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Interview for the Radio Show: Fade In/Fade Out, Remixing Culture

At the end of July, I was interviewed  for KulturWelle. Their radio feature titled Fade In/Fade Out, Remixing Culture, which aired on September 3, 2014, presents excerpts of interviews with musicologist Fabian Czolbe, media and communications researcher Steffen Lepa, Ramón Reichert, and, myself, Eduardo Navas.

The feature is literally a remix in German and English of our reflections on the recyclability of culture complemented with music and sound excerpts. Even if one does not understand German, one should listen to the hour long show. It is a true rhetorical soundscape equivalent to a well mixed music recording. Many thanks to Nikita Hock, who first contacted me, and all the producers of the radio show, including  Anastasia Andersson, Bernadette Breyer, Lara Deininger and Angelika Piechotta.

Chloë Participating in the Exhibit “10″ at Marte-C, San Salvador, El Salvador, September 2 – October 12, 2014

Image 1: screen capture of Chloë (2001). An online portrait of a young model. The image is sliced into 36 parts, which change every 10 seconds to create different combinations. The purpose of the online project is to expose the tension between the young model’s growing experience vs. her modeling career. It should be noted that Chloë has grown, moved on to college, and as far as I know is no longer modeling. Nevertheless, the online portrait functions as a metaphor of one’s constant change, while also thinking of oneself as a person with a core-self that may not change.

I am very happy to be participating in the exhibit “10″ taking place at the Marte Contemporary (Marte-C) in San Salvador, El Salvador. I want to thank artist Karlos Carcamo for suggesting my name to curator Claire Breukel, who chose Chloë to be exhibited as part of the exhibit, which opens this coming September. Official dates are Septermber 2 to October 12, 2014.

Image 2: screen capture of Chloë (2001). An online portrait of a young model.

After discussing the thematic of the exhibit around issues of identity and diaspora, Breukel and I considered Chloë  to be open enough for people to relate to on various levels that are relevant to the exhibit’s emphasis on Salvadoran artists, while extending it to basic questions on human existence. The work is from a few years back (2001), and had not been featured in any exhibit, so I’m very happy that it will receive attention. I also like the fact that the work can be presented as a relevant work of art in our time while still using old technology of 2001 (not as a work that may be of relevance because it was produced with technology that was once innovative–something that tends to happen with new media work quite often). I also think that the idea of constant-change that it explores remains ever-present no matter the technological changes our culture goes through.

I find the exhibit quite interesting because, as the excerpt of the press release that follows makes clear, 10 artists were initially chosen, and those artists chose 10 more artists. I cannot help to think of this approach as a form of remixing of sorts: of exploring the blurriness of curating and art making.  More information below.

Excerpt from the press release Marte Contemporary:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: San Salvador/New York, May: Simply titled “10,” this exhibition curated by MARTE Contemporary (MARTE-C), features twenty prolific works produced in, and about El Salvador over the past decade. On view from September 2, 2014 until October 12, 2014 at MARTE Museum in San Salvador, this exhibition celebrates MARTE Contemporary’s 10-year anniversary, and opens on September 2 at 6pm.

The exhibition’s curators worked with MARTE-C’s selection team to identify ten impactful artworks made over the past decade by Salvadorans, including its diaspora. Works include “Home Sweet Home”, a new piece based on Ronald Moran’s 2004 signature work owned by the Margulies collection in Miami, as well as work by Simón Vega, Waltero Iraheta, Mayra Barraza, Irvin Morazan, Danny Zavaleta, Luis Paredes, Rafael Diaz, Karlos Cárcamo and Ernesto Bautista. These artists were in turn invited to nominate an artwork they feel is exemplar. These selected 10 works include an upturned Volkswagen Beetle by performance artist Victor “Crack” Rodriguez as well as work by Mauricio Kabistan, Beatriz Cortez, Patricia Dominguez, Mauricio Esquivel, Eduardo Navas, Natalia Domínguez, Alexia Miranda, Abigail Reyes and Melissa Guevara.

Poemita, an Experimental Online Writing Project

Figure 1: The five most repeated words from 2010-2013. The words and lines above show their recurrence in relation to each other throughout the corpus. See analysis of this and other charts below.

Poemita began in 2010. It means little poem in Spanish. The basic premise was to experiment with tweets as new forms of writing. I eventually decided to use it as a resource (think of it as data mulch) for various projects. Some of the tweets  are being repurposed as short narratives, which I have not released. Poemita was actually preceded by writing I developed for my video [Re]Cuts, a project influenced by William Burroughs’s cut-up method. I am in the process of producing a second video that uses actual tweets from Poemita.

I worked on Poemita on and off, sometimes not posting for months at a time. In fact, I don’t have a single post for the year 2011.  But during the month of August 2014, I realized that Poemita has been a project that is closely related to my ongoing remix of Theodor Adorno’s work in Minima Moralia Redux. It could be thought of as a negative version of that project (I am using the term “negative” here in dialectical terms). To allude to this relation, I inverted the color scheme for the word cloud visualizations of Poemita to be the opposite of Minima Moralia Redux’s. Poemita takes the concept of the aphorism as Adorno practiced it and tries to make the most of each tweet. Most of the postings are well under 140 characters, and they all try to reflect critically on different aspects of life and culture.  I try to do this creatively, and write content that may appear difficult to understand, but ultimately may not even make sense; the aim is to create the possibility for the reader  to see things that would not be possible otherwise. In short it is an experiment in creative writing, and this is why the project was titled Poemita.

I may not be able to post consistently, but I will certainly be posting tweets more regularly then before.  And I will eventually be repurposing the tweets in different ways to explore how context and presentation along with selectivity are ultimately  major elements  in the creative act. This will become clear as I release the tweets in different formats in the future. This, in essence, is a way of remixing data.

To reflect on where this project is going, I decided to analyze it as I would other texts to understand how it is constructed, and to evaluate the type of patterns that may be at play in my online writing. What follows, then, is a set of studies of  the tweets for the years 2010, 2012 and 2013. I will be releasing analysis of 2014 later, after the year is over.

First, it is worth looking at word clouds for the three years:

Poemita_2010Figure 2: Word cloud of tweets for 2010



Figure 3: Word cloud for tweets of 2012



Figure 4: Word cloud for tweets of 2013


Figure 5: Word cloud of tweets from 2010-2013.

We can note the top four or five words for each cloud for the respective years of 2010, 2012, and 2013 and consider how they eventually become part of the larger cloud for all of the years of 2010-2013. The number of occurrences could be accounted for yearly, but for the current purpose of this analysis, it should be sufficient to evaluate the number of words in the largest cloud for all three years (figure 5).

In the cloud above (figure 5), then,  there are a total of a 1,712 words and 863 unique words. The most used words besides articles and prepositions appear much larger. These words appear the following number of times in the actual body of the text:

Time: 12
Thought: 11
Sound: 7
Space: 5
Thoughts: 5

The word trend chart at the top of this page (figure 1) shows how these words relate to each other in terms of writing sequence. If you were to choose a particular node, you would be taken to the actual text and shown how the word appears in its context. The tool I used to this word analysis is Voyant. Seeing the words in a diagram provides a visual idea of how they relate to each other within the actual writing.

This gives a sense of repetition, and may even allude to certain interests in terms of content and ideas within the corpus of the text, but it does not provide a clear sense of how the words actually function, or under what context they recur. For this, the way the words are used in actual sentences can be mapped. In the following word trees, the top five words (in order of times repeated), Time, Thought, Sound, Space, and Thoughts are linked to all the phrases that follow them:


Figure 6: The word “time” linked to the phrases that come after it. Click on the image to view a larger file.


Figure 7: The word “thought” linked to the phrases that come after it. Click on the image to view a larger file.


Figure 8: The word “sound” linked to the phrases that come after it. Click on the image to view a larger file.


Figure 8: The word “space” linked to the phrases that come after it. Click on the image to view a larger file.



Figure 9: The word “thoughts” linked to the phrases that come after it. Click on the image to view a larger file.

The word trees above show how each of the words are implemented to create particular statements. At this point, it is possible to make certain assessments.  Let’s take the word “thoughts” (figure 9).  We can see that three out of five times it comes at the end of the sentences. We can also note that the exception to this is a reflective statement: “thoughts of grandeur.” Let’s take a look at the word “thought” (figure 7) and we can notice that it is part of a much more complex set of phrases. Two times, the word is part of the branching recurrences “Improvisation fills one with…” and “the very thought of…” But notice that in the last one thought is also followed by a period.

Finally, we can consider the words that come before these words. Let’s take the word “thought” for a brief example. For this we can use voyant:

At this point we can get a full sense of how the word recurs and how it functions each time it appears. This approach puts me in the position to evaluate what similarities and differences their implementation may share in order to evaluate particular tendencies I may have in my writing.

We could go on and examine the other top words in the same way, but this is enough to make my point.  It becomes evident that how the word “thought” and its plural “thoughts” are used has much variation in the creative approach in terms of twitting. At least, I, as the actual writer, become aware of the way that I tend to relate to the singular and plural instantiation. This in the end is a reflective exercise that enables me to be critically engaged in understanding my own tendencies as a writer. I plan to use this analytic approach to further the possibilities of writing tweets that can offer a lot more content just under 140 characters.

One of the issues that I assess in all this is the role of repetition.  One may think that repetitive occurrences are bad for creativity, but in practice, it is through repetition that we come to improve our craft and technique in any medium. In terms of how words are used or repeated, with analytical exercises like this one, a writer can come to understand how certain words recur and under what context, to then decide if to implement them differently or omit them altogether in future writing.

I certainly was not thinking that I would use these words the most when I began writing in 2010. They appear to recur and I’m not sure why, but the point is that now I can use this awareness to improve my own creative process.

This analysis can get very detailed, obviously, but this should be enough at this point. This is just a brief sample of how I am data-mining my own writing to also develop other projects  by remixing the content. I will also be mining twitter postings to evaluate how what I learn in this focused project may or may not appear to be at play in the way online communities communicate.

Text Release: Modular Complexity and Remix: The Collapse of Time and Space into Search, by Eduardo Navas

Note: This text was written for the peer review Journal AnthroVision 1.1 | 2012 : First issue. It was published in September of 2012. It is released here with permission from the editors. A special thanks to Nadine Wanono and the peer reviewers for all their support in the process of revising and publishing the text.  This essay is the first formal release of my post-doc research for The Department of Information Science and Media Studies at The University of Bergen, Norway in collaboration with The Software Studies Lab at Calit2, University of California, San Diego during the period of 2010-2012. I will be releasing more of my research in the near future. For now, you may also look over related material, available under Projects.

For proper text citation use:

Référence électronique
Eduardo Navas, « Modular Complexity and Remix: The Collapse of Time and Space into Search  », Anthrovision [En ligne], 1.1 | 2012, mis en ligne le 01 septembre 2012, consulté le 15 mars 2013. URL : http://lodel.revues.org/10/anthrovision/324

Download and read the complete article: DownLoad PDF


If postmodernity consisted of the collapse of time into space, then the time of globalization at the beginning of the twenty-first century consists of the collapse of time and space into search.  Culture has entered a stage in which time and space are redefined by modular access to knowledge in unprecedented fashion with the use of search engines. Search redefines the way people come to terms with historical developments that are constantly recycled and remixed with the use of new media technology.  A search is usually performed with engines such as Google and Bing; technology that is founded on research that brings together private and public interests.

This text is a reflection on the implications behind search algorithms that provide people with material that is relevant in correlation to a hierarchy of supposed importance that may reach great popularity, and perhaps even go viral (large circulation online) according to the use of key terms known as meta-data. This text is an evaluation of the aesthetics of search made possible because of what I call modular complexity; meaning, the ability to function within a system of modules that are autonomous but that also effectively inform and redefine each other.[1]  This, in effect, leads to the collapse of time and space into search; meaning, if the postmodern gave way to a sense of historical dismissal, such attitude is fully at play in networked culture as ahistoricity.  This shift, which informs emerging markets on the global network, repurposes interdisciplinary methodologies across fields of research in the social sciences as well as the humanities.

[1] I first introduce the concept of Modular Complexity in the Essay “Remix: The Ethics of Modular Complexity in Sustainability,” written for CSPA Journal’s Spring 2010 issue.  See: http://remixtheory.net/?p=461

Download and read the complete article: DownLoad PDF

The Framework of Culture: Remix in Music, Art, and Literature, by Eduardo Navas

Image: The four diagrams of The Framework of Culture. Each is discussed below.

Note: This text was commissioned for the exhibition Reuse Aloud, taking place at the NewBridge Project Space, Newcastle, England; and broadcasting 24 hours a day on basic.fm throughout March, 2013. Many thanks to the curators Will Strong and Rosanna Skett for commissioning the text.  A recorded version is also part of the exhibition.

An earlier version of this text was presented as my keynote speech for Remixed Media Festival in NYC.  In that occassion I only focused on literature. The version for Reuse Aloud was revised to include art and music as well. My thanks to Tom Tenney, director of the NYC festival for giving me the opportunity to test my ideas in front of a very receptive audience.

This text can also be downloaded as a PDF, which is friendlier for print, or for reading on tablets: NavasFrameNC_Web


We live in a time when the self-awareness of recycling of material and immaterial things is almost taken for granted. I state almost because, as the following analysis demonstrates, the potential of recycling as a creative act in what we refer to as remix is in constant friction with cultural production. Consequently, the purpose of this essay is to demonstrate the importance of remix as a practice worthy of proper recognition exactly because of its ability to challenge the mainstream’s ambivalent acceptance of aesthetic and critical production that relies on strategies of appropriation, recycling, and recontextualization of material.

Proper recognition is only worthy when it is an attestation of a particular achievement, which can only come about through struggle. Arguably a type of struggle that is certainly recognized and even celebrated quite often, (which admittedly makes for romantic narratives) is the basic human struggle: the will to live. We can think of struggle here as a term spanning across all types of activities, from war to natural disasters—many which are now commonly shared all over the world.

But to begin with a more basic premise, struggle in its most abstract form can simply consist of reflecting on the pain of self-awareness; of having the burden of knowing that we just exist and, for the most part, will do anything to make sure that we will exist for as long as possible. Many of us are willing to find ways to extend our lives before we take our last breath. Others, admittedly, will struggle to leave this world as soon as possible; thus, it may be suicide the subject of struggle in such cases. But this brief reflection on struggle as a humanistic preoccupation is mentioned because we diligently have extended it to everything we produce. It is an important ingredient in what we may call progress.  As romantic as it may sound, human beings have the tendency to struggle in order to be better; whatever that means. And as we have grown as a complex global society, we have been able to extend our struggle on to and through media.


Some notes on Simon Reynolds’s Call for Originality, Eduardo Navas

Image source: slate, by Laura Terry.

Back in October of 2012 Simon Reynolds wrote a passionate piece on Remix Culture for Slate magazine titled “Your Are not a Switch” in which he calls out mainly scholars who are using the reference of the DJ and remixing to discuss issues of originality, and especially in his view, questioning the concept of the “genius.”  For me what is striking about Reynolds’s position is that he goes over much of the literature that has been produced for the last few years claiming that all of the authors (amazing that all of them,  a bit essentialist on his part disappointingly), especially those in academia are guilty of dismantling the originality in creativity.  To make a sweeping statement like this is troublesome enough but there is more.

As much as I like Reynolds’s research, including his most recent book titled Retromania, I have to say that his article is long-winded and does not contribute anything new, not even a strong counter-argument against the authors he calls out.  Reynolds appears to want to celebrate the artist as genius, and to do this he claims at the end of his article that there is something to the process of coming up with new material based on a unique interpretation.  Well, this is not so different from what some  of the authors that he is critiquing are saying.  In fact, this is the whole point of the books, such as Synreich’s Mashed up, or Amerika’s Remixthebook.  Perhaps it’s the “academic” or (I prefer) the systematic and rigorous approach of some of the publications that may come off as a way of killing the potential of creativity that is misread by Reynolds.  But to understand the grammar of a process, to understand the history, to understand the politics of a cultural activity does not mean that such an activity, in this case creativity, will whither. It simply means that we will understand it better and we need to because the process of borrowing from and being inspired by others now has turned into a material conflict that is finely tuned with economics.

I’m talking about copyright conflicts, of course. We need to understand the process of creativity because we need to make sure that it keeps flowing as it always has. With new technology we are able to archive more of that process and all that is archived becomes commodity in some way. This is really what is at play at the moment in, yes, all of the books and essays Reynolds is critical of; they are  contributions to overcoming such an impasse. And is creativity or the concept of the genius being redefined in this process? Yes.  But all things change, they evolve.  It’s the way we function.  We cannot hold on to some idea of genius or originality as it functioned in the past.  Just like photography redefined painting, just like the computer redefined just about every aspect of daily life, the concepts of the genius and originality are also being redefined.  And this is not a bad thing at all.


I share a couple of paragraphs from Reynolds’s text below:

Many of these polemics make allusions to DJ culture in their titles: Mark Amerika’sremixthebook, Kirby Ferguson’s video essays and website Everything Is A RemixArram Sinnreich’s Mashed Up.Remixing and mashups are familiar—indeed, somewhat tired—notions in dance culture, but in critical circles they enjoy modish currency because they seem to capture something essential about the cut-and-paste sensibility fostered by digital culture. Likewise, the Internet’s gigantic archive of image, sound, text, and design has encouraged a view of the artist as primarily a curator, someone whose principal modes of operation involve recontextualization and connection-making.

As a neutral description of the current state of the art in many fields, this would be fine. But recreativists don’t just champion these practices, they make grand claims about the essentially recycled nature of all art. In Creative License: The Law and Culture of Digital Sampling, authors Kembrew McLeod and Peter DiCola quote the DJ Matt Black’s assertion that “humans are just sampling machines … that’s how we learn to paint and make music.” In an opinion piece for NPR, Alva Noë discussed contemporary anxieties about plagiarism in a cut-and-paste era and defended quotation as an artistic practice. But instead of stopping there, he also asserted that “sampling is nothing new, not in art, and not in life … Evolution, whether in biology, or in technology and culture, is never anything other than a redeployment of old means in new circumstances.* We use the old to make the new and the new is always old.” Much the same idea crops up in Austin Kleon’s Steal Like an Artist, a sort of self-help manual for modern creatives. Kleon moves quickly from “every new idea is just a mashup or a remix of one or more previous ideas” to insisting that “you are the sum of your influences” and that “you’re a remix of your mom and dad.”

 Read the complete article at Slate

Panel Discussion for Three Junctures of Remix

Calit2 has made available the panel discussion for the exhibition I curated, Three Junctures of Remix. Artists part of the panel include, in order of appearance, Giselle Beiguelman, Elisa Kreisinger, Mark Amerika, and Arcangel Constanini. The discussion ends with a 10 minute performance by Constanini with his own musical object named Phonotube.


Images from the Exhibition Three Junctures of Remix

Image from Cali2′s Flickr stream. From left to right: Mark Amerika, Giselle Beiguelman, Elisa Kreisinger, Arcangel Constantini, Trish Stone, and Eduardo Navas

The opening at Calit2 on January 17 was a complete success.  Many thanks to Jordan Crandall and the gallery committee for their support in the realization of the exhibition. A special thanks to Trish Stone and Hector Bracho and the entire Calit2 team for all their help.  It was truly a great experience.  The discussion panel, which took place just an hour before the official opening will be online very soon, in the meantime I want to point out that there are lots of great pictures on Flickr for anyone interested to view.

More Soon,


Exhibition: Three Junctures of Remix, Curated by Eduardo Navas

Date: January 17th, 2013
Time: 5p Panel; 6p Reception
Location: Calit2 Auditorium and gallery@calit2, Atkinson Hall, UC San Diego
Host: Jordan Crandall, Vis Arts and gallery@calit2

Guest Speaker: Eduardo Navas, Curator (pictured); Artwork by
Mark Amerika & Chad Mossholder, Giselle Beiguelman, Arcángel Constantini, Elisa Kreisinger

A panel discussion and reception mark the opening of Three Junctures of Remix, curated by Eduardo Navas. It runs Jan. 17 to March 15 in the gallery@calit2.

The exhibition THREE JUNCTURES OF REMIX features the art of Mark Amerika & Chad Mossholder, Arcángel Constantini, Giselle Beiguelman, and Elisa Kreisinger, a group of international artists who have explored and reflected on the implications of the creative act of remixing since the concept became popular beginning in the nineties. The art works crossover and explore three junctures (moments of production) of remix: the pre-digital/analog; the digital; and the post-digital which developed in chronological order, but after their initial manifestation, became intertwined and currently are often reintroduced in conjunction to inform the aesthetics of remix as a creative act in art practice. The exhibition is curated to reflect on how computing has enabled people to recombine pre-existing material with unprecedented efficiency that is relatively affordable just about everywhere information-based technology is widely used. This has affected how local and global communities view their cultural production, from politics to the arts.


The New Aesthetic and The Framework of Culture, by Eduardo Navas


Look #1, Adam Harvey, http://cvdazzle.com/assets/images/comparison_lg.jpg (accessed October 12, 2012).

My text “The New Aesthetic and The Framework of Culture” was published in the Media-N Journal issue for Fall 2012: v.08 n.02: Found – Sampled – Stolen – Strategies of Appropriation in New Media . Media-N is The New Media Caucus‘s peer-review journal. Many thanks to Joshua Rosenstock and Pat Badani for their generous feedback, and editing.

Part of the introduction follows below.  For the full text visit Media-N.

This essay is a critical overview of the New Aesthetic in the context of what I define as The Framework of Culture. The New Aesthetic relies heavily on principles of remixing, and for this reason it is not so much a movement, but arguably more of an attitude towards media production that is overtly aware of computing processes that are embedded in every aspect of daily life. Material considered part of The New Aesthetic often, though not always, consists of pixilated designs that make reference to digital manipulation of contemporary media.

One of the The New Aesthetic’s resonating issues is that by using the word “new” it appears invested in the recontextualization of cultural production that is aware of its materialization through the use of digital technology. At the same time, it also appears to be revisiting much of what new media already examined during the early stages of networked communication beginning in the mid-nineties. [1] The subject of interest in this text is not whether The New Aesthetic may be something actually “new,” or simply a trend revisiting cultural variables already well defined by previous stages of media production. Rather, what is relevant is that The New Aesthetic makes evident how recycling of concepts and materials is at play in ways that differ from previous forms of production.

Read the complete article at Media-N

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