Introduction to Remix Culture

The notion that everything – whether it be music, film, products, and further forms of artistic material – is a copy, paired alongside with the harsh statutory developments in intellectual property and copyright law, suggests that remix culture is a significant aspect of our day to day lives. By a process of appropriating “original” material , transforming and combining it to create something new, remixing (or sampling) has become a mainstream outlet of creativity. What is original artwork is now largely contested.

Remix culture is largely concerned with developing an artists own aesthetic reusing old or already published material to build something new (explored in great detail in Brett Gaylor’s RIP: A Remix Manifesto (2008)). As Kirby Ferguson (2010) relates it:

Hollywood’s greatest achievement is transforming the old into the new by following the conventions of genres and sub-genres, preconceived novels and franchises to reinvent films. Everything finds its own identity from the influence of something else.

The way that we consume films, music, artwork and the like, however, is affecting how we create the remix culture we are prone to. Our basic processes of consumption (streaming, downloading, borrowing from friends and family, etc.) are becoming illegal, as the copyright owners invite us to enjoy a controlled level of interaction and engagement with our favourite TV shows, films, and songs.

The increasing illegality of remix culture aims to allow authors to retain the exclusive rights of their artworks, but is this limiting and possibly even threatening creativity?

Throughout the course of this semester I aim to develop an opinion in regards to the aesthetic, legal, consumer, and ethical and moral implications of our remix culture.

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