Remix and Identity Week 2

While reading chapters 1-5 in Lawrence Lessing’s Remix, I noticed that the author emphasized the importance of RO/RW [Read/only and Read/write] cultures. I had never thought about the need we have for both kinds of people in our culture. Normally, I think that it is important to have the later, and the former are the people who, sorry for saying and thinking this, but who really don’t care about the work as much as those in the RW category would. However, as I was reading this, I realized that I am very wrong in this thinking. Lessig makes the important point that the Read/Write culture is not necessarily more important than the Read/Only culture.

Remix is more than just re-writing a text. It is, “great writing without text. It is creativity supported by a new technology.” (Lessig 82). This definition surprised me. I had thought about remixes as a cover of a song, or as switching the genre in a movie trailer. What I had not considered about remix was its ability to take something from one medium (painting) and remixing it to be a song. Or, for an example from class, the remix done in honor of David Bowe. The artist took the lifetime of a person and remixed him into a montage of paintings.

When Lessig says that “no artist works in a vacuum” and that is it very hard, if not impossible, for art to be original, he also says “it doesn’t mean you can’t make original content” (15). I think that Lessing believes originality to be harder, but there is a possibility for some originality. For example, I read some Charles Baudelaire poetry last semester and one of the things that he strove to do was be original.  The genre he worked with–seduction and lovers poetry–was not an original genre, however. So in order to make his work “original” and stand out, he said he wanted to make his work more erotic than previous works. This meant that his work was new. While the ideas he presented may not have been “original,” some of his content is arguably original. He had to make his work more graphic and descriptive than those poets before him. Even when artists attempt to be original, their works still copy and imitate previous works. In this way, every art is a remix of something.

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