Tag Archives: YouTube

Sewing Machine and a Paper Panda

What does a sewing machine and a paper panda have to do with animals and the Internet?

At the beginning of the project we spoke a lot about viruses spreading, spiders webs, and interlinking threads, and wondered if these threads created any patterns. Like a tapestry or like the chains in a spider’s web, do links across the Internet form a sequence? This is something we’ll examine alongside the development of the project.

As these threads form with each new upload or each new Share, what does this mean for the animal featured in the post. Like fame, does the thread feed popularity? Like a placenta, does the digital thread feed interest in the animal – concern, even – to keep it alive? And just like fame, when this interest subsides or when a new star is featured, does the once famous animal suffer at the hands of a fickle fad?

Following our initial brainstorm for the Sneezing Pandas Project, we created a paper panda and dug out an old sewing machine from the back of the cupboard. We connection the panda to the sewing machine and set the scene to music. When the light started to flicker we built this in to the scene. Then, since the sound of a sewing machine drumming felt so melodic, yet threatening at the same time, we recorded a second video using only this sound and the flickering light.

Will panda live or die?

Consider how our online activity affects an animal offline.

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A Silent Message Goes Ignored?

The sneezing panda is no longer just ‘a video on YouTube’, it is its own entity. Still just as popular six years after it was posted, it has been copied and mimicked, described and deciphered, adapted and moulded, gazed at, shared, and consumed. The sneezing panda has become so commonplace that to millions of people all around the world it is instantly clear which sneezing panda you are speaking of, such is the tidal wave of interest.

The original Sneezing Baby Panda video has been watched millions of times on YouTube and some of the copycat videos or edits of the original have also been viewed by the thousands in their own right. However, when a message is added to the video and a serious subject raised, viewing figures struggle to take off.

This video from the WWF is an excellent example. They have been a receiver of the sneezing panda video and understood its power. Having watched the video surge around the Internet for five years, in 2011 they took this energy and used it to hold up a mirror to this activity.

Their video is simple, sophisticated, and beautifully executed.

Watch right to the end.

Also read the comments. Compared to the 125,000 comments so far on the original video, this one only has eleven comments in one year and there are positives and negatives in equal measure: from “f*** off mate, i wanted to see a sneezing panda!” to “Nice meme appropriation! :)”.

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Copy Cat Sneezing Pandas

As paulmkelly says, you know when an animal video has gone viral because it inspires a multitude of copycat videos. Here’s his ode to the Sneezing Baby Panda and there are many, many more…

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The Sneezing Baby Panda

Here is the original video and inspiration for The Sneezing Pandas Project in its entirety.

We decided we’d be unable to perform an online exploration of animals in the ether if we didn’t allow ourselves to re-post the source material and, therefore, contribute to the sharing of this type of content that we’re perhaps uneasy with.

Should it be shared?

Do we have the right to share it?

This is exactly the kind of conflict we hope to explore. How does it make you feel?

Let us know, so we can share your responses on the blog.

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