Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Evolution of Dance

If anyone read any of the blog posts in response to Virginia Heffernan's article for why "The Evolution of Dance" became so popular on youtube, you would have noticed that many people countered her argument by saying that the reason it became so popular is because once it became number 1, it continued to stay at the position by the very nature of the fact that it was put on the "most popular" list. This inherently draws more people to it. While I agree with Heffernan's point that music is a very universal language, many of the blog's counterarguments made a good point. One person compared it to the "Most Photographed Barn in the US" effect as described in Don DeDillo's White Noise. Here is an excerpt of what DeDillo wrote. Essentially, the effect is that people cause the perpetual popularity of something not because they like it or even understand it, but because they want to be a part of that "popular experience."

6 comments:

marissa said...

interesting point. and a phenomenon we can also see in sites like digg or even google.

marisa said...
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marisa said...

I think it's very interesting to look at tourism as a parallel to surfing the web (virtual tourism)? Some sites get "hit" more than others not necessarily because of superior or unique content but because these sites are known to be popular.

I wonder what made that barn THE quintessential barn - why is it, and not another, so symbolic?

I think people document their travels in part for self-preservation and in part because they do want to believe that they've seen the "most famous, most important" places and landmarks themselves in their lifetimes. In other words, I do think that there is a common need to feel a part of some group or community that is greater than one's self and one's own circle.

What I love about photography is that it produces an image - a representation - of something as it is perceived by the artist. The framing, the angles are subjective. But, when a landmark is marked-off as that barn was, and when there is even a designated photo-op spot, much of that subjectivity is perhaps removed. The picture I take of that barn is likely to be very similar to those taken by countless others (I think of Andy Warhol and his commentary on mass-production). Is my picture special to me because I know I took it? Or is it of value because I have shared the same viewing experience as many other individuals?

I really like to think about the fact that an object, when removed from its own history and context, is not really that same object anymore. Its meaning changes. I can understand how someone would observe that taking a picture of that barn is not replicating or preserving the barn itself, but rather that act is one that further distances the actual barn from reality. It's like making a photocopy of a photocopy. The meaning of an object is changed when it has been seen and experienced by so many in the same prescribed manner.

Do I understand anything more about a building after having snapped a photo of it? Do I appreciate the content of some website that I'm not personally involved with creating or maintaining after having taken a glance at it? Maybe not, but if nothing else, I can still say "I've been there too."

Patricia said...

Not only on the web, I think this idea applies to many other aspects of life. For example, consumption. People are buying a lot of stuff not because they need it or they like it or even they know how to use it, they are buying it because it's "Hot" and "In" right now.

For example, my friend has always used a PC, and she hates Mac, but all her close friends are using Mac computers, so she bought one too. She still doesn't like to use it but she bought it anyways just because it's the trend to use Apple now...

HammerotheGods23 said...

marisa, you make some really good points. i'm hoping we can discuss this specifically in class in the contexts of mechanical reproduction and appropriation

HammerotheGods23 said...
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