photo by Aaron Thompson

The New Genres: Video in the Internet Age

April 27–September 2, 2018
Video Screening Amphitheater and Gallery

The internet has fundamentally changed the way we encounter, create, and share the moving image. While online video is indebted to past modes of cinema and television, most of the nearly one million hours of video created online every day do not fit into their systems of classification. Unlike traditional genres like westerns, musicals, and sitcoms, forms like the vlog, Let’s Play, and unboxing video are native to the web.

These new forms are the result of an accelerated genre-making process, made possible by the pervasiveness of affordable cameras and network connections, the staggering number of new voices this technology has enabled to produce and distribute video outside traditional mainstream methods, and the new ways by which we actively engage with this media. The history of internet video includes a long list of now-defunct but significant technologies and communities, but today these encounters are dominated by YouTube, alongside platforms and apps including Facebook, Twitch, Snapchat, and Instagram.

The new genres of online video respond directly to our contemporary moment, speaking to the possibility of the niche audience, the internet’s capacity for rapid feedback, and humankind’s vast diversity of taste. They are less concerned with legacy narrative forms than with urgently responding to matters of intimacy, identity, agency, our capacity to understand enormous volumes of information, and the nature of truth. That these new forms vary markedly from those of the past requires a close examination of online video on its own terms.

Curator: Jason Eppink, Curator of Digital Media, Museum of the Moving Image
Associate Curator: Sarah Ullman
Identity Design: Alex Stikeleather

Explainer videos produced by Polygon in association with Museum of the Moving Image
Catalog produced with Real Life magazine

Intimacy & Tactility »
The realities of our physical bodies can become deemphasized when we encounter so much of the world through our screens. Perhaps as an antidote, online video regularly focuses on food, grooming, fitness, sex, and other matters that reflect or even affirm our physical existence.
  • ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response)
  • Popping
  • Unboxing and Haul
  • Sexcam
  • Mukbang
Information & Education »
The internet offers immediate access to an unprecedented supply of knowledge, with videos by amateurs and professionals offering to inform, interpret, and instruct. The promise of the internet is not only that we can learn anything, but that each of us has something to teach.
  • Explainer and Video Essay
  • Conspiracy
  • Know It
  • Tutorial, DIY Craft, and Life Hack
Actuality »
Online video promises its own authentic view, different from the “reality” of reality television or the crafted narrative of documentary. Several new genres seek to capture a special phenomenon, scene, moment, view, or experience, making an implicit claim that they present the world just as it is.
  • Webcam and Livestream
  • Slow TV
  • Chain Reaction
  • Action Point of View
Witness »
The proliferation of networked cameras, and the platforms that make it easier to sidestep traditional distribution gatekeepers, has made once rare first-hand videos of resistance, injustice, and tragedy increasingly common. While these videos come embedded with their own biases and are neither perfectly egalitarian nor objective, they can shape public opinion and change the course of justice.
  • Dash Cam
  • Protest Point of View
  • Police Violence
Video Games »
The computer revolution created video games and the internet, and their cultures are deeply intertwined. Since the web’s inception, video game enthusiasts have recorded and shared their play online to document, perform, and socialize.
  • Let's Play
  • Machinima
  • Demonstration
Identity »
Our deeply interconnected social media environment challenges our understanding of how we fit into the world and demands that we craft and project a personal brand online. We create media, or watch and share it, in order to express and perform our identities and affiliate ourselves with our communities.
  • Affiliative
  • Daily Point of View
  • Loop Theater
  • Spotting
Reaction »
The internet is constructed largely from the immediate thoughts and gut instincts of its billions of participants, and these reactions are valued for being authentic, unfiltered, and vulnerable. We see ourselves in the reactions of others, and in exposing our reactions we reveal ourselves.
  • Surprise and Reunion
  • Marriage Proposal
  • React
  • Audience Surrogate
Participatory »
Accessible tools for video production and distribution have changed the role of media in our daily lives. We create video in regular conversation with communities and source material as an ongoing dialogue, with increasingly low barriers allowing for the most casual of participation.
  • Structural Remix
  • Songification
  • Lip Dub
  • Sync-Along
  • Challenge
Vlog »
The promise of the internet is the possibility that someone in the world is interested in what you have say. This access to audience offers an outlet for self-expression and companionship, and for some, a chance at stardom.