Hi and hello! My name is Alice Rogers, and I am a fledgling ethnomusicologist at University of Maryland, currently pursuing a doctorate. I also am a project archivist with the Special Collections in Performing Arts at the Clarice. I wear many hats: I’m a researcher, a student, a musician, an audio engineer, a teacher, a historian, and an ethnographer, and all of these roles have had me interacting with digital art and new media at one level or another.
While my dissertation will primarily focus on R&B/soul/funk in Washington D.C. in the 1960s, I am interested in how new media formats have shaped/changed listening communities (e.g., finding a new record used to require going to a store, now you can find just about anything on Spotify, YouTube, or Amazon).
Another somewhat less academic interest of mine is watching/making/engaging with live-streamed gaming and musical performances on Twitch.tv. Some artists have archives of sorts, where you can listen to past streams, or music available for download through bandcamp. Reading through Re-Collection in particular had me thinking back to this format, and how it is preserved. This is perhaps because Reinhart and Ippolito begin with a segment on social history (as an ethnomusicologist, I very much appreciated this).
I liked to think of the “formal social memory” as what twitch automatically keeps, these videos that, most significantly, do not include the chat that occurs during the performance (unless the performer themselves is displaying a feed on-screen). For a live-stream, this seems like a rather big oversight. However, on Twitter and YouTube, many fans or even the streamers themselves will reproduce segments of the stream with heightened graphics or added musical elements to highlight how that moment felt. These sorts of creations act more as informal social memory, I think.
Particularly with technology such as this though, the artists recognize that what they make is ephemeral, and the temporal nature of their work is what makes it different from a video on YouTube or a recording on Spotify. Reinhart notes that this is something that a number of artists working with new media have considered in their process in his chapter on variability. I wonder if many of the reinterpretations of streams made by fans are not preserving the spirit of the stream more than a more conventional reproduction of the event; I have a feeling that Reinhart might feel that way, although perhaps it would be best to have both available (as he says, the “mother” rather than the “master”).
I’m interested to see what standards begin to develop as time goes on for preserving art on Twitch, particularly as the music and creative “games” are more recent additions to their site. In the Smithsonian Interview Project reading, many of the people spoke to a certain need for some standards, but also to the need to meet works on their own times, and also for artists to break rules. This sentiment is echoed in Re-Collection, and I think it’s an interesting balance to consider.