Reactor

A Transcendental Look at Humanity Through Social Media

by Kyle Chayka on January 31, 2013

Screenshot from vinepeek.com

Screenshot from vinepeek.com

Go to vinepeek.com. Spend five minutes watching it without tearing up, feeling overwhelmed by humanity’s vastness, and becoming totally addicted. I dare you.

Vine Peek collects Vines, the new Twitter-based video format that I discussed in a post yesterday. It’s a little bit like the future of the GIF: Vine videos are easily edited, include sound, and can be looped to great effect. They document pretty much everything, as is clear from Vine Peek, which streams the latest Vines being posted from anywhere in the world, up to the minute. It’s a pretty magnificent experience, as others have attested to.

Here is a list of a few of the things I’ve seen on Vine this morning:

  • A glowing keyboard
  • Someone’s wedding
  • An abstract fabric collage
  • A travelogue of Dublin, shot from the window of a car
  • A burrito getting eaten 
  • Slices of fish cooking in a pan 
  • Dogs sleeping in a spot of sunlight 
  • Several people making coffee in various ways
  • A pair of feet, walking in an anonymous city 


Vine from @mrstepien.

Vine Peek is like plugging directly into the collective consciousness of the entire social media-using planet. It allows us to see through hundreds or thousands of eyes consecutively, giving an animated, soundtracked glimpse into exactly what’s going on on this planet right now. Sure, Twitter does that in text form, and Instagram provides a more austere way of lifecasting, but Vine is the real deal: This is life exactly as it’s being lived.

The website appeals to the part of our brains that likes transcendental landscape paintings, rainbows, and the television series Planet Earth. We harbor this desire to be astounded, to be confronted with something that our brains can’t quite wrap around. Vine Peek is definitely one of those things, as is Kevin Macdonald’s Life in a Day that edited down a slew of crowdsourced clips from around the globe into a single, very human document that managed to be intimate and epic at the same time.

Sure, Vines are mundane. Not every clip is a masterpiece; mostly, they’re still just bored workers messing around in offices or on their lunch breaks. But then there’s the odd moment of poetry or pathos that makes it impossible not to watch just a few more. It also reminds me of Christian Marclay’s “The Clock,” in that they’re both collections of short clips. Yet Vine Peek is unedited — though there’s an undeniable rhythm and poetry to the stream, it’s not planned or composed. It simply is.

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