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Archive of the category 'Art'

“Mashup the Archive and Dividual Agency,” essay for exhibit at Iwalewahaus

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Image: photo of copies of art catalogue for the exhibition Mashup the Archive. My thanks to Nadine Seigert and Sam Hopkins for inviting me to participate in the events for the opening during the month of June 2015.

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This text is different from others I have written. It is in part a transcription of a presentation I gave for a roundtable discussion at Bayreuth for the exhibit Mashup, on June 1, 2015.[1] I expanded the basic transcription to revisit my definitions of remix. What is unique of this text is the elaboration of the remix diagram [Figure 1], which in the past I have included in different publications as a visual reference, but have not referred to directly as each term is discussed. Some of the material that follows below was not part of my actual presentation but is added to emphasize remix as a variable at play in Mashup the Archive. The last part of this essay, in particular, is based on the discussion that took place during our panel presentation. It is a reflection on questions about the future of the archive, and who can use it. The text itself, in a way, is a selective remix because its foundation is the transcription of my roundtable presentation to which I added and deleted selected material. This basic form of remix is explained further in what follows. Because of its hybrid format, the text may appear to go on brief tangents, or include comments that are normal in a conversation, but which may not be expected in a formal paper. This text effectively functions between spaces. It borrows from moments in time and makes the most of them to put into practice the theories upon which it reflects.

Introduction

I would like to start by thanking everyone for making this roundtable possible, Sam Hopkins, Nadine Siegert, and Ulf Vierke from the Iwalewahaus, and my fellow panel participants Beatrice Ferrara, Nina Huber, and Mark Nash who joined me during the roundtable discussion. My focus on this occasion is on the interrelation of the mashup, the archive and what I will call dividual agency[2] in accordance to principles of remixing. I will first define remix and the mashup in music and relate it to contemporary culture in general; then I will evaluate the mashup in relation to the archive and authorship by generally reflecting on the exhibit at the Iwalewahaus.

[1] I thank Lucie Ameloot for the transcription.
[2] I take the concept of the dividual from Gilles Deleuze, who discusses the concept of a set (a closed system), which changes as it is divided into parts. See Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 1: The Movement Image (Minneapolis: Minnesota Press, 1986), 14-15.

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Essay: Rhetoric and Remix: Reflections on Adorno’s Minima Moralia

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“Rhetoric and Remix: Reflections on Adorno’s Minima Moralia” was published as part of The Journal of Contemporary Rhetoric, Volume 7, Issue 2/3. I want to thank David Beard and Lisa Horton for including my work in a special issue focusing on remix. The essays comprised in the volume are written by important scholars who often focus on remix. I am honored to be part of this collection. Below are the first few paragraphs of my essay. You may download the actual document from the journal’s website. I also make it available on Remix Theory for download.

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Rhetoric broken down to its most basic element can be called “the art of speaking well.”[1] In terms of contemporary times, it could be rewritten as “the art of remixing well,” given that we are able to extend our views using pre-existing material almost in real time using different media formats. Remix [and rhetoric] is the use of all media for communication by way of appropriation, repurposing, copying and mimicking.

Scott Church explains that the process of selection in remix is rhetorical because the remixer chooses a sample over another.[2] This is an act of selectivity that is vital to contemporary forms of production, whether they be highly acclaimed works of art, or a basic e-mail message that includes pasted content that a person may want to share with another person. My remix of Minima Moralia, which I titled Minima Moralia Redux, from this standpoint is a rhetorical work that, by way of appropriation, updates Adorno’s book as an online project.[3]

Minima Moralia Redux functions as both a work of art and a data analytics research project, which enables me and I hope can help others in understanding how individuals develop works that appear to be autonomous and credited to a single person, but which in reality are only possible because many people are willing to share ideas and resources. It is my hope that we can eventually move past ideas of single authorial works to more open approaches that do justice to the way culture is actually produced in terms of collective knowledge exchange. For this reason, the following focuses on how I appropriate and remix Adorno’s work. I do not discuss his critical position in detail, although I do mention it to contextualize the remix process.

I posted Minima Moralia’s Redux’s first entry on October 16, 2011. The goal, at the time, was to write an entry every week until the 153 aphorisms comprising Adorno’s book were remixed. The initial goal was to finish the project within three years, but as things developed, it became evident that it would take much longer to finish. As I did research on Adorno, I inevitably developed related interests and ideas that took me in other directions, and led to different projects and publications. For this reason, at the time of this writing (2017) I am about half way through Adorno’s 153 aphorisms, and it is not clear when I will eventually finish remixing his book. But for now I can reflect on how the project started, where it stands, and how what I have produced can be reconsidered in terms of remix and rhetoric.

[1] This is a direct quote by the Roman rhetorician Quintillian which was previously quoted in an essay that discusses the relation of rhetoric and remix at length, see Scott H. Church, “A Rhetoric of Remix,” The Routledge Companion to Remix Studies, eds. Eduardo Navas, Owen Gallagher, xtine Burrough (New York: Routledge, 2014), 43.

[2] Ibid, 44.

[3] Early reflections on what I discuss in this section can be found in the blog posts: “about” http://minimamoraliaredux.blogspot.com/p/about.html, accessed February, 15, 2017 “Preliminary Notes on Analysis of Theodor Adorno’s Minima Moralia,” http://remixtheory.net/?p=820, accessed, February 15, 2017. Minima Moralia Redux can be viewed at http://minimamoraliaredux.blogspot.com/.

 

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Upcoming Book: Keywords in Remix Studies

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Cover concept by Eduardo Navas, Owen Gallagher and xtine burrough
Cover image: DJHughman

I have not posted for many months, the reason being that I have been working on several writing projects. One of them will be released very soon. The cover for Keywords in Remix Studies, to be published by Routledge later this year, has been released. I am so happy to have been able to collaborate once again with xtine burrough and Owen Gallagher. I hope everyone finds the book of relevance in terms of remix as a creative field. Below is a brief description.

Amazon

Routledge

Abstract

Keywords in Remix Studies consists of twenty-four chapters authored by researchers who share interests in remix studies and remix culture throughout the arts and humanities. The essays reflect on the critical, historical and theoretical lineage of remix to the technological production that makes contemporary forms of communication and creativity possible. Remix enjoys international attention as it continues to become a paradigm of reference across many disciplines, due in part to its interdisciplinary nature as an unexpectedly fragmented approach and method useful in various fields to expand specific research interests. The focus on a specific keyword for each essay enables contributors to expose culture and society’s inconclusive relation with the creative process, and questions assumptions about authorship, plagiarism and originality. Keywords in Remix Studies is a resource for scholars, including researchers, practitioners, lecturers and students, interested in some or all aspects of remix studies. It can be a reference manual and introductory resource, as well as a teaching tool across the humanities and social sciences.

“Regenerative Culture Series” at the Palmer Museum, October 18 – December 11, 2016

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Figure 1: View of prints 1 and 2 from the “Regenerative Culture Series” at the Palmer Museum, Penn State

During the Fall of 2016, I participated in the group exhibition “Expanded Practice” at the Palmer Museum, Penn State. The exhibit took place between October 18 and December 11. I showed a series of prints titled “Regenerative Culture Series.” The actual set consists of eight prints. I decided to show six of eight because this made sense for the space. All of the prints can be viewed on their respective webpage available on my site.

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Figure 2: Side view of prints 1 and 2 of “Regenerative Culture Series” at the Palmer Museum, Penn State

Here is the description of the print series (from the project’s website):

The prints consist of images taken from the web using Google. The images were chosen because they include text that corresponds with a word that is part of a sentence, which in turn is part of a theoretical essay. Some images are altruistic compositions, while others are advertisements and logos among other things.

A specific word or group of words are highlighted in the text of each image in order to create a sentence, which can be read when viewing each composite from left to right. Each of the sentences forming the eight composites are taken from my 2015 essay “Regenerative Culture,” which is a critical reflection on network culture.

The composites are designed to present a tension that opens both image and text for a critical reading of the slippage of meaning in the flow of networked production.

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Figure 3: Image 3 through 6 of “Regenerative Culture Series” at the Palmer Museum, Penn State

I was very happy to be part of the exhibit, which, in my view, showed the diverse practice taking place across the different programs in the School of Visual Arts. An article on the collegian published some opinions by the faculty.

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Figure 4: Side view of Image 3 through 6 of “Regenerative Culture Series” at the Palmer Museum, Penn State

Figure 5: “Mobile Communication”
Sentence: We can communicate with anyone and experience content using a mobile device while walking, riding a train, or flying in an airplane.

Read more information about “Regenerative Culture Series”

Figure 6: “Originality and Uniqueness”
Sentence: Nothing is original just unique to the moment in which it is experienced.

Read more information about “Regenerative Culture Series”

 

 

Final Media Projects for Art 315, Fall 2016, SoVA @ Penn State

During the Fall of 2016, I taught Art 315 at Penn State, which is a new media studio practice class that introduces students to basic principles of time-based media. The class focuses on bringing together image, sound and text to create experimental and open ended narratives. The class begins exploring sound, particularly noise and ambient sound recorded by students. The students then learn basic editing of music in combination with ambient noise to then move on to basic video editing techniques. They explore the three basic shots in storytelling: the close-up, the mid-shot, and the wide-shot. They also learn basic principles of special effects and end up with a reel of selections that represent the best work they produced throughout the term. The last piece in each of the reels that follow below are remixes of material that each student considered relevant to their respective vision. I am very happy to share the five reels that students agreed to share publicly. My entire class produced very strong work throughout the term, and this is just a sample of all the material they worked very hard to produce.

 

Brooke Mitchell – Art 315 – Reel

 

Michiele Lake – Art 315 – Reel

 

Shannon Tarr – Art 315 Reel

 

Sarrah Hochberg – Art 315 Reel

 

Patricia Peers – Art 315 Reel

Spate: A Navigational Theory of Networks

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I am very happy to share news about my book Spate: A Navigational Theory of Networks. Published by The Institute of Network Cultures (INC).  The book is free for download; a print copy can also be ordered online.

Spate: a Navigational Theory of Networks is a critical and theoretical reflection on networked communication, developed with repurposed tweets (@poemita) posted between 2010 and 2014. The original tweets, which were written as critical commentary about online communication and information exchange, have been rewritten from different points of view to develop five chapters. The five chapters function as an anti-story about multiple perceptions within a decentralized network.

I want to thank the Geert Lovink, Miriam Rasch, Leonieke van Dipten, and Léna Robin at The Institute of Network Cultures for supporting the realization of Spate.

Keywords: A Remix of Culture and Society

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A Project by Eduardo Navas

“Keywords: A Remix of Culture and Society” is an online project which takes all of the terms that Raymond Williams published in his book Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society (Oxford, 1976), and provides the top search results on Google. The principle behind this project is to evaluate how the terms Williams considered important in order to understand culture and society in the middle of the twentieth century currently flow on the Web.

View Keywords: A Remix of Culture and Society

 

“Culture and Remix: A Theory on Cultural Sublation” excerpt from The Routledge Companion, by Eduardo Navas

In late 2014/early 2015, I co-edited, along with xtine Burrough and Owen Gallagher, The Routledge Companion to Remix Studies. My chapter contribution to the anthology is “Culture and Remix: A Theory on Cultural Sublation.” Part of the introduction follows below. If interested, the chapter can be perused on Google books. Use Firefox for best results.

CULTURE AND REMIX
A Theory on Cultural Sublation
Eduardo Navas

Remix culture is a term increasingly used to explain basic principles of creativity and individual expression since the mid- to late 1990s.[1] Given its common usage, the nature of the compound-term’s dependence on a complex history may not seem obvious. When evaluating the relation of remix to culture at times one may ask, “What kind of culture are we becoming when we consider remixing an important element in creative production?” And, “What exactly is culture?” In this line of questioning, it becomes evident that in order to understand in depth what role remix plays in culture it is necessary to define with precision the term “culture.” This should make possible a discussion about the possibilities and limitations of remix, not only in terms of remix culture, which is a concept in large part informed and shaped by Creative Commons, but also culture in the larger context of history. The following, then, is a brief analysis in which I first define culture to then evaluate its relation to remix. The concept of the avant-garde is presented as a cultural example in which remixing is at play explicitly on two layers that I define as the framework of culture.[2] I also analyze how social media relies on the framework of culture to develop a new type of economy. This analysis will expose the reasons why, historically, creative production appears to resist established patterns of production, but eventually is sublated by cultural economies and becomes vital to capital as a whole.

Culture Defined

All cultural critics (as their title implies) have to assume a concise idea of culture. Two cultural critics who have taken the time to define culture at length are Raymond Williams, who published his theories around the 1950s, and Terry Eagleton, who became an authority as a surveyor of culture, due to his focus on the subject particularly in the 1980s. Eagleton defines culture by referencing the definitions of Williams, as well as T. S. Eliot. In Eagleton’s definition, one comes away with a sense of culture defined, unapologetically, by the West. He argues that as Western thought has spread throughout the world, it has been able to make claims to a certain way of thinking that affects other cultures that did not hold Western values.[3] Eagleton also points out that culture originates in nature and is defined by labor. Culture is nature modified according to the interests of individuals who perform a specific form of manual work: “We derive our word for the finest of human activities from labour and agriculture, crops and cultivation.”[4] Eagleton discusses at some length how culture developed a sense of resistance, especially in the nineteenth century; for him, such resistance has links to the rise of the avant-garde during the same time period.

According to Raymond Williams, the fact that art became a value in and of itself at times separated from everyday life was the result of a preoccupation with cultural changes that started around 1790, and climaxed around 1945. Part of the cultural struggle  since the end of World War II, Williams argues, had been to find ways to reintegrate the value of art back into the everyday.[5] Williams divides the separation of art and everyday life into three stages: the first from 1790 to 1870, when industrialism rapidly developed; the second from 1870 to 1914, when specializations started to become the norm; and finally, 1914 to 1945, a time when the specializations of the second period kept developing, but became complicated by the rise of mass media and large corporations.[6]\

Peruse the chapter on Google books. Use Firefox for best results.

“Political Remix Video: An Interview with Dr. Colin Gardner” by Diran Lyons

Diran Lyons has been producing political remixes for some time. I recently received a tweet of his latest mashup “Political Remix Video: An Interview with Dr. Colin Gardner” which combines selected clips from Lyons’s own previous mashups with an interview with Dr. Gardner, who is professor and chair in the department of art at UC Santa Barbara. Following his previous approach, Lyons’s video mashup questions the way we perceive the moving image, which in this case is redefined as the time image by Dr. Gardner, according to philosophical writings on film by the late French philosopher Gilles Deleuze. The time image questions our expectations of cause and effect; it is an image that reminds us to look beyond the surface of movement. Based on this premise, Lyons goes on to show clips from several films, mass media, and speeches by politicians on the left and the right of American politics. The result is a mashup that takes no sides but questions all things persons could possibly assume about power and absolute positions on right and wrong.

Final Media Projects for Art 316 and 415, Fall 2015, SoVA @ Penn State

During Fall of 2015, I taught two classes in The School of Visual Arts at Penn State, in which students explored creative practice in time based media. Art 316 focused on video art, and Art 415 focused on integrating media to develop experimental works that explored principles of remix, beginning with sound, moving on to the time-based media. The final project for both classes was to evaluate and re-edit selected work produced throughout the term, and organize it into a cohesive body of work. This means that the projects did not need to be organized chronologically.

I share compilations by some of my students below. First are selections from Art 316 followed by selections from Art 415.  I believe all of the students in class grew quite a bit in the process of exploring the aesthetics of contemporary time-based media in image, sound, and text.

Art 316:

Video Project Reel 2015 from Dolan Kutzman on Vimeo.

Art 316  assignments begin with stop motion with no sound. The reason for this is so that students can focus on the image editing process. Eventually, students move on to explore video and sound in relation to text. Some students used music which they composed themselves, others chose pre-existing tracks.  What was crucial when using pre-existing sound was that it did not overpower the video footage, but that it developed a balance that allowed for autonomy of the videos as works of their own.

John Guilyard, Video Project, Fall 2015

In Art 316 students explored concepts of sequential media, meaning the concept of movement with different forms of digital visual presentation, such as still graphics, animation, typography and video. The influence of film language across various media disciplines was discussed at length and explored with a hands-on-approach to produce video projects.

 

Eden Yung, Video Projects, Fall 2015

Students explored concepts of motion in art, film and video. Issues of design practice in time based media in general were covered. Students  gained a theoretical and practical understanding of sequential movement.

 

Brendan Rogers, Video Projects, Fall 2015

Art 415 consisted of an interdisciplinary approach to  the production of  art and media design. Its conceptual  platform is the act of remixing as initially understood in music, which is increasingly influential across media in terms of remix culture. Students were introduced to the basic principles of remix with a hands-on approach in order to develop independently driven projects.

 

Mike O’Halloran ART 415 Reel from Mike O’H on Vimeo.

The starting point of class, in terms of hands-on production, consisted of mixing and remixing music with different software. Students then applied their initial knowledge and methodology to image/time-based media and text.

 

Art 415 Final Project from Kelsie Netzer on Vimeo.

The class consisted of three major projects, each building on the skills, history and theory students learned throughout the term. The class was designed to enable students to acquire a methodology that will eventually help them develop an ambitious vision of their own practice, and complement the eventual production of a thesis and/or portfolio in their respective discipline.

 

Transmedia Project: Revised from Christine D’Emidio on Vimeo.

Julianne Weinman, Video Projects, Fall 2015

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