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Electronic Literature and the Mashup of Analog and Digital Code, by Eduardo Navas

Image: Playing Jeff, a mashup from Bunk Magazine and Mad Hatter’s Review special issue.

Note: The following text was written for the peer review journal Dichtung Digital, issue 2010, 40.  To read the complete material, please visit http://www.dichtung-digital.de/en. Direct link: http://www.dichtung-digital.org/2010/navas/navas.htm

Abstract:
This essay examines the complexity of contemporary electronic literary practice. It evaluates how electronic literature borrows from, and also influences, the reception of the textual message in other forms of communication that efficiently combine image, sound and text as binary data, as information that is compiled in any format of choice with the use of the computer. The text aims to assess what it means to write in literary fashion in a time when crossing over from one creative field to another is ubiquitous and transparent in cultural production. To accomplish this, I relate electronic literature to the concept of intertextuality as defined by Fredric Jameson in postmodernism, and assess the complexity of writing not only with words, but also with other forms of communication, particularly video. I also discuss Roland Barthes’s principles of digital and analogical code to recontextualize intertextuality in electronic writing as a practice part of new media. Moreover, I discuss a few examples of electronic literature in relation to mass media logo production, and relate them to the concept of remix. The act of remixing has played an important role in the definition of literature in electronic media. All this leads to a recurring question that is relevant in all arts: how does originality and its relationship to authorship take effect in a time when the death of the author is often cited due to the growing amount of collaboration taking place in networked culture?

To read the full text visit http://dichtung-digital.mewi.unibas.ch/. Direct link: http://dichtung-digital.mewi.unibas.ch/2010/navas/navas.htm

Blogs after Twitter

Image source: Alianzo

I recently wrote about the use of social media for real change in Egypt.  I explained in that entry that it is up to people to use social media critically–to appropriate it for issues that go beyond entertainment.  As I also explained in that entry as well as a text I released online previously, titled After the Blogger as Producer, the problem with micro-blogging (and Twitter) is that it encourages its users to write in a way that is not viable for critical thinking.

Surely enough, the New York Times on February 20, 2011 published the story, Blogs Wane as the Young Drift to Sites Like Twitter, in which Verne Kopytoff explains that the new generation is no longer using blogs as much, but mainly Twitter and Facebook to communicate and share things of interest with their friends.  Some of these users don’t event write, but simply share photos or brief statements, casually.

It appears that we have entered a stage in which people are quite aware of the different ways in which social media can be used. Evidence of this is Tweet4Action, an artwork by Les Liens Invisibles, recently released and supported by Turbulence.org. The art project was developed as critical commentary on the use of social media in revolutions.  Art usually fuels and spearheads change, but this artwork, unfortunately, lags.  It may be due to a certain degree of sarcasm that one may sense, which in this case can be read as a weakness of the work.  Tweet4Action does not make one question the role of social media.  It makes me say, “so, and…”

After Iran’s Twitter Revolution: Egypt, by Eduardo Navas

Note: This text reflects on Egypt’s revolution to reconsider the role of social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, in real life changes.

This text is also available on The Levantine Review and Vodule.com

A peaceful revolution against a regime that had been in power for 29 years sounds impossible until one evaluates the events that led to the fleeing of former President Hosni Mubarak out of Egypt on Friday, February 11. The Egyptian people were able to organize with the use of social media; it was Facebook that rose to the occasion. Needless to say that what happened in Egypt is undoubtedly of historical importance.

About a year ago Wael Ghonim, a thirty-something Google executive decided to create a Facebook group “We Are All Khalid Said,” named after a young man who was killed by the Egyptian police.[1] The Facebook group reached hundreds of thousands, and Ghonim used it to educate people about their rights as citizens. More recently, a youth group known as April 6 was inspired by the events in Tunisia; along with supporters of Mohamed ElBaradei (a nobel prize winner who is active in revitalizing the politics of Egypt), with whom Ghonim also collaborates, they decided to turn the Police Day Protest (which previously was linked to British suppression), scheduled for January 25, into something much bigger. Ghonim announced the event on Facebook, and about 100,000 people signed up.[2] The rest, needless to say, is history–Tahrir Square was filled with thousands of people, and they never left until Mubarak stepped down from office.

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Remix: The Ethics of Modular Complexity in Sustainability, By Eduardo Navas

COMPLETE TEXT

“The Ethics of Modular Complexity in Sustainability” was published in the CSPA Quarterly, Spring 2010 Issue.  My text is available online according to a Creative Commons License adopted by the CSPA Journal. The content may be copied, distributed, and displayed as long as proper credit is given to the CSPA and the individual author(s), and as long as these contents are used by others for noncommercial purposes only.  Any derivative works that result from these contents must also be shared alike.

The journal is the print publication for The Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts, a non-profit that supports artists and organizations in the process of becoming ecologically and economically sustainable while maintaining artistic excellence.

Editor statement for Spring 2010 issue:

In this issue, we’re working against the stereotypes of the form, and attempting to broaden its term. As always, we’re exploring our chosen theme across disciplines and were delighted to include sculpture, visual art, theater, public art, and media art in the following pages. Instead of asking for work based on waste materials, we asked for work built from objects that already exist.

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Abstract: “Remix: The Ethics of Modular Complexity in Sustainability” evaluates sustainability in networked culture.  It considers how the flow of information in terms of immaterial production and its relation to knowledge play a role in a fourth economic layer supported by the growing ubiquity of globalization.  It revisits and expands, yet again, on my interest in Jacques Attali’s concepts of noise and music to propose a critical position fully embedded in pervasive connectivity.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This text was written as a testing ground for my growing interest in the concepts of volume and module, as explored in vodule.com.  Consequently, this text uses the term modular complexity, but does not define it.  I consider this text as part of my process to develop a precise definition of modular complexity in social and cultural terms.  The interests that inform this text are also relevant to my current research on Remix and Cultural Analytics.  Future writings will make clear the interrelation of all these ongoing projects.

This online version contains minor edits made in order to clarify the argument.

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At the beginning of the twenty-first century, sustainability can be read with a double meaning: to be self-supportive while socially conscious. This is because specialized fields (and individuals who work in these fields) need to be aware of their interconnectivity if they are to subsist in global culture. Sustainability is relevant in the arts and media according to the interrelation of material and intellectual production, given that such relation supports specialized fields. Sustainability, when linked to social consciousness, modifies how the recycling of material becomes relevant in culture at large. One could promote a philosophy of sustainability, which embodies critical awareness of the politics of intellectual and material property with real consequences in daily life. This is relevant in all areas of culture, even when one may produce strictly in the realm of aesthetics, and other specialized spaces that appear distanced from politics and economy.

The double signification of sustainability also shares principles of recycling with Remix as a form of discourse.  This is because Remix expands across culture from music to ecology: from immaterial pleasure to material responsibility.  The act of remixing has become common due to the rise of information exchange dependent on cut/copy and paste, which is an act of sampling data in all forms.  It enables individuals to apply the attitude of recombining in the realms of aesthetics and material reality, albeit with different results.  To be able to critically understand how such attitude functions in the symbolic and the material is the very challenge of sustainability.

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Analysis of Remix Theory for New Visions of the Book by Janneke Adema

Image source: Open Reflections

Janneke Adema has taken the time to analyze selected texts available on Remix Theory.  She connects my theories of Remix to the future of the book.  Adema also discusses the theories of Lev Manovich in terms of Remixability.

Here are excerpts of the articles:

New Visions for the Book II: Remix
http://openreflections.wordpress.com/2010/11/06/
new-visions-for-the-book-ii-remix/

In the first part of New Visions for the Book, I described how the concept of the book is being used as a strategic power tool to argue for a certain knowledge system. I tried to show how within this discourse certain essentialist notions—such as authorship, stability, and authority—still hold a lot of prestige and are hard to discard. In the subsequent parts of New Visions for the Book I therefore want to take a few expeditions outside the world of the scholarly book to look at the way other disciplines and other media have struggled with or have come to terms with the above mentioned notions. I want to start with looking at the concept of remix, engaged with mostly in music and art theory but increasingly a concept applied to describe and analyse culture at large. Here I want to focus on two thinkers who have extensively theorized remix: Eduardo Navas and Lev Manovich. After taking an in depth look at Navas work on remix first, I will explore Manovich’s thoughts on the subject in the next post, contrasting it with Navas’s ideas. Finally, I will explore what the consequences of their thoughts and their analysis of remix are for the scholarly book, the knowledge order it stands for and the concepts it reifies.

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Summary of A Modular Framework, Part 4, curated by Eduardo Navas

The following are videos from a performance that took place on November 11, 2010 at the Cultural Center of Spain in El Salvador, for the Exhibition, A Modular Framework.

Brian Mackern performs his remix of the film, the Stalker by Tarkovsky

Arcangel Constantini remixes noises and video games live for the audience

Antonio Mendoza remixes pop media image and sound

Summary of A Modular Framework, Part 3, curated by Eduardo Navas

Image: Still from Brian Mackern’s performance of Cinema.tik, in which he remixes film clips from Tarkovsky and Hitchcock among other directors.  Performance took place on November 11, 2010 at the Cultural Center of Spain in El Salvador.

Besides the two openings for the exhibition, A Modular Framework, there were two extra days of events.  On November 10, there was a panel discussion with the artists.  And on November 11 there was a performance by Arcangel Constantini, Brian Mackern and Antonio Mendoza.

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Summary of A Modular Framework, Part 2, curated by Eduardo Navas

Image: Detail of the Museum of Santa Tecla, where the second opening for the exhibition, A Modular Framework took place on November 12, 2010.  The museum is a former prison, where some revolutionaries during the war of the 1980’s were held.  The artists who shared this space appear below.  The first opening took place on November 9, 2010 at the Cultural Center of Spain in El Salvador.

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Regressive and Reflexive Mashups in Sampling Culture, 2010 Revision, by Eduardo Navas

Download a high resolution version of Diagram in PDF format

This text was originally published on June 25, 2007 in Vague Terrain Journal as a contribution to the issue titled Sample Culture. It was revised in November 2009 and subsequently published as a chapter contribution in Sonvilla-Weiss, Stefan (Ed.) Mashup Cultures, 2010, ISBN: 978-3-7091-0095-0, Springer Wien/New York published in May 2010.

It is here republished with permission from the publisher and is requested that it be cited appropriately.  This online publication is different from the print version in that it is missing images that help illustrate the theory of Remix that I propose.  I do encourage readers to consider looking at the actual publication as it offers an important collection of texts on mashups.

I would like to thank Greg J. Smith for giving me the opportunity to publish my initial ideas in Vague Terrain, and Stefan Sonvilla-Weiss for inviting me to revise them as a contribution to his book publication.

This version brings together much of my previous writing.  Individuals who have read texts such as The Bond of Repetition and Representation, as well as Turbulence: Remixes and Bonus Beats will find that many of my definitions and theories of Remix are repeated in this text.  I found this necessary to make sense of a fourth term which I introduce: the Regenerative Remix.  Those who have read the previous version of this text may like to skip pre-existing parts, and go directly to the section titled “The Regenerative Remix.”  However, all sections have been revised for clarity, so I encourage readers to at least browse through previously written material.

An important change has been made to this text.  In the original version I argued that Reflexive Mashups were not remixes.  In 2007 I did not know what Reflexive Mashups could be if they were not remixes in the traditional sense, but after consideration and rewriting, I developed the concept of the Regenerative Remix.  To learn more about this change in my definition of Remix as a form of discourse I invite readers to consider my revised argument.  I also introduce a chart (above) which helps explain how Remix moves across culture. I also include an entirely new conclusion which will clarify my earlier position on software mashups.

A note on formatting: The text below is set up in simple text form.  This means that italics and other conventions found in print publications are missing.  If you would like to read a print ready version, please download a PDF file.

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Introduction

During the first decade of the twenty-first century, sampling is practiced in new media culture when any software users including creative industry professionals as well as average consumers apply cut/copy & paste in diverse software applications; for professionals this could mean 3-D modeling software like Maya (used to develop animations in films like Spiderman or Lord of the Rings); [1] and for average persons it could mean Microsoft Word, often used to write texts like this one. Cut/copy & paste which is, in essence, a common form of sampling, is a vital new media feature in the development of Remix. In Web 2.0 applications cut/copy & paste is a necessary element to develop mashups; yet the cultural model of mashups is not limited to software, but spans across media.

Mashups actually have roots in sampling principles that became apparent and popular in music around the seventies with the growing popularity of music remixes in disco and hip hop culture, and even though mashups are founded on principles initially explored in music they are not straight forward remixes if we think of remixes as allegories. This is important to entertain because, at first, Remix appears to extend repetition of content and form in media in terms of mass escapism; the argument in this paper, however, is that when mashups move beyond basic remix principles, a constructive rupture develops that shows possibilities for new forms of cultural production that question standard commercial practice.

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Sharing Creative Works: An Illustrated (and Narrated) Primer

This animation of illustrated stills does a pretty good job at explaining the basics of Creative Commons in about five minutes. The intro may be a bit long, but other than that it is well produced.  It is a good resource to introduce Creative Commons to people who may not have heard about it.

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