Enjoy Your Deck :-) is an architectural model of the ubiquitous online ‘how-to’ home improvement video. The project reframes online video sharing platforms as a category of media that circulates architectural imagery, while simultaneously generating an attendant set of language, media, data, and associations, such as through comment sections, viewcount statistics, recommendations for related viewing, popup advertisements for local lumber yards, closed captions, and various options for sharing with friends and across social media.
Inscribed with a uniquely domestic focus, these videos activate the residential backyard as a space of public and private display, where aspiration, leisure, and performance are engaged through simultaneously productive and recreative tasks, such as chores, projects, pastimes, and parties. Requiring little more than basic building materials, some power tools, and a weekend, the construction of a backyard deck exemplifies the genre of online ‘how-to’ videos. The decks in these videos are surprisingly versatile forms. Their complexity, size, and architectural style are made to fit the site: they often stick to a simple plan.
The online instructional video provides an opportunity to rethink the differentiations that are typically perceived between expert and amateur practices in architecture, building, and design, and their increasing inadequacy for models of production. Self-made, self-composed, and often self-narrated, the video tutorials that the ‘D.I.Y’ aspirant records and uploads today on YouTube are short, narrative clips that depict construction and building practices as media imagery, engaging issues of labor, competency, and discourse. Through sheer volume and ease of dissemination, these videos are elevated into the canon by proscribing the ‘official’ ways of doing, and offering an opportunity for the ongoing litigation of terms, methods, and best practices. Choices of framing, editing, on-screen captions, expository asides, and casual digressions provide a simultaneous layer of meaning that is absent in other forms of architectural imagery.