Sunday, June 11, 2023

Exploring Art and History through YouTube Videos

Does anyone still watch TV? I mean the actual broadcasts from TV stations? I just realized that I haven’t done that in a long time. With the emergence of streaming services and these TV stations having most of their videos online (sometimes even live for news programs), I have not had the need to watch broadcast TV. Most of the time my TV has been used for watching streaming sites and TV programs that are shared on YouTube. More often than not, the shows on YouTube that I have been focusing on have been documentaries that are on the subjects of art and history. I often fall asleep to these videos playing on my TV. I am not watching informative and educational shows on purpose, it just turned out that way. 

My video preferences were not that obvious to me at first until I saw that most of the suggested videos that were showing on YouTube were already documentaries on art and history. I have always been fascinated by those subjects, but I didn’t think I was that into it until I saw those video suggestions. I know that for some, the big thing is True Crime, but for me, I think it has always been about history. Even my art-related views have not been about modern artists but about those from way back in the past.  

History-wise, my recent views have been videos about ancient Egypt and ancient Rome. I’ve watched archeological digs that deal with sites related to both periods. I’ve always been curious about how Rome was such a superpower back then and how it all ended, the same thing with the reign of the Pharaohs in Ancient Egypt. It makes me think about how no matter how powerful you are, these things can still all come to an end and simply be part of history, something to look back on and wonder about.


Another period in history that has always piqued my interest has been the Tudor era. I think that there is so much to unpack from that time in history, not to mention the number of historical figures in England and Europe who have descended from people from that era. They may not necessarily be directly descended in terms of ruling royals but from the relatives of those who had ruled. One such line of descendants, the Romanovs of Russia, was also one of the topics that I often watched videos about. There were so many questions about their death, and it blows my mind how in a lot of stories of royals from Europe (or descended from them like the Romanovs). despite their money and power, have had violent deaths. One minute they are experiencing every luxury available and then they are being executed in the next.  

I’ve also been looking at videos on Greek Mythology, a topic I enjoyed reading about when I was still a student. Mostly I have been watching videos on them because I have been addicted to videos on art that often included these gods as subjects. 

I think I started off this recent art interest by watching episodes of the show Fake or Fortune, which is about verifying pieces of art that have not yet been credited to a particular artist. It was amazing to see when there were works that were identified as that of great artists from the past, but it was also sad to see when some works are not recognized despite evidence to the contrary. The best part about watching the show was learning about art techniques and styles used by artists from the past as well as how important history or provenance is to identify works of art. The part where they attempt to restore the painting to learn more about it is also one of my favorite parts of any art-related video.

From Fake or Fortune, I moved on to more art videos, this time about artists during the Renaissance period. I have been a fan of this period for years and learning about them through these shows was something that I never got to do as a student. To be able to see these works of art up close would be a dream come true for me, but seeing them up close on video is the next best thing. All these Renaissance period videos led me to even more art, moving from painting to sculptures, particularly those made from marble. I am in awe whenever I see sculptures that can portray softness considering the material they were made from. These artists are creative geniuses. 

After all the videos that I have been watching so far, I don’t think I’ll ever go back to watching broadcast television. I can pick and choose what I want to see by watching online. I can keep myself updated on the news without broadcast TV when I need to anyway (not that I’d want to since it seems depressing most of the time). For now, I’d rather stay in my little art and history bubble and maintain my sanity that way.


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