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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:

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.

Early Updates on Facebook: How the “is” Became a State of Mind, by Eduardo Navas

Image: inversion Facebook’s front page.

Digging through my archives, I found the list of my early updates on Facebook.  When I joined Facebook back in 2008, personal updates read “What are you doing?” prompted with “Your Name is … ” I liked the idea behind positioning the Facebook user in a constant state of action.  It was like a performance online.  Because of this set up, I found myself always thinking of what I was actually doing at the moment that I entered Facebook, and thought of creative ways to approach the apparent triviality of the updates.

I thought that I would eventually develop a project with my updates, or that I would simply keep writing them as long as I was a Facebook member.  But then Facebook changed its status updates to state: “What’s on your mind?” and I could no longer perform my ongoing development towards a work of art. Thus my potential project apparently came to an abrupt end.

Below are the updates that part of me still hopes to use in some form to develop an interesting art project. But I don’t see that in the near or far future.  So for now (and possibly for as long as this post is visible), they function more as mundane documentation and, to some degree, as commentary on my early days on Facebook. I share them because I realized upon my re-reading that the banality of the posts as they now are updated by members of Facebook has not faded, but rather has become watered down to appear more “thoughtful.”  After all, how deep can one be when asked, “What’s on your mind?”  This is equivalent to being asked by an acquaintance when passing them on the street, “how are you?”

Notes below:


Facebook “what are you doing notes”
At this time I did not request friends and had my setting fairly open to be seen on major search engines.

The notes below are listed exactly as they appeared on Facebook.  I began writing my status updates on March 20, 2008

March 20: Eduardo is looking at your profile.
March 26: Eduardo is still looking at your profile.
April 1: Eduardo is exchanging his labor for pleasure.
April 8: Eduardo is exchanging his pleasure for value.
April 12: Eduardo is debating the default state of the verb “to be” in the Facebook Interface.
April 18: Eduardo is reloading his home page to check out the adds on the left.
Apr 26, 2008: Eduardo is unable to fill this space with an action.
May 4, 2008: Eduardo is down with an empty statement.
May 13, 2008: Eduardo is excited about a new art project.
May 20, 2008: Eduardo is moving.
May 26, 2008: Eduardo is about to fly.
May 29, 2008: Eduardo is in Madrid.
June 5, 2008: Eduardo is on the move again…
June 6, 2008: Eduardo is in Barcelona
June 9, 2008: Eduardo is in Madrid, again.
June 16, 2008: Eduardo is back in LA.
June 17, 208: Eduardo is in San Diego and depressed, Lakers lost…
June 20, 2008: Eduardo is sick.  Some bug he caught.
June 24, 2008: Eduardo is now sick of writing, but cannot let go of the keyboard.
June 25, 2008: Eduardo is cool now. Not as in being cool, just cool.. now.
June 30, 2008: Eduardo is.
July 7, 2008: Eduardo is [re]revising.
July 15, 2008: Eduardo is down with the stoop.
July 19, 2008: Eduardo on the move, again–going east.
July 25, 2008: Eduardo is still on the east coast, working really hard.
August 5, 2008: Eduardo is looking at his belly.
August 20: Eduardo is simply busy.
September 8: Eduardo is killing mosquitoes with his bare hands.
September 18, 2008: Eduardo is, again.
September 20, 2008: Eduardo is forgetting to write in this space what he is doing.
October 3, 2008: Eduardo is looking at leaves falling.
October 10, 2008: Eduardo is releasing a new project: http://navasse.net/traceblog/about.html.
October 19, 2008: Eduardo is listening to his own music list: http://remixtheory.net/?page_id=328
October 28, 2008: Eduardo is preparing for a long long day.
November 4, 2008: Eduardo is looking at the polls (and has voted).
November 5, 2008: Eduardo is more than the verb to be today, because we can.
November 10, 2008: Eduardo is just out of smart things to say.
November 16, 2008: Eduardo is in the middle of wishing-happy-birthday week.
November 22, 2008: Eduardo is, has been, and will be in the middle of snow for a while..
November 29, 2008: Eduardo is quite sick of Turkey, but still willing to eat it.
December 9, 2008: Eduardo s tired.  Academic term almost over… Flying to warmer lands!
December 22, 2008: Eduardo is still cold.  Whatever happened to California weather?!
December 26, 2008: Eduardo is still cold, second update. People in Big Bear, CA must be happy…
January 5, 2008: Eduardo is up, packing.  About to go back east, yet again, back to Lalaland soon next month
January 7, 2008: Eduardo is back in the middle of snow, ice and lots and lots of rain.
January 19, 2008: Eduardo is enjoying MLK Day. Must stay up and work, work, work.
January 20, 2009: Eduardo is thinking about living history, or living in history, or living with history, or living-history: 44th presidential Inauguration of the President
February 1, 2009: Eduardo is going to watch the game with ambivalent critical distance…
February 7, 2009: Eduardo is simply chilling.  Yep.
February 14, 2009: Eduardo is trying to say something that will be well data-mined.
February 28, 2009: Eduardo noticed that “is” is no longer the default on Facebook.

At this time I took myself off search engines results and privacy settings were set to their safest set up.  I began to request friendships based on recommendations of people I might know, or suggested friends.

Facebook Update Status changed to “What’s on my mind”
March 16, 2009: Now I no longer need to be in a state of action, but simply express what’s on my mind.  We have entered a new stage of data-mining.
April 3, 2009: Spring.
April 16, 2009: Eduardo just figured out (quite late) why Facebook changed its status hook. (cause of twits…)

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 Analtytics, Part 4

Image: Detail of sliced visualization of thirty video samples of Downfall remixes. See actual visualization 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.

The following is an excerpt from an upcoming paper titled, “Modular Complexity and Remix: The Collapse of Time and Space into Search,” to be published in the peer review journal AnthroVision, Vol 1.1. A note will posted here, on Remix Theory, announcing when the complete paper is officially published.

The excerpt below is rather extensive for a blog post, but I find it necessary to share it in order to bring together elements discussed in previous posts on Remix and Cultural Analytics (see part 1 on the Charleston Mix, part 2 on Radiohead’s Lotus Flower, and part 3 on the Downfall parodies). The excerpt has been slightly edited to make direct reference to the previous postings, and therefore reads different from the version in the actual text, which makes reference to sections of the research paper where more extensive analysis is introduced. Consequently, in order for this post to make more sense, the previous three entries mentioned above should also be read.

The following excerpt references sliced visualizations of the three cases studies in order to analyze the patterns of remixing videos on YouTube. The reason for sharing part of my publication now is to bring together the observations made in previous postings, and to make evident how cultural analytics enables researchers invested in the digital humanities to examine cultural objects in new ways that were not possible prior to the digitalization process we have been experiencing for the last decades.


To understand how a meme evolves based on the first remixes that a user may find can be evaluated by developing visualizations of the three cases studies that show the editing of the video footage over time.  To accomplish this, I took the frames of thirty videos of each meme and sliced them in order to examine the types of pattern the editing actually takes.  What we find is that with the Charleston Remixes the video footage stays practically the same except for a few remixes in which the footage of Leon and James dancing was used selectively as part of bigger projects.  “Mr. Scruff – Get a Move on | Charleston videoclip” is one of these exceptions, in which the video is re-edited to match the sound (see slice detail below).  Another is “Charleston & Lindy Hop Dance ReMix – iLLiFieD video.mix (Version),” (also see below).

Image: A two column slice visualization of the 29 of 30 remixes (one remix was omitted because the footage is not the same performance.  That video is not relevant to evaluate how the video footage of this meme is left intact).  For a full list of this visualization visit: http://remixtheory.net/remixAnalytics/ and select “Charleston Video Slices.” View large version of this image.

Image: this is a slice visualization of “The Charleston and Lindy Hop Dance Remix.”  When comparing this sliced image to other slices in the two-column visualization above, one can notice the selective process with which footage from the Charleston Style was used.   This video is much longer than the original footage, and has been compacted in order to show how the video was selectively edited.  To view this remix, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=POupa2sW1UI&feature=player_embedded. This video was uploaded to YouTube on May2, 2009. View large version of this image.

Image: this is a slice visualization of “Mr. Scruff remix.”  When comparing the sliced image to the other slices in the two columns visualization above, one can notice how the same footage was edited repeatedly to match the beat and sections of the song. This video is much longer than the original footage, and has been compacted in order to show how the video was selectively edited.   Visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Bx5-itIA0pQ.   This video was uploaded to YouTube on January 10, 2008. View large version of this image.

Image: A two-column visualization of Lotus Flower Remixes.  The original video by Radiohead is on the top-left.  Most of the videos sliced in this sample were uploaded within the first two weeks after the original video was uploaded by Radiohead on February 16, 2011. For a full list of this visualization visit: http://remixtheory.net/remixAnalytics/ and select “Lotus Flower Video Slices.” View large version of this image.

In the Lotus Flower Remixes (See image above) we can note that the editing of the videos is quite diverse; the footage is remixed (heavily edited) to match the beat and the overall feel of the selected songs, with the very first videos.

The Downfall remixes (see figure below) consists of video footage that for the most part has been left intact. What is remixed is the fake translation of Hitler’s rant.  The subtitles for Hitler are sometimes in the middle of the screen, in others at the bottom; sometimes the typeface is small, and at times large.  But in the end the video footage is left intact and the translations very much obey the rhythm of the original editing.

Image: A two-column visualization of The Downfall Parody remixes.  The original video with no subtitles is on the top-left.  Videos sliced in this sample were uploaded between 2007 and 2011.  At the moment it is not certain whether the 2007 upload was the first because many remixes have been taken down by YouTube.  For a full list of this visualization visit: http://remixtheory.net/remixAnalytics/ and select “Downfall Video Slices.” View large version of this image.

Image: Visualization of Downfall video, with proper English subtitles.  The thin horizontal white bars near the bottom of the frame are the subtitles.  To view this video visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4bmkUlXp5sk&feature=related.   Some of the remixes present the subtitles in yellow. View large version of this image.

Image: visualization of “Hitler’s Reaction to the new Kiss album,” a video remix in which Hitler rants about the album’s title “Sonic Boom.”  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. View large version of this image.

We can note in the three case studies that the approach of remixing is in part defined by the way the original remix or footage was produced.  With the Charleston Remixes, most contributions leave the video footage intact.  No major editing took place until September 2007, that is a year and four months after the first upload.  With the Lotus Flower Remixes, editing of the footage is done from the very beginning, while with the Downfall parodies, it does not place at all.  Why would this be?

Based on the diagrams (see the link “visualization of links” for each case study on the page remixAnalytics) and patterns of editing that I present, we can note that the later videos are in fact responses to previous productions.  In the Charleston Remixes, the video footage is left intact because it is intact in the first remix.  With Lotus Flower, the original footage by Radiohead is heavily edited, which gives remixers the license to immediately manipulate the footage in selective fashion—by omitting some parts of the footage while repeating others to match the selected songs.  With the Downfall remixes, the result is similar to the Charleston Remix: the footage is practically left alone because the meme demands that the basis of the meme be that only the text be remixed; therefore, the only major shift takes place with the placement of translations on the screen: sometimes on the middle, but for the most part at the bottom.  The only other 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 as heavily edited as the Lotus Flower remixes.  It is also worth noting that these are all selective remixes, which means that they all are dependent on a clear reference to the original source.[1]   If such reference is lost, then, the remix withers, and would become either a badly concocted reference, or simply a product on the verge of plagiarism.

One last element that needs to be considered, which apparently affects the production of the memes, as is also argued by a study on YouTube funded by Telefonica [2], and also supported by the research of Jean Burgess and Joshua Green [3] is that due to the viral emphasis on YouTube, online users are most likely to find an already remixed version of a video, and not the original if the remix has enjoyed more views.  The exception to this is Lotus Flower, for which YouTube apparently always offers the original video as part of possible selections, on the first page of all results.  This is likely because given Radiohead’s popularity, their YouTube channel has a large number of views.  For the Charleston, this is not always the case, as the original footage sometimes will not come up with certain video remixes.  For the Downfall meme, it is even more difficult to speculate how videos produced before 2007 affect users who currently search for the meme, because they are likely to find videos that are popular, but not necessarily the newest nor the oldest—but rather the most relevant based on the terms used for the search in relation to the number of views.

[1] For the full definition of the selective remix see “Selective and Reflexive Mashups.”

[2] Meeyoung Cha, Haewoon Kwak, Pablo Rodriguez, Yong-Yeol Ahn, and Sue Moon, “I Tube, You Tube, Everybody Tubes: Analyzing the World’s Largest User Generated Content Video System,” http://an.kaist.ac.kr/traces/papers/imc131-cha.pdf

[3] For Burgess and Green this is evident based on their assessment of the emphasis of presenting popular videos first, and the fact that YouTube members deliberately find ways to promote their videos to become as popular as possible. See Jean Burgess & Joshua Green, YouTube: Online Video and Participatory Culture (Cambridge: Polity, 2010), 74.

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.

Write to Your Congress Representative about SOPA

In an effort to create awareness of the repercussions that SOPA would bring to the innovation of online exchange, Wikipedia has blocked its service for 24 hours.  In turn, they have provided a very useful tool to find out who is one’s representative if residing in the United States.  Wikipedia is doing this along with WordPress,  Reddit, and Mozilla. Log on to Wikipedia and you will be taken directly to the proper page for further action.  Their views on SOPA are reposted below:

Call your elected officials.

Tell them you are their constituent, and you oppose SOPA and PIPA.


SOPA and PIPA would put the burden on website owners to police user-contributed material and call for the unnecessary blocking of entire sites. Small sites won’t have sufficient resources to defend themselves. Big media companies may seek to cut off funding sources for their foreign competitors, even if copyright isn’t being infringed. Foreign sites will be blacklisted, which means they won’t show up in major search engines. SOPA and PIPA would build a framework for future restrictions and suppression.

In a world in which politicians regulate the Internet based on the influence of big money, Wikipedia — and sites like it — cannot survive.

Congress says it’s trying to protect the rights of copyright owners, but the “cure” that SOPA and PIPA represent is worse than the disease. SOPA and PIPA are not the answer: they would fatally damage the free and open Internet.

Remix and Cultural Analytics at Anthropology in Digital Times

I will be presenting my research on Remix and cultural analytics at the University of Lumiére in Lyon, France on November 24.  Program and other information availlable.

A brief note on my presentation:

I will discuss the evolution of remixing in a three case study, with particular emphasis on when and how the video remixes were produced.  This is done in order to reflect on the initial uploads of material and subsequent remixes as important vehicles of communication and creative practice.

What cultural analytics can bring to anthropology, and other fields that adopt it, is the ability to attain a balanced approach based on quantitative and qualitative analysis.

Posts about my research:

Charleston Style

Lotus Flower Parodies

Downfall Parodies

— Eduardo Navas

Protect IP Act Breaks the Internet

Protect IP Act Breaks the Internet from Kirby Ferguson on Vimeo.

Kirby Ferguson took time off his Everything is a Remix project to explain why we should write to our representatives in Congress and tell them not to pass the Protect IP bill.

Essay on “Traceblog,” Chapter Contribution to Net Works Book Publication

I contributed an essay on my project Traceblog to the book publication Net Works: Case Studies in Web Art and Design, edited by Xtine Burrough.  I want to thank Xtine for the opportunity to share my ideas.  Below are excerpts from my chapter contribution, which is titled after the actual online project as “Traceblog.”  After the excerpts you will find the table of contents, which, in my view, includes an impressive list of contemporary new media artists. Excerpts from my chapter contribution:

[…] Traceblog was developed in reaction to one of my previous projects titled Diary of a Star (2004-07), a blog that appropriated entries from The Andy Warhol Diaries.   As exciting as Diary of a Star was for me to produce, it consumed more time than I expected because entries had to be carefully written and took much longer to compose than average blog posts. Soon after I finished the Warhol project I began to think about the changes that had taken place with the shift to Web 2.0, and how blogging had changed since 2004. I realized that keeping track of people’s surfing activity had become an important element for private, public, and state organizations to data-mine patterns of communication and consumption online.   The term “social media” began to be used more often when discussing the growth of early networks such as Orkut, and Friendster around 2004, the period when I began to develop Diary of a Star.

I evaluated the changes in online activity since 2004 and decided to develop Traceblog to reflect on the new stage that global culture was entering in 2008, during which millions of people around the world willingly shared information about themselves online, via social networks such as Facebook, Flickr, and Myspace, as well as YouTube, not to mention thousands of blogs, which by such time were conventional tools of communication for average Internet users. The result of the social media frenzy is an attitude of sharing that is ubiquitous in 2010, the time of this writing.

[…] Traceblog is a direct result of my ongoing practice as artist and media researcher.  It makes the most of the default state of works of art in new media practice as informational forms, not defined by physical presentation. Traceblog and similar online works function in a state of flux defined by the growing archive and its relation to the ever-present: the now.


Remix[ing] Re/apropiaciones, por Eduardo Navas

Escrito para el MEIAC, Badajoz, España, marzo de 2010, para la exposición Re/approriaciones organizada por Gustavo Romano, lanzada en Diciembre del 2009.  Publicada en red con permiso.

(English Version)

La exposición Re/apropiaciones, comisariada por Gustavo Romano, propone que los artistas de la cultura en la red encuentran su potencial creativo en la apropiación, la selección y la combinación de material preexistente y lo hacen en un meta-nivel: el del “re”, o, más concretamente, el del remix [remezcla] como forma de discurso. Con este fin, Romano recontextualiza al artista como un “redireccionador de información” más que como un creador. Tomar esta premisa como punto de partida para la producción creativa en los inicios del siglo xxi nos conduce a una pregunta recurrente que se nos plantea con frecuencia acerca de la conciencia popular del remix: “La remezcla, en tanto que acto de combinación de material, lleva existiendo ya mucho tiempo, podría afirmarse que desde que se concibió el lenguaje simbólico; por tanto, ¿qué tienen de peculiar los elementos del remix que se han explorado durante las primeras décadas del siglo xxi que tanto los distingue de aquellos que se dieron en el pasado?”[1]

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