Back in the 1920s, the Dadaists came up with a parlor game of sorts called the exquisite corpse. One would start a drawing (or a poem), then pass it along to a friend, who would add the next segment, and so on, until it was completed. Now, a young entrepreneur named David Hissami wants to bring a similar concept to Web video (although, he is not calling it that). On December 1, he plans to launch The Whoa Show, a site filled with audience-produced video series. The basic concept of the first one, called First In Action, explains Hissami, is this: “At the end of every clip, someone gives a direction. The first person to follow it makes it on the show, and gets to direct the next person.” The only way to get on the show is to be the first to follow the previous direction and submit your clip.
“This creates a public race,” says Hissami, “and lets you play a real-life game with many participants.” Part of the appeal is supposed to be the fact that nobody knows what will come next, and that it is only limited by the imagination of the audience. (There are a few exceptions—no directions calling for nudity or dangerous activities will be accepted). It is about “watching real people being forced to follow a direction in order to give their own, and wondering what the directions will be and who will follow them and how,” explains Hissami. Audience, entertain yourselves.
Collaborative art can be a lot of fun, but it is rarely any good. It may turn out that the only people who end up watching these shows are the ones whose submissions are accepted (and their friends). Since the hurdle for acceptance is whoever is fastest to upload a video, not whoever uploads the best video, the end result may be a little disappointing. Hissami says of the quality issue: “The Whoa Show is not so much about ‘best’ stuff as it is about ‘real’ stuff. Compared to say, traditional TV shows, Whoa Shows are more personal and social. In other words, you can better relate to them.” But not everyone will be able to relate because only one video will be selected per scene (at least for the first show). This could limit its appeal. Of course, it is impossible to say until the show actually launches. Like any participatory video, the quality will depend on who participates.
(Exquisite corpse drawing via Ghostpatrol).