220914 Jancovic: "The format as a mask - Tracing online practices of video reformatting"
From Jon Svensson
All content uploaded to YouTube is automatically scanned for copyright infringements. But up until a few years ago, it was possible to fool these algorithmic systems with a simple ruse: Changing the aspect ratio of the image or embedding it in some kind of frame could shield it from being deleted. For a short while, the image format was operating like a protective mask, and a vibrant culture of creative reformatting blossomed. But the algorithms quickly evolved, and the platform purged itself of many of these practices and the associated aesthetic of illicit images. Their traces linger on in vestigial forms, as forgotten thumbnails scattered on random servers or hollowed out, abandoned YouTube channels.
In this talk, I will document some of the creative methods of reformatting and illicit content sharing on YouTube to ask what they can tell us about the functions of "formats" in web culture, and also place them in a much larger archaeology of media techniques and art-historical practices of masking, concealment, disguise, circumvention and misdirection.