Keywords in Remix Studies Abstracts
Authored in Collaboration with Contributors
The chapter on the keyword “appropriation” is a collection of brief statements contributed by many of the authors and remixed by the editors. The purpose of the chapter is to put into practice appropriation in the process of defining the word, itself. It reads similarly to other chapters, and each author is credited for his or her contribution in the footnotes. The issue at play in this textual megamix is to understand how ideas are shared and redefined through constant commentary, quotation, referencing, and reimagining.
Chapter two focuses on remix’s relation to the keyword “archive” in terms of a cultural imaginary that is informed by a romantic notion. Rinehart proposes to slip behind the façade of the archive in order to examine its historical and theoretical underpinnings, and to move past its apparent mythical image by defining it in historical, and professional terms, and reposition it as a remix of cultural heritage.
Remix has called our prosaic understanding of the keyword “authorship” into question. Through such practices as dub, deejaying, plunderphonics, fan vidding, music video mashups, and a host of other remix infused activities, traditional notions of individual creation, originality, and ownership have been disrupted. The authorship entry sheds light on important historical and theoretical underpinnings of authorship, showing how it has evolved through key eras and movements. With this the author aims to give a nuanced insight into the meaning of the keyword and how an unexamined understanding of the term may have a chilling effect on our efforts to create new, productive works.
In chapter four, Bricolage is discussed in relation to remix. Markham argues that upon a close examination the respective terms function differently, even though both may at times be used synonymously. Markham takes us on a historical journey to prove this point. She discusses the role of the bricoleur as tinkerer and handyman, initially introduced by Levi Strauss in French Anthropology, by unpacking bricolage in terms of epistemology and ontology. Markham repositions bricolage in relation to object and action to end with a clear position on how and why bricolage and remix are actually different, as the former can be viewed with a sense of finality while the latter with a sense of incompleteness and constant flow. She argues that we should be clear when to use the terms while also continuing the debate on how the terms inform each other.
This chapter explores the socioetymology of the word “collaborative,” examining the roots of the word, syllable by syllable, in order to reveal and critique the expectations and institutions developed around the process of creative expression. Of primary interest is the tacit premise that creation is a form of “labor,” and that those who produce it can best be understood as laborers. This claim is an artifact of the subsummation of ritual communication by mercantile economic relations and industrialization, and is a primary mechanism by which the ideology of industrial capitalism has been successfully normalized in modern society.
Chapter six, considers Consumerism in a hyper state of late capitalism. Figueres evaluates how remix plays a role in relation to art practice in a time when global markets have opened new ways to distribute goods and consume them. He argues that the relationship between consumerism and art is well established and that a new stage has emerged in which remix plays an occasionally conflictive role (being used for and against) in the questioning of the ongoing normalization of what he refers to as hyper-consumerism.
In chapter seven, Patricia Aufderheide discusses how intellectual property law reshapes our understanding of remixing ranging from citations in texts to media mashups. She argues that uncertainty and the possibility of lawsuits, even when a person is exercising fair use, come to play major roles in creative decisions by artists and cultural producers. Such uncertainty is difficult to surmount due to the fact that international copyright laws vary, and this places even more stress on creative individuals who want to share work internationally. Education emerges as the means of empowerment, but Aufderheide argues that the challenge remains in finding a balance in user rights and copyright.
This chapter explores the keyword “cut-up” as an active, affirmative and performative technique; a critical intervention in the production of language and human subjectivity. It examines historical uses of cut-up methods, from the collages and cut-up works of the Dadaists and the Beat writers, back to the early modern practice of commonplacing books. It highlights the importance of technology—from the Xerox machine to keyboard shortcuts—in opening up the reworking of words, sounds and visuals to a wider population. Finally, it explores how remix theory has been instrumental in engaging issues of authorship, originality, and ownership that cut-up practices pose.
xtine burrough and Frank Dufour
The keyword entry “creativity” explores the notion of transformation along the axis of sampling by following two paths, the transformation of homogenous and heterogeneous samples. Creativity is explored in remix as a process-oriented practice anchored in a free-flowing dialog. Case studies of remix projects are used to showcase homogenous and heterogeneous sampling—the first taken up in abstract or formal practices; and the second relying on linguistic meaningfulness as cultural and political operators. Creativity is an artist’s or producer’s tool to transform a viewer’s state of consciousness from the static here and now to a fluid realm of possibilities.
This chapter addresses the keyword “deconstruction” and its connections to both the theory and practice of remix and remix studies. It demonstrates how and why this term, which was originally introduced and developed in poststructuralist theory as a kind of terminological remix, came to be used to characterize the practice of remix; how its appropriation and employment has often misunderstood what “deconstruction” actually signifies; how this productive misunderstanding is itself a result and byproduct of a remix effort; and what the concept of deconstruction, properly speaking and characterized, can supply to the understanding of remix and remix studies.
11. DIY Culture
This chapter is concerned with DIY culture and its synergies and tensions with remix discourse. Though DIY culture can be defined as “amateur” production, its varied forms, contested nature and ambiguous boundaries show that its historical and social significance are anything but settled. Like Remix, DIY must be understood in the context of advanced capitalism in which there is substantial pressure to position the self, like other cultural products, as innovative rather than “derivative.” In what follows, DIY is discussed through tracking debates on mainstream and subcultural production, convergence culture, and individualization.
12. Fan Culture
In this chapter the keyword “fan culture” is approached as a set of diverse phenomena based around appropriation, transformation, and participation that is fraught with persistent conflicts between creativity and copyright. A remarkable branch of this fan culture is the burgeoning practice of making cinematic fan edits, which are noncommercial alternative versions of films and television programs created by fans using consumer video editing technology. The public reputation of fan edits can be regarded as a work-in-progress that has been regularly impeded by logistical problems and evidence of social inequities. A conscientious look into the developing practice of fan edits reveals appreciable intersections between fan culture and the broader field of remix.
Karen Keifer-Boyd & Christine Liao
This chapter focuses on the keyword “feminism.” A feminist remix is a creative resistance and cultural production that talks back to patriarchy by reworking patriarchal hierarchical systems privileging men. The authors discuss feminist remix strategies starting from the perspective of art history including photomontage, Femmage, and assemblage. Next, remix examples are provided through feminist theories of cyborg, cyberfeminisim, and posthumanism. Further, feminist remix counter-narrative strategies of masquerade and virtual embodiment are presented. Concluding with a discussion of feminist remix nodes disseminating works, the authors suggest that participating in creating feminist remix is to create a gender just media landscape and society.
14. Intellectual Property
This chapter on the keyword “intellectual property” (IP) demystifies the abstract concept of ownership of ideas decoupled from materiality. It traces the history of IP from its Constitutional beginnings through to a discourse of “intellectual property” during industrial modernization in the nineteenth century and then to “post-industrial” societies in the present. The entry recounts how the concept of IP has been increasingly instrumentalized for the benefit of corporate interests at the expense of greater freedom of expression for all. The entry concludes with examples that illustrate the ways in which the legal contours of IP are being reconsidered by artists, academics, and federal judges alike.
T Storm Heter
This chapter discusses the keyword “jazz” as a musical art form that explored principles that are foundational to remix. Strategies of musical repetition are considered to have been a central part of jazz culture since its inception in 1920s America. The chapter covers in detail basic turntable techniques to learn jazz improvisation such as bringing the needle back to the beginning of a riff repeatedly to study chords and melodies. This process foreshadows the turntable evolving into an instrument in its own right.
This chapter discusses the keyword “location” as an unacknowledged variable that plays a major role in remix practice. Borsche evaluates how the idea of location has become subsumed by the possibility of being constantly connected, and the ability to produce and share content with ever-increasing efficiency. An awareness of the location of culture is argued for by updating post-colonial theory, thereby repositioning remix as a practice that can only be concretely understood when people take the time to look into the actual physical context in which remixes are produced.
Eduardo Navas and Nate Harrison
This chapter traces the historical origins of the keyword “mashup,” beginning in the nineteenth century. It then summarizes the ways in which mashup has been articulated in Caribbean contexts, in its aesthetic and political dimensions. These histories allow mashup to be understood in three contemporary senses: as music mashup, as mashup memes, and as software mashups. Each of these three uses of mashup are explored in terms of technology, utility, and cultural commentary. The entry concludes with asserting mashups as emblematic of today’s copy-paste culture, and as the language through which creative individuals everywhere create meaning.
Authored in Collaboration with Contributors
The chapter on the keyword “memes” consists of selections by many of the authors in Keywords to Remix Studies. The motivation behind this collective effort is to put into practice the intertextual relation among contributors by considering their meme selections in relation to the other chapters in the anthology. The chapter can be considered a heterogeneous node in which diverging interests come together as a mashup of memes: a megamix of critical voices.
This chapter explores the dialogic nature of remix and its connection to parody, with particular attention to the role of parody remix in the realm of political discourse. The chapter concludes with a discussion of how remix operates within a larger media ecology of samplings and citations, creating a more ambivalent form of appropriation that comes closer to pastiche.
20. Participatory Politics
Henry Jenkins et al.
The keyword for this chapter is participatory. It considers remix as a form of participation at a time when the infrastructures and skills associated with participatory culture are inspiring new kinds of civic engagement and political participation. Using examples of the remixing of Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and other candidates from the 2016 US Presidential Election, the authors survey selected literature around participatory politics and the civic imagination, showing how remix practices help connect young people to the campaign process and provide an alternative, more welcoming model of political rhetoric.
The keyword for this chapter is “remix.” It includes an evaluation of the various stages of remix, from a basic creative concept in music production to its role as a cultural binder that gained relevance in remix culture, and eventually remix studies. It evaluates how and why we produce new things with the recycling or repurposing of pre-existing material, from ideas to material production. It also includes an overview of diverging positions on how remix is defined according to binary definitions of original and copies, and proposes that remixers and remix scholars remain ever aware of the potential of becoming homogenized or formulaic.
This chapter considers definitions that have shaped “sampling” in remix culture and remix studies to argue that there is a certain incoherence and contradiction in how sampling is discussed, understood, and debated; consequently, this has direct repercussions on the way that sampling is theorized. A major factor in this issue is that some of the definitions of sampling are over-expansive and in turn do not match the reality in which remix actually takes place. For this reason, it is argued, the definition of sampling needs to be more concrete and have an intimate sensitivity to the context in which it actually occurs.
Francesca Coppa & Rebecca Tushnet
This chapter focuses on the keyword “transformative.” It is an evaluation of how transformative works in media fandom reflect and refigure the concept of “transformativeness” in copyright fair use law. It begins by framing the cultural context within which transformativeness is deployed in the mainstream as an idea, then moves to a discussion of the legal concept, especially its focus on creating new meanings or messages. This is followed with analysis of media fans creating fan fiction, fan video, and how other fan works specifically deploy the concept, appropriating it for their own similar purposes but with a non-legal spin. The adoption of “transformative” as a label by the media fan community is itself an example of transformativeness in action.
Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky
For this chapter the keyword “versioning” becomes a critical platform for reflection on remix’s relation to music culture and the politics of class, race and ethnicity. The first part is a versioned reflection by Paul D. Miller (aka DJ Spooky) in which he discusses Melania Trump’s 2016 plagiarism of Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech for the Democratic convention alongside a court ruling against Kraftwerk, who sued for unauthorized sampling of one their compositions. The second part is the transcript of a conversation between Paul D. Miller and Eduardo Navas in which they discuss the social, technological and cultural dimensions of remix in terms of versioning and the real political implications of media representations and repurposing of material that gains massive popular value.