Remix, a term coined to the act of “reworking already existing cultural work(s)” into something completely new.
To quote Germain civil rights organisation Gesellschaft e. V., “We live in an age of remix.”, and it would seem that many are consciously unaware of the grandiose impact remix has on the world around them. ‘Remix culture’ is a concept people interact with knowingly or not, on a daily basis as “Everything is a Remix.” Thousands of examples from our cultural collective validate this very point. Seventy-four of the last 100 top grossing films were sequels, adaptations, or remakes. Technology has made this process easier, more common, and easily accessible. The news report, the cult TV show, the summer blockbuster, the chart hit or iconic photograph – all are open to endless reinterpretation by anyone with the right software.
The ‘myth of originality’ places emphasis on the point that no idea or work is ever completely original, instead the product of influence, as each and every person is essentially “a mashup of what you let into your life”. Celebrated creators – artists, writers, scientists, inventors – have always known the power of the synthesizing mind and have advocated for embracing the building blocks of combinatorial creativity. As Van Gogh puts it in his letters, “As an artist you are only a link in a chain, and whatever you find or whatever you do not find, you can find comfort in it.“
To learn and excel not only in the fields of creativity, but also in the field of knowledge, we must learn from each other, as ““None of us can know everything; each of us knows something; and we can put the pieces together if we pool our resources and combine our skills… We are learning how to use that power through our day-to-day interactions within convergence culture.” An example of remix’s harnessing of collective knowledge may be attributed with Henry Ford’s renowned penned statement “I invented nothing new. I simply assembled the discoveries of other men behind whom were centuries of work … progress happens when all the factors that make for it are ready and then it is inevitable.”
Remix is tool put into practice universally, however many remain threatened by the prospect of ‘stolen originality’, seeing a golden opportunity to make a few dollars. The ultimate enemy to remix is money, Everything is a Remix‘s Kirby Ferguson explaining “: “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 encourge defendants to pay-up and settle out of court.” There are those who have dedicated themselves to fight, establishing a “Right to Remix”. Digitale Gesellschaft e. V. spokesperson Marcus Beckedahl for instance, demanding legal changes be made in Europe as “The right to remix has become a fundamental requirement for freedom of expression and free speech in a digital society.”
Remix extends to be imbedded within the very fabric of expression, of persona, and should be celebrated. People remix themselves, and the world around them everyday without knowing it. How incredible, that the artist is able to influence the artist. As Jean Luc Godard said, “It’s not about where you take things from– it’s about where you take them to”.