This section offers chapters written by remix practitioners. The authors—often artists or remix practitioners themselves—include their first-person stories about festivals, exhibits, music productions, and video mashups, as well as performances and installations. Contributors range from event organizers and video artists to interdisciplinary activists who thrive in the threshold of various disciplines. Many of the contributions, particularly the last few, tend to focus on video mashups. This emphasis should be considered representational of the overall prevalence of mashups in remix culture.
29) “Crises of Meaning in Communities of Creative Appropriation: A Case Study of the 2010 RE/Mixed Media Festival”
In 2010, The RE/Mixed Media Festival was created as an exhibition of appropriated film, music, plastic arts, literature and fashion, with the goal of providing a challenge to the notion of remix-as-piracy, and connecting the contemporary cultural practice of remix to the rich heritage of appropriation in the arts. This chapter documents the development of the festival, during which the producers struggled with issues of establishing definitions and parameters of remix, and ethical questions concerning use of copyrighted appropriations and admission fees. A sampling of works and events presented at the festival is discussed, and the artists’ various methodologies explored, especially as they relate to numerous ways that remix is utilized as a creative practice. These varying methodologies and aesthetic viewpoints revealed to the producers a “crisis of meaning” within the artistic communities, a lack of consensus about both the definition of remix as well as its cultural meaning. I conclude this chapter by describing how cultural and political events since the 2010 festival have elevated cultural awareness and helped to heal the lack of consensus on the saliency of remix as a cultural praxis.
30) “Of Reappropriations”
This text is a theoretical and personal account of the process of curating the exhibit titled Re/appropriations, for the MEIAC museum in Badajoz, Spain. It examines and theorizes on selected works from the NETescopio archive that share a practice of re-appropriation and reuse, but employ it via different strategies. Some of the works remix and recombine material to yield new creations; others reference the original source while creating a “free version” as its recreation. There are others that manipulate material on the web or websites to develop parody, or sabotage the sources’ messages. The essay also examines the practice of artists who operate like collectors, turning their computer’s cache into a kind of involuntary wunderkammer, or cabinet of curiosities, along with other works based on the recirculation of information and interaction as necessary mechanisms for the creation of meaning. The artist’s role on the web is transformed from creator to “redirector” of information.
31) “Aesthetics of Remix: Networked Interactive Objects and Interface Design”
In order for computers to change, the stigma of interface as having purely digital characteristics must be separated from technology. Designers should question the very nature of digital systems, metaphors for interaction, and methods of thinking and using computers. The Internet has become a public utility where without it we would be both lost and liberated. For people who use it everyday, most cannot even remember a time when it did not exist. Things that come to us via computer are not only for us but are part of a shared community. Information exchange is as ubiquitous, contagious and viral as the common cold. The challenge remains as to whether our experience with technology will ever gain the seamless interaction and complacency that we exhibit when we interact with each other and the physical world.
32) “The Amen Break: A Continued History, An Unsettled Ethics”
In this chapter I continue an analysis of the use of the “Amen Break,” a drum sample whose importance as a primary element in contemporary music culture I first traced in a 2004 audio installation titled Can I Get An Amen? After its introduction, Can I Get An Amen? went viral, with over four million hits on YouTube. Yet its initial popularity on the video sharing site was triggered, ironically, by an unknown user, who uploaded the project to YouTube without my permission (and without crediting me). Since that time, Can I Get An Amen?, an art work that sought to probe the act of remixing from legal, social, economic and ethical perspectives, has itself become an ingredient in the never-ending chain of new remixes and appropriations. Some of the producers who have used it first asked for my permission, while others did not. My entry here is thus a further meditation on the ethics of sampling and plagiarism in twenty-first century network culture that seeks to elucidate the ambivalence often lurking underneath the practice of using the work of others in the production of culture.
33) “Going Crazy with Remix: A Classroom Study by Practice via Lenz v. Universal”
xtine burrough and Emily Erickson
In this chapter the authors demonstrate how they used the Lenz v. Universal case as a unique vehicle to teach students about fair use and the creative transformation of copyrighted content. The authors discuss the ways in which the Lenz case highlights a gap between First Amendment rights found within fair use doctrine and current practices under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. They argue that Lawrence Lessig’s “remix culture” calls for an imperative to provide students with a strong grounding in both copyright and fair use, as well as a savvy understanding of how copyright owners are approaching unauthorized uses of online content.
34) “A Remix Artist and Advocate”
In this chapter I share my experiences as a remix artist and advocate. I outline my remix practice and experience facing a Digital Millennium Copyright Act violation during my graduate studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The account of this experience highlights copyright complications in the twenty-first century that hinder progress, stifle creativity, and obstruct research in academia and beyond.
35) “Occupy / Band Aid Mashup: ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’”
The focus of this chapter is on my remix practice, considering in particular a critical remix video (CRV) I produced in 2011 entitled Occupy / Band Aid Mashup: Do They Know It’s Christmas? In the chapter I explore how the CRV was inspired by a confluence of global political events, including the Arab Spring, across the Middle East, and the Occupy movement in the US and Europe. I discuss the context that led to the production of this remix, as well as the aesthetic and political aspects that connect it to wider debates on the value of democracy and capitalism. The motivations fuelling the Live Aid / Band Aid legacy over the past thirty years are questioned and finally, the CRV is considered in relation to its lineage in video art, as well as to my ongoing remix practice and research.
36) “Remixing the Remix”
In this chapter the author describes how she appropriates popular culture texts to create feminist remixed narratives that deconstruct normative images and bridge the gap between pop culture fan and critic. Remix is considered an effective tool for questioning socially constructed images of gender and here, the author argues that the practice of remixing is itself a queer act. However, the flaws embedded in YouTube’s copyright system make sharing culturally relevant remix works difficult. It is this dichotomy embedded in the genre that makes remix enjoyable to create but difficult to sustain.
37) “A Fair(y) Use Tale”
In this chapter I discuss A Fair(y) Use Tale, a 2007 short film I directed in collaboration with several Bucknell University undergraduate students. The film’s visuals, soundtrack, and dialogue largely consist of 400-plus unlicensed film clips from the aggressively litigious media giant, the Walt Disney Corporation. The case study’s first section focuses on the historical moment that remix and moving image media appropriation became a twenty-first century method for digital scholarship in film/media studies and the legal implications of that possibility. The chapter includes discussion on how these legal implications led directly to the film’s creation. Next, I focus on A Fair(y) Use Tale’s specific aesthetic and legal strategies focusing especially on the “transformational” nature of remix used by the film. Finally, I examine how remix in this particular film utilizes fair use as an offensive—rather than defensive—legal strategy.
38) “An Aesthetics of Deception in Political Remix Video”
In this chapter I analyze three political remix videos that I created: Jake Gyllenhaal Challenges the Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize (2010), Obama Likes Spending(2011), and 99 Problems (2012). The first describes my process in manufacturing convincing interactions between unrelated audiovisual media to ultimately create a narrative short film. The second highlights a PRV’s ability to alter the meaning of a single word or phrase by lifting it from its original context. The third presents a type of atomic structure present in political remix: new meanings emerge through extracting indivisible phonemes, the juxtaposition of these units forms morphemes, and this diachronic linguistic process makes it possible to augment the lyrics of a popular song for ideological purposes. In each work, the use of illusion is indispensable to the effort of presenting alternative political perspectives.
39) “Radical Remix: Manifestoon”
In Radical Remix: Manifestoon, the author examines the inception, production and trajectory of his audio-visual creation, Manifestoon, a remix collage that began its life in film festivals, micro-cinemas and cable television, but ended up on the global platform of the Internet with over a million views and a dozen crowd-sourced language translations.
The chapter connects the roots of Manifestoon to a tradition of political remix that includes decades of technology that span 16mm and 8mm film, VHS, mini-DV, and digital file formats, grounding the remix impulse to the same desire—to confront, confound, convolute and condemn inequitable and corrupt power relationships.
The author analyzes some reasons for the rise in remix popularity, the changing nature of its creative process, the political impact of such work, and the future of remix activism in today’s rapidly changing conditions of technology and politics.
40) “In Two Minds”
“In Two Minds” follows the history of a video performance of the same name by the artist Kevin Atherton that began at the Project Art Centre in Dublin in 1978. This 1978 performance involved the artist performing live by answering questions asked of him by a video recording he made of himself earlier in the day. Subsequently in 1978, he also exhibited the work at the Serpentine Gallery London as a two-monitor video installation, which involved recording his answers as well as his questions. In 2006, after a gap of twenty-seven years, Atherton began to perform again with the original question tape from the Serpentine installation and in so doing changed the work from an auto-interview, that typical of nineteen seventies conceptual art, asked questions primarily about its own formal parameters, into what is now, in 2014, a poignantly witty work that addresses notions of mortality.