Above: Lady Gaga performing at the Citi Field baseball park, New York, 29 August 2017. Credit: Qu4ttro Tube.

Video Swarms

Today, any public event, from a breaking-news story to a live-music concert, is subject to being filmed and photographed by myriad individuals documenting it with digital-video and still-photography. If I later use a web search engine and/or YouTube to search for material pertaining to a specific event, occasion, or concert, etc., I will find all manner of clips and images--the quality will vary wildly, and the camera position will jump around from one documenter's point-of-view to the next. As I try to build a picture of the event in question, I don't seek a "master shot" but rather I build up a perceptual overview with each video contributing its part towards my emerging sense of that place-and-time. One example of this phenomenon is Lady Gaga's concert at the Citi Field baseball park, New York, on 29 August 2017--notable for her performing in pouring rain. Many individual audience members contributed their own documents of that evening to YouTube--videos made from all quarters of the stadium.

These days, the individual voice in photo-video is really nothing. What comes to the fore in the epoch of the smartphone is a plethora of points-of-view. No documenter is really significant as an individual--rather it is the entire group taken all together that is significant. The photo-videographer who uploads their material of a certain event is just one of a multitude. The documenter is incorporated and subsumed into a group, or band, or pack, the members of which, in most cases, are unknown to each other. In robotics, and in biology, this type of decentralized collective behaviour is known as swarm intelligence or SI.

(11 September 2018)