Remixing the Remix
As you can imagine, an amazing piece like Kirby Ferguson’s Everything’s is Remix just begggggssssss to be played with when leading a discussion on the content. Even watching it for the first time, I was reminded of a remix I made in my undergraduate for a Media Technology and Sociology class. One of the most fun projects I’ve ever worked on!!!
For this reason, I chose to actually go ahead and download two different videos by Ferguson, one the actual full film, Everything is a Remix, one of his Ted Talk Creativity is a Remix, and one of a talk that he gave at Google. I also included a video he suggested in his references Good Copy, Bad Copy: Copyright in Culture, a documentary directed by Andreas Johnsen, Ralf Christensen, and Henrik Moltke.
Pro-Tip: Put ss in front of “youtube” in front of any youtube video, and you can quickly download it via a service, savefrom.net – worked like a charm!!!
After a bit of editing – and a lot of learning about Adobe Premier – I created 3 short remixes to spark conversation.
The first outlines what Everything is a Remix is, and seeks to distill the essence of his thesis from a four part series, into a 5 minute clip.
The second briefly reviews different types of remixes that he covers in Books, Music, Film, Art, and Technology.
The third quickly outlines how remixing is coming to heads with modern copyright law, and looks at a big patent debate between Apple and Samsung.
Each of the three videos introduce a discussion question at the end.
My Perspective on the Video
I really liked Ferguson’s piece and think that we as humans understand his point as intrinsically true.
The first thing this actually made me think of was a very old reference about how only god can create things ex nihilio or from nothing, whereas man can only create it from something. I had studied this a bit when looking into the Augustinian concept of evil for a paper on how JRR Tolkien could rationalize being a devout Christian, with his world of myth-building. Short answer, since god created him, and he created Lord of the Rings, he was therefore still creating something from something, and hence felt that world-building was a great nod to God since we are the only creatures made in his image… as creators.
The basic argument that Ferguson provides, that we in fact use a 3 step creative process of domain recognition, copying, and transformation in order to create new works sounded very reminiscent of parts of the 6 Step process described in Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics…
- Idea/purpose – What am I trying to accomplish?
- Form – What form will my effort take (a comic book, a website, etc.)
- Idiom/genre – How do I address the recipient (fiction vs. nonfiction, online community vs. news site).
- Structure – How the work is arranged and composed, “what to include, what to leave out”
- Craft – The actual work of getting the thing done: problem-solving, use of skills, etc.
- Surface – The immediately-perceivable traits, like polish or production values.
As new artists work their way through this process – seemingly over several years from his illustrations – they very much go through Ferguson’s creative process, understanding their domain and pulling things from it, copying work of people they admire to learn the style and craft, and finally starting to transform portions of the work themselves either through changing the form or the idea/purpose.
At the end of the day, Ferguson is completely on point with his explanation of creativity and also possesses great insight into how modern copyright/patent law is in fundamental opposition to this essential human trait. I have read Lawrence Lessig in the past and encountered things like this before as well. In fact, my main argument for using bittorrent is that digital media has zero marginal cost, and that the reason it isn’t free is because the copyright has been artificially extended into ridiculousness.
I had a lot of fun watching this film, and even more fun cutting it apart and piecing it back together for my presentation tomorrow.
I will post the videos tomorrow night after the presentation, don’t want to ruin the surprise ahead of time!
UPDATE | HERE ARE THE VIDEOS!
Part 1: What is a remix?
Part 2: Examples of Remixes
Part 3: Remixes, Law & Technology
Also, here is my presentation!!!