Last updated: 13. March 2017
This post is sort of an open statement about what I am currently doing, research wise. It has the purpose of informing people in fandom – especially vidders and vid fans – as well as other interested academics, be they fans or not. I’m writing this post because I don’t want there to be any feeling of me skulking around, looking at fen without their knowledge or consent. The post will be updated from time to time when there’s anything to say (no idea how often that will be, I’m a slow worker) and I’ll post here if I give up this track of research as well. I’ll make sure to mark in this post what has been changed. I plan to include a link to this post to any vidders I contact, so if you’re here because of that, thanks for looking!
1) I am a fan. I have been in online media fandom since around 2005 or so when I began reading Harry Potter fanfic. I have written fic as well, both in that fandom and several others. I have a MA in Musicology from the University of Copenhagen. During those studies, I also wrote on music fans, film music, subcultures and queer musicians – among other things.
2) As per autumn 2016 I am a doctoral student at Birmingham City University in England, where I am in the School of Media under the faculty of Arts, Design and Media. My project is indeed about vids. More to come when the research questions etc. are set.
These are written in as I know of them (and remember to add them) and updated after the fact, but not erased. Or, you know, added in after it happened because I forgot.
1) I will be presenting a paper at a closed seminar in August about how vids can be read as remix/mashup and how vids as such can add to the understanding of modern popcultural production. The presentation will be held at the NSU Summer Session. I’m a member of the “Popmodernism” study circle. The seminar is closed and is a cross-humanities inter-Nordic thing.
Edit: That presentation is of course now over and went well. I got a lot of good feedback from the people present. It was fun and great to see so many people instantly ‘get’ what this was all about and find the research relevant and interesting.
2a) Next up is a paper on the Winter Symposium for the same study circle. It will be held in Turku, Finland in March. My presentation will this time center on a single topic, the body of Tony Stark/Iron Man as a mediated and desirable body presented in vids.
Edit: Also done! And it went very well. I’m still considering turning this into an article somehow.
3) I published an article in 2015 in a Danish academic journal. It is available for free online here: http://www.akademiskkvarter.hum.aau.dk/pdf/vol11/8_SebastianSvegaard_CriticalVidders.pdf
4) In the spring of 2016 I spoke about critical fandom at a conference at Aalborg University in Denmark, mostly to a bunch of business people who were interested in understanding how people engage critically with something they love.
5) I will be presenting at the Superhero Identities Symposium in Melbourne, Australia in December 2016. You can read about the symposium here: https://www.acmi.net.au/live-events/talks-performances/superhero-identities-symposium/
Edit: The presentation went well, I presented about vids in general and one specific Marvel vid in specific – still one of my favourite vids, that I hope to return to.
6) I will be a participant at VidUKon in Cardiff this year, as a vid fan and to make contacts. Maybe I will meet someone/s who will bring the research further – and at the very least, I will see loads of new vids and hear vidders talk about their work.
1) If you are a vidder and want to help me with this, let me work with your vids and/or talk to you etc., please let me know. Conversely, if you want me to stay away from your work, please let me know as well. I will respect this. Any vids I know I want to look at I will contact the creator beforehand! I will not identify a vid or vidder in anything I do publicly without consent from the vidder. If my plans change for this research and we have been in touch, I will contact you so you can update or retract consent. A couple of vidders have very graciously granted me a blanket permission for their vids, so that is an option, too, if you are someone for whom that works better.
2) If I have missed anything here, please let me know. I am going for open, transparent and fair, so if it seems I am not, do tell me.
3) The easiest away to reach me is to comment here or send me an email at sebastian.svegaard (at) mail (dot) bcu (dot) ac (dot) uk That goes for if you have questions or clarifications or comments or whatever. My inbox is open. You can also find me at my profile at the university’s postgraduate network.
What the research is about
Well, it is of course a work in progress, so all of this is very early and simplified. I want to see where this takes me. What I am really interested in here, is the role of music in vids. So far, I have mostly read things about vids that read them as visual media or explored the legal issues of vidding. While this is hugely interesting, it is not really my field. I am a music guy!
Now that I have entered into the formal doctoral studies phase of my research, I have identified three theoretical areas (roughly defined) that I believe will be the main foundation for my work – I call it the ‘three pillars’ because I like the mental image of that. Those are: Affect, Film Music and Fan Studies. And they intersect wonderfully with each other, which makes me very happy.
Currently I am reading up on a lot of film music and related research, which I am enjoying immensely.
(In an earlier stage, I focused on vids as a form of remix or perhaps mashup, and this still informs my work, so I am keeping this otherwise slightly outdated piece here.
What this means is that I think it might be productive to read vids using that kind of tool. Also that vids can add something valuable to research into remixed art forms as a whole. Fanworks are often overlooked and ignored, considered not-art or even ridiculed. My stance here is that of course it’s art. (I just have to link here to this video from PBS that says a few good words about that in between explaining some history of fan fiction: http://youtu.be/beJdVmiQijM Just because.) Remixes of various kinds have been around for a long time, and vids are yet another art form that use this technology. In fact, installations that fans would read as vids have been displayed in art galleries. (One example is the work of Aleesa Cohene, that uses footage from various films edited into a cohesive whole that is its own narrative.) )
Vids, I believe, may be understood as a mashup of two different medias: music and moving pictures. Vids are also remixes of the visual source and even somtimes of the music source as well. This kind of mashing creates a work that is its own new whole, adding layers of meaning to both the music and images used. In vids, music often provide narrative structure or at least give us narrative clues such as mood or literalisms. That narrative, however, serves the image side, not the music (as we see in traditional – commercial – music videos). We talk about a, say, Doctor Who vid, not a Carbon Leaf vid, even though the music often provides the title for the vid (though tha i’s hardly always the case). Vids differ from music videos in this as well as in their non-profit origin.
Nor does music in vids function like film music, even though some film music theory can probably be useful to reading vids. The big difference being the was music often provides a literal voice in a vid, while film music does not do that as often. The role of music in vids is clearly not one that is easily described, but that is the charm.
Other trains of thought that I might follow up on at a later date is the (musical) language of vids, which I am pretty sure is a thing and is very unique. In order to narrow things down to a more manageable field, I am only working on vids made from Western media sources right now, which means that this language or narrative tool box of techniques cannot be taken for granted in other types of fannish remix video – or in vids made in other traditions. By now I have some grasp of common techniques used in vids and am conceptualising and naming some of them (where I cannot find existing terms in vidding communities) in order to be able to better describe and talk about them.
Pretty much all the vids I work on now are critical. What I mean by a critical vid is a vid that presents a critique, most often of media in some way, and usually from a feminist/critical theory point of view. Vids that critique representation, -isms, speak towards larger social justice issues are amongst these. I find that they are the most fascinating vids to me personally, but also very interesting to work on because of the multi-layered reading they do and we, as their audience, do as well. In order to communicate such complex messages, the vids have to be extremely well created, not least in how they use music to tell us their story. This is basically catnip for my brain.