‘Now you can finally throw out that Rolex’: Unboxing the Digital Watch and Beyond
(co-sponsored with Faculty of Music)
Abstract: Among the innumerable bizarre and prominent video genre cultures found on YouTube, the "unboxing video," in which products are unwrapped from their packaging, ranks as a prominent and fascinating one. Thanks to YouTube's monetizing of video viewing, the unboxing video, which began as an amateur undertaking, has spawned an industry of micropayments to content providers (some of whom have thereby accrued substantial wealth) and the emergence of professional and semiprofessional unboxers. After beginning by recounting his accidental foray into the world of unboxing videos, the author provides a general account of the genre, reflects on the role of music and sound within it, and offers a broader set of reflections on the materialities of packaging within contemporary capitalism.
Bio: Sumanth Gopinath is Associate Professor of Music Theory at the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities. He is the author of The Ringtone Dialectic: Economy and Cultural Form (MIT Press, 2013) and co-edited with Jason Stanyek The Oxford Handbook of Mobile Music Studies (2014). He is co-editing Rethinking Reich (forthcoming) with Pwyll ap Siôn and is working on various projects, including a revision of his dissertation on Steve Reich's "race" pieces from the mid-1960s.