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Collaboration as Process in the Exhibiting and Public Space, By Eduardo Navas

Living Light, designed by Soo-in Yang and David Benjamin

Image source: livinglightseoul.net/

This text was commissioned for the publication Future Exhibitions, Swedish Traveling Exhibitions, published in 2010. It is released as the third and last in a series of texts that were written during and after my residency for The  Swedish Traveling Exhibitions.

For the other texts, see:

1) When the Action Leaves the Museum: New Approaches to the Exhibition as a Tool of Communication.

2) Code Switching: Artists and Curators in Networked Culture

Note: This text is a brief analysis of the way exhibitions and art works were being redefined in 2010 and before by  the  growing ubiquity of interactive technology in art production and its presentation in art centers as well as public spaces.  Even though culture has experienced quite a few changes in social media and other forms of communication since this essay was originally written, the text is released online as a complement to its other forms of publication because it holds a critical position that is not contingent upon specific trends, but on long standing questions of art production.

Exhibitions at the beginning of the twenty-first century are becoming spaces of flux.  The usual static exhibition and installation with labels and proper cues for visitors to keep a safe distance—which is likely the default image that comes to mind when one thinks of museums and other public institutions—is being replaced by displays and installations that encourage some form of visitor interaction.  Interactivity can take place directly with the object, an online resource, or downloadable virtual tours, often with the aim not only to have an aesthetic experience but also to inform visitors on some issue.  While this new approach is certainly exciting, it also places real challenges for institutions in the arts and other fields on how to organize exhibitions that resonate with the contemporary audience.  In this regard, exhibitions tend to borrow from new forms of interaction often linked to artistic expression to highlight and bring audience’s attention to relevant information.  In what follows some of the variables that make exhibitions spaces of flux that increasingly rely on creative and even artistic solutions for engaging the audience will be discussed primarily in relation to art but will extend to other fields such as architecture, design, and the public space.

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Abstract for My Keynote Speech at Remixed Media Festival

Image source: Re/mixed Media

Note: Below is the abstract for my Keynote Lecture at the 2012 Re/Mixed Media Festival, to take place at the Brooklyn Lyceum on November 10, 2012.

For the 2012 keynote talk, Eduardo Navas will discuss his research on how the recycling of material, as currently understood in terms of remix, is at play in literary practice in relation to a feedback loop which forms The Framework of Culture.*

Abstract:

The Framework of Culture makes possible the act of remixing. This Framework consists of two layers which function on a feedback loop. The first layer takes effect when something is introduced in culture; such element will likely be different from what is commonly understood, and therefore it takes time for its assimilation. The second layer takes effect when that which is introduced attains cultural value and is appropriated or sampled to be reintroduced in culture. The first layer privileges research and development. Creative literary practice as well as all of the arts function on the second layer, which is why, more often than not, their production consists of appropriation, or at least citation of material with pre-defined cultural value. The two layers have actually been in place since culture itself came about, but their relation has changed with the growing efficiency in production and communication due to the rise of computing. The presentation evaluates this change and its implication for creativity in contemporary cultural production.

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* The Framework of Culture is defined in Chapter One of my book, Remix Theory: The Aesthetics of Sampling.

Not a Remix–Nor a Sampling: Why Fareed Zakaria’s Plagiarism is Unacceptable

Image: Huffpost

By Eduardo Navas

Note: This entry was updated on August 19, 2012 with an extra commentary at the end of the main text.

As an educator in higher education and researcher specializing in remix culture and authorship, when I first learned about Zakaria’s admission to plagiarism, I was very disappointed in him, and thought that there was no way around it, that his admission of plagiarizing parts of Jill Lepore‘s work on gun control written for the New Yorker puts into question his intellectual integrity.

I thought that his apology was quick and to the point, but that somehow it was not enough. I thought that it was necessary for Zakaria to come forward and explain in as much detail as possible the reasoning for his behavior. And I thought that I wasn’t alone in hoping for this to happen–that if an actual explanation was delivered, it would all serve the constructive purpose of discussing the seriousness of plagiarism with students while providing a concrete example of a public intellectual who committed such an unacceptable act.

I thought that Zakaria should give an extensive explanation, first, simply because he owed it to his audience and readers, who have come to respect his work at CNN, Time and The Washington Post; and second because it would inform, and therefore become, admittedly, an unusual contribution to the debates on intellectual property during a period when younger generations are prone to plagiarize due to the easiness of copying and pasting.

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Support RE/Mixed Media Fest

The RE/Mixed Media Festival, now in it’s 3rd year, is an annual celebration of collaborative art-making and creative appropriation. It’s the artists’ contribution to the ongoing conversation about remixing, mashups, copyright law, fair use, and the freedom of artists to access their culture in order to add to and build upon it.

The festival – which this year will take place at the Brooklyn Lyceum – a 3-floor 10,000 sq. ft. venue on the border of the Park Slope and Gowanus neighborhoods of Brooklyn – will feature performances, panel discussions, live musical collaborations, hip-hop, sampling, film & video, DIY, food and drink, DJs, technology, interactive installations, painting, sculpture, software, hacking, and much more!

Read more at KickStarter and Remixedmedia.org

Table of Contents and Introduction Available as PDF for my book, Remix Theory: The Aesthetics of Sampling

Springer has made available the Table of Contents and Introduction of my book, Remix Theory: The Aesthetics of Sampling. You can download it by visiting the book’s official link:
http://www.springer.com/architecture+%26+design/architecture/book/978-3-7091-1262-5

The book should be available in the coming weeks in Europe, and soon after in the United States. For more information, also see the main entry about the book.

Pre-order Remix Theory: The Aesthetics of Sampling

Cover Design: Ludmil Trenkov

Remix Theory: The Aesthetics of Sampling can now be pre-ordered.  You can place your order on Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, Powell’sl Books, or another major online bookseller in your region, anywhere in the world.  The book is scheduled to be available in Europe in July, 2012 and in the U.S. in September/October of 2012.

The book will also be available electronically through university libraries that have subscriptions with Springer’s online service, Springerlink.  I encourage educators who find the book as a whole, or in part, of use for classes to consider the latter option to make the material available to students at an affordable price.

Anyone should be able to preview book chapters on Springerlink once the book is released everywhere.  If you would like a print copy for review, please send me, Eduardo Navas, an e-mail with your information and motivation for requesting a print version.

For all questions, please feel free to contact me at eduardo_at_navasse_dot_net.

Also, see the main entry on this book for the table of content and more information.

Below are selected excerpts from the book:

From Chapter One, Remix[ing] Sampling, page 11:

Before Remix is defined specifically in the late 1960s and ‘70s, it is necessary to trace its cultural development, which will clarify how Remix is informed by modernism and postmodernism at the beginning of the twenty-first century. For this reason, my aim in this chapter is to contextualize Remix’s theoretical framework. This will be done in two parts. The first consists of the three stages of mechanical reproduction, which set the ground for sampling to rise as a meta-activity in the second half of the twentieth century. The three stages are presented with the aim to understand how people engage with mechanical reproduction as media becomes more accessible for manipulation. […]The three stages are then linked to four stages of Remix, which overlap the second and third stage of mechanical reproduction.

From Chapter two, Remix[ing] Music, page 61:

To remix is to compose, and dub was the first stage where this possibility was seen not as an act that promoted genius, but as an act that questioned authorship, creativity, originality, and the economics that supported the discourse behind these terms as stable cultural forms. […] Repetition becomes the privileged mode of production, in which preexisting material is recycled towards new forms of representation. The potential behind this paradigm shift would not become evident until the second stage of Remix in New York City, where the principles explored in dub were further explored in what today is known as turntablism: the looping of small sections of records to create new beats—instrumental loops, on top of which MCs and rappers would freestyle, improvising rhymes. […]

From Chapter Three, Remix[ing] Theory, page 125:

Once the concept of sampling, as understood in music during the ‘70s and ‘80s, was introduced as an activity directly linked to remixing different elements beyond music (and eventually evolved into an influential discourse), appropriation and recycling as concepts changed at the beginning of the twenty-first century; they cannot be considered on the same terms prior to the development of machines specifically design for remixing. This would be equivalent to trying to understand the world in terms of representation prior to the photo camera. Once a specific technology is introduced it eventually develops a discourse that helps to shape cultural anxieties. Remix has done and is currently doing this to concepts of appropriation. Remix has changed how we look at the production of material in terms of combinations. This is what enables Remix to become an aesthetic, a discourse that, like a virus, can move through any cultural area and be progressive and regressive depending on the intentions of the people implementing its principles.

More excerpts available once the book is available.

Research on Remix and Cultural Analytics, Part 5

Image: evaluating sliced visualizations of The Charleston Style remixes at the Vroom at Calit2. View larger image. View other Vroom images by cultvis on Flickr.

In previous posts I discussed how I used cultural analytics to examine video mashups. (See part 1 on the Charleston Mix, part 2 on Radiohead’s Lotus Flower, and part 3 on the Downfall parodies, and part 4, on sliced visualizations of all three case studies.) One thing that is difficult in this process is to view all images at once in order to make the observations that I have discussed so far.  This is when a large tiled screen is useful, such as the one available at the Vroom at Calit2, where the Software Studies Lab in San Diego is  based. Below are images that give an idea of how the large screen is useful to evaluate various images at once.

Image: wide view, 32 tiled-screen at the Vroom, Calit2. See larger image.

This image shows the thirty montage grid visualizations of my second case study, The Lotus Flower Parodies. The advantage in this case is that all thirty videos can be examined at once.  This is something that is impossible on a regular laptop or a large computer screen. Being able to compare images in large scale is not only useful to come up with detailed analysis, but also provides the ability to discuss one’s research with other colleagues.

Image: Tracy Cornish, a researcher at CRCA, points out a detail to a colleague of my Lotus Flower remixes grid visualization. See larger image.

Image: Detailed visualization of Thom Yorke Does the Macarena! See larger image.

Image: Sliced images of Lotus Flower remixes on top of montage grid visualizations. (See part 3 and part 4 my analysis for more on sliced images.)

One of the advantages of the tiled screen, in addition to viewing many images at once and in great detail, is the fact that the files don’t appear inside windows as they would on an average computer.  As the image above makes obvious, you can lay images next to each other, and on top of others, with no frame around them.  While this feature might appear not so important when first considered, I found that it provided me with a sense of immediacy.

Image: Todd Margolis, Technical Director at CRCA, examines grid-montage and sliced image visualizations of Lotus Flower Parodies. See larger image.

Image: alternate view of grid-montage and sliced image visualizations of Lotus Flower Parodies. See larger image.

Image: Todd Margolis, Technical Director at CRCA, examines grid-montage and sliced image visualizations of Lotus Flower Parodies. See larger image.

Image: detail of grid-montage visualization of Charleston Style remixes. See larger image.

Detail of sliced visualization of Downfall parodies. See larger image.

Image: sliced visuazlizations of the three case studies on top of Lev Manovich’s and Jeremy Douglass’s Time Magazine covers. See larger image.

Image: detail of Lev Manovich’s and Jeremy Douglass’s Time Magazine covers. See larger image.

Going back to my initial point, when considering a large amount of images, such as all Time Magazine covers,  it becomes evident how being able to view several images at once becomes an important part of visualization.

Image: alternate view of Lev Manovich’s and Jeremy Douglass’s Time Magazine covers. See larger image.

Panel presentation on Video Remixes at PCAC Conference 2012

I am scheduled to present my research on Remix and cultural analytics at the Popular Culture Association of Canada (PCAC) Conference 2012, Niagara Falls. The conference takes place from May 10 through 12.  I will be discussing part of my analysis of YouTube video mashups.  I will join long time collaborators, Owen Gallagher, Martin Leduc, and John Shiga for a panel on video remixes.  The brief mission statement from PCAC is below, followed with the description of our session.

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The purpose of the Popular Culture Association of Canada is to promote scholarly understanding of popular culture, broadly conceived, in Canada and elsewhere.  It will serve to bring together academics, students and practitioners in the field of popular culture

May 11, 2012:

SESSION 8

Friday 5:15pm-6:45pm

8C
Strategy 3
Meaning and Politics in Online Amateur Remix Video

Chair: Martin Leduc, Carleton University

John Shiga McGill University
Missing Data: Datamoshing and the Micro-politics of Compression

Martin Leduc Carleton University
Remix in Action: Remix Practices as Political Strategies

Eduardo Navas University of Bergen
Remix in Cultural Analytics

Owen Gallagher National College of Art and Design, Dublin
Ideology in Critical Remix: A Visual Semiotic Analysis

More Notes on Everything is a Remix and Ferguson’s Lecture at Creative Mornings

Everything is a Remix Part 4 from Kirby Ferguson on Vimeo.

Part 4 of the Series “Everything is a Remix” (above) has been released on line by Kirby Ferguson. In this last segment, Ferguson retells in large part Lessig’s argument on copyright and free culture (later renamed read/write culture). Kirby points to a “System Failure” in the near future. I don’t have much to add in terms of criticism about the series, given that Ferguson very much hops back and forth between cultural citations and material samplings, not acknowledging the complexity of intertextuality as I already discussed in a previous criticism I wrote about his series.

Another video was recently released by Creative Mornings, in which Ferguson goes over his views on remix as a “metaphor” (below). I wonder why he does not make metaphor a key issue in his videos. One would not have to worry about the watering down of “remix” as a term with a specific meaning in networked culture. But perhaps in the end Ferguson may sense that everything is not a remix. As I previously explained, in the end he is discussing intertextuality.

Well produced videos, worth watching. I think people will change their minds about creativity when viewing them, and this is a real contribution by Ferguson.

2011/08 Kirby Ferguson from CreativeMornings on Vimeo.

For Your Consideration: Women Directors Missing From the Oscars

I recently received a message from Elisa Kreisinger about a supercut she created along with Melissa Silverstein (above). It is a video commentary on the obvious inequality within The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. This video is produced just in time for the Oscar’s. I was not able to post it before Monday (the big night), but it serves just as well to post it now, since the hype keeps going. Kreisinger’s commentary follows below:

My colleague Melissa Silverstein and I made a supercut over at Women And Hollywood that compiles all the female-directed films not nominated in an effort to highlight women’s work and shed light on part of the problem: the voting population of the Academy.

* 94% white.
* 77% male.
* 62 is the average age.

We’ve moved beyond the issue of ‘not enough women making work.’

As a result, it’s important to honor prominent female directors here in an effort to encourage more women to write and direct their own work, open the conversation about women-made narratives and shed light on who decides what narratives get honored, why and how that affects our popular culture.

So on Sunday night, women will be at the forefront of the Oscars. But not for their work; for their dress. As you watch the plethora of white men accept their awards on behalf of other white men, keep these women-made movies in mind.

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