Vine, and the Second Death of the Author

Constraint. In time. In dimension. In context.
This is the basis of Vine.

There is no need for introduction. I propose that Vine is the most influential video art form since the invention of the camera. It is a hotbed, a gurgling problematic pit of motifs, characters and form.

“It’s not plagiarism in the digital age — it’s repurposing.” — Kenneth Goldsmith

I must clarify, though. For Vine is the writhing center of moving art online, yet it is often quarantined as a center for vain teens, malignant jokes, and cheap tricks. Take though, the perspective of product creator. While other platforms have aimed to protect the integrity of the creator, Vine has torn it down.

While YouTube, Instagram, Imgur, and even Tumblr have aspired to a modern view of art, Vine has encouraged the muddling(meddling) of ownership and authority. Vine has ardently embraced a post-structuralist outlook on the state of digital content. It has put chisels in the hands of those who trim cut and remix. Not only has the community and culture evolved under the watchful eye of Vine; the platform has pushed each community movement to its logical extreme.

Let us examine the roadmap of Vine.
First as tool.
Then as product.
But also, as artistic era.


Vine’s first product update was to unlock a new way for viewers to embrace identify art with themselves. A change made to mimic Twitter and elevate the strongest creations and creatives. “Revining” was the engine to jumpstarted trends, genres, and icons.


As six seconds became the storyboard for animation, Vine created a function to assist in the quality of creation. Ghosting previous frames to align shots for stop-motion. In this era the art piece is yet still fragile, finite, and owned.

Edit, Cut, Delete

In the fumble, crash, and exploration artists clamored for a safety against their own mistakes. The Vine makers once again compromised the platform’s purity by allowing creators to mix and match their shots. This change was made to accommodate the mythical “breaking” of Vine. Rather than punishing those who were hacking the app to upload video, Vine provided the tools for all to remix. Here began a new era, where Vine emerged into a more post-modern era of art.

“The absence of the Author is not only a historical fact or an act of writing: it utterly transforms the modern text.” –Roland Barthes


By adding the ability to upload video, Vine turned its back on its own golden rule. From inception, the platform had been predicated on “catching” the moment. Only those who hacked the app or used shady uploaders could bring in content previously shot. But again, rather than standing on its laurels, Vine built in a feature to assist the hack-artists who many in the community viewed as frauds. The app creators built a tool for transgression against the larger “natural art” community.


Faced with a growing music community and a bevy of third-party apps which allowed you to overdub music in your pieces, Vine made a massive transition once again. The users who once timed music to their animations, covered pop artists, and even became organic stars were given the keys to any piece of music ever written, for free. If video uploads allowed users to steal content, music uploads asked for it. The new feature encouraged any user to grab an artist's music, cut it to their preference, and apply it to their own piece. In this era Vine broke fully from any other artistic or social platform. They put into the user’s hand the ability to distort and enhance the artists of their choice.


Finally, Vine enters the post-authorship era of art and community. In November, the company launched an update allowing users to strip and repurpose the audio of other Vine pieces. A Vine user may take the audio content of the piece and add it to her own.

Through this, Vine removed and remnant ownership from its content creators. It was the final transformation of Vine into the most progressive digital art platform on the Internet.

By rejecting the authority of the of the original, Vine embraces the Death of the Author. To remove the author’s context is to open a new door to manipulation and evolution. In his seminal argument, the French literary critic Roland Barthes deducts the power of authorship. Instead, he claims the Author is born alongside her work(not unlike modern content creator).

The power of the author is dead. There is no ownership or originality in the digital age. It is this uncomfortable truth that nearly all platforms reject fight. Vine alone is the only platform bold enough to strive in empowering the digital artist

“we know that to restore to writing its future, we must reverse its myth: the birth of the reader must be ransomed by the death of the Author.” -Barthes



the internet’s nicest man. strategist.

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