series of tubes

Found while researching Chadian music – a film that looks like a U.S. corporate work training video, complete with Budda Bar-esque soundtrack. The video is clearly a propaganda short for an alliance of Chadian anti-government rebels. What was particular about this video was the dance sequence that appears halfway through (at 2:54). What is this video? Where was it intended to be broadcast?

Writing about Africa a world away, the most appropriate research tool is the internet. It’s dynamic, but not necessarily useful, particularly with regards to portions of the world without the abundance of access necessary to forge a virtual identity, an internet facsimile of a culture. The authoritative (wiki) sites are authoritative for lack of competition, a dearth of information about parts of the world, offering the summation of an entire people or cultural creation sourced in a few brief words from a handful of self made experts, often outdated and reflective of another era. The next decades will undoubtedly see an explosion in global access: a Cyber Cafe on every corner. More self/locally produced media will be created, although the language division remains a massive barrier. For the moment, the least hindered by cross cultural accessibility due to language and ease of use is the living archive of video on Youtube.

Chadian cellphone video

While scouring the internet, watching the Youtube videos with bizarre foreign name, perhaps transliterated from some unrecognizable script, it’s encouraging to view them as windows into far off destinations and incomprehensible cultures. Or conversely as some modern ethnographic tool. Both are murky definitions and leave a questionable choice between two extremes.

the mastery of the web art of collection (and perhaps the best summation of this topic) is the very self conscious presentation at coolplacessoundsystem, a tumblr devoted to the collection of images and videos, often African, that share an origin of places both foreign and of limited internet visibility. The site is reflected in this brief trailer for a projection, a collection of Youtube videographic surfing:

*update from Tony from Coolplaces — see the comments*

This Post Has One Comment

  1. tones

    First! 🙂 Hey, this is Tony from Cool Places. I love this topic. Some insight: that tumblr is more of a personal scrapbook of the most striking ephemera that’s collected on my hard drive from the last 7 years of internet ‘research’ i.e. wading through the digital sea trying to shake out what’s actually what. More ‘officially’ Cool Places was a radio show and a dance party, and now a film night where VJ’ed internet videos and bootleg DVDs are shown alongside ethnographic documentaries (a highly debated form in and of itself). It’s been sweet to let all these different forms of media inform each other, especially when the evening is thematic and you see 50 or more depictions of a single place/culture. It’s also useful to consider the YouTube videos as the films they are, projected big and in the dark, and with one’s full attention. In many ways it’s a response to the problems you describe in your post – on the surface I understand it’d be quite easy for someone to misinterpret what’s happening in say, the recent images and videos I posted of fuji pioneer Sikiru Ayinde Barrister (who died a few weeks ago). This ( and many similar Barrister clips on the web are from a series of VCDs in which he delivers often moral advice in traditional garb while chilling next to a big screen TV and on a leather sofa – chilling until his image is intercut with dancing beauties and manipulated with early computer graphics and 3D english text like “CONTROVERCY” and “HYPERTENSION”. They’re wonderfully rich videos, but not much of it reflects what is typical of Yoruba life in Isolo, Lagos, probably.

    I also want to mention that the folks at Spectacle Theater named the evening and created that trailer (the one you’ve got up was for a Jamaican themed evening) – and that those things are certainly meant to be spectacles and get people in the door – people who’ve never heard a field recording much less know who King Sunny Ade is, and so far it’s worked. Might be a null point considering that most will encounter that trailer in the same way they’ll find Mr. Barrister’s vids…

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