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YouTube and the Guggenheim Collaborate for Online Video Biennial

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The Guggenheim Museum is recognizing the importance of online video to the art world by creating YouTube Play, its first biennial of online creative video.

YouTube has collaborated with the Guggenheim on the event, which combines an online site, a juried contest, and showings at Guggenheim's branches around the world.

The deadline for submissions was July 31, says Hanne Mugaas, territorial associate for the YouTube Play biennial, and the site received 23,000 submissions. It was up to her and other Guggenheim curators to narrow that down to a short list of 125 works, a selection process she describes as "pretty intense." For her part, she watched submitted videos full time for roughly a month.

"I love watching YouTube videos in general, but I'm going to have a break after this one," she says.

Submitted videos came from all age ranges, and not only from artists. Animators, designers, and amateur filmmakers took part.

"It's kind of an explosion of creativity," Mugaas says.

The short list will soon be narrowed down to 20 by a jury that's chaired by Nancy Spector, the Guggenheim's deputy director and chief curator. The top creators, as they're called, will be announced at an event at the New York Guggenheim the evening of October 21, an event that will be streamed live on the YouTube Play channel. The 20 selected artists and filmmakers will be present at the event. Mugaas won't say whether or not they've been notified yet.

After the live event, the selected 20 videos will be on view at the Guggenheim museums in New York, Bilbao, Venice, and Berlin. That's a short period for a museum show, but all the videos will be archived online, Mugaas says.

While online video art isn't new, the biennial shows that it's being recognized by the art establishment. For Mugaas, working online has its own advantages.

"YouTube is one of the platforms where people are expansively sharing creative video. We wanted to look at what's happening right now online and be part of it," Mugaas says. "There's a history of artists working online. For the new generation of artists, the Internet has always been there while they were growing up, so it's an everyday tool. It's a tool not only for artistic production, but also for distribution and inspiration, and a platform for sharing."

As the content nears its end, Mugaas is glad that it's exposing viewers to work that they wouldn't normally see. Viewers can then interact by posting comments. Naturally, she's looking forward to the live event, just two weeks away.

"I'm just excited to meet the creators of the top videos and to see the videos installed at the museum," Mugaas says.

Visit YouTube Play to see the short list of finalists and come back on the 21st to see which 20 were selected.

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