Curator's Note

I take this opportunity to champion the cause of the youth of Norway, represented in this clip by is something of an international YouTube celebrity, Lasse Gjertsen. At least he is considered as such in his home country, where we are suckers for any news that Norwegians are being recognised abroad. I want to highlight Gjertsen's clip "Amateur" for two sets of reasons: First, it's clever, and fun. a real attention-grabber. It pretty much has what you tend to expect of distributed and shared digital video clips. Consider merely the exquisite drumstick fumble as he counts up, the triangle, and the cigarette. The very idea of constructing a musical performance via timeline editing, and the facility to actually pull it off, is crafty enough to get my vote. Secondly, the clip has interesting things to say about a current research interest of mine, media participation by "ordinary people" and the encounter between professionals and non-professionals via media. At the very end of the clip, Gjertsen states that he plays neither the drums nor the piano. False modesty is probably involved here, since at the very least Gjertsen needs to be a musically gifted person to put together something like this. Given that he evidently also has a knack with editing software, this raises the question of precisely what it is that separates the media professionals from the media amateurs nowadays.


So far, the pieces this week have been individually quite interesting for their interrelated yet different construction of Nordic identities through media practices. I have noted how Christian, Sari and Espen's work all construct imagined national identities in relation to the global (whether at international song competitions, in commercials that purposely contrast Finland/Finnish culture in relation to other places/cultural products, or by taking pride in an emerging Norwegian celebrity on Youtube. Of course, beyond surface simlarities, each identity is constructed quite differently. Thoughs?

I think the fact that most of the pieces this week thematise national identity in relation to the global is at least in part because of the need to make the contributions understandable in an international context. Thus we seem to have chosen examples that already have some kind of a global distribution (Eurovision, YouTube) or represent international encounters (the advertisements), or are abstract (video art). I can certainly recognise the Norwegian interest in anything Norwegian that makes it big abroad – the same thing happens in Finland. It seems to be a typical feature of small, somehow marginally situated national cultures. A sense of an imagined Nordic community has been strongly encouraged in Finland after the Second World War. However, it has not provided an altogether uncomplicated sense of belonging, due to language (Finnish is not related to Scandinavian languages), political (earlier, Finland’s closer ties to the Soviet Union) and cultural differences. In Finland there has been a tendency imagine Finnish culture as more “strange” and marginal, from a global perspective, than that of the other Nordic countries (with the exception of Iceland).

Like Mari I would say that I mainly did a reflexive reference to Norwegianness in order to connect with Americans. But of course even pragmatic manoeuvres like that serve to reinforce notions of nationhood. And I guess the Finns beat us Norwegians at the marginalisation game, since their language sets them apart. We Norwegians used to laugh at Finnish TV drama for being weird and laborious ... in retrospect we were probably just relieved to find somebody could actually be placed lower than ourselves on the scale of popular-cultural prestige. The Amateur, Lasse Gjertsen, is another matter though. None of what I find interesting in his clip I would relate to Norway or Norwegianness. Quite a relief really.

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