Fountain: Scholarship and the Illusion of Permanence

Fountain: Scholarship and the Illusion of Permanence

This is an experimental publication combining video and text. It was created in response to a call for papers seeking a “meta-level consideration of what ‘counts’ as scholarship, ideally in a form that pushes at the edges of what ‘counts.’”

The video features quotidian footage taken near major universities in the Boston area. The footage was recorded on a smartphone and focuses on constant or slowly changing factors of the everyday environment — flowers blowing in the breeze, cars passing, rivers flowing, people walking by. The video suggests both the beauty and triviality of ephemeral content. Original music for synthesizer accompanies the video, but the music, like the visual content, avoids engaging directly with the viewer.

The text of the video is also available as an annotated outline, with links to texts that support and challenge the video’s various claims. To provide the broadest possible access, sources have been limited to freely available material.

The video attempts to make scholarship strange again, even for those of us who spend our days surrounded by it. It intends to draw a comparison between the current moment in the history of scholarship and much earlier moments in the histories of the arts when long-established forms were destabilized by new modes of creation. As the video progresses, the footage is increasingly manipulated in Quartz Composer to suggest degradation and digital glitching, and to achieve a more abstract visual mode, with a corresponding shift in the tone of the soundtrack.