Nothing is original, says Kirby Ferguson, creator of Everything is a Remix. From Bob Dylan to Steve Jobs, he says our most celebrated creators borrow, steal and transform.
What’s a remix? In Kirby Ferguson’s view, any piece of art that contains a recognizable reference to another work–a quote from a lyric, a borrowed riff, a filmic homage. Which makes almost everything a remix, from a Led Zeppelin song to a classic film from George Lucas. His deeply researched and insanely fun four-part web series, “Everything Is a Remix,” dives into the question: Is remixing a form of creativity, a production of the new on the shoulders of what precedes it, or is it just copying? He comes out firmly on the side of creativity, calling for protections for people who, with good intentions, weave together bits of existing culture into something fresh and relevant.
His next web series is called “This Is Not a Conspiracy Theory,” an attempt to explore how US politics came to be the way they are.
Quotes about remixing
“The words are the important thing. Don’t worry about tunes. Take a tune, sing high when they sing low, sing fast when they sing slow, and you’ve got a new tune.”
—Woody Guthrie [From the book Bob Dylan’s Lawyers, a Dark Day in Luzerne County, and Learning to Take Legal Ethics Seriously]
“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination … Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery — celebrate it if you feel like it.”
—Jim Jarmusch [MovieMaker]
“It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.”
—attributed to Jean-Luc Godard
“Good artists copy, great artists steal.”
—attributed to Pablo Picasso
“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.”
—Henry Ford [From the book The Business of America]
Finally, here is a similar TEDtalk by Austin Kleon.