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YouTube Classes It Up For Guggenheim Video Contest

Screengrab shows play buttons projected on the walls of the Guggenheim Museum in New York City. YouTube hide caption

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The Guggenheim Museum's trademark white spiral has been pressed into the service of many artists. But its matching exterior was recently used as a projection screen for video, promoting a joint project with YouTube, called Play. That's because the winner of a two-year video art contest will be announced tonight.

The contest drew more than 20,000 applications of everything from jump-cut documentary to animations — and lots of work that meshes live-action with high design. The jury's not-so-short Short List has some fascinating stuff in it — enough so that you might feel a bit bummed out when you return to the standard YouTube diet of office freakouts and silly pets.

One the most-viewed pieces is "Human Mirror," with 5.2 million hits. In it, 15 pairs of twins filled a New York City subway car and sat across from one another — and then cameras rolled as people got on the car and gradually took note of their mirrored passengers.

On the other, less fanciful, hand, there's "Taxi III Stand Up and Cry Like a Man," a short documentary in which cab drivers in Northern Ireland recount their run-ins with violence during the "Troubles" of the 1980s and '90s.

And then there's Western Spaghetti, a stop-action animation of a meal being made out of sticks and Rubik's cubes — complete with white yarn shredded "cheese" and pats of Post-It "butter."

The jury for YouTube Play includes some big names — like Laurie Anderson, Darren Aronofsky, Shirin Neshat, and Takashi Murakami. The winner's work will be streamed tonight at 8 pm ET.