Since the beginning of time, man has had the ability to think and invent. Often, these inventions were influenced by the inventions that came before and were/are in some instances an advancement of the so called “original” invention. Let us take a look at a chair, for example. It is something that we all use and will probably use for the rest of time. None of chairs we see today is “The Chair,” but instead copies of “The Chair” and in many instances, drastic variations of the “original” chair. But was the original char really original or just a “remix” of basic instances of features that make up what we know as a chair today. This brings us the idea that everything is a remix.
Above is a video of a video series produced by Kirby Ferguson, a New York-based filmmaker entitled “Everything is a Remix.” It was popularized in 2010 (now celebrating 5 years as of September 13th). In the videos, Ferguson talks about the history behind remixing and argues that everything is a remix. He does this by talking the music industry (the most famous for remixing – where the term was dubbed), the industrial industry, the tech industry, and so forth. Ferguson further discusses the laws that govern the land and weather or not remixing should be considered illegal. While on that topic, informs the original intent of some of the laws that govern today and how drastically they have been changed and manipulated to protect those whom want everything. The original intent of these laws were to promote creativity and innovation and to have these innovations as common knowledge for everyone to have access to, to build upon and improve if so desired.
So, this is where we get into deep water… Is it okay to remix? Is remixing ethical? Majority would say yes, until they are the ones who are being remixed or copied. A prim example of this is Apple (Steve Jobs era). They have openly and shamelessly admitted to copying. But, when they produced iOS to place on the iPhone and eventually the iPad and when someone else decided to produce a counterpart call Android, all “H” broke loose and Jobs is quoted saying that he is going to destroy Android and that he is willing to go to the point of thermonuclear war on them.
In my opinion, remixing is okay and perfectly ethical. I do think there is a fine line between remixing and building upon what has already been done and completely copying the work of someone else. As a Graphic Designer/Artist, I often times get inspiration by viewing what other people are doing. The way in which I design is then influenced by those, weather positively or negatively. If it is something that I view as being well done, I try to emulate that in my own way. If it is something that I do not feel to be well done, then I do not emulate it or I try to find a way to improve that given feature, if possible. This goes as far as to say that I have mimicked specific graphic styles by emulating artist well known for that style. In fact, one of the course that I have taken in my college career encouraged us to emulate a style of an assigned artist for a piece of work. The concept was original, but the graphic style was to be derived from that to the artist and to be done well enough that you could tell who inspired it graphically.
I think that we are to improve what has been done before us and continue the advancements that have already been made. Yes, it is a mucky situation and the lines are blurred, but if we don’t push the limits of what had been set before us, then what is the point of putting any effort forward at all?