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Archive by November, 2017

“Mashup the Archive and Dividual Agency,” essay for exhibit at Iwalewahaus

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Image: photo of copies of art catalogue for the exhibition Mashup the Archive. My thanks to Nadine Seigert and Sam Hopkins for inviting me to participate in the events for the opening during the month of June 2015.

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This text is different from others I have written. It is in part a transcription of a presentation I gave for a roundtable discussion at Bayreuth for the exhibit Mashup, on June 1, 2015.[1] I expanded the basic transcription to revisit my definitions of remix. What is unique of this text is the elaboration of the remix diagram [Figure 1], which in the past I have included in different publications as a visual reference, but have not referred to directly as each term is discussed. Some of the material that follows below was not part of my actual presentation but is added to emphasize remix as a variable at play in Mashup the Archive. The last part of this essay, in particular, is based on the discussion that took place during our panel presentation. It is a reflection on questions about the future of the archive, and who can use it. The text itself, in a way, is a selective remix because its foundation is the transcription of my roundtable presentation to which I added and deleted selected material. This basic form of remix is explained further in what follows. Because of its hybrid format, the text may appear to go on brief tangents, or include comments that are normal in a conversation, but which may not be expected in a formal paper. This text effectively functions between spaces. It borrows from moments in time and makes the most of them to put into practice the theories upon which it reflects.

Introduction

I would like to start by thanking everyone for making this roundtable possible, Sam Hopkins, Nadine Siegert, and Ulf Vierke from the Iwalewahaus, and my fellow panel participants Beatrice Ferrara, Nina Huber, and Mark Nash who joined me during the roundtable discussion. My focus on this occasion is on the interrelation of the mashup, the archive and what I will call dividual agency[2] in accordance to principles of remixing. I will first define remix and the mashup in music and relate it to contemporary culture in general; then I will evaluate the mashup in relation to the archive and authorship by generally reflecting on the exhibit at the Iwalewahaus.

[1] I thank Lucie Ameloot for the transcription.
[2] I take the concept of the dividual from Gilles Deleuze, who discusses the concept of a set (a closed system), which changes as it is divided into parts. See Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 1: The Movement Image (Minneapolis: Minnesota Press, 1986), 14-15.

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Essay: Rhetoric and Remix: Reflections on Adorno’s Minima Moralia

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“Rhetoric and Remix: Reflections on Adorno’s Minima Moralia” was published as part of The Journal of Contemporary Rhetoric, Volume 7, Issue 2/3. I want to thank David Beard and Lisa Horton for including my work in a special issue focusing on remix. The essays comprised in the volume are written by important scholars who often focus on remix. I am honored to be part of this collection. Below are the first few paragraphs of my essay. You may download the actual document from the journal’s website. I also make it available on Remix Theory for download.

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Rhetoric broken down to its most basic element can be called “the art of speaking well.”[1] In terms of contemporary times, it could be rewritten as “the art of remixing well,” given that we are able to extend our views using pre-existing material almost in real time using different media formats. Remix [and rhetoric] is the use of all media for communication by way of appropriation, repurposing, copying and mimicking.

Scott Church explains that the process of selection in remix is rhetorical because the remixer chooses a sample over another.[2] This is an act of selectivity that is vital to contemporary forms of production, whether they be highly acclaimed works of art, or a basic e-mail message that includes pasted content that a person may want to share with another person. My remix of Minima Moralia, which I titled Minima Moralia Redux, from this standpoint is a rhetorical work that, by way of appropriation, updates Adorno’s book as an online project.[3]

Minima Moralia Redux functions as both a work of art and a data analytics research project, which enables me and I hope can help others in understanding how individuals develop works that appear to be autonomous and credited to a single person, but which in reality are only possible because many people are willing to share ideas and resources. It is my hope that we can eventually move past ideas of single authorial works to more open approaches that do justice to the way culture is actually produced in terms of collective knowledge exchange. For this reason, the following focuses on how I appropriate and remix Adorno’s work. I do not discuss his critical position in detail, although I do mention it to contextualize the remix process.

I posted Minima Moralia’s Redux’s first entry on October 16, 2011. The goal, at the time, was to write an entry every week until the 153 aphorisms comprising Adorno’s book were remixed. The initial goal was to finish the project within three years, but as things developed, it became evident that it would take much longer to finish. As I did research on Adorno, I inevitably developed related interests and ideas that took me in other directions, and led to different projects and publications. For this reason, at the time of this writing (2017) I am about half way through Adorno’s 153 aphorisms, and it is not clear when I will eventually finish remixing his book. But for now I can reflect on how the project started, where it stands, and how what I have produced can be reconsidered in terms of remix and rhetoric.

[1] This is a direct quote by the Roman rhetorician Quintillian which was previously quoted in an essay that discusses the relation of rhetoric and remix at length, see Scott H. Church, “A Rhetoric of Remix,” The Routledge Companion to Remix Studies, eds. Eduardo Navas, Owen Gallagher, xtine Burrough (New York: Routledge, 2014), 43.

[2] Ibid, 44.

[3] Early reflections on what I discuss in this section can be found in the blog posts: “about” http://minimamoraliaredux.blogspot.com/p/about.html, accessed February, 15, 2017 “Preliminary Notes on Analysis of Theodor Adorno’s Minima Moralia,” http://remixtheory.net/?p=820, accessed, February 15, 2017. Minima Moralia Redux can be viewed at http://minimamoraliaredux.blogspot.com/.

 

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