Thursday, October 13, 2005

Capture, archive, remix


I’ve been turning over in mind what Danah Boyd says about remixing on Apophenia. She suggests “we stop thinking of remix as production, but as active consumption.” Well, first off the idea of active consumption is bound to appeal – it gives us a sense of agency within a market economy. But if all it comes down to is wearing clothes from different shops, our agency is simply like that of a 70s disco DJ with a collage of ready-mades (a sentient jukebox) and that seems to be a bit of a limited construct.

To my mind remixing is better understood as a plundering of the archive, making new meanings, and is at best an act of appropriation or recontextualization. It is production in the way that identity performance must always be, but it’s also more than that. In remixing, reader-becomes-writer; consumer-becomes-producer (and this is made easier in the capture, archive, remix world of digital media). In a sense all authorship is remixing, from Shakespeare to Shabba Ranks; from Tolkein to Tupac. Anne Hass Dyson illustrates this well, here and here when she shows how children create when they remix media.

Danah Boyd highlights that part of “the identity process is to consume culture, mix it and personalize it, and share that with our friends”. I agree, but think that this is a different order of remixing. Here we’re authoring the self, to borrow (remix?) Holland’s phraseology. Danah concludes with some ideas about distribution – well I haven’t got that far yet. I’m still stuck on deCerteau and circulation!

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