Can people ever be original again?
And what kind of future do we have if we can copy and paste, download and remix almost everything but we get into trouble for it?
I came across a very interesting documentary in a blog post on Brain Pickings. It’s 24 minutes long but well worth watching.
a new documentary from Yale Law & Technology, offering 24 densely compelling minutes of insight into various facets of intellectual property in the age of remix. From appropriation to sampling to creative influence to reuse, the film is an anthology of conversations with some of today’s most notable remix artists and media theorists, exposing the central paradox of contemporary copyright law: How can something originally intended to incentivize people to create serve to hinder new forms of creativity?
I’ve pulled out some of the ideas in the video which resounded with me –
- You’re only aware of a portion of your influences at a time. Things work through you; you’re not always in control, and when you create something, it’s in the world and others can use it.
- everything is cannibalising itself, eating itself (interesting way of putting it)
- postmodernism is the end of everythingL meaning collapses under the weight of too many perspectives. With the internet, everything happens faster and faster. You’re not living in a real way, you’re experiencing references.
- music is every tune you’ve ever heard pulled out and mixed together.
- Remixing is like using the remote control, flipping through stuff. Remixing is like flipping through culture.
- Look at all the references in Bugs Bunny; we always knew there were references even if we didn’t fully get them.
- If copyright was applied to Bach, Beethoven, etc. they’d all be in trouble.
- Now, in the recording age, music is not to be made – it’s to be consumed.
Here’s an interesting discussion of the emerging remix culture with Lawrence Lessig, founder of Creative Commons, acclaimed street artist Shepard Fairey, whose iconic Obama “HOPE” poster was recently acquired by the National Portrait Gallery, and cultural historian Steven Johnson, whose new book, “The Invention of Air,” argues that remix culture has deep roots in the Enlightenment and among the American founding fathers.
We have so much rethinking to do. It often seems that our thinking got stuck in the nineteenth century. Social media has enabled access, sharing and remixing of so much, surely we need to think of possibilities and not restrictions.
We can’t invent new colours, but we can work with a varied palette to create our own vision.