06/08/2012 01:52 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

How High Art Goes Viral: YouTube's Best 'A Photo A Day' Videos (PHOTOS)

What makes a video go viral? There's an alchemy to the process that we'd like to investigate through the lens of art. By exploring the art of the viral video, we often find that lowbrow entertainment can stem from highbrow art concepts.

Today we are looking a the sensation that is a "Photo a Day" video, in which people chronicle their lives and appearances by snapping daily photos for an extended period of time. (Some extend for one year, others for half a decade or more.) We have compiled a slideshow of the best variations on the theme YouTube has to offer.

Behind the cheesy fonts and bad background music we see hints of a radical performance piece by artist Tehching Hsieh. For "Year Performance 1980-1981 (Time Clock Piece)" Hsieh punched a worker's time clock in his studio, on the hour, every hour, for an entire year. Just to hammer it in, this made it impossible to sleep for over 59 minutes at a time for an entire year! With each punch he took a self-portrait on a single frame of 16mm film, combining them to create a film depicting a year in his life at one second per day.

Although Hsieh's piece is a great deal more extreme than his YouTube followers, there is still a connection between the girl who chronicles her hair growth in her bedroom and Hsieh's sleepless nights. Check out the following YouTube "Photo a Day" viral videos and see if you think Hsieh's concept lives on.

What is a viral video was the most compelling to you, dear readers?

Best Of 'Daily Photos'