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Accidental Upload Film Review: A collection of short videos that probably are not supposed to exist

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YouTube is full of videos that were automatically uploaded by phones or cameras. Little, if any, thought was given to it by the people who made these films. Often, no human being on the planet has ever seen them. Until today.

Here's a fun trick. Search YouTube for "IMG XXXX," where "XXXX" represents any random four digits. IMG 2018. IMG 3714. Whatever. Search, and then sort by upload date. You will be rewarded with the sort of spectacle that makes dada art look like a watercolor of ducks flying over a pond.

You see, it's the height of absurdity, because it's entirely earnest. There is no gag. Those who created it weren't really trying to say anything to you, because these videos were most likely uploaded by pure accident. Their phone is set to auto-upload all videos, or some such thing. Never once did this process involve a human thinking, "I am going to share this with people." It just happened.

Here are some such videos.

IMG 2918

Published on April 27th, 2015
Runtime: one second

It's a story set within any one of a dozen identical neighborhoods in a dozen different states you have visited. Each building, a squatty fat-assed obelisk in tribute to newness and largeness -- one glance at the white house sitting past the young man's left shoulder, and one might think its builder was determined to build an indoors so large as to become an outdoors all its own.

The story, like the neighborhood and all its spoils, is something most of us do not have access to. That fully half the the film is spent on a freeze-frame conclusion underscores the wonder of what we are missing out on. It's been several months since this fateful day on the asphalt, and this young man is out there somewhere, probably being important to someone. His story continues, undeniably and unseen.

IMG 1184

Published on May 12, 2014
Runtime: four seconds

I'm struck by the themes shared between IMG 1184 and Kendrick Lamar's landmark 2012 album good kid, m.A.A.d city. "You have to be able to accept failure to get better" is certainly resemblant of the journey taken by a younger Lamar, who wrestles with growing up, being a son, gangbanging, alcohol, and coming to examine himself with a critical eye. He certainly stumbles sometimes, but m.A.A.d city sprouts a minor theme that would eventually blossom in 2015's To Pimp A Butterfly: that acceptance of one's self, warts and all, is crucial -- but not mere self-acceptance. Self-celebration. Self-love.

Both IMG 1184 and m.A.A.d city end with a tender message for a loved one. The kid offers, "hi, Mom and Dad." Lamar's mother leaves him a voicemail message: "I hope you come back and learn from your mistakes, and come back a man [...] I love you, Kendrick." Within the context of the album, it's one of the more poignant moments put to wax in recent memory, and this nameless boy could not hope to capture such heft. But shadows tell their own story all the same.

IMG 6183

Published on April 29th, 2015
Runtime: three seconds

A young woman enjoys some reading while two unseen bit players conduct the briefest of exchanges. The exchange itself is so close to an intentional acknowledgment of the unintentional institution of the accidental upload:

Are you recording?

Fuck! Yes!

This video appears to be the second of a trilogy of brief unintentional upload. Seek out the other two only if confusion is your friend.

IMG 4824

Posted on January 5th, 2015
Runtime: 30 seconds

She's five! Five! And before I found this video, she had been drumming for the benefit of a grand total of three viewers.

An Internet media outlet could easily slap "Watch This Five-Year-Old's Epic Drum Skills" on this and draw a respectable amount of traffic. Me. People like me might do that, I mean. People like me, people who make and share Internet content, would like you to believe that you are fixed to railroad tracks we are building. That you could not, and would not, possibly be the one to find something before we do.

You can wander. Find something unpromoted, uncurated, unsharpened against the cold steel of social media strategy. Simply sit with someone who has, it is implied, invited you to sit in with them, and you will find what you were after.

IMG 0471

Published on July 15th, 2015
Runtime: one second

This video sucks.

IMG 0031

Published on July 15th, 2015
Runtime: nine seconds

Nothing is surer to win a million views than an "animals of different species being friends" video. And yet, I suspect I may have been the first human being in the world to see this. I don't just say this because YouTube said "no views" when I happened upon it. See, this is a surveillance camera that appears to have automatically uploaded this video and dozens like it.

What I'm saying to you is that nobody made this video. Someone put the camera there and someone rigged the system up, and someone owns the video, but no one truly authored it. This cute little animal-friends moment was on the internet for 12 days. It had its own page and title and everything and it was right there. And for a time, if what I suspect is true, exactly zero human beings had ever seen it.

When my grandkids ask me about my first encounter of the singularity, I'll think of this moment, the moment the great Internet robot made content for itself and for no humans. What a world, y'all. What a damn world.