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.
Patrick Feaster, a sound historian at Indiana University, recreated an ~1889 Emile Berliner gramophone recording using a photograph of the album. Feaster found the photo of the album by chance, in a German magazine from 1890 stored at Bloomington’s Herman B Wells Library: “I was looking for a picture of the oldest known recording studio, to illustrate a discussion I was giving on my work with Thomas Edison’s recordings. I pulled it off the shelf and, while I had it open, I looked at the index and saw there was an article on the gramophone. I thought, ‘Oh, that’s a bonus’. So I flipped through and, lo and behold, there’s a paper print of the actual recording.”
Historians have found that the microscopic grooves on a bent metal ring, which was found in Thomas Edison’s laboratory, make up the tune of ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’ and mark the world’s first attempt at a talking doll and the dawn of America’s recording industry. Using advanced imaging technology they have recovered a 12 second sound recording of woman reciting a verse of the children’s song. They believe the tin ring was intended to be the key component of one of Thomas Edison’s talking dolls.
Historians think Edison hired the woman to make the recording less than two years before he unsuccessfully put the first talking doll on the market. ‘Based on the date of fall 1888, it is the oldest American-made recording of a woman’s voice that we can listen to today,’ said Patrick Feaster, a historian at Indiana University in Bloomington. Mr Feaster pored over historical documents and 19th-century newspaper reports to piece together the story behind the recording.
Edison hoped to mass-produce the toys, but the era’s rudimentary technology meant that to make 100 dolls, Edison would have to get artists to recite the lullaby 100 times. ‘They must have been hired and paid to do this,’ Mr Feaster said. ‘These were presumably the first professional recording artists.’ The small piece of ring-shaped tin bearing the woman’s voice never made it into a doll because wax records replaced metal ones by 1890, when Edison started selling his first talking dolls. Those fragile and easily broken toys were a market flop.
“Future Self” is the title of the piece, and this is a video which follows the process behind its creation. The work has been made by the creative collaboration rAndom International and commissioned by MADE, a gallery/working studio in Berlin. It also features composer Max Richter and choreographer Wayne McGregor who both contribute to the piece by providing an interpretation through music and through a performative dance piece. The exhibition is still on at MADE until 2 June. Check here for precise days and times.
1. Click on the movie slate icon (it’s in-between the icon that looks like a photo and the icon that looks like a torn piece of paper). 2. Click From YouTube and then search for your video. 3. Click on one of … Continue reading →