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Upcoming Book, Remix Theory: The Aesthetics of Sampling

Image: Preliminary cover design and logo for upcoming book by Ludmil Trenkov.

I am very happy to announce that my book Remix Theory: The Aesthetics of Sampling is scheduled to be published later on this year, by Springer Wien New York Press.  If all goes according to schedule, it should be available no later than this Fall.  The book offers an in-depth analysis on Remix as a form of discourse.  To get a sense of what to expect, you can read my previously published text, “Regressive and Reflexive Mashups in Sampling Culture,” also available through Springer: http://www.springerlink.com/content/r7r28443320k6012/. You can read my online version as well, though I encourage you to support the publishing company by downloading the official version.

I will offer more information about the book in the near future, such as the table of content, and excerpts from the text. For now I wanted to share the promotional abstract:

Remix Theory: The Aesthetics of Sampling is an analysis of Remix in art, music, and new media. Navas argues that Remix, as a form of discourse, affects culture in ways that go beyond the basic recombination of material. His investigation locates the roots of Remix in early forms of mechanical reproduction, in seven stages, beginning in the nineteenth century with the development of the photo camera and the phonograph, leading to contemporary remix culture. This book places particular emphasis on the rise of Remix in music during the 1970s and ‘80s in relation to art and media at the beginning of the twenty-first Century. Navas argues that Remix is a type of binder, a cultural glue—a virus—that informs and supports contemporary culture.

Write to Your Congress Representative about SOPA

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

Call your elected officials.

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

Why?

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

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

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

Remix and Cultural Analytics at Anthropology in Digital Times

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

A brief note on my presentation:

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

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

Posts about my research:

Charleston Style

Lotus Flower Parodies

Downfall Parodies

— Eduardo Navas

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

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

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

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

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

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Introducing ImagePlot Software: explore patterns in large image collections

Image: 883 Manga series from the scanlation site OneManga.com.
Total number of pages: 1,074,790

Lev Manovich and Jeremy Douglass, 2010.

——

ImagePlot is a free software tool that visualizes collections of images and video of any size. (The largest set we tried so was: 1,074,790 one megabyte images).

DOWNLOAD IMAGEPLOT 0.9

ImagePlot works on Mac, Windows, and Lunix.
Max visualization resolution: 2.5 GB (2,684,354,560 grayscale pixels, or 671,088,640 RGB pixels).

ImagePlot was developed by the Software Studies Initiative (softwarestudies.com) with support from the National Endowment for Humanities (NEH), the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), and the Center for Research in Computing and the Arts (CRCA).

Along with the program, we also distribute a number of articles by Lev Manovich, Jeremy Douglass and Tara Zepel that address methodologies for exploring large visual cultural data sets, and discuss our digital humanities projects which use ImagePlot. (The articles can be also downloaded directly from softwarestudies.com.)

Visualizations created with ImagePlot have been shown in science centers, art and design museums, and art galleries, including Graphic Design Museum (Breda, Netherlands), Gwangju Design Biennale (Korea), and The San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art.

ImagePlot software was developed as part of our Cultural Analytics research program.

Learn more about Imageplot at Software Studies.

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.

———-

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.

———–

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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Transmedia and Remix Debate at Brazilian Digital Culture 2010, by Eduardo Navas

Image: Main Entrance of Cinemateca Brasileira.

I visited Sao Paulo Brazil on November 17th, to participate in a panel discussion for Brazilian Digital Culture 2010, organized by the Brazilian Ministry of Culture. I was invited to discuss the relationship of transmedia and Remix along with Maurício Mota (Os Alquimistas), and moderator Newton Cannito (Secretary for the Audiovisual/Ministry of Culture).  What follows is not so much a summary of the panel discussion, but rather a reflection on my views on transmedia and Remix, after evaluating my participation.  But first, I will begin by giving some general impressions of the day I spent in Sao Paulo.

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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.

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    Remix Theory | is an online resource by Eduardo Navas. To learn more about it read the about page.

    Logo design by Ludmil Trenkov