About | Remix Defined | The Book | Texts | Projects | Travels/Exhibits | Remixes/Lists| Twitter

Archive of the category 'Media'

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.

————-

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.

Upcoming Book, Remix Theory: The Aesthetics of Sampling

Image: Preliminary cover design and logo for upcoming book by Ludmil Trenkov.

I am very happy to announce that my book Remix Theory: The Aesthetics of Sampling is scheduled to be published later on this year, by Springer Wien New York Press.  If all goes according to schedule, it should be available no later than this Fall.  The book offers an in-depth analysis on Remix as a form of discourse.  To get a sense of what to expect, you can read my previously published text, “Regressive and Reflexive Mashups in Sampling Culture,” also available through Springer: http://www.springerlink.com/content/r7r28443320k6012/. You can read my online version as well, though I encourage you to support the publishing company by downloading the official version.

I will offer more information about the book in the near future, such as the table of content, and excerpts from the text. For now I wanted to share the promotional abstract:

Remix Theory: The Aesthetics of Sampling is an analysis of Remix in art, music, and new media. Navas argues that Remix, as a form of discourse, affects culture in ways that go beyond the basic recombination of material. His investigation locates the roots of Remix in early forms of mechanical reproduction, in seven stages, beginning in the nineteenth century with the development of the photo camera and the phonograph, leading to contemporary remix culture. This book places particular emphasis on the rise of Remix in music during the 1970s and ‘80s in relation to art and media at the beginning of the twenty-first Century. Navas argues that Remix is a type of binder, a cultural glue—a virus—that informs and supports contemporary culture.

Notes on Everything is a Remix, Part 1, 2, and 3

Everything is a Remix Part 1 from Kirby Ferguson on Vimeo.

Everything is a Remix is a four part web-film series directed and produced by Kirby Ferguson. It has been about a year since the first segment (above) was released. Since then, Ferguson has released parts two and three. The fourth and final installment is scheduled to be released this Fall of 2011, and I look forward to viewing it.

When I viewed part one, I really liked it, and thought that the title, while it may sound polemical to some degree (in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way), somewhat falls along the lines of how I view and have been discussing Remix as a form of discourse during the past few years. However, once I viewed the other two segments, I realized that the way some of the material is presented begins to water down the very foundation of the term “remix.”

For this reason, while I do like very much Ferguson’s series, and often share it as a reference with anyone who wants to get a sense of Remix as a form of discourse, I find the need to write down some of the issues that may be overseen in Ferguson’s series.

This oversight perhaps may be in part because short films cannot possibly cover in-depth analysis as a series of texts or a book would. On the other hand, it may be inevitably tempting to make an ever-expanding megamix about culture and media with a generalization that one cannot fully embrace (though in the spirit of remixing can truly like and admire). With both of these possibilities in mind, I briefly share my views on this series.

Everything is a Remix Part 2 from Kirby Ferguson on Vimeo.

The main issue about remixes that comes up, even in the first video, is that there is no explanation of the relation between material sampling and cultural citation. as I previously explained in Regressive and Reflexive Mashups, there is a difference between a Medley and a Megamix: the former is played by a band, while the latter is composed in the studio usually by a DJ producer, who understands how to manipulate breaks on the turntables.

What this means is that a remix in the strict sense of its foundational definition has to be materially grounded on a citation that can be quantified, in other words, measured. This is one of the reasons why DJ producers quickly ran into trouble with copyright law: a lawyer could play a sample from a Hip Hop song, in direct juxtaposition with the originating source of the sample and make evident on purely material grounds that the sample was an act of plagiarism.

But this is not exactly what happened with Led Zeppelin. What happened with Zeppelin, as the example given in Ferguson’s first segment, was straight forward plagiarism within the tradition of covers and knock-offs. Two terms that are also mentioned in the first segment as forms of “legal remixes.” What these forms of recycling content do share with remixes is intertextual citation–the embedding of ideas by way of direct or even indirect reference, which often is not materially grounded, but rather made possible through well calculated emulation.

Everything is a Remix Part 3 from Kirby Ferguson on Vimeo.

The best example of intertextual citation in the postmodern sense would be Quentin Tarantino’s films, which are also mentioned at the end of the credits of part two. Tarantino does not sample directly from the films he references in his own work, but rather recreates the scenes or shots to develop his own narratives. This allows him to claim autonomy of the material, much in the way that Zeppelin (in my view unfairly) can still keep their credibility, perhaps on the ground of reproducing material in a unique way that is their own–even if they failed to cite the sources from which they blatantly stole.

In other words, because, both, Tarantino and Zeppelin don’t materially take, but rather emulate with great precision, their productions are not remixes by definition, but rather informed by principles of Remix as a form of discourse. Their actions are cultural citations. These details are missed, unfortunately, in the first three parts of the series by Ferguson.

Now, as it is already obvious above, I do extend the concept of remix as Remix (with a capital “R”) to pretty much all the areas of culture that Ferguson mentions in his series, including the Apple computer. But when I do this, it is to emphasize that we are functioning under a paradigm ruled by acts of material appropriation and recyclability.

The attitude of remix made possible with the technology first introduced earlier in photo-collage and tape loops and eventually music samplers, has now become an attitude, an aesthetic that informs the way cultural material is produced. But this does not mean that “everything is a remix.” This may appear to be so, but as much as I myself would like this to be the case, it is not. What one could say is that “everything is intertextual,” which is closer to the tradition of sharing ideas in conceptual and material form, prior to the time of modernism. Historically all the material covered by Ferguson is certainly relevant in terms of recyclability, but it does not validate the catch-all statement “everything is a remix.”

Understandably, “everything is intertextual” (which could also be contested if one gets really picky) is not as catchy as “everything is a remix.” To go viral, one must use what is in vogue and quickly understood. Intertextuality had its time in the postmodern period. Now, it appears that remix is the catch all phrase.

And why is it important to point out such nuances that in the end a person enjoying Ferguson’s short films may find too nit-picky? Because if we actually take the time to differentiate the referencing of ideas in conceptual and material form (ideas, and actual products reused) then copyright law may actually be changed. If we keep referencing intellectual production in general fashion as Ferguson’s work unfortunately does, we will not be able to change laws on intellectual property. It is for this reason, only, why I write this entry, because I find that the film series could benefit from understanding the important differences between material samplings and cultural citations.

I should add a note to explain that my concern here is not academic by any means, even though I make a living by working with research institutions. I have been invested in remix culture long before the very term was coined. Before investing myself professionally as a media researcher and artist, I was a DJ for over fifteen years. And for this reason, as much as I would like everything to be a remix, I have to admit that this is not the case. To be blunt, from the point of view of cultural critics who are wary of hegemony, “Everything is a Remix” can be understood as a flip-on-the-script of diversity, paradoxically, to become a totalitarian statement–that anyone who is invested in difference is compelled to resist. I say this understanding that Ferguson probably does not mean it this way, which is why I do share his work as much as I can. Kudos to Ferguson.

Research on Remix and Cultural Analytics, Part 3

Image: detail of video montage grid of “Hitler’s angry reaction to the iPad.”  One of several remixes on Hitler’s Downfall.  Larger images of this montage and others with proper explanation are included below.

As part of my post doctoral research for The Department of Information Science and Media Studies at the University of Bergen, Norway, I am using cultural analytics techniques to analyze YouTube video remixes.  My research is done in collaboration with the Software Studies Lab at the University of California, San Diego. A big thank you to CRCA at Calit2 for providing a space for daily work during my stays in San Diego.

This is part 3 of a series of posts in which I introduce three case studies of YouTube video remixes. My first case study is the Charleston Style remixes.  The second case study is Radiohead’s Lotus Flower remixes.

In the above video, Hitler rants about the iPad’s lack of features.

I learned about the Downfall remixes while doing research for the Charleston Style remixes.  For a good assessment of its development, read Know your Meme’s blog post of August 1, 2011.   These parodies consist of various excerpts from a not so well-known film titled Downfall, released in 2004, about the last days of Hitler and his inner circle before they all committed suicide.   There are a few scenes that have been used for the remixes, but I chose the most popular, which is also the longest excerpt remixed, of about 3:59.  The footage presents Hitler being told by key members of his inner circle that Berlin is surrounded and that it is only a matter of time before the enemy reaches them in the city.  Hitler is upset about the fact that he was not told the truth sooner and rants for quite sometime to eventually come to terms with his certain defeat.

In the above video Hitler rants about not getting the role as the Joker in Batman.

The parodies consists of taking the original footage, and implementing subtitles in English that have nothing to do with what Hitler is actually saying in German.   Instead, the subtitles present him ranting about the lack of features of the iPad, his realization that Pokemon does not exist, and his disbelief that Kanye West was extremely rude to Taylor Swift when West interrupted Swift’s acceptance speech at an MTV video awards to tell her that Beyonce was a much better music artist, among many other remixes.  I made a definite decision to focus on the Downfall remixes after I ran into one that showed Hitler upset about the “fact” that the Lotus Flower remixes had surpassed the Downfall Parodies’ popularity on YouTube.

In the above video Hitler rants about the Lotus Flower remixes.

I consider this reference a way of coming full circle between the memes.  With the Downfall parodies I was unable to find remixes before January 2007; and, therefore, I am not sure what the first parody may have been (check know your meme’s entry for a parody of 2006 that is no longer available); many which have been featured on articles by newspapers are no longer available on YouTube.   Nevertheless, new ones keep showing up, as reflections and commentaries of current events.


Montage grid of Downfall video, with proper English subtitles. 
View 2200px wide version Note that the resolution of the grid montage I make available does not allow for the subtitles to be read.

With the Downfall remixes, the result is similar to the Charleston Remix. In the Charleston, it is only the music that is switched, and for Downfall, only the subtitles are changed; therefore, the only major shift takes place with the formal placement of translations on the screen: sometimes on the middle of the screen, but for the most part at the bottom. For this reason, I’m only showing one montage grid visualization (above).

Visualization of Downfall with original English subtitles (no longer available on YouTube). View 2000px image. The thin horizontal white bars near the bottom of the frame are the subtitles.  To former link of this video is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4bmkUlXp5sk&feature=related.  

Visualization of “Hitler’s Reaction to the new Kiss album,” a video remix in which Hitler rants about the album’s title “Sonic Boom.”  View 2000px image. The subtitles (the thin horizontal white bars) in this case move all over the frame.  To view this video visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwOLfppXhsk&feature=youtu.be.


Visualization of “Hitler Rejected For Joker In Batman 3.”
View 2000px image

Another shift we can notice with the subtitles is that they may crossover from one shot to the next based on the emphasis of the content that the remixer wants to make. But none of the Charleston and Downfall videos are heavily edited as the Lotus Flower remixes. I will compare at length the three case studies in part four of this series.

Current Projects