Some of us are still having issues using Zoom for a meeting but some creative people among us have totally revolutionized Zoom and repurposed it to create artwork!
Let’s start with filmmaking on Zoom. The movie industry is one of the fields that was impacted the worst due to the pandemic. At least that’s how I experienced it as a producer, but most productions stopped in lockdown and filmmakers had to figure out another way if they wanted to keep creating. Some of those filmmakers created web series using Zoom.
This Zoom Life is one of those web series. The show is a comedy that explores the absurdity that a group of friends have to communicate over Zoom. The first season consists of five episodes about how Zoom affects their personal, work, and romantic lives.
The series was premiered on YouTube in November 2020, around the time that we were pretty bumped that the pandemic circumstances were still defining our social lives. So in this sense, the content was relatable.
But, This Zoom Life didn’t receive much attention. This may be because the filmmakers didn’t market it well, or the episodes weren’t favored by the algorithm, or maybe it just wasn’t very entertaining.
I have another theory, that this self-reflexivity annoys us. By that I mean this is already our reality and I usually expect a story to take me to another realm. So this annoys me and I’m not sure if it’s just me. I don’t like seeing references to the pandemic in the scripts I read or the shows I watch. But I know it’s somewhat weird to completely avoid it because we are all going through it. Maybe it’s annoying because it’s too soon? Maybe I’m annoying?
But there are some Zoom series that avoid the subject, as well.
Retcon is a sci-fi series about a time travel agency. The web series was produced from the creator’s flat in London with a cast based in Australia. For this one the filmmakers went around it and used Zoom as regular production-like as possible.
But, like the previous web series we mentioned, Retcon didn’t get much attention either. Why do you think that’s the case?
In my opinion, people who have meetings and webinars on Zoom all day don’t really want to consume their daily dose of entertainment again through Zoom. Because it’s not easy to detach from what Zoom means to us and be immersed in the story. That’s why I feel like the artists have to touch on Zoom or the pandemic in a way because why not say it out loud that we are all aware of it. This show exists this certain way because of the pandemic.
So I am not a fan of Zoom filmmaking, but I love the way musicians make creative use of it.
Thao & The Get Down Stay Down filmed the music clip for their song Phenom over Zoom. And guess what? The audience loved this one. The video received great feedback. Some even thought Zoom should use this clip for their advertising.
The artists used the gallery view feature of Zoom to create illusions and aesthetically pleasing visuals. The song itself is pretty trippy, as well.
And some musicians were inspired to meet with their audiences over Zoom, because it felt like what everyone else was doing. Well they didn’t actually give a live concert on Zoom but they kinda faked it and people enjoyed it.
Smalltown Poets uses Zoom aesthetics to create a clip for their song Try, but they didn’t record it on Zoom group chat. We all know by now that connection and timing is not really reliable with Zoom so it must be nearly impossible to create live music together on Zoom, at least today with the internet technology we have now. But, this “Zoom call” style video was perceived as a great alternative to a live stream, and audiences loved it.
Another creative use of Zoom was provided to us by dancers! Dancers put on shows using the gallery view feature of Zoom to mimic the feeling of being on the stage together.
For instance the Zoom dance called “Stay Home Stay Together” by LaVida Dance Studio students. Gus Giordano Dance School did something similar, as well. They probably had to cancel their recital but they found a way to perform together. I think it’s cute.
So creative people repurposed Zoom to create web series, music clips, dance shows. You’d think that’s it? How about a karaoke party?
White Ops started a challenge with the hashtag #QuarantineKaraoke with their lip-sync of the classic Whitney Houston song, “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” and people accepted the challenge and uploaded a total of 464 videos.
Last but not least, I have a bonus for you. It wasn’t created on Zoom during the pandemic, in fact this was created in 2009. Mass Ornament is Natalie Bookchin’s video installation. She picked out individual YouTube videos and edited them together with precise timing to choreograph a collective dance show. The idea behind it is to see how individuals make more sense as a part of the whole. I love this artwork.
What do you think? Do you enjoy these Zoom shows? Or did you repurpose Zoom for something creative? Comment below and let me know!