The Best Videos on the Internet, Vol. 1

Music, science, cinema, games, mind-bending visualizations and much more.

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About This Archive

For years, readers of my Twitter feed have been asking me to create an archive of all the music, unusual videos, and other strange internet detritus I post on social media—much of which I’ve come across over the years while searching for new content for my regular digital writing, post-internet cultural theory, and intro to visual narrative courses at University of New Hampshire. On an irregular basis, I’ll be curating and publishing these videos under the “Best Videos on the Internet” moniker here at Proof. You’ll be able to find past entries in the series via the link-list on this publication’s main page.

I hope you enjoy these videos—all worth viewing, in my view, albeit for very different reasons, and perhaps appealing to very different audiences—and I hope too that you will always, as I say on my Twitter feed, “Sleep well and wake brave.” Happy viewing!

The Videos

(1) Ten Dimensions Explained. This video will change your life—if you let it, and if you can get through all the dimensions of reality detailed below with some semblance of your sanity intact. I’ve played this video for undergraduate students for many years, in part as a way of explaining post-internet cultural theory, and most poop out at the seventh dimension. If you can fight your way past that point, you’ll be well rewarded.

Part I
Part II

(2) Little Talks, Of Monsters and Men. I was only in an altered state of consciousness the first thirty times I watched this video—about a decade ago—and I’ve since viewed it many times, with great pleasure, while stone-cold sober. However you watch it, you may well find yourself as drawn into the magic of its art and its sonic palette as I have.

(3) HO-Scale Cab Ride. I’m amazed at the sheer scope of what you get to see on this magical voyage. A city with a ferris wheel; pristine mountains; a hot air balloon, actual giants; moments of crystalline beauty and peace and grace; hundreds and hundreds of people whose stories you can guess at as you rush past; the darkness of tunnels; and at various points, a bizarre interstitial universe as eerie and lovely as you can imagine. I recommend watching this on a cell phone about 6 to 8 inches from your face. Putting cameras on trains is a popular phenomenon in Scandinavia—it’s part of the “slow TV” phenomenon—but I didn't know if it would work as well with model trains until now.

I think one could watch this several times, and in each 25-minute run see something that you hadn’t seen previously. A lonely old grandmother at the end of a platform by herself; an inexplicably gigantic zebra next to a warehouse; a sleeper car zooming past on a distant hillside. There’s just so much to see here—so many memorable moments. This sort of journey won’t be for everyone, but if it’s for you, you’ll know it and feel it.

(4) The San Andreas Deer. Maybe you saw him at the time, or maybe you missed him. But the simple truth is that for a few days in 2016, the biggest internet celebrity was an AI-controlled deer that had been set loose in the video game GTA: San Andreas. People were mesmerized, and rightfully so when you really think about what you’re watching: an animal making its own sovereign decisions, valiantly trying to navigate a scary city populated by humans. These things happen all the time in real life, of course—there are coyotes in New York City, as we all know—but when the laws of physics don’t apply and the wildlife is artificially invincible, it’s just… different. The video below offers an introduction to the concept, and if you like it, you can go some watch archived videos of the Twitch livestream on YouTube. The best part: the deer received a name (Edgar Allen Doe); got involved in so many adventures they led to bizarre hard-news headlines like “GTA Deer Gets in Gang Fight, Flees From Police”; and eventually was followed by so many people—over 100,000 on Twitch—that he launched a major donation drive for The Humane Society. So all the car accidents and gun battles had a happy ending.

(5) This Is Water, David Foster Wallace. This is a multimedia visualization of a famous David Foster Wallace graduation speech. I’d say it’s about as uplifting as the very next video (#6) is chilling. If you don’t like things that are dark, watch this video, then jump to video #7, below. This is one of those videos that helps us see our whole world anew.

(6) Too Many Cooks (Adult Swim). I won’t pull any punches here: this video is at once mesmerizing and deeply distressing. It deconstructs decades of television while also constructing a profoundly creepy serial-killer narrative. It’s simultaneously nostalgic and profoundly cynical. If you have delicate sensibilities, don’t watch this; if, however, you want to dip your toe into one particularly chilling end of the “metamodern” pool, this is a place to start. Metamodern art combines paradoxes seamlessly, often with an unclear intent; “Too Many Cooks” went viral in part because no one knew exactly what to do with it, what its “viewpoint” was, or how it was supposed to make anyone feel. You’ll smile at the nostalgia, be thrilled at the notion that if you watch the video a few times you can start to unravel the murder mystery, perhaps tap your foot along to the music, and all the while… well, you’ll be haunted by what you’re watching and perhaps, by the very end, even wish you hadn’t watched it. Again, viewer discretion is advised.

(7) The Great Dictator, Charlie Chaplin. One of the greatest speeches in the history of film (perhaps humankind) has been set to music and… I won’t try to explain. Just watch.

{Note: For those wondering about Chaplin’s attire: in this 1940 film, a political satire, Charlie Chaplin plays a Jewish barber who lives in a ghetto and ends up replacing an Adolf Hitler-like figure through a series of mishaps. Chaplin is attempting to “pass” as this Hitler figure, hence his infamously familiar get-up here. The film is, as you might imagine, militantly anti-fascist.}

(8) Everything (game trailer). This is another video I don’t want to say much about. I’ll just say that this is an actual game being shown, and an actual philosopher speaking. It’s best watched on a large screen in a dark room.

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