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Not a Remix–Nor a Sampling: Why Fareed Zakaria’s Plagiarism is Unacceptable

Image: Huffpost

By Eduardo Navas

Note: This entry was updated on August 19, 2012 with an extra commentary at the end of the main text.

As an educator in higher education and researcher specializing in remix culture and authorship, when I first learned about Zakaria’s admission to plagiarism, I was very disappointed in him, and thought that there was no way around it, that his admission of plagiarizing parts of Jill Lepore‘s work on gun control written for the New Yorker puts into question his intellectual integrity.

I thought that his apology was quick and to the point, but that somehow it was not enough. I thought that it was necessary for Zakaria to come forward and explain in as much detail as possible the reasoning for his behavior. And I thought that I wasn’t alone in hoping for this to happen–that if an actual explanation was delivered, it would all serve the constructive purpose of discussing the seriousness of plagiarism with students while providing a concrete example of a public intellectual who committed such an unacceptable act.

I thought that Zakaria should give an extensive explanation, first, simply because he owed it to his audience and readers, who have come to respect his work at CNN, Time and The Washington Post; and second because it would inform, and therefore become, admittedly, an unusual contribution to the debates on intellectual property during a period when younger generations are prone to plagiarize due to the easiness of copying and pasting.

(more…)

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:
http://www.springer.com/architecture+%26+design/architecture/book/978-3-7091-1262-5

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.

Book Sprint on The New Aesthetic

This entry was originally posted on Vodule

Note: Previously this entry read “book print.”  This was a mistake on my part. It should be “book sprint.”

I recently read the “book sprint” New Aesthetic, New Anxieties by a group of media researchers, theorists and curators, who got together for three and a half days from June 17–21, 2012,  at V2, in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

The concept of coming together for just a few days to brainstorm a book is certainly something worth considering as an act of creative critical practice.  The book from this standpoint functions surprisingly well, especially because its premise is delivered to match the speed of change that its subject (The New Aesthetic) experiences in the daily flow of information throughout the global network. I personally find amazing that a book of this sort can be put together with some cohesion.

The subject of the book is The New Aesthetic, a term /concept that has been making the rounds on the Internet for a bit over a year and a few months, but which really took off when Bruce Sterling wrote about it for Wired on April 2, 2012.  Since then many  have written about it; the latest manifestation is the book sprint.

With all respect to the authors, I will state that the text is not fully cohesive, as it becomes obvious that much of the content consists of copy/paste material that was clearly worked over to somewhat match a book format in just three and a half days.  Clearly some stuff had to be written on the spot, but many of the references in the footnotes could not be gathered so quickly–or at least everyone had to come prepared with some strong references to use well before the writing sessions would begin.  What the book sprint does accomplish is provide a good sense of the initial stages of The New Aesthetic in order to reposition the concept in terms of a more critical practice.  The New Aesthetic, based on what I have been reading about it for a few months now, is not a term initially invested in criticality, but rather it befriends trending strategies of the design world which more often than not is primarily invested in landing major corporate contracts.

I won’t dwell on my own views on The New Aesthetic in this case.  For now, I prefer to share some links that also complement The New Aesthetic, New Anxieties Book sprint.  They appear below.  I did not include the authors’ names, but you can certainly find them once you click on the links.

———–

The New Aesthetic Blog:
http://new-aesthetic.tumblr.com/

An Interview With James Bridle of the New Aesthetichttp://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/robert-urquhart/an-an-interview-with-jame_b_1498958.htm
The New Aesthetic: Waving at the Machines
http://booktwo.org/notebook/waving-at-machines/
An Essay on the New Aesthetichttp://www.wired.com/beyond_the_beyond/2012/04/an-essay-on-the-new-aesthetic/
In Response To Bruce Sterling’s “Essay On The New Aesthetic”
http://www.thecreatorsproject.com/blog/in-response-to-bruce-sterlings-essay-on-the-new-aesthetic
We are the droids we’re looking for: the New Aesthetic and its friendly critics
http://blog.jjcharlesworth.com/2012/05/07/we-are-the-droids-were-looking-for-the-new-aesthetic-and-its-friendly-critics/
What Is the “New Aesthetic”?
http://stunlaw.blogspot.com/2012/04/what-is-new-aesthetic.html
The New Aesthetic Revisited: the Debate Continues
http://www.wired.com/beyond_the_beyond/2012/05/the-new-aesthetic-revisited-the-debate-continues/
#sxaesthetic
http://booktwo.org/notebook/sxaesthetic/
The New Aesthetic: Seeing Like Digital Devices at SXSW 2012
http://joannemcneil.com/index.php?/talks-and-such/new-aesthetic-at-sxsw-2012/
SXSW, the new aesthetic and commercial visual culture
http://noisydecentgraphics.typepad.com/design/2012/03/sxsw-the-new-aesthetic-and-commercial-visual-culture.html
The New Aesthetic
http://www.aaronland.info/weblog/2012/03/13/godhelpus/#sxaesthetic
SXSW, the new aesthetic and writing
http://russelldavies.typepad.com/planning/2012/03/sxsw-the-new-aesthetic-and-writing.html
What is the New Aesthetic?
http://gizmodo.com/5901405/what-is-the-new-aesthetic
The New Aesthetic Needs To Get Weirder
http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/04/the-new-aesthetic-needs-to-get-weirder/255838/
Bruce Sterling interviewed about the New Aesthetic
http://boingboing.net/2012/06/21/bruce-sterling-interviewed-abo.html
Why the New Aesthetic isn’t about 8bit retro, the Robot Readable World, computer vision and pirates
http://revdancatt.com/2012/04/07/why-the-new-aesthetic-isnt-about-8bit-retro-the-robot-readable-world-computer-vision-and-pirates/
The Banality of The New Aesthetic
http://www.furtherfield.org/features/banality-new-aesthetic
Is Fashion Ready for a New Aesthetic?
http://www.businessoffashion.com/2012/05/is-fashion-ready-for-a-new-aesthetic.html
New Aesthetic Street Art
http://hyperallergic.com/53662/new-aesthetic-street-art-jilly-ballistic/
The New Aesthetics: Problems and Polemics (Part 1)
http://www.realityaugmentedblog.com/2012/05/the-new-aesthetics-problems-and-polemics-part-1/
The New Aesthetic Problems and Polemics (Part II)
http://www.realityaugmentedblog.com/2012/05/the-new-aesthetic-problems-and-polemics-part-ii/
The New Aesthetic: Further Thoughts
http://www.realityaugmentedblog.com/2012/06/the-new-aesthetic-further-thoughts/

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.

Panel presentation on Video Remixes at PCAC Conference 2012

I am scheduled to present my research on Remix and cultural analytics at the Popular Culture Association of Canada (PCAC) Conference 2012, Niagara Falls. The conference takes place from May 10 through 12.  I will be discussing part of my analysis of YouTube video mashups.  I will join long time collaborators, Owen Gallagher, Martin Leduc, and John Shiga for a panel on video remixes.  The brief mission statement from PCAC is below, followed with the description of our session.

————-

The purpose of the Popular Culture Association of Canada is to promote scholarly understanding of popular culture, broadly conceived, in Canada and elsewhere.  It will serve to bring together academics, students and practitioners in the field of popular culture

May 11, 2012:

SESSION 8

Friday 5:15pm-6:45pm

8C
Strategy 3
Meaning and Politics in Online Amateur Remix Video

Chair: Martin Leduc, Carleton University

John Shiga McGill University
Missing Data: Datamoshing and the Micro-politics of Compression

Martin Leduc Carleton University
Remix in Action: Remix Practices as Political Strategies

Eduardo Navas University of Bergen
Remix in Cultural Analytics

Owen Gallagher National College of Art and Design, Dublin
Ideology in Critical Remix: A Visual Semiotic Analysis

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.

Seminar on Principles of Remix by Eduardo Navas at the Departamento de Artes Plásticas da ECA/USP

Image: from the post Research on Remix and Cultural Analytics, Part 2

I will be presenting my research on Remix and Cultural Analytics at the Departamento de Artes Plásticas da ECA, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil during a one week seminar, March 19 – 21, 2012. Information below.

Principles of Remix Seminar

This seminar examines the act of remixing in contemporary culture. It takes a historical approach with the aim to define remix not only as an act but a process. Remix is often discussed in terms of copyright and intellectual property. In contrast, this seminar engages remix as a cultural binder. The premise for the sessions is that remix affects culture in ways that go beyond the basic understanding of recombining material to create something different. The class will go over key principles of remix, and will also contextualize it in the tradition of critical theory.

The five-day seminar will make use of research published in the texts suggested for reading (see list below). The texts should be read before the actual meetings.

Day 1: Principles of Remix

Day 2: The Aesthetics of Remix

Day 3: The Dialectics of Remix

Day 4: The Social Implications of Remix (Social Media and Cultural Analytics)

Day 5: Remix Globalization and Cultural Analytics

All material to be discussed during the seminar is written by Eduardo Navas:

“Regressive and Reflexive Mashups in Sampling Culture”
http://remixtheory.net/?p=444

“The Mashup of Analog and Digital Code”
http://dichtung-digital.mewi.unibas.ch/2010/navas/navas.htm

“Dub, B Sides and Their [re]versions in the Threshold of Remix”
http://remixtheory.net/?p=345

“The Ethics of Modular Complexity in Sustainability”
http://remixtheory.net/?p=461

“Remix and Cultural Analytics,” Parts 1, 2, and 3
Charleston Style:
http://remixtheory.net/?p=460

Lotus Flower Parodies:
http://remixtheory.net/?p=478

Downfall Parodies:
http://remixtheory.net/?p=479

“After Media (Hot and Cold)”
http://remixtheory.net/?p=400

“The Blogger as Producer”
http://remixtheory.net/?p=203

“After the Blogger as Producer”
http://remixtheory.net/?p=378

“The Author Function in Remix”
http://remixtheory.net/?p=309

“Remixing Re/appropriations”
http://remixtheory.net/?p=474

“The Influence of Non-places in the Concept of Latin America”
http://remixtheory.net/?p=483

More Notes on Everything is a Remix and Ferguson’s Lecture at Creative Mornings

Everything is a Remix Part 4 from Kirby Ferguson on Vimeo.

Part 4 of the Series “Everything is a Remix” (above) has been released on line by Kirby Ferguson. In this last segment, Ferguson retells in large part Lessig’s argument on copyright and free culture (later renamed read/write culture). Kirby points to a “System Failure” in the near future. I don’t have much to add in terms of criticism about the series, given that Ferguson very much hops back and forth between cultural citations and material samplings, not acknowledging the complexity of intertextuality as I already discussed in a previous criticism I wrote about his series.

Another video was recently released by Creative Mornings, in which Ferguson goes over his views on remix as a “metaphor” (below). I wonder why he does not make metaphor a key issue in his videos. One would not have to worry about the watering down of “remix” as a term with a specific meaning in networked culture. But perhaps in the end Ferguson may sense that everything is not a remix. As I previously explained, in the end he is discussing intertextuality.

Well produced videos, worth watching. I think people will change their minds about creativity when viewing them, and this is a real contribution by Ferguson.

2011/08 Kirby Ferguson from CreativeMornings on Vimeo.

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.

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