In-between Media: The Culture of Interface from Early Modern to Contemporary China
4: Camera, Body, and Viewfinder: Vlogging the Multifaceted Interfaces in Contemporary China
Thursday, March 24, 2022
12:30pm – 2:00pm EST
Virtual Paper Presenter(s)
University of California, San Diego, United States
In the early twenty-first century, YouTube rapidly spawned video blogs (aka. vlogs) as a new media form online on a global scale excluding China. In recent years, vlogs have massively entered the Chinese market promoted by China-based video-sharing platforms such as Xigua Video and Bilibili. The transnational expansion of vlog trend echoes what Thomas Lamarre observed in the East Asian and global media ecology that the production of distribution outstrips the production of contents. It calls attention to the infrastructural and technological sides of vlogging, especially the role they play in generating affective consequences. While a rich body of studies underscores the video-sharing platform as both architectural and cultural interfaces that mediate the interaction between users and video contents, this paper takes the evolution of camera technologies as a departure point to investigate the multifaceted interfaces where contents, technologies, and users meet.
Seung-hoon Jeong, in his book Cinematic Interfaces, provides a paradigm of the cinema as cultural interface, the screen as perceptual interface, and the body as embodied interface. Building on this paradigm, I argue the camera not only is a chain of medium apparatus along with the screen and film/video, but also exceeds the medium-body interaction and facilitates techno-corporeality that extends or dislocates human point-of-view through a live viewfinder. With DJI Osmo Pocket and Insta360 as two distinct examples, I further examine how the principles of portability and cinematic quality are embedded in the design of vlogging cameras as well as the ambition of Chinese tech giants behind it.