Interdisciplinary Introspection: Fan Studies Meets Videographic Criticism (and my FSN Premiere)

With this project, I’m not just bringing together vidding and videographic criticism, but also fan studies and videographic criticism. And this is a fascinating but challenging combination. There’s something potentially vital in the interdisciplinary synthesis of fan studies and videographic criticism. Fan studies is an introspective field — acafan or scholar fan perspectives advocate for considering your own personal investment in media, participation in fandom, and fannish history. And like fan studies, videographic criticism asks that we bring the personal to academic study to some degree, even if the personal in this case is our personal creative exploration of the text, our visual preoccupations, our aesthetic sense, or even our own voice. How do these two areas’ emphasis on the personal and the emotional intersect, and how do they differ? What can videographic criticism offer fan studies specifically? What new insights into fandom, fan engagement, and fan affect can videographic explorations help us to access? Do we need to deploy the tools of videographic criticism differently when working with questions of fandom, or with fan works themselves? Conversely, does fan studies offer up new avenues for videographic criticism?

Emotional and explorative dimensions of videographic criticism can help you understand why you love something, and your love can tell you something about the source itself. But can it tell you something about fandom–perhaps with you as proxy—as a very specific example of a fan with particular transcultural and personal placement?

And indeed what about doing videographic work with fan work itself, with fic, or art, or vids? I’ve tried three times myself (here, here, and one a draft video I’m not quite ready to share), and have found that I have to fight a discomfort in reworking a fan work, a feeling that paradoxically doesn’t come up for me when I’m videographically reworking the source itself. There’s a palpable affective difference, for me at least, in implementing videographic tools on fan works. I thought it might be more clear cut if I were performing a “videographic deformation” — enacting an algorithm of sorts on a body of fan work — but actually I found it more compelling when I was working in poetic conversation with other fan works, as I did in my FSN-NA premiere, “No Limits.”

I’ve found working with fan texts videographically to be a challenging but also potentially rewarding undertaking. I do think there’s something there, something for us to learn, by digging creatively into the materiality of fan texts themselves. I’d like to think and write more about this–what questions can we ask of fan texts, videographically? What videographic tools could we deploy, and in hope of what insights/with what purpose?

I’ll close with my FSN NA 2019 vid/eographic premiere, “No Limits.” In this video I wanted to get at the multiplicity of poetics in fan vidding–both aesthetic patterns and the significance of the multiple reiterations, with difference, of beloved images within a given fandom that we see in fanvids shared on YouTube. I can’t imagine getting at these ideas *without* working with fan works… I used some of my own vids as well here to position myself within rather than outside of these patterns of authorship and media engagement.

The Untamed – Abstract Trailer

For my videographic abstract trailer I decided to work with fan videos for The Untamed, rather than with The Untamed itself. I did not try to be comprehensive, but just chose five of my favorite The Untamed fan videos (and ones that I thought would work well for this) in combination with two of my own videos.

I was somewhat torn by how to work with these pieces—how much to cut into and control them. My strong impulse was to leave them intact because what is a vid if not its editing? (Well, and its song, so I’m disrupting that too!)

In the past I’ve made one video/vid which was almost like a deformation, in which I attempted to keep both song and structure as much as I could. I brought together a plethora of vids made from a wide range of fandoms to Florence and the Machine’s “Cosmic Love,” and attempted to keep the visuals from the vids with their original musical association, selecting from where they appeared in each fan vid in relation to the song (though this was complicated somewhat by the fact that I was using a remix of the song :D) Within this structure, I attempted (with the connecting thread of Florence herself) to create an emotional and even semi-narrative flow & meta argument about fandom.

But that approach is very restrictive and can only get you so far, so in the spirit of videographic experimentation, I’ve decided to take a looser approach here and see what poetic exploration might teach me about vidding, transcultural fandom, and The Untamed. I’m happy with how the trailer came out, and excited to dig into the larger piece, which I believe will feature a careful dosage of multiscreen images as well… Stay tuned for that!