Yesterday I checked out the YouTube Play exhibit at the Guggenheim here in New York, which is showing for three days (simultaneously with the Bilbao, Berlin, and Venice Guggenheim museums) "the ultimate YouTube playlist: a selection of the most unique, innovative, groundbreaking video work being created and distributed online during the past two years." In the spirit of YouTube, however, these videos are not restricted to expensive museum installations; anyone can watch them online, for free.

At the exhibit, the videos all play simultaneously on the walls, each from its own projector (that's my blurry cameraphone shot of the installation). They loop endlessly, and you're given a headset that allows you to choose the audio track of the video you want to watch. It was an interesting experience, to see videos of all genres -- music videos, mashups, animation, narrative and non-narrative -- playing on the same white walls. But it was also a strangely solitary experience; because of the required headsets, there was very little interaction in the room among viewers. And because there were no "comments" boxes as YouTubers are accustomed to, there was no way to leave one's mark at the scene. However, the very fact that the videos were being projected on the walls of a prestigious museum -- and perhaps because there were no comments boxes -- the exhibit created a new context for shorts that are already freely available on the 'net.

I found a quote from Pablo Picasso -- which opens the otherwise-unrelated Chaos & Classicism exhibit on the first floor -- to be applicable to the YouTube-in-the-Guggenheim exhibit: "Art does not evolve by itself, the ideas of people change, and with them their mode of expression."

Here were some of my favorites from the YouTube Play 25 selections (NSFW language in some of these):


Birdy Nam Nam - The Parachute Endings

Bear untitled - D.O. Edit

Post Newtonianism (War Footage/ Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare Footage)

Bathtub IV

Wonderland Mafia

Finally, here's the full opening-night event at the Guggenheim, which included some cool 3D projection mapping on the side of the famous building:

To see the full list of 25 videos, head on over to the Guggenheim.