Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Blog #10

Remix Part 2


Back in the before-time, in the long-long ago, before we had fancy digital technology in our laps (literally) which was capable of video editing (and in fact before we had digital technology which was capable of doing this) there was EBN - the Emergency Broadcast Network - probably the first digital video remix group using purpose-built hardware to produce politically charged (and frankly hilarious) videos. Not as relevant anymore - most of my classmates won't recognize Ross Perot for instance, but it's still got a beat that you can get into.

Lessig vs EBN

Permission! Lessig would agree that there is absolutely no way that EBN could actually get permission to make this remix - now or at the time. As with Hard Working George and the Treated for Mutilation remix of SilviaO's CC contribution, the remix has changed the message of the source material, changed its context, and produced a new piece of culture. Works like this exemplify Lessig's quote "This is not simply copying. Sounds are being used like paint on a palette. But all the paint has been scratched off of other paintings," which might be an interesting project all by itself.


  1. I honestly don't think that Lessig's use of the paint is a good idea, since he says that you are scratching off the paint of another painting, which is the stance the Music and broadcast companies are taking, that its vandalizing and stealing instead of remaking. That its taking the face value away from their work.

  2. Everytime I go to a thrift store, I see dozens of terrible paintings that have been there for years... Might be a fun project to buy a few and see what could come of it.

    What business is it of the printmaker if I chop up what I've bought and make a new painting out of it? Or if I take a short novel and rearrange every sentence so it tells a different story? Or if I make a mix of 12 different CDs to make a new song? The answer seems to be, "none, just so long as nobody else ever sees or hears it."

    That's really the point of consumer culture - once you've sold the physical artifact, you've relinquished control over an individual's use of it. The issue that the music companies have is that their product is infinitely reproducible - there really isn't a physical artifact to sell - and they make all their profit by making those reproductions scarce. How can they sell a 20th Anniversary edition release for $30 more with the same content on it if everybody already has access to the old release?

    Disney did that for years - creating scarcity by recalling their reels and only re-releasing their media on anniversaries and special events, controlling VHS releases after the advent of home video so that the demand was ludicrously high - they maximized profits by denying people access to the films they love which helped form them as a person.

    Are they paying themselves by robbing culture of what they've contributed to it? Are they only exercising the natural rights given to them as the creators of the media? Disney's sponsored legislation has certainly done a number on copyright - 90 years after the death of the artist is a bit long to be riding the coattails of a corpse instead of producing new creative output.

    Who's to say?

  3. I'm hesitant to agree with the "scratch the paint" idea, but I really like the comment you make about the released editions of books and movies; how come they can be released for a higher price when a vast majority of people already have the original version.

    To answer you last paragraph, I believe they are in a way robbing culture of what has been contributed, but it is their product to release, if a music artist were to remove their CD from circulation, would we be as shocked as we are with Disney deciding when to release their motion pictures?

  4. Your first video E.B.C.S, although the main guys face was frightening to say the least, proved one of my main ideas about what makes a good remix. All of the content had similar qualities, and differences like the overly positive attitudes of the people being interviewed. Because there was similar content the remix was very cohesive. The added elements of politicians being interviewed conveyed to me that just like the infomercial people, they were trying to sell the viewer something. These images that we are inundated with are being remixed into our own thoughts and daily activities.

  5. WOW that was absolutely incredible. These guys made this in 1995 with purpose-built hardware? The fidelity and work put into that remix is astounding and would be considered extremely high in production value TODAY let alone sixteen years ago. It's head of its time, revolutionary, and catchy to boot.

    In the scope of remix culture that we've discussed with Lessig, I think that Electronic Behavior Control System video is probably the quintessential remix. It re-appropriates original material, uses the context of the original clips to mean something new entirely, it's a self-contained work for entertainment purposes, it has a distinct message, and most certainly has artistic value.

  6. Great example (I will likely steal this the next time I teach this course in order to talk about the history of remix and the role of technology in what's possible). I would've been curious to see a few more nods made to Lessig, but the ones you make are solid.

  7. That is pretty cool. They is definitely something to be said about physically manipulating tape to create a remix.

  8. Unlike others, I like the paint scraping idea. I think you and Lessig have it right, but need to clarify how the paint is found and used. Really, the base idea is that content is made up of the physical and the abstract. The physical is infinite in supply (for all good intents and purposes) but it is the abstract components, the thought and energy of creation, that are limited. I enjoyed your remixes and think they do a good job pointing out where we came from and where we are going.