YouTube Goes Arthouse

Youtube on GuggenheimNo longer the domain of grainy footage involving teenagers trying to swallow their own tongues in bored, Midwestern towns. No – this is a resurrection (of sorts) for Google and YouTube, as they re-invent themselves for the highbrow viewer. YouTube as art? Ok, I’m listening. After they’ve launched their viewer challenge, “Life in a day“, put together by cine-luminaries, Ridley Scott and Kevin Macdanold, (and Sundance), asking viewers to send in footage of one day in their lives, YouTube has gone and taken over the bloody Guggenheim in New York. Believe it.

Media stunt? Most definitely. But what does it mean? Good question. This exhibit will show the 20 finalists from Google’s “YouTube Play” challenge – a contest for Graphic artists and designers who’ve come through the judging panel and beaten thousands of applicants. As Bloomberg Business Week suggested, in a recent article, this may be Google’s attempt to draw in advertisers from a different class than say, a potato chip manufacturer. As Bill Niemeyer, a media analyst, said in the piece, “Having content associated with the Guggenheim draws in a different kind of demographic than kids crashing their skateboards.”

So Far, YouTube has been a viewer hit, but a money-losing turkey for Google, which they hope to reverse. The latest figures suggest that the next twelve months could, indeed, put YouTube into the profit making realm, with suggested ad sales increasing by a whopping 48% over last year. It was only a matter of time, really, that an online operation like YouTube would ‘grow up’ and get slick. Now we’ll see in the next six months if they can turn the dream into reality.

Oh, but does it make it ‘art?’ That, my friends, is an entirely different argument. See you at The Guggenheim.

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