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The joy of the work of others

The Process Genre. Cinema and the Aesthetic of Labor
DO IT YOURSELF: Author Salomé Aguilera Svirsky dissects and refines a visual genre we know but have not learned to appreciate.

«Neeeeeei! Why?!?" We had come to scene three in the barely six minute long video The Most Unsatisfying Video in the World ever made when my partner couldn't take it anymore. It had been painful to watch from the very beginning, when a cake was slowly divided into meaningless, uneven pieces. When a bag of colorful Skittles candy appeared on the screen along with a bag of equally colorful M&M, she guessed (quite rightly) that they would be mixed together in the same bowl – they have a slightly different shape and size.

Everything was done to the same monotonous, optimistic and typical background music we hear in many "do-it-yourself" videos. [If you want to see sloppy division of tomato into slices, fumbling with a deck of cards and people who are unable to draw straight lines with a ruler, peel an egg or cut paper, this is the video for you, editor's note]

Process genre ability to penetrate the mind of the spectator is something that can be mobilized for political purposes on both sides.

The video is, as author Salomé Aguilera Svirsky describes it, "a parody of the presentation of a process" – a parody of a do-it-yourself video. All the 20 scenes in the said video show a «relationship to design activities, of work», and some of the clips show that in a way «get the job done», but it is done with poor technique, failing skills, wrong choice of materials and tools and a wide range of coincidences that are the opposite of what cinema, media and documentary researcher Svirsky calls the "process genre" – a phenomenon that has not been named and thus not theorized until now.

Seemingly simple

The process genre is – from industrial cinema in the early 1900th century to modern do-it-yourself videos on YouTube – by and large a “sequentially arranged production of someone who makes. . .

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Nina Trige Andersen
Trige Andersen is a freelance journalist and historian.

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