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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]

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

Images from A Modular Framework

Some images from the events for the exhibition A Modular Framework are available on Picassa.  Images by Gonzalo Vides.

Above: Arcangel Constantini remixes noises and video games live for the audience, November 11, 2010.  Other images present Brian Mackern, Antonio Mendoza, and Arcangel Constantini mixing image and sound live for an audience at the Cultural Center of Spain, El Salvador: Live audio-video performance

Also see images of a panel with the artists in which they discussed their art works and creative process.  The panel took place on November 10, 2010: Conference

Remix and the Rouelles of Media Production

I’m very happy to be collaborating with Mette Birk, Mark O’ Cúlár, Owen Gallagher, Eli Horwatt, Martin Leduc, and Tara Zepel on a chapter contribution for Networked Book.

Direct link to Chapter Introduction: http://remix.networkedbook.org/

ABSTRACT: The text on video remixing contributed to Networked Book is the result of an ongoing collaboration that started in January 2010, when Owen Gallagher invited Mette Birk, Mark O’ Cúlár, Martin Leduc, and Eduardo Navas to join a ‘Remix Theory and Praxis’ online seminar. In April, Navas invited Tara Zepell to join the group.

The text explores concepts of remixing not only in content and form, but also in process. The aim of the collaboration is to evaluate how the creative process functions as a type of remix itself in a period when production keeps moving toward a collective approach in all facets of culture. The emphasis on video remixing is the result of a collaborative rewriting activity among the contributors, who each wrote independent paragraphs that went through constant revisions once combined as a single text. Video was selected as the subject of analysis because members have a common interest in time-based media, and also because video remixing is at the forefront of media production. One of the group goals is that the text becomes a statement of what video could be as a reflective form of the networked culture that is developing at the beginning of the twenty-first century. The text is in constant revision and readers are encouraged to join in its writing.

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.



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.


YouTube Video: JAZARI – How It Works

Note: Jazari was featured on NPR: Jazari: A One-Man, Wii-Operated Drum Circle.  What is interesting about the band’s approach (the band consists of only one person, composer/programmer Patrick Flanagan) is that by programming two Wii controllers for speed, rhythm, loudness and syncopation, the performance references the role of a conductor in front of an orchestra or phylarmonic.  One could speculate on the meaning of this approach to making music, especially in regards to how a performer has a certain agency in front of the audience.  What happens when this delivery is done through a computerized set up?  Where is the mythologized hand of the artist?

Exhibit: The Rotten Machine, Retrospective of Brian Mackern’s Early Net Art Activities

Still from video documentation, available at Dropbox

The Rotten Machine (La Maquina Podrida) is currently on display at the MEIAC, in Badajoz, Spain.   On the 8th of May 2004, Brian Mackern, born and living in Montevideo, Uruguay, put for sale his personal laptop computer, in which he developed his early net art projects.  He also used the machine to document early online activity–particularly from around the Americas.

When considering the history of new media, the sale was made at a moment when web 2.0 was about to change: the blog, for instance, which was one of the pivotal tools of the next stage of web development, became quite popular at this time.  Simultaneously, the machine’s sale is an overt commentary on the preciousness of the work of art, which was the subject of several attempts of dematerialization during the heyday of conceptualism. The fetishization of the object of art was an issue to consider for many early online art practitioners, since in online practice there appeared to be  no “object of art” to deal with directly.  The Rotten Machine turns this convention on its head, and shows that “anything” can be commodified.

These are some of my brief observations on a work that deserves more analysis, and that I hope now that it enjoys its first exhibit, will be acknowledged around the world as an important contribution to the history of art. 

Hard disk of the rotten machine with the fingerprint of its owner, brian mackern

A text was written in 2004 by Raquel Herrera: http://www.cibersociedad.net/congres2004/grups/fitxacom_publica2.php?idioma=ca&id=95&grup=60

Below is part of the official press release written by curator, Nilo Casares:


exhibition:::::::::::::::::::the rotten machine aka the toothless old thing
:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::all net.art in a brian mackern’s laptop

works of:::::::::::::::::::::brian mackern

curator::::::::::::::::::::::nilo casares

technical coordination:::::::àngela montesinos

and organization:::::::::::::meiac

texts of catalogue:::::::::::rodrigo alonso
:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::andrés burbano
:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::nilo casares
:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::gabriel galli
:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::brian mackern
:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::àngela montesinos

edited by::::::::::::::::::::nilo casares


designer:::::::::::::::::::::fundc [http://www.fundc.com]



:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::from tuesdays until saturdays

gallery::::::::::::::::::::::3th floor
:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::virgen de guadalupe, 7.
:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::[meiac@juntaextremadura.net  ]

press contact::::::::::::::::àngela montesinos

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::exhibition intro::::::::::::::::::::::

the rotten machine is a surprising exhibition that emanates from an old laptop from 1999, owned by the uruguayan netartist brian mackern, to recreate the time when net.art had its peak brightness, and perhaps therefore, the rattle before the emergence of web 2.0 (known as social network).

brian mackern is a founding artist who was ahead of the time in the development of online and offline soundvisual interfaces. founder of online directories artef@ctos virtuales [http://www.internet.com.uy/vibri] and latin netart database [http://netart.org.uy/latino/index.html] (currently owned by meiac).his reference sites are http://netart.org.uy, http://34s56w.org and http://no-content.net.

his computer, the rotten machine, it’s full and complete of all the data collected until the moment it was decided to be sold, on the 8th of may, 2004. it was the working tool (the studio, in classical terms) that accompanied brian mackern between 1999 and 2004, both in his personal work and in collaborative works for other artists and net jamms, apart from his work as a vj, conferences and workshops. in short, his tool.

a computer full of information and history, acquired by the meiac in order to expose it to posterity, when the development of hardware and software will prevent us from viewing many of the art pieces hosted on this computer.

the exhibition is divided into 5 audiovisual stations navigated by brian mackern himself.

1 – anthropological station: content and hardware components of the machine. sounds generated by its operation. references to files, etc.

2 – studio station: personal work (source files and visible works). the source code of his own work and at the same time the navigation of it.

3 – internet and networking station: content related to many of the projects and online/offline collaborative groups in which brian mackern has intervened.

4 – file, documentation and analysis station: random collection of information about net.art and internet culture of that time.

5 – history station. history of net.art: remix of endless net.art sites, in different states of preservation, many of them with retrofitted code to allow navigation within the machine without internet connection.


a: starting point for the auction of the “rotten machine”. peam,
pescara (italy), 2004

b: display of directories contained in the computer

c: hard disk of the rotten machine with the fingerprint of its owner,
brian mackern

d: some of the stickers on the computer

e: keys that are missing, the reason why this computer is also called
*the toothless old thing*

f: way in which *the rotten machine* was exposed for auction in peam,
pescara (italy), 2004

g: accompanying monster for the rotten machine during countless
tours, alongside with the backpack shown in the picture above

h: the rotten machine working, during the exhibition for its auction
at peam, pescara (italy), 2004

Beatrix*Jar, Hacking Away at MCASD, by Eduardo Navas

Sound set up by Beatrix*Jar, combines hacked battery operated toys with prerecorded samples played on a vintage Denon CD-DJ machine.

On January 23, I attended a circuit bending workshop at Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) taught by the experimental music duo, Beatrix*jar.  The hacking session was organized specifically for teenagers, who were more than ready to open up battery operated instrumental toys to release the ghost in the machine.

Another shot of Beatrix*Jar’s set up.

I was interested in attending the event in order to get a sense of how teenagers in a time of  inter-connectivity relate to low-tech hacking.  I left the museum with a positive reaction as I confirmed that tinkering is not a trend but a constant creative staple for generations of the past, present, and future.

Video of Beatrix*Jar’s six minute improvisational performance

The session began with a six minute performance by the sound art collective,  which clearly got the young hackers excited about the possibilities of circuit bending.  Beatrix*Jar, who have a background in art, are quick to claim that when they got started they had no music training.  This was their way of saying “anyone can do it!”  They complemented their demos with historical information, and encouraged participants to read Reed Ghazala’s Extreme Tech Circuit Bending.

A hacked Casio keyboard.  The on/off switches on the sides add customized sounds found by benders who participate in the ongoing workshop sessions held at different venues by Beatrix*Jar.

After explaining the beginnings of circuit bending, they quickly moved to demonstrating how to open up the toys, and find unexpected sounds.

Opening the gadgets to release the ghost in the machine.  Circuit bending frenzy at its best.

Gabrielle Wyrick, Education Curator, who kindly hosted me for the afternoon, explained that the workshops for teenagers are part of a program set up to encourage kids of all ages to realize that the museum is a place to visit and learn, interact, have fun, and most of all be creative.  Workshops like these, Wyrick explained are at times held for adults as well.  It appears that the concept of interactivity is finding its way everywhere, even to institutions such as museums that in the past posed as monolithic entities.  A good thing this is, as Wyrick explains that the MCASD wants to embrace audience involvement. The museum is redefining itself as a place which searches for ways to reveal the creative process in visitors, who can experiment with similar strategies that inform the creative drive of artists who actually have exhibits in the museum.

Beatrix*Jar explain how to hack battery operated instrumental toys.

For me it was a treat to see a hacking duo having a lot of fun with second-hand gadgets that can be found at any garage sale.  Creativity is the best value money can’t buy.

REBLOG: Open source hardware 2009 – The definitive guide to open source hardware projects in 2009

Image and text source: Make

Welcome to definitive guide to open source hardware projects in 2009. First up – What is open source hardware? These are projects in which the creators have decided to completely publish all the source, schematics, firmware, software, bill of materials, parts list, drawings and “board” files to recreate the hardware – they also allow any use, including commercial. Similar to open source software like Linux, but this hardware centric.

Each year we do a guide to all open source hardware and this year there are over 125 unique projects/kits in 19 categories, up from about 60 in 2008, more than doubling the projects out there! – it’s incredible! Many are familiar with Arduino (shipping over 100,000 units, estimated) but there are many other projects just as exciting and filled with amazing communities – we think we’ve captured nearly all of them in this list. Some of these projects and kits are available from MAKE others from the makers themselves or other hardware manufacturers – but since it’s open source hardware you can make any of these yourself, start a business, everything is available, that’s the point.

This year, I am asking for your help – the Open source hardware page on Wikipedia is missing more projects that it actually has total at the moment. If any readers out there want to help out, review all the projects we’ve listed and please add them to the Wikipedia page so it’s a more complete resource. Also, many projects on the Wikipedia page are not “Open source hardware” but that will likely be debated, at the least – all of the projects in this guide are considered open source hardware by those who actually does open source hardware it seems.

Read the entire article at Make

A Visit to the Interactive Institute: Notes on Sweden’s Approach to Art and Exhibitions, by Eduardo Navas

Image: ‘Crisp Bread Turntable’ by Yoshi Akai. Video available below.

As part of my residency at the Swedish Traveling Exhibitions, on October 29 I visited the Interactive Institute, quite a unique research center located in the city of Stockholm.  Its model is unlike any other I have encountered. While the institute has close ties to the arts and the tradition of exhibitions as forms of communication and education, it also focuses on the development of projects that crossover to the commercial sector.  There are actually a few spin-off companies that were started as research collaborations in the Interactive Institute.  But to do justice to their mission, it is best that I quote how they present themselves publicly, from their about page:

The Interactive Institute is a Swedish experimental IT-research institute that combines expertise in art, design and technology to conduct world leading applied research and innovation. We develop new research areas, art concepts, products and services, and provide strategic advice to corporations, the cultural sector and public organisations. Our research results are communicated and exhibited worldwide and brought out to society through commissioned work, license agreements and spin-off companies.

I cite them directly because I find this type of research model to be an increasingly common hybrid: rigorous academic research meets commercial interests.  Yet, the Interactive Institute, seems unique because its creative drive appears to be well balanced, given that it is in the middle of a major corporate technology research sector in Stockholm, located in the neighborhood of Kista. One thing that became certain is that their model is directly informed in part by the always changing aesthetics of networked communication.  In their case, this tendency is found in the concept of “Interactivity;”  such premise is part of their name.


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