Re: Mash-ups (and ready-mades)

From: Eli Horwatt (email suppressed)
Date: Tue Jan 05 2010 - 09:30:07 PST

Hi Nicholas,

I acknowledge my use of the term amateur could be controversial, and I
do not wish to open that can of worms. I assure you I am using it in a
more venerated way, having devoted much of my research and activities
to the phenomena of digital remixing on the Internet. That said, there
is clearly a difference between the people who exhibit their work
exclusively in digital remixing circles on the net and persons who are
exhibiting their work in galleries, trying to get grants and taking
part in the larger conversation about the formal methods of
appropriating images in the art world.

I would like to offer a critique of how we are discussing this subject
in the first place.

While Lawrence Lessig and his disciples (like Brett Gaylor, director
of RIP: A Remix Manifesto) are discussing this issue from a defensive
legal perspective--attempting to articulate the legitimacy of taking
intellectual property and disrupting the attempts of corporations and
individuals to keep fixed the signifiers they have created, they are
overwhelmingly not engaging in an analysis of the aesthetics and
strategies enacted by these works. This legal defense is important on
a practical level for artists. However, I think for the rest of us, it
is important to not be totally consumed by the endlessly rehearsed
legal arguments surrounding appropriation. It has rendered the
conversation about reuse and recycling stale and static. We all know
that fair use (or fair dealings) laws should protect this form of
transformative speech and we all know that they often do not do so.

I think this conversation should also begin to focus on "the work"
rather than the legal doctrines surrounding it. I wonder sometimes, if
recycling and reuse were to be totally legitimized by law, wouldn't
derivative works just become totally homogenous, uncritical and
innocuous (as so much work already has)? Is the current (precarious)
legal situation an important part of keeping this practice radical and
free from commercial co-optation? Of course, this question may not be
taken lightly when you're an artist being sued by a major corporation.
But for the invisible amateurs out there, it could be an important
element of their practice. I do hope to see stronger fair use laws,
but in the meantime, I think other avenues should be explored.



On Tue, Jan 5, 2010 at 11:10 AM, Nicholas O'Brien
<email suppressed> wrote:
> There's the amateur word! I know Eli isn't using it as a negative (or
> venerated) term, but it's an interesting word choice nonetheless (since if
> my memory serves me correctly, there has been a good amount of conversations
> on FW about that topic). I think perhaps a starting point for the "litmus
> test" could be found in discerning the difference between how the amateur -
> persons who participate in their creative activity for joy rather than
> profit - and Hollywood (allow me to use that term loosely, thx) manipulate
> found-footage. Lessig differentiates these motives as the difference between
> read-only and read-write culture. The emergence of fair-use (mostly internet
> based) appropriation in remix culture is different because of the amateur
> element. He sez (mind the paraphrasing), that because remix/mashup culture
> possesses TRANSFORMATIVE properties of the original source material, it is a
> completely new work, and thus can't be stigmatized with typical/tyrannical
> copyright infringement laws. This transformation (at best, critical
> reflection upon image/media making), is something taught (perhpas
> unknowingly) to the mash-up generation via found-footage films. I agree that
> found-footage films are different from mash-ups, but not because of
> technical (or time-based contextual) reasons. Instead (and I know I've
> already diverged from the OP too much already), one significant difference
> between the two forms is in the accessibility of one over the other (in a
> non-pejorative way). Mash-ups typically use readily available resources, or
> else readily recognizable popular iconography. Thinking of DJ Food's Raiding
> the 20th Century, most of the audio we hear is something not found in
> typical crate digging hip-hop sampling, but instead the top 10-radio hits of
> the past two decades. Likewise video mash-ups typically have almost
> immediate understanding of a premise based upon the common familiarity of
> content and sources ( I don't
> know if this really helps, but it's a convo I love having. Also to check out
> is RIP! A remix Manifesto: (i
> want to start incorporating this into my syllabus as well).
> best
> On Tue, Jan 5, 2010 at 9:31 AM, Eli Horwatt <email suppressed> wrote:
>> Yes, it does depend on what you're talking about.
>> The use of the term mashup in reference to all found footage work of
>> any kind is simply wrong. Obviously there is no litmus test, but I
>> would say this term is used to represent the work of amateur editors
>> on the Internet interested in narrative assemblage from various
>> mainstream sources usually for the purposes of détournement.
>> Eli
>> On Tue, Jan 5, 2010 at 8:07 AM, Stephen Morgan <email suppressed>
>> wrote:
>> > It all depends on exactly what you're talking about, I suppose.
>> >
>> > In the first half of the 1980s, a bunch of young 'anti-artists' in the
>> > UK,
>> > some influenced by hip-hop turntablism, started appropriating 'found
>> > footage' in a practice which became known as 'Scratch Video'.
>> >
>> > Andy Lipman wrote an interesting piece entitled 'Scratch and Run' for
>> > City
>> > Limits in 1984, which can be found here:
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> > S.
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> > On Tue, Jan 5, 2010 at 7:32 AM, Fred Camper <email suppressed> wrote:
>> >>
>> >> I'd like to question the use of the term "mash-up."
>> >>
>> >> I remember being startled a few years back by an article in "Wired"
>> >> magazine that referred to Arthur Lipsett's films as "mash-ups."
>> >>
>> >> The term itself suggests its origin in pop music, and an informality, a
>> >> rapidity of construction perhaps, that feels, to me, thoroughly wrong
>> >> for
>> >> Lipsett's films, or, say, Brakhage's "Murder Psalm." "Found footage
>> >> films"
>> >> or "collage films" are already-existing terms that seem better.
>> >>
>> >> Of course there may also be more recent videos for which the term
>> >> "mash-up" is appropriate, and of course I understand that some may
>> >> disagree
>> >> with me and go on using the term for all such films.
>> >>
>> >> Fred Camper
>> >> Chicago
>> >>
>> >>
>> >> __________________________________________________________________
>> >> For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.
>> >
>> > __________________________________________________________________ For
>> > info
>> > on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.
>> __________________________________________________________________
>> For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.
> --
> Nicholas O'Brien
> __________________________________________________________________ For info
> on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.