Response 1 – Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ — A Remix Video about Remix (1.2)

By Sergio Figueiredo

And the creators of this remix have: started somethin’ – but it remains incomplete. What they’ve started resonates with the political, legal, social, and cultural theories about remix, using what has already been created to create something new. One of the most prominent advocates for opening copyright law – Lawrence Lessig – would (likely) say that this remix is precisely the sort of production that copyright restricts. The combination of images and an underlying soundtrack – pieced together from current music – emphasizes and works counter to copyright, including the lack of a works cited (or credits). But they are unnecessary since the images and music are so common that they function as citations in themselves. They are what Marcel Duchamp calls ‘ready-mades’: objects or thoughts so common within a culture (think of the Fountain, which is a common urinal from a public restroom) that the need to cite those works is unnecessary (besides, how do you cite a urinal? As an interview?). However, I want to focus on ten seconds of the video, between 0:53 and 1:03, when the remixers vocalize: “criminalizing reproduction hinders the free flow of ideas.” They follow this statement with a self-reflection on the music that is itself a sampled re-production of other music. The project itself is at stake in this statement and self-reflection – criminalizing the ‘free-flow’ of ideas situates projects like this one beyond the limits of the law; perhaps the only way to affect change must simultaneously take place within the law and exceed the law (as Heidegger claims in “The Question Concerning Technology” abouttechne). The letter of the law, however, is not dispatched in a full throttle revolution, but asked to be self-reflective.

What is at stake in restricting the ability of consumers to also be producers? This project presents such an instance, where the remixers have taken not only clips of images and music to comment on the state of remix, but have also remixed the ideas about copyright law and the ‘free-flow of ideas’ in an alternate way, demonstrating what they see as the essence of life – to reproduce, with all of its (unknown) references to Lyotard’sLibidinal Economy, and specifically the libidinal band: “the libidinal band allows Lyotard to show what is necessarily excluded by representational thinking, it is not to be considered to be ‘descriptively’ true (since the model would then collapse back into representation) but as more forceful and more interesting and more inventive than previous totalizations of ‘the real’” (see the Glossary). Lyotard’s libidinal band finds a friend in remix since both break apart the initial totalizations (of what is considered acceptable knowledge, at least on legal/political grounds) to invent smaller, more interesting presentations – or mixes, for what else is a song or film but one mix among many? With each (re)mix, the (re)mixers that linked together these disparate elements (aphorisms) linked them seamlessly to see what could be on the other side of the boundaries (or the libidinal band).

To (no particular) end, I quote from the (re)mix: “All creativity requires reproduction.” Yet, current trends toward Duchampian perspectives in digital media and rhetorical studies would tell us that creativity doesn’t end – the ‘creative act’ is incomplete in the act of reproduction. To be fully creative, the audience (we) adds on to the work (this video) with their (our) own interpretations, their (our) own (re)productions. This remix is startin’ to approach somethin’ complete, but it can only continue approaching its completion – join me (in my own interpretations) in this (creative) approach, one that may never be complete, but as a journey that can be more (excessively) enriching than a mere (re)production.