Readings Responses and thoughts

Week 1 – Everything is a Remix

Kirby Ferguson’s 4 part series “Everything is a Remix” cleverly highlights the ongoing issues around modern film, audio and technological culture. One particular section from it resonates with me: “We believe that ideas are property, and we’re excessively territorial when we feel that property belongs to us. Our laws then indulge this bias with ever-broadening protections and massive rewards. Meanwhile huge legal fees encourage defendants to pay up and settle out of court”. Money plays an important role in life but when money is too overpowering to the arts, humanity can suffer. People’s greed threatens the Multimedia arts immensely. We need to somehow be able to draw the line between inspiration and idea theft.

Week 2 – 70 Minutes of Madness

This music mix by Coldcut highlights the limitless potential for sample based music. The english duo seem to be able to sample almost anything and their sample mashups seamlessly come together. When I found out that this mix was originally released in the year 1996 I was blown away. Although these days music software comes pre-installed on almost every computer as standard, back then it was not so easy to come by. This duo must have been a large part of the inspiration for all sample based artists that followed. Some contemporary sample style artists that I enjoy that this mix reminds me of are:

Coldcut and these other artists show us the possibilities of remixed and sample style music

Week 3 – Worship at the Altar of Convergence

Convergence: “convergence represents a cultural shift as consumers are encouraged to seek out new information and make connections among dispersed media content.” I am reminded by this idea of the many different sports that are made into video games. Is the targetted audience the same for both platforms? my favourite physical sport is skateboarding, which leads to my liking of almost any skateboard video game/film. Contrastingly, I can’t stand to watch soccer the sport but I myself really enjoy the FIFA soccer video games.

Participatory culture: “The term, participatory culture, contrasts with older notions of passive media spectatorship. Rather than talking about media producers and consumers as occupying separate roles, we might now see them as participants who interact with each other according to a new set of rules that none of us fully understands.” I found the examples of Star Wars and Harry Potter fan fiction interesting. No, these fans do not own the rights to the films etc, but surely these copyright owners would want to encourage profitless fan fiction as a kind of free publicity.

Collective Intelligence: As defined by Pierre Lévy, “It is a form of universally distributed intelligence, constantly enhanced, coordinated in real time, and resulting in the effective mobilization of skills. I’ll add the following indispensable characteristic to this definition: The basis and goal of collective intelligence is mutual recognition and enrichment of individuals rather than the cult of fetishized or hypostatized communities.” This reminds me somewhat of the upcoming release by Nintendo called Mario Maker.

This almost feels to me like laziness from Nintendo, but if I think about it further, this makes every single customer whom buys the game a video-game engineer. Now the levels will not be designed by just the Video-game engineers at Nintendo, but thousands and thousands of video-game players. The possibilities of this collective intelligence means that we can expect some amazingly creative levels for Mario in the future.

Week 4 – The Manual (How to Have a Number One the Easy Way)

Whilst reading the first section of this book I found its satire and humour clever. In an odd kind of way though my initial response was quickly adjusted. This book makes so many true statements about the pop music industry that I quickly found myself feeling a bit depressed about pop music. It makes it sound so shallow and pointless, and this idea that everyone can produce a pop hit succeeds in reducing all pop music to the level of dribble. If I had any desires to write a top pop hit before I read this, that dream is now forgotten.

Week 5 – War Against Pop: Singing and Suing

Some sections of the reading that jumped out at me:

“In an era wherein media has moved from saturation to atomisation (from the congealment of large forms to the unleashing of fine particles), performances like JP’s populist yet radicalised rendering of “Down Under” demonstrate how musical texts now implode without losing their identity.”

“It’s about the forced divide between pop culture and folk culture … It’s about how the two are implosions of the other, how they live off the other, and how their mechanisms are now more than ever shared … And it’s about how the intelligentsia slathers ethical-mongering, political-correctness and proscriptive-nationalism on such a public incursion of national identity crisis … rather than provide contextual, critical insight into the deeper issues which shape these cultural ground swells.”

““Down Under”’s para-conscious quipping and cribbing of “Kookaburra” can be viewed semiologically (though not ‘legally’) as a therapeutic retort to having suffered the indoctrination of “Kookaburra” in primary schools, where kids were forced to listen to such songs broadcast on ABC radio through PA systems fixed atop the blackboard in a scenario straight out of George Orwell’s paranoid mind.”

“… lyrebirds mimic car alarms, bell birds interface with mobile phones, bowerbirds collect plastic bottle tops. And magpies continue their chattering in the magpie culture of music wherein all is borrowed, all is robbed, and all is sung.”

This was also helpful

The tragic death of Greg Ham makes the issue of copyright begin to be viewed in perspective. It has been said that the copyright case was one of the contributing factors to his death. He was quoted sometime before his death saying “I’m terribly disappointed that that’s the way I’m going to be remembered9 – for copying something…”. 

All that this case makes me think of is greed. The original composer, Marion Sinclair, did not receive any of the money from the case, it wasn’t even her family, it was Larrikin Music who brought the copyright for Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree’. The song was originally written in the year 1934, and the copyright law lasts for the duration of the composers life plus 70 years. Larrikin Music brought the song, and when the ABC show Spicks and Specks highlighted the similarities they saw their chance to milk whatever money they could from Men At Work’s music label. If Men At Work hadn’t made any money, there would have been no lawsuit. Money motivates the lawyers like a drop of blood does to a shark. Why the world cannot simple let imitation and inspiration go hand in hand, when you separate them you risk restricting music artist from experimentation and exploration.

Week 6 – Remix: Making Art and Commerce Survive in the Hybrid Economy

Week 7 – Appropriation

Appropriation art used pre-existing objects altered or arranged very little to create “new” artworks. The Dadaists were among the first to explore appropriation art and one of their members Marcel Duchamp’s 1917 art piece titled “Fountain” is a great example of this. Made from a urinal and a fire hydrant, two mass produced and common items, he inverts the expectations of a urinal and puts an original spin on the item. A modern day example of this would be the various adaptations of the Barack Obama “Hope” posters. The adaptations use the exact same colour grading and style, only the subject and words are different. I quite like the adaptation of the Joker, which says “Joke” instead of “hope”, or the version of the Mona Lisa which has her taking a “selfie” with the accompanying “Duck pout”. Much like a good mash-up song rely’s on the pre-success of its featured songs, Appropriation art rely’s as much on the familiarity of the original materials as their newer appropriated form, it is like an art of reincarnation and refreshing the old.

Week 8 – 

Week 9 – The History of Spreadable Media

An interesting thought: “Coins, ceramic plates, and religious artefacts may not spring to mind when we think of media, but they very much fit the bill, whether as platforms, bearers of texts, and meanings or as prescribed sets of behaviours. More to the point, their highly mobile histories suggest just how ingrained the notion of spreadability is to media.”

It is also interesting to consider the oral tradition of storytelling. This method was well utilised by the ancient Greeks, famously Homer’s The Illiad or The Odyssey, as well at the native Americans and indigenous Australians. This links into the next quote on the basis of adaptation. With no text to follow in oral tradition, it is fairly accepted that the presenters of the oral tradition stories would alter the stories to make their own versions/adaptations.

“… public support helped these films survive despite local pressures to contain or suppress them, spreading them far more broadly than could advertising campaigns or other promotional efforts.”

People will find a way around control, and in fact sometimes the over exertion of control can result in the over-rebellion against it.


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