Life in a Day / One Day on Earth: Visibility and Visuality in the Digital Arena

By Lisa Gotto.

Published by The International Journal of the Image

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Having been announced as a “historic cinematic experiment”, the project “Life in a Day” attempts to tell the story of a single day on earth by collecting videos from around the globe. Working with film directors Ridley Scott and Kevin Macdonald, YouTube asked users to capture a moment of their lives on July 24th to document their view of the world on that day. Relying heavily on user-generated content, YouTube seems to push towards further experimentation with documentaries to see what new territories the form of film could explore.
This paper concerns itself with the issues of visuality and visibility surrounding the interfacing of digitality, image and reality. I will argue that YouTube does not just circulate images and sounds but that it produces a new sensorium. Moreover, it constitutes a specifically new type of public sphere. It is a mass public space that functions as a discursive forum in which experiences and subjectivities can not only be expressed on screen but also be recognized and re-experienced by those who view them. Each single film entering the public becomes part of the code of the sensorium, as it gives spatial coordinates to the symbolic network of intersubjective relations. Thus, YouTube offers the opportunity to capture the mobile nature of everyday life in a specific way. Rather than opening a window into the world, it opens windows into different ways of viewing the world.

Keywords: YouTube, Documentary, Digital Age, Participatory Culture, Experiment, Project, Global Filmmaking

The International Journal of the Image, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp.179-184. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 914.887KB).

Prof. Lisa Gotto

Professor, Film History, Ifs International Filmschool Cologne, Cologne, Germany

Lisa Gotto is a Professor of Film History and Film Analysis at the ifs International Film School. She received her M.A. from the University of Cologne and her Ph.D. from the Bauhaus University Weimar. Since 2001 she has taught at a variety of institutions, including universities and film academies in Munich, Vienna, Cologne, Regensburg, Weimar and Mannheim. Lisa Gotto’s major research interests are in media theory and popular culture, in film history and film analysis as well as in film culture outside the academy. She teaches and writes on Hollywood and European cinema, on technological and cultural transitions in film history, on the relations between film theory and historiography. Lisa Gotto has published books and articles on race and representation, on postcolonial cinema, on ethnic border-crossing, on television culture, gender topics and alternative cinemas. Currently, she is developing a book project on visuality and tactility.