Hello World!

Screenshot of the video diaries playing simultaneously

“Hello World!” or: HOW I LEARNED TO STOP LISTENING AND LOVE THE NOISE  is a video installation piece put together by Christopher Baker in 2012. First-time video diaries of over 5000 people all over the world taken from Facebook and Youtube are stitched together on a large screen as seen in the image above.

From afar, it just looks like blinks of colourful video squares and accompanied by a cacophony. That is in fact, the goal of Christopher Baker. He wanted viewers to be immersed in the cacophony while viewing an array of random personal video captures.

Audience member closing up on the installation to view an individual video

At the same time, viewers are also able to take a step closer and turn their focus to an individual speaker. This is possible because he plays around with the volumes of each speaker where he would raise the volume of one voice above the cacophony as heard in the video.

In an interview with Dazed Digital, Christopher Baker states that today’s technology which allows for people of the everyday to be heard is what inspired him for this project. He was interested in the feelings of a “vlogger” (video blogger) which made him question:

“Do they feel like they are contributing to something? Or, is it simply enough to speak and have one’s voice heard?”

In a platform so wide, it is difficult to be sure if you are contributing to anything through the vlogs that you make. You can be putting in the most effort in it, crafting the message you think is best and gathering up courage to post it  but in a sea of videos so similar, are you really heard? “Hello World!” represents this. The world of internet reduces everyone to just average. One would need to vigorously stand out to truly be heard.

This project is a great example of a collective narrative. A collective narrative refers to the “sharing and open exchange of conversation, ideas, information, and media that leads to a synthesis of voices” (Packer, Randall, Open Source Studio, IEEE Spectrum, 2015). In “Hello World!”, Christopher Baker did not create any new content from scratch. Instead, he collected readily available videos of people worldwide and pieced them together. This essentially means that the art of the project itself (the cacophony and abstract image of the collective videos) is made by the owners of those videos. He compiled the videos as they are and left it for the audience to view which creates a collective narrative. In a way, he collaborates with the audience to create a message from his project. It depends on how the audience views the piece. Thus, it is no longer the individual opinion in a personal form but “a collective activity that is highly collaborative” (Packer, Randall, Open Source Studio, IEEE Spectrum, 2015).

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One thought on “Hello World!”

  1. Excellent! And you made good uses of the essay on Collective Narrative to argue your points. That is precisely the goal of the research critique. Yes, Christopher Baker, somewhat ironically, assembles hundreds of YouTube videos to bring everyone’s voices together, however, those voices seem to get lost in a sea of personal stories. The question is then how personal are those stories when they get lost in the collective mix? That is an important question being asked and you did a great job analyzing the work.

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