“The amateur aesthetic and idea of collaboration”

Posted by Rob Walker on July 22, 2009
Posted Under: "Social" studies,Murketing

A little while ago I linked to what some say is the most amazing music video of the year. I agree: It’s impressive.

Today Kevin Kelly had an item about it, headline “Crowdsourced Music Video,” which linked to this interview with its creators. The interesting thing about this interview was the following question:

Most viewers recognized this as a professional effort, but it certainly made use of the amateur aesthetic and idea of collaboration. Where did the concept come from?

Actually, I take that back. The question (where did the concept come from?) isn’t interesting. What’s interesting is the phrase I’ve bolded, “the amateur aesthetic and the idea of collaboration.” It’s particularly interesting because despite this open acknowledgment that this video was not a product of amateurs, and the collaboration was more of an idea (that is, a whole bunch of people simply did what they were told) than a reality, it still evidently qualifies to some observers as an example of something that’s been “crowdsourced.”

If that’s the case — if the crowd’s job is basically to follow orders from well-funded visionary authorities (four directors, two of whom are “creatives” at the global ad agency BBH), and kinda look all crowdy-like while doing so — then what, exactly, does crowdsourcing mean?

Is it about amateurs, or about “the amateur aesthetic”?

Is it about collaboration, or about “the idea of collaboration”?

And given that I’ve just said I think the end result is a really great video, what difference does it make? Is this just a matter of people applying trendy words to something impressive, because the trendy words happen to encapsulate the the 2.0 dogma of the moment?

Further diversion may be found at MKTG Tumblr, and the Consumed Facebook page.

Reader Comments

An Israeli cell phone ad about Palestinians and Israelis kicking a soccer ball back and forth over a wall ended being re-enacted in real life. With terrible results.


Written By Tree Frog on July 23rd, 2009 @ 4:02 pm

Hi Rob, I think you’re right here that it’s a nice example of an amateur *aesthetic*: like what you describe in Buying In w/ Target skinning mass-produced skirts with a handmade aesthetic or the faux “machine” aesthetic of the 50s, or companies “liberating” their own billboards with fake graffiti…That said, it IS a pretty fantastic video.

Written By Christine Harold on August 5th, 2009 @ 3:39 pm


  1. Crowdsourcing Music Video  on July 23rd, 2009 @ 9:19 pm
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