Charles Trippy has broken a record, and by an incredibly wide margin. Raising the Four-Eyed Monster bar some 750 percent, he’s posted a video running more than nine hours long to his YouTube account. Yes, it’s an unapologetic stunt and will drive vastly more pageviews than it will actual full-viewings of the clip (sheeeit, I ain’t watching the whole thing).
But it marks an important milestone, as YouTube initially capped uploads to 100 megabytes — or 10 minutes — in an effort to reduce copyright infringement. The 100mb limit still counts, but the fact that they’ve expanded the longer-form program to people like “YouTube Partner” Trippy means the copyright infringement detection mechanisms, regardless if automated or meatware, have matured.
Ever since the invention of film, people have tried to push the implicit time limits of forms and the medium. Griffith was called crazy for stretching an audience’s attention span to two whole reels. An Eric von Stroheim film, Greed was edited down by Goldwyn to two hours from nine — and the studio destroyed the remaining footage. Andy Warhol, Bruce Nauman and Matthew Barney have all made artistic statements with films and videos that have stretched far past the point of human endurance.
Now, Trippy is a nice enough guy — I had the pleasure of meeting him briefly at Pixelodeon. And while a reputation as publisher of Viral Video Fever may not lend him to high-art caché, that shouldn’t detract from the fact that he’s managed to open the floodgates of convention-busting forms. There is a place for ambient motion pictures (especially if you enjoy hallucinogens, or repeated passive viewings), and YouTube stands to lose no more bandwidth coin over a continuous nine-hour stream than they do with 180 three-minute clips, presumably. Also presumably, somebody will edit the damn thing down in both time-lapse and highlights form — god bless them.