Skip Arnold's Guide to YouTube as a Performance Space
Skip Arnold tends to put his body in strange places, often while naked, and often in great discomfort. For instance, the naked man strapped to the hood of an eighteen-wheeler driving along a freeway -- that was Skip. The naked man-as-welcome-mat at the entrance to Art Basel in 2002 -- that was Skip too. "Thousands of people walked over me for days," Skip remembers. What about the naked man standing among Chinese villagers in this picture? Skip.
Skip Arnold follows in the tradition of extreme body artists like Chris Burden. "What is common to all my work," Skip says, "is 'Skip' - Skip is the art work; the act of doing, my actions, my choices."
So call us intrigued when it comes to Skip Arnold's choices for the original MOCAtv series called "YouTube Curated By" that involves a handful of artists and thinkers curating their picks of the video-sharing website. We'll get to Skip Arnold's selections in a moment.
But first we asked Skip about media-sharing platforms such as YouTube and Facebook as spaces in which we are all performers, and to what extent these platforms enable a more open exchange of ideas or whether they serve as controlling mechanisms that encourage conformity.
Skip tells us YouTube "is a platform that without censorship could really change the way artists present work, ideas, propaganda etc., and actually it does, to a limited extent." However, "with censorship," Skip tells us, "one tastes nothing -- really, nothing."
So Skip offers this "go-for-broke" suggestion:
Put it all on and have the users decide. Hey, you do not have to look at it or hear it. Just because you’re on it does not mean you or anyone should have the right to control what I want to see or present. Whether I know what I want to see or present or not. I do remember when there was nudity, striping, masturbation, fucking on early YouTube, but that’s not all it was, within it was some really cool stuff.
In the video below, Skip shares General Idea’s “Shut the F@#k Up," "Andy Kaufman Wrestles a 327 Pound Woman" and Lenny Bruce''s "Thank You Maskman." He tells us that what he is presenting "happens to fit within the parameters" of YouTube. So in this case YouTube serves as "an archival storage platform (as long as it fits in the parameters)."
Overall, Skip is applauds the fact that the Internet has fewer filters. And so when it comes to sharing videos and ideas on social media, the urge to censor should go out the door. "You do not like it?" he says. "Get a different friend."
Watch the video here:
To view the rest of the MOCAtv series, click here.
Political activism may get people invested in politics, and affect urgently needed change, but it comes at the expense of tolerance and healthy democratic norms.