Appropriation and Remix Culture in our Technological Times

RE: “Recycle It” by: Ed Halter

The examples that this essay showcases first were actually really interesting, as Halter describes their heavy reference to contemporary internet culture. The “787 Cliparts” stop-motion video was actually quite mesmerizing. Something we usually think is such a minimal, cheesy element in writing programs, is now somehow transformed into a captivating motion-based piece. The other example I thought was interesting was Vuc Cosic’s use of ascii code to render videos. It transforms what we commonly encounter when using ascii code, and turns the code itself into a medium for creating art.

It seems that, instead of oppressing the usage of unoriginal material, these new-wave artists who were/are releasing such contemporary content-driven pieces, really embraced the internet culture and all that it has to offer. In history, artists like Marcel Duchamp, and intellectuals like Walter Benjamin seemed to spark a pop cultural-submerging mindset and encourage its application to the art world for its ability to attract a wider audience.

Joseph Cornell’s montage of Rose Hobart, using the clips from ‘East of Borneo’ was certainly a technique that was rarely thought of at its time in the 1930′s. The idea of cutting up an existing film that was already considered a work of art on its own, was probably looked down upon by most viewers. Cornell was perhaps, thinking more about the experience his viewers would receive, and the emotional connection rather than their acknowledgement of what he had done with the original film. I think, that if you had never watched ‘East of Borneo’, and only watched Cornell’s ‘Rose Hobart’, you may feel something totally different from his film. In this sense, Cornell’s film is a perfect example of the concept of “recycling”, because of his tampering with entirely pre-existing material.

It seems, experimentation with film coincided with the desire to remix/recontextualize things that society was already so familiar with. New technologies also complemented, and excited artists, who could then accelerate their ideas and experiments, whether intended to be exported as experiments, or as works of art.

Overall, this article touches on many of the significant movements that impacted art through history. Since the early twentieth century, the concept of remixing has only grown stronger and clearer. It also became more customizable as technologies became more accessible to everyday consumers. Although this article doesn’t seem to project a specified standpoint, in terms of being for copyright or against it, it does provide a lot of historical facts, and that to me gave me the notion that Halter wanted to show that the remix culture is not a new phenomenon, and that it was desired by artists in the past.

RE: “The Use of Stolen Films” by: Guy Debord (1989)

Breifly scanning over ‘A User’s Guide to Détournement’, I came across a clear definition of the term that Debord seemed to want to defend. “détournement of an element which has no importance in itself and which thus draws all its meaning from the new context in which it has been placed.” Since, this seemed to be an element in which Debord intended to be felt in his own art, his rigidness to exploit it for what it really is was fell into the realm of the concept of “stolen films”.

In mentioning “stolen films” he claims that the message differs once a film is modified, and that message is now it the hands of the artist, otherwise, it is in the hands of the audience.

-Nicole R.