The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, Hewlett-Packard and YouTube today launched YouTube Play, an international contest to find the world’s most creative new video.YouTube Play will accept user submissions from anywhere in the world until the deadline, July 31, 2010, 12:00 p.m PT. A jury of experts will then select up to 20 videos, which will be simultaneously presented on October 21, 2010 at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, and throughout the Guggenheim network of museums in Venice, Bilbao and Berlin. The 200 videos that make it through the first round of screening will be available on the YouTube Play channel.
The main criterion for winning the contest is creativity. According to YouTube, “submissions may include any form of creative video, including art, animation, motion graphics, narrative and non-narrative work, or entirely new art forms. YouTube Play hopes to attract innovative, original, and surprising videos from around the world, regardless of genre, technique, background, or budget. Participants can be art students or amateur video makers as well as creative professionals.”
While I think it’s great to encourage creativity, I have misgivings about aimless creativity. It seems to me that being creative is a means rather than an end in itself; if being “creative” merely means being innovative, unique, or novel, then I have seen plenty of creative work, some of which has inspired and uplifted me and some of which has disgusted me and made me unable to sleep at night.
It boils down to one question: what does the supposedly creative piece actually create? Does it create opportunities, further understanding, or inspire positive action? Great! Does it provoke reactions of fear, fuel base desires, or cause contention? That’s useless. Probably even harmful.
I don’t mean to be skeptical; YouTube knows it has a broad viewership and must appeal to the masses, so it’s likely that the winning video will indeed be interesting and have a generally positive vibe.
I look forward to watching it. From it, I’ll be able to figure out what the contest sponsors think it means to be “creative”. My hope is that in addition to “unique”, “innovative”, and “novel”, the criteria will include praiseworthy attributes such as beauty, excellence, humour, and wisdom. “Shock and awe”—in a feat of situational irony—just doesn’t do it for me anymore.
I hope the contest entrants use their creative powers for good and not evil.