Take A Path, Make A Road

When it comes to the idea of remixing we usually assume the worst.  In our class we talked about musicians copying one another, endless sequels/remakes, and the idea that nothing is new.  What if I told you that those are some negative byproducts, but it really isn’t that big of a deal?  Crazy, but bear with me.

Have you heard of Shakespeare?  I’d be upset if you haven’t.  If you look at his plays you could categorize them all into three categories tragedy, comedy, and history.  Disregarding history, there is really only a slight difference between a tragedy and comedy.  A tragedy ends in death, and a comedy ends in marriage.  If you’ve ever seen a movie, chances are you probably have complained at some point about one being predictable.  Back then they didn’t care about that.  If you went to see a play, you knew how it would end based on the genre.  I don’t believe predictability is really as big an issue as we make it out to be.

*Optimus Prime of the Transformer’s Franchise. Photo from businessinsider.com.*

It can be considered a bad thing when franchises get milked, but have you ever considered why? For example, why were they were able to make 4 transformer movies?  I wasn’t a fan of the transformers films, after the first, but I still watched them.  I can’t say that they felt much different from each other, except they were obviously longer than the previous.  People will pay to see it, therefore it will make money.  Some would argue that that’s a bad thing, but this just goes to show that we don’t always desire a new experience.  People obviously pay to see Optimus Prime defeat the Decepticons 4 times.  Seeing the Autobots triumph over evil just feels right, though I’d prefer to see it in an hour and a half rather than 3 hours.

What if I told you that Guardians of the Galaxy and Transformers 4 were the same?  Obviously they aren’t the exact same, one of them was much better than the other.  Both stories flows in a very similar ways, ending with the good guys winning.  They’re both in the same genre of movie, so they’re not going to be extremely different.  You can say that you want to see something new, but if you like the horror genre for example, you might like predictability more than you think.  Liking a certain genre doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll automatically like every movie that falls into that category, but there are certain types of stories that you seek out for enjoyment.  You might like the divorce and remarriage of a rom-com, the hero triumphing over evil in an action film, or the unsettling feeling of a horror film.  To some extent the genre will tell you the flow of the story.

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When it comes to films, they don’t always fall into one category, a film could be a romantic drama.  In that regard there can be some originality.  In those instances though, it’s more like elements of other genres are being mixed together, but not really created.  I think this is the strength of remixing.    It’s sometimes easy for us to say “that’s something I could do” but it isn’t always true.  As shown in the video above, no matter how replicable something might appear, the thought that goes into it makes a huge difference.  I think it’s the same in this topic.  We can take the good from one work, and incorporate it to our vision.  You can copy something verbatim, but it’s not the same as the original.  Borrowing from others is half of it, what thought you put into it will set it apart.  Unless you’re blatantly ripping off someone else’s work for profit, there’s nothing wrong with remixing.  Sometimes the best way forward is through a path cleared by others.

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*Jake Amundson’s MilkHoney*

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*Paul Anderson/Jake Cannon’s Baptism of Brunch part 1.*

In my personal experience, I’ve sometimes had to try replicating the works of others, trying to make it my own.  Some things can only be learned by exploring the works of others.  In learning about video art, I had to first replicate the works of others, particularly Jake Amundson’s (shown above).  In recreating it (also shown above) I was better able to understand the artistic use of video, and went on to create the Pauldrilateral (shown below).

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*Paul Anderson/Jake Cannon’s Pauldrilateral*

There are problems that emerge from remixing, but I don’t think they make the process evil.  Remixing is the evolution of media, borrowing from many sources to make a new experience.  There will always be elements of the past to be found, but maybe there is a comfort for us in familiarity and predictability.

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