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Im/material Regeneration by Eduardo Navas


The following text was published in August of 2015 in the publication Seismographic Sounds: Visions of a New World, which accompanies a traveling exhibition with the same title.  More information can be found at http://norient.com/en/events/seismographic-sounds/

The book can be ordered at: http://norient.com/stories/book/

I would like to thank Theresa Beyer and Thomas Burkhalter for the opportunity to share an update on my definitions of Remix. This text is a short version of a much longer essay to be released in the future.

Download a PDF version of this text.

Remix/ Archive
Im/material Regeneration
Remix is at play in all areas of contemporary culture. Text, image and sound become easily accessible data that can be re-combined at will. Remix in music consisted of the reinterpretation of pre-existing songs by way of sampling. Today the copying/sampling of not just sound but all material from infinite sources challenges the «spectacular aura» of the pre-recorded original in order to claim autonomy.

By Eduardo Navas

Cultural production has entered a stage in which archived digital material can potentially be used at will; just like people combine words to create sentences, in contemporary times, people with the use of digital tools are able to create unique works made with splices of other pre-recorded materials. Due to the ubiquitous action of cut/copy & paste, output is at an ever-increasing speed. This process is possible because what is digitally produced in art and music, for instance, becomes part of an archive, particularly a database. The archived material begins to function like building blocks, optimized to be infinitely combined. This state of affairs is actually at play in all areas of culture, and consequently is redefining the way we perceive the world and how we function as part of it. The implications of this in terms of how we think of creativity and its relation to the industry built around authorship are important to consider for a concrete understanding of the type of global culture we are becoming.

Data as an Informational Vector

Digital material such as videos, still images and texts uploaded to websites, blogs, databases and social media platforms become the building blocks of contemporary global communication. Just like we can separate a written text into multiple pieces, digital technology similarly enables us to take apart any digitally produced work, to then repurpose segments as we see fit. With computer technology, data becomes a type of informational vector that can be implemented as desired or needed. With the speed of network communication the perception of things being static is coming to an end, and the ever-changing state of forms produced (viral memes on YouTube and social media are an early example of this) will become valued more than a single instance of production; if technology keeps moving as it is currently, we may be able to view any regenerated object and its history, as well as a prognostication of where it may be going. In short, nothing is original, just unique to the moment in which it is experienced.

Extended, Selective and Reflexive Remixes

Music – or how remixing music changed over time –  is one aspect of our everyday reality where we can observe what I will call cultural regeneration at play. Generally, a music remix is a reinterpretation of a pre-existing song, which means that the «spectacular aura» of the original will be dominant in the remixed version.  Some of the most challenging – and often newest – remixes can question this generalization as we will see. Based on its history, it can be stated that there are three basic types of remixes. The first remix is extended: it is a longer version of the original composition containing long instrumental sections to make it more mixable for the club DJ. The first known disco song released on a 12 inch vinyl record to be extended to ten minutes was «Ten Percent» by Double Exposure, remixed by Walter Gibbons in 1976. The second remix is selective: it consists of adding or subtracting material from the original composition. This type of remix made DJs popular producers in mainstream music during the 1980s. One of the most successful selective remixes is Eric B. & Rakim’s «Paid in Full,» remixed by Coldcut in 1987. The third remix is reflexive: it allegorizes and extends the aesthetic of sampling, where the remixed version challenges the «spectacular aura» of the original and claims autonomy even when it carries the name of the original; material is added or deleted, but the original tracks are largely left intact to be recognizable. An example of this is Mad Professor’s famous dub/trip hop album No Protection (1994), which is a remix of Massive Attack’s Protection. A special kind of remix is the mashup, which depending on how it is composed, can be regressive or reflexive. The music mashups at the beginning of the twenty-first century follow the principle of the eighties megamix, and unlike the extended or selective remixes, they do not remix one particular composition but at least two or more sources. Music mashups are usually regressive, though if they were pushed to become works of art (along the lines of Mad Professor’s No Protection) they could be reflexive due to their critical position. This means that the music mashup often simply points back to the «greatness» of the original track by celebrating it as a remix. The term regressive here makes an implicit reference to Adorno’s theory of regression in mass culture, which for him is the tendency in media to provide consumers with easily understood entertainment and commodities. Arguably, the most popular, and historically important mashup up to date, is a full-length album by Danger Mouse titled The Grey Album, which is a mashup of Jay-Z’s special a capella version of his Black Album with carefully selected sections from the Beatles’ White Album.  The Grey Album also exposed the tensions of copyright and sampling with emerging technologies: Danger Mouse deliberately used the Internet for distribution and he was pushed by EMI (the copyright holders of the Beatles’ White Album) to take the Grey Album offline.

The Regenerative Remix

There is a fourth form of remix that moves beyond music, which I define as the regenerative remix. It is specific to new media and networked culture. Like the other remixes it makes evident the originating sources of material, but unlike them it does not necessarily use references or samplings to validate itself as a cultural form. Instead, the cultural recognition of the material source is subverted in the name of practicality—the validation of the regenerative remix lies in its functionality. This remix form is most potent when it functions as a binder of recycled material, which can only be of value when it continues to circulate. While circulation of ideas and the forms they take have been evolving since we developed symbolic language, which in essence is regeneration (reconfiguration of material for new purposes), it is only in the time of computers and networks that all circulation, all flows are being recorded and data-mined. With this in mind, it is important to understand that to sample does not automatically mean that one is creating a concrete remix (as in a music remix—meaning, an aesthetic object), but rather contextualizing the samples to express a new idea. One could sample from any song and use that sample to create a new composition, just like we can reuse a word in a new statement to make a different point in a different argument. Remix, once it enters a state of quantifiable and archivable regeneration leaves behind the perception of a static form. In this sense remix itself becomes something different from pre-networked forms of recycling such as music remixes, which one can experience repeatedly knowing they don’t change materially (our experience of them does, of course). The regenerative remix is constantly changing as it is linked to the constant flow of data.


The next stage is to produce without any lag. There may well be a time not too distant in the future when we will be able to access databases with image, sound, text, and video sources to express what we want just as fast as we utter a sentence. Allusions to this are already mythically proposed on television. During the month of April in 2015, a TV commercial aired advertising with the question «Can you deliver?» The ad is by Cognizant, a corporation which offers information technology services and data analysis. At one point, the TV spot shows a pair of headphones linked to a mobile device while the voice of a young person states, «can it download a song while I sample it?» The «it» in the sentence refers to the technology being used for the transfer and manipulation of data. The implied statement within the question is about speed and the ability to use all media as fast as one conceives of a possible use.  It is therefore not farfetched to consider the possibility that if technology is to move in the ever-increasing way it has thus far, we will leave our current speed of communication for another that may be as fast as a person can think and likely faster. What such forms may be is not clear at the moment, but technology is evidently invested in this type of innovation.

Eduardo Navas is the author of Remix Theory: The Aesthetics of Sampling (Springer, 2012) and co-editor of The Routledge Companion to Remix Studies (Routledge, 2015). He currently conducts research and teaches on the crossover art and media in culture in The School of Visual Arts at the Pennsylvania State University.

DJ Set at the Opening Reception for Mashup The Archive, Bayreuth, Germany

Video: This video segment is from the early part of DJ Raph’s set at the Iwalewahaus’s opening event for the art exhibition Mashup The Archive.

I was invited to participate in a panel discussion for the Exhibition Mashup the Archive at the Iwalewahaus, Bayreuth. The opening reception took place on May 30, 2015. It was an amazing night. There were three DJs who performed: DJ Raph from Nairobi, who is also an artist and remixed songs from the Iwalewahaus’s sound and music archive, DJ Zhao from Berlin, and musician Spoek Mathambo from South Africa. Their sets were amazing and the sound was so loud that the microphone of the iPhone I used to record excerpts of the performances does no justice to the energy of the party. People danced into the early morning.In this post I share videos of their respective sets, which took place in the order the DJs are listed.

I want to thank Sam Hopkins,  Nadine Siegert, and Ulf Vierke for inviting me to participate in the events. I was fortunate to participate in a panel with Beatrice Ferrara, Nina Huber, and Mark Nash. It was a real pleasure to engage in a debate with them on what it means to mashup an archive of African Art. I will be sharing images of the exhibit along with a brief critical reflection in a separate post.


Video: DJ Zhao working the crowd at the Iwalewahaus’s opening for the exhibition Mashup the Archive.

Video: Spoek Mathambo working the crowd at the opening reception of Mashup the Archive.

Routledge Companion to Remix Studies Now Available

I just received in the mail a hardbound copy of The Routledge Companion to Remix Studies. It’s been such a long process. Editing 41 chapters has been quite an endeavor, but a good one. I would like to thank my co-editors, xtine Burrough and Owen Gallagher, who are just amazing collaborators. This book could not have been published on time had it not been for our mutual diligence in meeting deadlines. I also want to thank the contributors who were just amazing during the long editing process (for a full list of authors see the dedicated site for the book: Remix Studies).

I really hope that researchers, academics and remixers find the anthology worth perusing.

More information on the book:

Routledge: http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415716253/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Routledge-Companion-Remix-Studies-Companions/dp/041571625X


Table of Contents for the Routledge Companion to Remix Studies Available

We have now turned in the manuscript of The Routledge Companion to Remix Studies, and can release the Table of Contents. The reader is due for release around December 14, 2014. The TOC is below:

Introduction Eduardo Navas, Owen Gallagher, xtine burrough

Part I: History
1. “Remix and the Dialogic Engine of Culture: A Model for Generative Combinatoriality” Martin Irvine
2. “A Rhetoric of Remix” Scott H. Church
3. “Good Artists Copy; Great Artists Steal: Reflections on Cut-Copy-Paste Culture” Stefan Sonvilla-Weiss
4. “Toward a Remix Culture: An Existential Perspective” Vito Campanelli
5. “An Oral History of Sampling: From Turntables to Mashups” Kembrew McLeod
6. “Can I Borrow Your Proper Name? Remixing Signatures and the Contemporary Author” Cicero da Silva
7. The Extended Remix: Rhetoric and history Margie Borschke
8. “Culture and Remix: A Theory on Cultural Sublation” Eduardo Navas

Part II: Aesthetics
9. “Remix Strategies in Social Media” Lev Manovich
10. “Remixing Movies and Trailers Before and After the Digital Age” Nicola Maria Dusi
11. “Remixing the Plague of Images: Video Art from Latin America in a Transnational Context” Erandy Vergara
12. “Race & Remix: The Aesthetics of Race in the Visual & Performing Arts” Tashima Thomas
13. “Digital Poetics and Remix Culture: From the Artisanal Image to the Immaterial Image” Monica Tavares
14. “The End of an Aura: Nostalgia, Memory, and the Haunting of Hip-hop” Roy Christopher
15. “Appropriation is Activism” Byron Russell

Part III: Ethics
16. “The Emerging Ethics of Networked Culture” Aram Sinnreich
17. “The Panopticon of Ethical Video Remix Practice” Mette Birk
18. “Cutting Scholarship Together/Apart: Rethinking the Political-Economy of Scholarly Book Publishing” Janneke Adema
19. “Copyright and Fair Use in Remix: From Alarmism to Action” Patricia Aufderheide
20. “I Thought I Made A Vid, But Then You Told Me That I Didn’t: Aesthetics and Boundary Work in the Fan Vidding Community” Katharina Freund
21. “Peeling The Layers of the Onion: Authorship in Mashup and Remix Cultures” John Logie
22. “remixthecontext (a theoretical fiction)” Mark Amerika

Part IV: Politics
23. “A Capital Remix” Rachel O’Dwyer
24. “Remix Practices and Activism: A Semiotic Analysis of Creative Dissent” Paolo Peverini
25. “Political Remix Video as a Vernacular Discourse” Olivia Conti
26. “Locative Media as Remix” Conor McGarrigle
27. “The Politics of John Lennon’s “Imagine”: Contextualizing the Roles of Mashups and New Media in Political Protest” J. Meryl Krieger
28. “Détournement as a Premise of the Remix from Political, Aesthetic, and Technical Perspectives” Nadine Wanono
29. “The New Polymath (Remixing Knowledge)” Rachel Falconer

Part V: Practice
30. “Crises of Meaning in Communities of Creative Appropriation: A Case Study of the 2010 RE/Mixed Media Festival” Tom Tenney
31. “Of ‘REAPPROPRIATIONS'” Gustavo Romano
32. “Aesthetics of Remix: Networked Interactive Objects and Interface Design” Jonah Brucker-Cohen
33. “Reflections on the Amen Break: A Continued History, an Unsettled Ethics” Nate Harrison
34. “Going Crazy with Remix: A Classroom Study by Practice via Lenz v. Universal” xtine burrough and Dr. Emily Erickson
35. “A Remix Artist and Advocate” Desiree D’Alessandro
36. “Occupy / Band Aid Mashup: ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?'” Owen Gallagher
37. “Remixing the Remix” Elisa Kreisinger
38. “A Fair(y) Use Tale” Eric Faden
39. “An Aesthetics of Deception in Political Remix Video” Diran Lyons
40. “Radical Remix: Manifestoon” Jesse Drew
41. “In Two Minds” Kevin Atherton


Hach & Navasse Improvisation #3, 12-21-99

Hach & Navasse Improvization #3, 12-21-99 by Navasse on Mixcloud

This improvisation by Hach & Navasse was recorded on 12/21/1999. It consists of a series of loops from CDs improvised on two Pioneer CDJ-500IIs, a guitar and synthesizer. It was recorded on a four track analog recorder.

Hach & Navasse (Justin Peloian and Eduardo Navas) was formed during our graduate studies at Cal Arts during the years 1998 – 2000. Justin played guitar and keyboards, and I played loops on the CDJs and Turntables We performed in a series of events and recorded improvisational sessions from 1998 to about 2002 at which time we stopped collaborating and moved our separate ways.

A few months ago I found a digital version of the recording, along with a few other improvisations, which I had in storage. After listening to it a few times I decided that it was worth sharing online, because, with hindsight, I believe there are some decent moments in the thirty plus minutes of this piece. Many thanks to Justin for letting me share our collaboration online.

Track List:

1. Loop: unknown timbal loop by Unknown
2. Loop: E Preciso Perdoar by Cesária Évora, Caetano Veloso, Ryuichi Sakamoto
3. Loop: This City Never Sleeps by Eurythimics
4. Loop: I Waited for You by Dizzy Gillespie
5. Loop: Mind Trips (remix) by Brand New Heavies
6. Sliced Loop P. 1: Ko-wo Ko-wo (on top of “Mind Trips”) by Cachao
7. Loop: Influx by DJ Shadow
8. Sliced Loop P. 2: Ko-wo Ko-wo (on top of “Influx”) by Cachao

Navasse’s DJ Set for Remixed Media Festival IV

Navasse’s DJ Set for Remixed Media Festival IV by Navasse on Mixcloud

This is a recording of a DJ set practice session for a performance which took place at the Remixed Media Festival IV on April 26, 2014 at Culturehub/La Mama, NYC. The recording was done on April 23, 2014, and features all the songs that were mixed live. The improvisational aspects of transitions and remixing of tracks in the recording differs from the live performance as it is in these areas where a DJ takes artistic license to improvise.

Description from the Festival’s website:
Eduardo Navas’s research and writing on remixing as a creative act across culture is founded on his long term interest in DJing as an art form. His DJ set for RE/Mixed Media Festival IV will consist of a mix of early funk tracks, heavy Hip Hop bass samples, and selected reggae and caribbean-influenced beats.

Many thanks to Tom Tenney and Robert Prichard for making the Remixed Media Festival Possible for 4 consecutive years.

Anachronistic DJ set @ RE/Mixed Media Festival IV, NYC

I will be performing a DJ set at this year’s  RE/Mixed Media Festival IV. It’s happening at CultureHub Studio Space, 47 Great Jones St. on April 26, 8:45 PM.  Description form the website:

Eduardo Navas’s research and writing on remixing as a creative act across culture is founded on his long term interest in DJing as an art form. His DJ set for RE/Mixed Media Festival IV will consist of a mix of early funk tracks,  heavy Hip Hop bass samples, and selected reggae and caribbean-influenced beats.

Three Junctures of Remix Catalog Available

The catalog for the exhibition Three Junctures of Remix, which took place from January 17 to March 15, 2013  is now available for download as a PDF. I would like to thank the entire gallery staff and committee members for making the exhibition possible, especially Trish Stone, Jordan Crandall, Hector Bracho, Doug Ramsey, and Scott Blair. I especially thank the artists Arcangel Constantini, Mark Amerika  & Chad Mossholder, Giselle Beiguelman, and Elisa Kreisinger,  who participated in the exhibition, and were generous in providing interviews now published in the catalog.

–Eduardo Navas

John Cage 3 Compositions for Piano @ 5 (Remix)

John Cage 3 Compositions for Piano @ 5 (Remix) is a mashup of three compositions that last around 5 minutes. After listening to the compositions over the years, I realized that a mashup of the three recordings would follow the principles of chance as promoted by Cage.  The compositions mashed include:

1) Music for Piano 2: 5:21
2) Roots of Unfocus: 5:01
3) Music for Marcel Duchamp: 5:20

This mashup is part of an ongoing series of remixes of John Cage piano compositions.

The recordings were performed by Steffen Schleiermacher, and released in John Cage Complete Piano Music Volume1 & 2, 1998.

John Cage 3 Compositions for Piano @ 4 (Remix)

John Cage 3 Compositions for Piano @ 4 (Remix) is a mashup of three compositions that last around 4 minutes. After listening to the compositions over the years, I realized that a mashup of the three recordings would follow the principles of chance as promoted by Cage.  The compositions mashed include:

1) Primitive: 4:03
2) Music for Piano 1: 3:47
3) Music for Piano 37-52 , Part 1: 4:01

This mashup is part of an ongoing series of remixes of John Cage piano compositions.

The recordings were performed by Steffen Schleiermacher, and released in John Cage Complete Piano Music Volume1 & 2, 1998.

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