liberation March NYCPeople's Video Theater

Gay Pride March NYCPeople's Video Theater

Four More YearsTVTV

Police Accountability RallyPress Pass TV

Dear ComcastReel Grrrls