Friday, April 29, 2011

Final Remix

For my final, I chose to remix the album art for Girl Talk’s All Day album. I did so through placing a copy of the All Day artwork behind a collage of all (or at least most) of the albums featured on the All Day album. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Blog #12: RIP & Lessig, working together to create a hybrid future.

1. Both RIP and Remix discuss Creative Commons. In Remix, Lessig says  the CC licenses an artist to say "take and share my work freely. Let it become part of the sharing economy. But if you want to carry this work over to the commercial economy, you must ask me first. Depending upon the offer, I may or may not say yes." and in RIP, they say "Creative Commons was born to set culture free - a license that says I as a musician, give you the right to sample my work, take and build, create and remix." So, obviously both are saying that Creative Commons is instrumental in convincing people that a shared economy is the way to go. CC gives artists the opportunity to allow for freedom of creativity while maintaining that they will still get what they want - credit given where credit is due. Both the movie and the book seem to agree that Creative Commons has done wonders for the copyright laws of today.

2. In RIP, they say "communities are being created by technology that is being made available." Lessig talks about this in his discussion of 'community spaces, collaboration spaces, and communities.' These two ideas are basically saying that technology has created a whole new outlet for people to go, it has created communities for people to gather in the universal space of the internet. A place where people can meet up from 5000 miles away at any time of day. 

3. Finally, both talk about the economy of things vs. the economy of ideas. Or also commercial economy vs. shared economy. I like how the movie calls it economies of 'things vs. ideas' because it makes it much more obvious. A commercial economy is based off of things, you trade things for things of the same value. Whereas a shared economy runs on the exchange of ideas. It makes me think of this quote, "If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples, then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an ideas and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas" (George Bernard Shaw). For me, that quote perfectly sums up the difference between commercial and shared economies.

Another interesting point I found that both the book and movie brought up was the idea of quoting and how that is, in essence, the same and sampling a song. Using a small part of something to make a larger point. It makes so much sense, and I feel like that is crucial to deciding what makes a good remix or not. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Blog #11: Economies

A commercial economy would be an economy in which "money or 'price' is a central term of the ordinary, or normal, exchange." A sharing economy differs because it is the type of economy where the only term of exchange that is NOT appropriate is money (118). So this to me says that the biggest difference is that commercial economies is based on monetary value and exchanging on the basis of worth as established by someone in power whereas sharing economies are based off of trading and coming to an agreement based on terms decided upon by the parties involved. 

This idea is related to so many different things that Lessig is arguing. It seemed to me that all of Lessig's ideas relate to finding a happy medium of the two, to create a hybrid culture. The sharing and commercial economies are just the latest in his argument. This argument seemed very redundant after the RW/RO reading. The economy argument is just the latest piece in Lessig's grand 'remix puzzle.' He's arguing that we need to re-write our culture into something that has more gray area, it can't be so black and white. He wants things to work WITH one another, not against. This all makes sense, seeing as the title of this book is "REMIX." 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Blog #10: Lessig & DJ Earworm

This is a mashup of the top songs of 2009. It's called "United State of Pop 2009 (Blame It on the Pop)" by DJ Earworm.

In chapter 4, Lessig discusses his friend Ben from college. He talked about how Ben used quotes to make his argument - he says "his selection demonstrated knowledge beyond the message of the text" (51). So, he's saying that through using quotes by the author, he is able to show that he understands what the author is trying to say. The connection I made to this remix by DJ Earworm is that Earworm understands the similarities in beats and how certain parts of a song can work with another. He is essentially taking direct "quotes" from musical artists and demonstrating his knowledge in the area of rhythm and melody. Further in the chapter, Lessig asks why, if we have to ask permission to use a clip from a song , is it so absurd that we must ask permission to use a quote? I thought this point was interesting because who is to say there is a difference? When we quote an author or book, we cite it at the end of our papers, so why is a song any different?

On page 69, Lessig says "They remix, or quote, a wide range of 'texts' to produce something new... remixed media may quote sounds over images, or video over text, or text over sounds. The quotes thus get mixed together. The mix produces the new creative work - the 'remix.'" This quote exemplifies all that DJ Earworm has done here. He's taken all these different pieces of other people's worked, 'quoted' them and mashed them up to create a whole new piece of music. His mashup is unique in that it not only mixes the songs, but also the music videos. I like the metaphor he used on page 70 for multimedia remixes. He says "Sounds are being used like paint on a palette. But all the paint has been scratched off of other paintings." I don't even really know how to reiterate that, because it is so straightforward. So basically, DJ Earworm has taken all these sounds, and unlike Girl Talk, he's created a new song. It has its own unique beat, it mashes up the lyrics to send a whole new message. If you look at the rest of his work, that's an underlying theme throughout his music. He doesn't just mash up music because it 'sounds good' but he actually takes the time to construct a whole new message. In this case, he's created a song called "Blame It on the Pop."

To conclude the chapter, Lessig discusses the old in the new. Like Professor Arola said in class, when she was growing up she might have created a Scooby-Doo collage. Who is to say that if she had access to the technology we have today she might not have created a Scooby-Doo soundbite montage. So, is there a difference? Lessig doesn't think so. He says "What blocked you was that the production costs alone would have been in the tens of thousands of dollars" (83). So, what is the difference between DJ Earworm's remix and Professor Arola's Scooby-Doo collage? According to Lessig, the only difference is the time period. Further down the page Lessig says "The ways and reach of speech are now greater. More people can use a wider set of tools to express ideas and emotions differently." Once again, the only real difference is that now we use computers to mix our media, rather than scissors and glue.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Blog #9: Copyright, Ownership and our Culture

This book is a lot of fun to read - it gives a lot of interesting real life examples! In the introduction, Lessig discusses some questionable decisions regarding lawsuits and ownership/copyright infringement. He's saying how far is too far? Is it really copyright infringement to post a home video of an 18 month old dancing to Prince? I mean, I get that Prince worked hard on his music, but the content is about the dance - for the pleasure of friends and family - not about copying Prince's work. Also, Lessig makes the point that the current copyright laws are stifling creativity. He gave the example of Girl Talk. I know Doc Adam isn't a huge fan of his, but it can't be denied that there is creativity behind what he's doing. Technically, he's infringing upon SO MANY artists, but if he can be prosecuted by all of those artists, we're denying someone's right to express themselves. So I guess, it seems to me that Lessig is presenting us with this notion that copyright laws are outdated, and need to be changed so as to complement our ever-changing culture.

RW (Read/Write) culture is the idea of a culture not only reading and digesting culture, but also creating it. They're taking the information they read and writing it into something different - remixing it. It's the idea of recycling culture over and over creating an ever evolving culture. RO (Read/Only) culture is the idea about being less proactive in culture. Instead of creating, this culture would would have fewer amateur creators - leaving it up to the professionals only. So basically, RW is a participatory culture and RO is not.

This all relates back to Lessig's argument because RW culture would encourage people to create something - anything - regardless of whether something is copyrighted or not. It's an environment that promotes creativity, which is what it seems Lessig is after. Lessig says, "I then want to spotlight the damage we're not thinking enough about - the harm to a generation from rendering criminal what comes naturally to them" (18). The RW culture would be the solution to this idea, and RO is the path we are on now.

Lessig uses Sousa because Sousa kind of began the fight against copying music a  long time ago. Sousa's fear was that music would become something generated by a group of "elites" rather than having amateurs and professionals. "Sousa feared, fewer and fewer would have the access to instruments, or the capacity to create or add to the culture around them; more and more would simply consume what had been created elsewhere" (25). The irony is that just the opposite happened. EVERYONE has access to music, and can edit it, and can create something new - even if it's from something old. So, Sousa's argument is interesting because he predicted we were headed for an RO culture because of the advancements in technology, but in fact we're headed for an RO because of what he believed to be proper copyright laws. Additionally, those so called "infernal machines" he spoke of are actually leading us towards an RW culture.

p.s. GO COUGS! :)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Blog #8: I've got 99 problems but a sample ain't one!

Rhythmic Cinema:
"As the amount of information out there explodes exponentially and threatens to become almost the only way people relate to one another, it's a question that seems to beg a response: What would happen if it just vanished and the lights went out?" (Page 80) This quite is so interesting to me. It gets you thinking about how much of our history is being digitalized. What if the lights and power did just stop? We'd lose our entire musical culture from at least the past 20 years. Anything that requires only physical instruments (guitars, drums, etc.) would survive. But all of this remixing, hip-hop, rap, pop would be lost. That's a significant chunk of our culture these days. 

"Eisenstein spoke of this density back in 1929 when asked about travel and film: 'The hieroglyphic language of the cinema is capable of expressing any concept, any idea of class, any political or tactical slogan, without recourse to the help of suspect dramatic or psychological past'" (Page 88). I found this quote really interesting because it makes you think, is it possible to create something now without needing help from the past? After this quote Miller begs the question "Does this mean that we make our own films as we live them?" And that makes me think, yes, we are. Aren't our lives something completely different than the past? Yes, they are. No one has ever lived as technologically advanced as we are today, but does that mean we need to create completely new stuff? Why can't we refer to our past for help? I think it's totally okay to use our past to create our future.

Rhythmic Space:
"I just got 'here' but the only real reason to be here is to go someplace else" (Page 89). I thought this quote was quite interesting, and a bit symobolic of everything we're learning about. It's saying, isn't the point of evolving to continue evolving? It wouldn't make any sense to get to some place and then just stay there. Why would we just quite learning and exploring new voids? We wouldn't. That's the point of rhythmic space. To continue creating and exploring new spaces - constantly creating a more interesting place to live.

Errata Erratum:
"there were no 'finished' pieces and everything in Errata erratum is about that gap between execution and intent in a world of uncertainty. Whatever mix you make of it, it can only be a guess - you have to make your own version, and that's kind of the point" (Page 93). This quote is cool because it's exactly what the argument for sampling and remixing is. No art is ever 'complete' - it is a constant work in progress. I really thought it was cool that Miller paid tribute to Marcel Duchamp because he's really one of the earliest remix artists. He pushed the envelope and when asked 'why' he said, 'why not?' and from there, I feel like remixing really took off and this quote exemplifies the importance of interpretation.

"all in all, the creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act" (Page 97). This quote is from Duchamp himself and it goes along with the first because Duchamp is saying that art is up for speculation, it can mean something different to anyone and it is important that we explore the different perspectives. I mean, someone may truly detest an original piece of art - whether it be a song, painting or photograph or whatever - but when it is remixed by another artist, it may become something completely new and appealing to that person. One of Duchamp's pieces that sticks out in my mind is his 'interpretation' of the Mona Lisa. He painted a moustache and beard on her face, and called it something new. It's so simple, yet funny. I've seen Duchamp's version in poster form at my friend's apartment, and it's just funny because why wouldn't we deface art? Why shouldn't we? It's truly exemplary of Duchamp's idea of "why not?" and I love it.

The Future is Here:
"We're probably the first generation to grow up in a completely electronic environment" (Page 101). First of all, I don't know why he says 'probably' because we ARE the first generation to grow up in a completely electronic environment. I mean, unless he thinks that the next generation will be the first because most of us still remember when we didn't have the internet and a gazillion channels to watch on TV. But still, it's an interesting thought. We're in completely uncharted territory. What are the effects of growing up with the internet going to have on future generations? How far will we advance before we face extinction or self destruction? It's an interesting thing to think about simply because there is absolutely nothing like the world today in the history. We're more technologically advanced than ever before. We've reached the future, so what's next? Quite frankly, I find it terrifying to think about where the world is headed.

The Prostitute:
"My challenge to myself is to always try to create new worlds, new scenarios at almost every moment of thought" (Page 109). I like this quite because I too try to do the same. I think everyone wants to do that. No one wants to be a 'follower' all the time. Everyone wants to be original, do something different and make their mark on the world. I think it has become so easy to just take someone else's work and change it and call it your own. It's like, everyone wants to be their own person. You don't want someone to call you "the modern day Shakespeare" you want, in the future, for someone to say "He's the modern day [insert your name here]." If that makes sense. It's like, you're always striving to be the best YOU you can be, not the best someone else. At the end of the day, aren't we all looking for our niche in the world?

"Memory demands newness" (Page 113). This quote is short and to the point. Take your iTunes for example. We listen to songs for a while, but then we get sick of it. In order to keep a listener's attention, artists must always evolve. Create something bigger and better than before. If they can't do that, they lose the attention of their audience, and there's always someone new waiting in the wings. I think that's what the idea of sampling is all about. While I write this blog, I am listening to Girl Talk. Girl Talk is a remix artist, and all he does is take songs and remixes them into something completely different. What other genre allows me to listen to Jane Says and Teach Me How to Dougie all at the same time? And for that matter, who would have THOUGHT to mix those two songs together? I can confidently say I would never have connected Cali Swag District and Jane's Addiction. It simply breathes new life into songs I had already gotten enough of.
The song I chose to examine was Jay-Z's 99 Problems. I found that this song actually samples 5 different songs. Including: 

  • 99 Problems: Ice-T
  • Get Me Back on Time, Engine #9: Wilson Pickett
  • Long Red (Live): Mountain
  • The Big Beat: Billy Squier
  • Touched: UGK
    • Sampled - Children's Story: Slick Rick
      • Sampled - Nautilus: Bob James
I found this interesting because 99 Problems by Jay-Z is by far the most widely known of all these songs. In fact, I hadn't heard of any of them until I looked at this site. So, I think in a way, the artists should be thanking Jay-Z for getting their work out there. So long as Jay-Z gave credit where credit is due and paid any royalties coinciding with using these works. I found it interesting that Hugo's 99 Problems is considered a remix/cover of Jay-Z's work, rather than Ice-T's. Does that mean that since Hugo credited Jay-Z, by proxy he's also credited the 5 artists that helped Jay-Z create his song? And in turn, did Jay-Z credit Slick Rick and Bob James because he credited UGK? It's just really interesting to look at how a song came to be. Would 99 Problems even exist if Bob James hadn't created Nautilus?? This website is absolutely fascinating! 

I think it all kind of relates back to the quote about being "here" just to go somewhere else. We're always striving to be something new, something different and to go somewhere even further. In the genealogy of 99 Problems, there are a lot of songs and artists involved. I'm sure Hugo's version of 99 Problems will not be the last of the covers. Because, it's also like Miller says, Memory demands newness. Artists are simply taking something that works, and making it work even further. I feel like a broken record here, but remixing, sampling and covering is essentially just breathing new life into something that has been worn out. There's a reason we keep using things from the past - they work. There is no reason to not continue including things from the past. It helps transfer information from generation to generation. I believe in class we talked about a quote from Miller's book where he says that we pass information and values of society from generation to generation through the use of song. Through the use of websites like people are able to see the genealogy of their favorite song, and maybe even discover a really good old song too!  

On a side note, I looked at Queen's page on the website, and HOLY WOW! We Will Rock You is sampled in SO many songs! It's out of control!! I guess that's what you get for making an awesome, simple, catchy beat.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Blog #7: Transmedia, remixing and the "so what?" of it all.

The de Bourgoing piece was basically discussing how hip-hop artists are using this idea of transmedia to promote their music. The article basically outlines the 7 laws of transmedia. The first discusses the importance of spreading your brand as an artist. This is done through different outlets; from Twitter (or previously, MySpace), to Tumblr, to music videos on YouTube. The idea is that an artist needs to give the audience a place to go after their performance to keep their interest. The second law is saying an artist needs to have their own personal feel and appearance, yet that appearance needs to be marketable. She uses the example of Run DMC and Adidas (who doesn't love to  listen to My Adidas??). The third law is to be the change you want to see. So de Bourgoing is saying that an artist needs to believe in what they're saying and others will follow - the idea of uniting fans for "something bigger than yourself." The fourth law says that an artist must collaborate. This helps artists to reach fans of another artist and spread their brand to people who would have no reason to care about that artist otherwise. The fifth law is to be a story teller. The passion put into something personal is felt by the audience and gives them a reason to connect with the artist. The sixth law is saying that your music must appeal accross the board - both men and women - in order to "make it." The seventh and final law is basically saying to respect those who came before you. In that respect, you can connect with fans and are more likely to be respected by others. Don't forget that someone came before you and someone inspired you to do what you're doing.

There are all kinds of connections between de Bourgoing's piece and our previous readings! For one, the idea that you need to use more than one outlet to get your message out there. The idea that the web is where people are getting their information. Without a web presence, it is hard to connect with your audience. Also, I think this whole idea of transmedia is essentially what we're doing with EVERYTHING on the web. Especially on Facebook and Twitter, we're able to share ideas in an instant  and get feedback just as quickly. It's like what Jenkins says about media content being heavily dependent on consumers participation. Music without listeners makes it pointless. It won't go anywhere if you don't give your listeners a way to connect. Just as a website cannot succeed if it does not engage its users, an artist cannot succeed without engaging its listeners.

It seemed to me that Miller was basically saying saying that music is not unlike writing. It is our voice, in a sense. He is saying that we connect with music because it connects us to the past, and it recycles ideas and thoughts. I liked the quote where he says "today, the voice you speak with may not be your own." I know this quote has it's own page so it seems like an obvious quote to choose, but I love it because it's SO incredibly true and relevant. Shortly after that, Miller says "We are witnessing and listening to the complete integration of and simultaneous representation of the human world as a single conscious entity based on the implosion of geographic distance or cartographic failure" (page 72).  So, basically he is saying that today's society is constantly integrating the old to create the new. We are entering the age where it is rare that we are completely creating something which has never been done. Miller stresses that the past works, but we must do something to change it and make it something new.

I think the main ideas both Miller and de Bourgoing have in common is that the past is important to our success now. We learn from the past and we are inspired by the past. But we must do something different with that. Through the use of today's technologies we can spread ideas so quickly, and we can spread the words of our past. Things don't change, we simply change the way we interpret them. We remix our past to make it important in the now and in the future. Another connection (it might be a stretch, but it's a connection nevertheless) is tagging. We tag our information, but we also tag songs. Say you grew up listening to Stevie Wonder and you know the song Pasttime Paradise. Then one day you hear Gangsta's Paradise on the radio. You tag that song in your mind as a Stevie Wonder re-make. You tag that beat, and that tag applies to more than one song now, and then you hear the Weird Al's Amish Paradise and you tag that as well. In a way it's also related to the third order of order because these songs are in no way connected as far as meaning goes, but they all share a beat and you can lump them together in one category, but they also exist in many other categories with many other tags.