Hello From the Other Side

I picked this one because I liked the transformation I noticed in my understanding of remix.

[So, at the beginning of the semester, one of my titles was a play off of Adele’s song, and I thought it only fitting to continue that by ending with one….]

In order to answer the question for this week, I had to go back and read what I had originally thought that remix was. While I actually really like that post, I think that after 16 weeks of experience, I feel a little more comfortable with remix and it doesn’t seem as “new” as I had originally thought it was.

By “new” I mean a new form of art. As the semester has progressed, I have learned that remixing materials is something that we have done forever. It actually makes me wonder why we discuss it because it seems like almost a natural occurrence…like breathing in air or drinking water. Sometimes materials seem to naturally be remixed together, and other times it is more intentional.

To briefly discuss both of these things, I want to first consider intentional remixing. An example of this would be Once Upon A Time or Friends or something of that nature. Something which obviously draws upon something older. It is presented in a different way. I think an interesting question that can be asked because of this is: why are they remixing Old Text A to create New Text B? What is being said here? When the remixing is done so overtly and intentionally, I think that an interesting question can be asked of the creator of New Text B. Why did they want to remix the Old Text A?

However, I think a slightly different question can be asked when the remixing is more unintentional. I think this speaks to the worth and value and cultural acceptance of Old Text A almost more than it begs the question “why did you remix this Old Text A” of the creator. Does that make sense? The clearest example I can think of here is how a lot of religions’ texts, the Quran and the Book of Mormon, for example,  aresimilar in certain ways to the Bible. This, I would argue, begs the question, “How (and why) is the Bible so often ‘remixed’ into other religions’ sacred text?”

Because I have a deeper understanding of remix now, I am able to think more thoughtfully about the implications of remix, and not just about what is remix. At the beginning of the semester, I was too overwhelmed with trying to formulate a definition and was not able to think about what remix can do and what it can mean.

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I wanted this one because it shows my foundational understanding of what Remix is.

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.



This was a favorite because thinking and writing about culture are two things that I really love doing.

You know the proverb about grasping oil in your hand? And the impossibility of that? Well, that is almost how I feel about defining culture. Culture changes constantly to reflect the {changing} people that make up the culture. Each of the authors that we have read have had their own interpretation on culture. Bell hooks talks about culture in both a negative and positive way. She seems to be implying that the white culture was remixing the black culture. Hooks notes that many black women felt pressure to straighten their hair so that they might have a better opportunity to get a job in the working world. Hooks talks about how doing their hair was an intimate ritual, but now because of the pressure that they feel from the white women, straightening hair becomes “stripped of the positive binding…and more to be exclusively a signifier of white suprematists oppression and exploration.” Hooks illustrates an example of how culture changes.

Culture is like language, creating new words and putting aside others. Shakespeare did not need to use the word “selfie” in his plays any more than we feel the need to use the word “sallet.”

In the beginning of Navas’ essay, he presents different definitions that have arisen for culture. It “originates in nature and is defined by labor”; it is “modified according to the interests of individuals who perform a specific form of manual work” (116-7) Another defines culture as a “type of resistance in search of meaning against the rise of capitalism” (117). In all three of these descriptions of culture, there is at least one uniting feature–culture is defined by people who live and work in any given society. While the means to the end might be different (resisting capitalism, originating in nature, manual labor) the end result is the same: culture is defined through capitalism, whether or not that cause is intentional or not.

I find modern and postmodern culture fascinating and saddening. It is painful for me to read literature that seems to be so very dark and despondent. Many works offer little hope. They seem to give little insight into their purpose. In much modern/postmodern work, people appear more apathetic and not actively resisting. If culture is defined by some sort of resistance, then how are the characters in Waiting for Godet resistant? I have heard many people say that our generation is without a cause and that we aren’t actively fighting for something. Is this true? If it is, then what is culture for our generation? Navas’ definition seems to fall short of this observation.

The amount of remixes, mash-ups, and cover songs suggest a return to what is older. Less creating new works and more revision of the past. Even popular fashion takes a spin at the Indie/Bohemian styles trendy in the 60s and 70s.

(Remix) and [Collection] and {Identity}

I chose this one because it talked about social media and the dangers contained therein. 

I think that Anzaldua’s work is not exactly a remix. I would consider her work more of a collection (or a curation) of different works, but not a remix. (This is defining remix as something more particular and specific than Lawrence Lessig who would argue that everything is a remix. While I tentatively agree with that statement, I think that for the purpose of distinction and argument, if everything is a “remix” than there is nothing inherently special about a remixed work–because everything would be, therefore none would be unique.) Anzaldua’s work takes other works–poems and such–and incorporates them into her work. However, she is not exactly changing the meaning of the poems or her work through the use of the other material. In this way, I would argue that it is not a remix. I think that a remix needs to modify or change an existing text. The works that Anzaldua chooses are complementary to her message and they aren’t changing media or meaning, so therefore I would say that it is not a remix.

Manovich, however,defines remix as, “a composition that consists of previously existing parts assembled, which is edited to create particular aesthetic, semantic, and/or bodily effects.” (142). This is a very broad definition, and one which most works can fit (Lessig would be happy!) Manovich says that the difference between a remix and a collection [collection: “reduction of a set of all possible things” (142)] is that in a remix, the order of the elements matter. In a collection, they do not. The example given is that of a song mashup. Obviously order matters or the entire song loses its meaning–or becomes a completely separate remix. Strictly speaking, I suppose one could argue that Anzaldua’s work is a remix because it is a compilation of works that already existed.

Social media representations, however, are remixes of people. The only social media that I use is Facebook, but this definitely is a remix of a person. Lately, I noticed that most of my friends seem to just share pictures and memes. Some friends post mostly political, others religious, some almost always have funny pictures, others share old pictures and photos. From these posts, I create images and ideas of my Facebook friends. They are remixing themselves. They are defining themselves through what they post.

A while ago I realized that limited means and modes of contact with people can be a very misleading thing. For example, if I am only virtual Facebook friends and Blog followers with people, I am only seeing what they want me to see about them. You control what you post. You control your blog content. This is so much different than if I knew them in real life. In the flesh and blood. They might not handle that stressful situation as gracefully as Facebook and the poetic blog post implied. It’s easy to romanticize people’s own remixes of themselves. People can completely control their presented personas. Social media definitely is a remix–it takes many different components (pictures, quotes, “likes,” shared material, posts, re-tweeted and re-blogged works…)–and presents a person who may or may not be like the one that you’d meet at the grocery store after their workout.

What is the Purpose of Remix?

This one, I think, is pretty explanatory for why I think it’s important. What is the purpose of remix? Read and find out. 🙂 

What is the purpose of remix? To completely copy a section of Lawrence Lessig’s book Remix and Identity, I’m just going to keep it simple, vague, and  broad and say that its purpose to dedicated to “enabling the future.” After all, people’s opinion about what remix actually is and the ethics surrounding remix seem to be “simple, vague, and broad” so I would suppose that the reasoning behind remix should be something similar.

But in all honesty, I do think that Lessig’s section title “Enabling the Future” is actually a good reason and purpose behind remixing. The chapters under this heading deal with the laws and ethics behind remixing, but I think that it is also just a good reason behind remixing. We live in a Read and Write (RW) culture and so we most definitely do participate in remix–even unconsciously, I might argue.

Lessig’s chapter 9 deals with copyright laws surrounding remixing. After reading this chapter, I think that for personal use, things should not even be copyrighted. I keep thinking about the example we talked about at the beginning of the semester where the mother got in trouble for posting a recording of her daughter dancing to music. She was sued. Because she did not own the copyright to the background music of the video. But, I’m sure the quality of the music was not even very good. And perhaps people might even be more interested in buying the music to which the daughter danced after they watched the video. (So, maybe she’s be helping sales–free music promotion/advertising.)

I do think that copyright laws are definitely useful to an extent. Because artists do need to make money and so it seems that there should be some protection for them. But, I would like the laws to be slightly more relaxed. And as we discussed in class–if you happen write a [dissertation] and include lengthly passages of [Steinbeck] in it, then if the publisher denies you the freedom to reproduce those passages for publication, your work is [almost] “pointless”–in the sense that you cannot publish your hard work.

What would the repercussions even be if you paid the owner a small fee? I haven’t thought over it much, so I honestly do not know; but I think that making it possible some way for people to be able to use material is good. Otherwise, we will turn into a Read Only (RO) culture.

What then? We lose our creativity and imagination. I think that remixing is a good thing. It allows artists (and by that I mean anyone participating in remix) to contemplate an “original” work and change it around–maybe to show something in culture, to express a personal belief, to advertise for something…

And here is something else to consider, maybe there could be a difference in laws between those who seek to make a profit off of their remixed material and those who are doing to without the intent of profit. I realize that you cannot judge a person’s “intent” but maybe there could be certain categories. You want to publish a dissertation or other academic work? Use Copyright laws DAW (“dissertation academic work”). If you want to remix to sell songs or other works, use other appropriate  copyright laws –the SSW law.

Just a thought.

But I will definitely have to consider this more. It’s a challenging and very multifaceted question and I am definitely not a lawyer.


To Remix or Not to Remix?

Why did I want this one in my portfolio? Because it talks about how I feel about remixing, and I feel like that is something that is important to keep.  Read to find out why I believe (or don’t believe) in remixing.

[Note: Did you notice the creative title…yep, it’s a “remix”] 🙂

Long story short? For this class, I have no problem remixing. For personal use, it’s also find. For the public, I’m not sure. (For more information or to find out why Isabelle holds these views, please scroll down. If you do not care, then don’t scroll.)

To be completely honest, I am not exactly sure what and how I feel about remixing. I think that there is a line between acceptable and then just plain old copying. We were made in the image of God and obviously that means that we are works of God–and made after Him. So surely to a certain extent of “remixing” isn’t wrong at all.

He created us with creativity, and He also put us in communion with each other. He said it was “not good for man to live alone” and so he created woman. But I think that this can also apply to how we are communal beings and we are not designed to live on desert islands by ourselves. We interact with each other. We brainstorm together. We build off of each other. In unofficial ways this seems acceptable. By unofficial I mean planning projects in office settings…one person starts something, another adds, someone subtracts, the next turns it down a different road, and then somehow the end project is achieved. It probably looks a lot different than when it started, but that’s alright.

In a way, remix can be like this. If Pollack really is inspired by Van Gogh, then let him be Van Gogh’s remixer. Pollack’s work is more abstract than Van Gogh’s work is. It’s the “post-modern” recreation of Van Gogh. It’s different and it appeals to a different audience (potentially) and it also reflects the different cultural meaning and definition of art. In the screen studies class I’m taking this semester, we’ve been talking recently about how film theorists felt they needed to re-define what art was with the introduction of film. They wanted to bend the definition to account for cinema. In like manner, Pollack’s art is a bending and a new take on Van Gogh’s work. It’s a re-mix, but it’s different enough to be…umm…different.

Some remixes, though, aren’t like that. They’re not different enough. A lot of cover songs are like this, I’ve noticed. And while this doesn’t infuriate me, it does disappoint me. I would like to see songwriters writing music that was more “original.” And let’s be honest. Everyone says that Shakespeare was a great and famous author/playwright. Right? But if you really study his plays, they are so full of allusions to Greco-Roman myths that it’s ridiculous. It’s actually quite mind-blowing. That man was kind of brilliant in his ability to combine so many different things together like that. Personal opinion aside, Shakespeare was a remixer and he’s considered great. Be like Shakespeare. Remix. And be great. Just please, don’t make something that’s worthy of the “#twinning”caption. That’s cute for clothes and everything, but songs need something different.

For my own personal use of the ethics of remixing? I’m not entirely sure. Based off of what I’ve said above, it seems like I would be fine with remixing things. For this particular class, I have no issue remixing materials. It’s for educational purposes and I’m not doing anything for profit.

Profit. There’s an interesting twist to the story. I think that if I were choosing to make a profit off of other people’s work, I would really stop and think about what I was doing. I might feel guilty using their work. That’d almost feel like plagiarizing. Even in a group project or discussion, if I use material that we’ve worked on as a group, I feel like I need to give the whole group credit. I feel bad just saying, “Oh, and I thought of this brilliant idea all by myself.” So if I was going to cover a song, or remix it, I am not sure if I would. Obviously I would be affected by the song, but I would try to be original. And I’ve noticed while making the remixes for this class that I’m struggling to use other people’s work. I just want to make it all myself.

But back to my ethics for personally making remixes. I have done some “copying” of “artwork.” I really enjoy calligraphy (until this semester when I got too busy) and one of the things that I enjoy is copying down quotes I really liked. I love the look and feel of colored pencils, so I primarily used them, though recently it’s been acrylic paint..or a chalkboard. Anyways, sometimes I would not look up any pictures of the fonts I wanted to use, or the colors, or the formatting. I’d just design it from my mind. But other times I would hop on my trusty friend, Pinterest, and see what I could find. I never copied it down perfectly, though, because I really did want it to be my own. (This same rule applies to cooking/baking. I find a recipe and then I modify it.)

So that, my friend, is some of the thinking behind my first statement.