I've submitted the following proposal for the 2019 Screen conference; we'll see if they like it:
Today, the first questions that scholars of screen media ask about any new audiovisual technology or form may not necessarily be primarily aesthetic. For instance – the most pressing questions about forms like vlogging, or platforms like YouTube, have not been: do they facilitate new types of art? Or: what expressive properties must, for example, a vlog possess in order to be profitably interpreted and evaluated as an artwork? On YouTube itself, however, such questions are increasingly being contemplated – by content creators themselves.
Producing a rapidly evolving array of genres and stylistic conventions, vlogging on YouTube has also been giving rise to lively meta-critical debates amongst creators and video-essayists, who are addressing the question: “What does 'YouTube art’ look like?” I will survey the style of a variety of vlogs, as well as some aesthetic discourses used in discussion of them by creators and commentators. I will close by addressing a video essay by the YouTuber Sarah Zedig, from which the question quoted above (and the above image) is taken. A thoughtful critical reflection on another popular trans YouTuber, ContraPoints, I suggest that it is indicative of the current emergence of a YouTube-centred aesthetic community, or what Arthur Danto might term a developing vernacular 'artworld'.