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From mediated witnessing to performative mourning

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From mediated witnessing to performative mourning:
YouTube videos as memorials

Penelope Papailias (University of Thessaly)

In this talk, I address contemporary aspects of public mourning online in relation to catastrophic national events.

These practices intersect with dominant public visual discourse – indeed they emerge out of mediated witnessing, but in many ways subvert mainstream image culture, radically blurring the private/public distinction and upending conventions (i.e. regarding appropriation, dissemination, framing, aesthetics, etc.)

In particular, I will speak about YouTube memorial video tributes produced by unrelated mourners, a very common and mostly misunderstood (i.e. denigrated) genre of memorial discourse and visual expression, viewing these productions as artifacts of collective performative mourning. In studying the resultant memorial assemblages, I have found that this mourning is not melancholic: it does not constrain the energies and affects grief releases to a contemplation of the past. This movement from loss toward life leads strikingly away from the “event itself.” Indeed, “telling stories” of loss (traditionally associated with the function of memorials) appears to be supplanted by the affective labor of commemoration that “connects lives” in the present, crucially engaging the bodily energies of mediated witnesses.

The talk will based on my work on YouTube memorials related to contemporary Greek media events.

Helicopter Video of Police Killing Terence Crutcher. John Durham Peters (2001), "Witnessing," Media, Culture & Society. From Liberty Island looking back to the Trade Center in Summer of 1990 (September 11 Digital Archive) Simone inside "top of the world" July 2001 (Sept 11 Digital Archive) We were on a wilderness, fly-in fishing trip in Canada when the tragedy took place. We had no TV, radio or newspaper. On September 13, the Seaplane pilot brought us the sad news as well as a local paper depicting the tragedy. This picture was taken on 9/25/02 over a year after . I was on a business trip from Chicago,IL. to Southbury CT. I just had to drive to New York City to pay my respects. ΑΤΥΧΗΜΑ ΣΤΑ ΤΕΜΠΗ 13/4/2003. Tempe - right after the accident. Tempe - on site memorial. Καλό ταξίδι Βαγγέλη Γιακουμάκη.

Fake words. Flowers for Princess Diana - 1997. Outside the Dakota after Lennon's murder 1980. Prague John Lennon Wall. Newtown.