Special Pedagogy issue: Videographic Responses
Guest Editor's Introduction by Ariel Avissar
This is the first of two special issues devoted to videographic pedagogy, highlighting student work. The current issue showcases and reflects on a selection of videos made by students of my own videographic criticism honors course at the Steve Tisch School of Film and Television at Tel Aviv University, between 2020 and 2022. One of the assignments I gave them was to respond videographically to an existing video essay of their choice, out of the numerous pieces highlighted in Sight & Sound’s “best video essays” polls. Students were not given any further instructions on this assignment, and were free to respond in whichever way they saw fit to whichever video they felt a connection with.
This assignment was met with enthusiasm, and the students went on to make dozens of response videos throughout each semester; it was a very effective way of getting them to discover new video essays, to reflect on their formal, structural and affective aspects and to devise diverse and original ways to respond to them: some chose to elaborate on the original video’s argument, others argued against it; some chose to enact experimentations designed to test the limits of the original video’s premise; and many chose to emulate the source videos, effectively “remaking” them, reverse-engineering their underlying functioning logic to extrapolate an algorithmic “script,” which could then be applied to alternative subject matters and media objects (a process which was particularly interesting in cases where two students responded to the same source video, as in a few of the examples featured here).
Both the students and I were excited by the videos that resulted, and I went on to share them online, where they drew much interest and positive feedback, including from some of the makers of the source videos, who were honored to have their work responded to in such a way (needless to say, students were very excited to receive feedback from some of these makers!). Particularly during the long and stressful period of lockdown and isolation, I believe such a conversation was all the more welcome and appreciated, by both sides.
This special issue hopes to continue this conversation; each student’s work is presented alongside the original work it responds to, and is accompanied by a creator’s statement by the student, and a written reflection by the maker of the original work. I hope this selection of videos and written reflections will serve to highlight the pedagogical value of this classroom assignment, and will perhaps inspire other teachers, students, and makers to employ it, further expanding on its dialogic potential.