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#hijackthishashtag

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2016
16 min.

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Program Notes
On Feb 12, 2015, I ran audio/video tech for a concert that took place in a craft beer brewery in Somerville, MA. In an attempt to increase audience engagement that evening, I encouraged attendees to take vine videos of the event and tag their videos with a never-before-used hashtag (#OGTC — an acronym for the event and ensemble name). As audience members uploaded their videos, an algorithm would automatically filter them by the unique hashtag, and aggregate them into a large pool of videos that would loop on the projection display throughout the night. For the first half of the show, the concept worked perfectly; the audience participated enthusiastically, and thus made a major contribution to the content that was produced during the concert. …and then #OGTC became a trending hashtag on vine, along with #GRAMMYs #StopNGo #otra #ImReallyBadAbout & #MGSV, and this changed everything. No longer were we experiencing a curated collection of vine videos produced locally by concert attendees. Gradually, we witnessed ‘the internet’ seeping into our concert—a video of a young boy raging, a vain girl admiring herself, a ‘bro’ vaping/blowing smoke rings, re-uploads of formal viral videos, and of course, cats. Indeed, the videos we witnessed were of a special brand: they were videos uploaded by the type of self-absorbed viners willing to copy-and-paste all of the trending hashtags into their videos to maximally promote themselves, despite the lacking relevance of the tags. We had to shut down the project before the close of the show as the videos became increasingly NSFW. In the end, the concept was a failure; however, its side-effect lingered in my mind as an aesthetic worth embracing. #hijackthishashtag is based on the deficiencies of the internet—particularly of social media—whereas the use of a hashtag to filter appropriate posts by topic can easily be abused by those mainly interested in self-promotion, or those with malevolent intentions. #hijackthishashtag represents contemporary media consumption, and the constantly irrelevant content that infiltrates our lives in this post-internet world.
Recording Notes
Weston Olencki

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