Remix, a conclusion

Throughout the semester, the investigation of remix has opened my mind up to a new perspective of understanding this complex art form.

My exploration began with an introduction of what remix is perceived to be by exploring self as the foundation.  Every day, as I see it, we remix ourselves.  We remix our clothes, our demeanour, and the way we behave.  We remix our diets, our attitudes, and our beliefs. The self that we were last year was a remix of the year before. Next year, I will be a remix of myself, a changed and remixed person, for better, or for worse, credited, in large part, to the decisions I made, and regrets I must accept. This alternative doctrine is a challenge to understanding what perception truly is. Remix is essentially the process of adding and subtracting interchangeable components at every turn.  We adapt what is original, either deliberately, or unintentionally.  Our core values are often remixed values from our parents and peers, and adapted to our modern times. And yet, our fundamental core beliefs can be held throughout time by people who fear change, or the multiplicity of life stages, therein.

The exploring of remix is often contested.  In media, this can simply be a comparative process by analysing similarities in sound or image.  For rock music band, Men at Work, sound became far too similar. Having included a recognisable sound in one of their tracks, opposition music label, Larrikin Music, sued the band for “stealing” the label’s ownership of familiarity for the track, Kookaburra Sits in an Old Gum Tree [1].  This unfortunately led to the death of a band member, who took his own life after not being able to cope with the humiliation of his original songwriting labelled as ‘fake’ [2].  If someone reinterprets any sound, or any artwork, the praise can be high, but the stakes can be even higher if someone is offended by a similarity.  You are labelled a charlatan, a cheat, and someone that does not care if they steal. Ironically, however, the owner of the company may have stolen artworks displayed proudly throughout their house, or consumed food from recipes stolen from restaurants. Quite simply, their entire belief and success story may ultimately be based upon successful businessmen who had stolen ideas and objects from others before they were ‘copyrighted’.

I set out to explore change within myself.  As an artist who prides himself on creating, or tracing, with individuality, I wanted to understand how remix began.  I watched Kirby Ferguson’s documentary series, ‘Everything is a Remix’ [3], and I did not believe that everything is so specific.  It is easy to pull things apart, and to show related cause. This is not an exact truth, but someone’s interpretation of what they perceive to be true. In school, we simply need to create enough links, enough background, and in writing with confidence, we often find ourselves recognised as high-achievers.

Artists have long been scrutinised for not being original, and my experience exploring the underground music scene in Australia has shown me that people will deliberately create something incredibly strange and weird, just to ‘think outside the square’.  The very thought of creating anything for a purpose to be against something is confirming even more that it is there. In reading through KLF’s, “the Manual”, I found a strong, seemingly angry portrayal of the world of pop music [4]. It was a humorous tongue-in –cheek exploration of content, spun badly out of hand.  This reading was informative, yet lacked sophistication.

A History of Remix explored the foundations of the art form through the extension of self-expression in Jamaica in the 1960’s and 1970’s.  Modern Hip Hop is based on the cut-up Chic song, ‘Good Times’ [4], and the hip hop world exploded with cuts and samples, reworked to create cool, minimal sounding drum-heavy tracks. I looked heavily into the past, understanding what this word ‘post modernism’ actually meant. The very origins of the word initiate a period of change, where you can disrupt tradition, with no consequence.  The word is also a rejection of the ideas of Modernism [5].  Brett Gaylor’s, RiP: A Remix Manifesto [6] talked about the entire concept of “ownership”, set with an optimistic tone.  This documentary explored artists, such as Girl Talk, whose work is almost entirely composed from repurposed interpretations.  An exploration of sound was explored through Coldcut’s, 70 Minutes of Madness, a challenging, and unique, complex sampling masterpiece [7].

Remix tools and techniques were explored from Russian montage images, to the Kuleshov effect, an effect demonstrated by Soviet filmmaker, Lev Kuleshov, during the 1910s and 1920s, to evoke particular emotions.  Exploring the perspective of what montage is enhanced the ability to form multiple associations, depending on the context. This intended chain of association is formed from the power of editing.  Focusing on creating powerful montages, capable of giving intense reactions, became the focal point for my pieces of work.  Artistically, do we create things that will help us gain, or help us lose?  There is always grey within emotion.

The work that I created for the individual assessments were often time consuming. They reflected blank open spaces to create what I think a remix is.  While I would have preferred a guide to exploring suitable themes, it became clear that remix is really my own interpretation of what I want.  Each image, video, or sound that I created was somewhat difficult to intentionally make, as I had no intention to make them in the first place. This experimental attitude to work was tiring, difficult, and often encouraged me to withdraw from my workspace in frustration.  Certainly, self-doubt crept into my considerations, but sometimes the worst work I was producing were kept because I did not want to be consumed by the unknowing depths of blank space. Creating soundscapes with different sounds, however, was the highlight.  And the exploration of videos, such as Pogo, Kutiman, Chemical Brothers, Bjork, and Kawehi expanded my range of perspective and individuality. This could contribute to creating my own music videos in the future.

Personally, I feel that stealing to create must not be something for people to be proud of, unless they make a conscious effort to recognise all the contributing artists who had laid the groundwork, and allowed this to happen. We are all influenced by various people, and we should, in every way possible, teach the world about those who have inspired us.

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Final Project – Change Everything

The conceptual focus for my final project:

Change everything.


I had listened to the artist, Ruby James, play some acoustic guitar, and her entire tone reflected happiness, joy, and innocence. Ms. James mentioned that much of her own song writing sought to centre upon the pleasure of simply singing, rather than the emotional struggles she may, or may not be facing in everyday life. She plays because she loves it. I wondered, to that end, about how I could transform this joy, and it started with a discussion about cover songs, which led to me asking her about the songs that make her happy. We spoke about Whitney Houston’s, “I wanna dance with somebody”, and I was compelled to use this track as the basis of my remix intention.

Change everything.

To understand why I chose this song, please take a moment to listen to the song below.  The entire vibe of the track, from the distinguishing melancholic black and white, to the joyful, and bright colours, scream “Be Happy”, “Get Out”, and “Dance”.  Play this track in a night club, and everyone will get up and move.  It is an incredibly powerful track.  It explores themes such as love, romance, freedom, and hope, significantly popular themes in Pop Music.

I sat down with a freshly brewed long black, and wondered how this song could be covered from a different perspective, or with a different energy.  I immediately thought of the cover of ‘500 Miles’, by “Sleeping At Last”.  This cover completely changes the original format. The echoing piano keys drift in the background, with a slow, hauntingly beautiful emotional voice, whispering his story to you.  This succinctly personal feeling creates a feeling of loss and longing.  The track maintains it credit to the original artist, and yet, the new artist, “Sleeping At Last”, introduce themselves as worthy of creating something incredibly beautiful.

I arranged for a listening session with Ms. James, and she understood the intention of remixing herself.  I mentioned that she should perform the song slowly, and sing “like she is in pain”.  I instructed her to continue practicing this song at a much slower tempo, with a metronome.  I did not speak to her until the recording studio session, to ensure she completely made her cover her own.


Ms. James arrived at the studio with a typically positive attitude.  I told her to let go of everything she was feeling, and to sing the song as if for a melancholic moment in a movie.  The first take was emotional, and somewhat perfect, but the vocal levels were too overbearing.  During the second take, Ms. James tried something new with the guitar, and it changed the vibe to something that seemed a lot more positive. Though I appreciated the new angle, I found that it was too close to the original energy of the song.  Finally, we took a small break, and discussed what we were trying to achieve. I asked Ms. James to simply focus on her voice, and to let the song take over.  “Play it like you are longing for love”, like you are completely alone in life, and asking, if not begging, for someone, for anyone, to come and dance with you, acknowledging your very existence.

Please enjoy the cover.

We live in a remix culture

We live in a “remix culture”.  So much of our lifestyle arenas are governed by remixes.  DJ Spooky created a feature length remix of D.W. Griffith’s 1912 “Birth of a Nation”, which he named, “Rebirth of a Nation.”  This is a new state of multimedia re interpretation, combining the aesthetics of old and stale into a much more dynamic and enhanced media.

In April 2006, the Annenberg Center at the University of Southern California hosted a conference on “Networked Politics”, which explored remix cultures, political remix videos, and alternative news.  Due to the popularity of internet, and media, it is obvious to see how politics can be influenced by mass viral media, having the opportunity to depict and re-arrange what we may perceive as true.

Remix, which has a narrow, and definite meaning, has gradually diffused.  Once thought of as some sampling equipment, creating chopped up tracks, it can be defined as the general manipulation of anything that is old.  Questionably, this could mean the song you have just created could be remixed in the process, creating an ever evolving chain, with endless possibilities and changes.  While this does work in most creative projects, I believe that the original has a certain aesthetic that could metaphorically be compared to seeing an original painting, rather than a digital copy.

What does remix truly mean?  Is it only for music, or does it delve much deeper into society’s somewhat endless quest for re-imaging original ideas?  Technically, learning is remix.  In my own studies in education, we draw our collective knowledge from different theorists to create a new, ‘modern’ education.  Education, like the definition of remix, is ever evolving.  Is this new form of media simply a form of educating ourselves on how things work?  These entirely new mediums, such as film, YouTube, even Vines, are explorations into an existence we know little about.  I wonder about the effects on the mind, and if seeing so many images may detract from the contemplation and appreciation of art.

Appropriate is a term which works very well to describe the process of ‘remix’ or ‘re-work’.  Manovich (2007) explains that remix fits the idea, as is suggests a systematic re working of a source.  Whilst, appropriation refers to remixing as a whole, instead of allowing for individual interpretation of parts.

What comes after remix?  Manovich (2007) believes that remix will morph into something else sooner than we think.  This could be the current trend of viral videos, ‘best of’ compilations, ‘funniest’ compilations, thug life memes, and the ‘Catch your attention fast’ videos that flood social media.  A new wave of remix is already here, and every creation that arrives on the Internet can end up in much different states.  How would we ever know?  Why should we search for it, anyway? Life is ever evolving.  In this current state, we are representing the discovery part of our minds. And yet, in time, I believe that there will be dedicated websites, or social media outlets, that will essentially ‘slow everything down’ to their principle parts, ready to be remixed.





“Stop for a Moment and Think”


This video is great, but I still think you can remix and alter deeper.

After receiving feedback about my video, I realised that the original video was too recognisable, and I wondered how I could change it. I decided, therefore, to completely remove everything, except for the text, “Think”, and start again.

I proceeded to search YouTube for slow-motion videos. I have always believed that there is something mystical to be seen in objects as they transform from one state, to another, at a rate that cannot be detected by the naked eye. Upon searching, I discovered a slow motion fire cracker video, which I decided to manipulate and transform.

The aim of this process was to create an unknown life form, constantly moulding, shaping, and re-creating itself.

In utilising the software package, Adobe Premiere Pro, I was able to reduce the frame rate of the tracks to 20%, and arranged them to fit within the same constraints as the previous ones. From there, I proceeded to sample every effect, undoing the process if it did not fit the overall aesthetic. I began with an invert, which changed the dynamics of the video, or more specifically, the emotional interpretation. I then included some blue-green shadows, which were sampled from the plugin, Jarle’s Looks.  Since I was aiming to produce an “alien-like” image, these shadows made this feature more pronounced.  I then resized the images, added further layering with different opacity levels, and rotated the images. Consequently, the final visual product was, I believe, quite breathtaking.  However, the sound did not fit anymore.

I attempted to re-create another student’s work by reducing the tempo of a piece of music. However, the sound did not suit the image. I repeated the process with ten different songs, from ambient music, to rock music, and still, nothing appeared match the mood of the image.

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After much experimentation, I decided to create my own soundtrack, and remix individual sounds that are part of the Ableton suite.  My process was generally free-flowing.  I simply tested out different ambient pads and sounds, and when a certain sound was suitable, I would then write a small pattern in order for the sound to loop within itself, much like a heartbeat, or an evolving lifeform.  It then became a process of adding and subtracting effects until the sound produced the emotional effect that I was aiming for, which in this case, was to amplify the struggle between life and death.  The intense highs in the track were designed to challenge the listener, and to evoke feelings of loss, despair, and pain.

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To achieve such high intensity, the use of resonance filters will often create a very challenging sound when performed in quick motions.

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Panning left and right will ensure that the sound feels like it is walking around you, and often displacing you within the track.

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Looping Remix

Ryoki Ikeda – Ryoji Ikeda :: the planck universe [micro], JUN 21 – AUG 9 2015, ZKM, Karlsruhe, DE

Ethereal, magical, static, and yet moving. Silhouettes of humans are moving throughout the digital stage, with fast, matrix-like visualisations rolling under them like a speed warp into space. Intense lighting creates a feeling of unrest. The sound is industrial and metallic, and whispering bells hum through the background, like a scene from a digital sci-fi movie. Ryoki connects image and sound to create a projection that is all around you.

Chemical Brothers – Star Guitar

Looping images of a train along a track create this video. Various sequences, with different levels of speed, are shown, working in time with the music. This video is not a constant loop of different things. Instead, it creates a storyline of a moving, visceral circumstance. Each object represents a sound and deeply affects the imagery in a subjective way.

Chemical Brothers – Let Forever Be, Michel Gongry

Utilising normal filters, Michel Gongry relates the song to the real world by creating static images, and by looping the transitions into new scenes. He uses stills that have been printed onto cardboard, and this transition often dissolves, or loops, into the next scene with complete symmetry. The video urges us to make sense of the situation.

Kylie Minogue – Come Into My World

Kylie Minogue is walking around in a loop, while opaque layers of herself are manipulated one-by-one in the video, creating an image with multiple Kylies. The effect is quite nauseating, and the constant loop challenges the mind to lose focus of a general storyline, which creates a new perception in the mind of the viewer.

Assessment 3 – Remixed Video – “THINK”


After my original video was presented in class, I embraced the advice of Hugh Davies. He suggested that adding additional distortion and layers within the video would serve to benefit the entire project. This was a lengthy process, which involved a decision to cut individual layers, and to render the video each time, due to the enhanced level of processing power.

In considering timescale pressures, I also realised that the duration of the video exceeded the necessary requirements.  I decided, therefore, to reduce the duration of the final cut.  I also included additional effects, which both targeted the text, and created a new and abstract focus.

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Each tiger image is drawn from a single video capturing the reintroduction of the species to the wild.  Through including multiple copies of the tiger, and placing them in various locations around the screen, in layers, this created the effect that the tigers were jumping outside the monitor.  I also included various effects, such as “fine edges”, and changed the colour. The levels, and the rest of the effects, were accidental choices.  This process lasted almost two hours in total rendering, as my computer continued to malfunction in regards to the degree of pressure placed on its processing unit.

Upon completing the video project, I began to consider an alternative image, and how I could express a singular image of the tiger in motion without additional visual aids. By including a penguin, it helped me think critically about the “Predator vs Prey” aesthetic. As a consequence, various effects were added, which became an ethereal and positive influence in the work.

The text was added as an experiment.  I started including different written proverbs, and it helped me to consider the power of, ‘Think’. I wondered if it had the opportunity to challenge the viewer, or to distort the overall vision that I was portraying.


The aesthetics of the video pushed me to create some backing sound.  I included a video of a dog barking, and slowed it down to around 25% of its normal speed.  In addition, I included an original song that I had produced to then slow it down to 20% before cutting and layering it upon itself in no particular order.

Brandalism and Culture Jamming


Key Dates: 1957-1972

They originated in a small band of avante-garde artists and intellectuals influenced by Dada, Surrealism and Lettrism.  At first, they were principally concerned with the “suppression of art”, that is to say, they wished like the Dadaists and the Surrealists before them to supersede the categorization of art and culture as separate activities and to transform them into part of everyday life. [Situationism]

The spectacle, everything we do, every part of our social lives is being taken up by the spectacle.  Commerce, capitalist society, are a culture of consumption.  This is not created by just the method of the communication, but everything we talk about and do.  We are no longer individuals, but connections between brands and companies.

Don’t consume anything, try experiencing at a non consumption level.

We can only be part of the conversation for consumption.

Our media is implicated.  Remix is incorporated within all of these cultures.