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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 82 | volume XV | January-February, 2012



                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 82January-February, 2012

The Aesthetics of Remix

p. 1
Vangel Nonevski

Remix theory is a game theory. The art of our time, interactive art, is based on interaction – that’s more than obvious. However, interaction can be (and is) aesthetically ambivalent, if playfulness is not introduced into the equation. The game factor, more than any other, can help us in the postulation of the remix as a juncture to legitimize interactivity as a phenomenon worthy of aesthetic elaboration. Otherwise, if playfulness is not brought into the investigation, interactivity not only remains devoid of attributes and is effectivelly equated with a simple mechanical interaction, but it also becomes aesthetically indifferent and even (if we want to look at it that way) ideologically ambiguous. Therefore, interactivity – just as any other phenomenon in the digital era, which resulted from the innovations in media and technology – will not possess aesthetic signifiers, if they are not recognized and identified as such. The concept of remix-game, as we will see, is more successful in fulfilling that task than any other common denominator of interactivity and art.

What is a Remix?

The simplest definition of a remix can be found at the beginning of the documentary film Everything is a Remix, by Kirby Ferguson: ‘To combine or edit existing materials to produce something new.’ The definition is correct, because in this case, the nominally-etymological approach to the concept is quite sufficient. Actually, the literal meaning of re-mixing adequately covers the substance of the term. Thus, in the aesthetic context remix represents the re-combination of the basic components that comprise a work of art (something new may be added in the process, though not necessarily).[1]
    Therefore, although any manipulation of an existing work/artefact (which certainly includes Dada and post-Dada arts/practices and, to some extent, hermeneutics and interpretation) can be considered to be a remix, still, the contemporary foundations of remix practices should be sought in Jamaican reggae music from the late 60’s and early 70’s in the 20th century. Eminent British historians and researchers of reggae music, Steve Barrow and Peter Dalton, testify to the benefit of this claim: ‘The technique of the remix was pioneered in Jamaica as far back as 1967, initially in the quest for sound-system exclusivity, but [was] soon exploited as an economic and imaginative way of reusing already recorded rhythm tracks.’ (Barrow and Dalton 215)
    At that time, music producers and sound engineers such as Ruddy Redford, King Tubby and Lee “Scratch” Perry began to produce


1. It should be mentioned that the Mexican theorist of media arts and contemporary culture, Eduardo Navas, makes a fine division into three basic types of remix. According to him, there is extended, selective and reflexive remix. The extended remix is characterized, as its name suggests, by a simple extension of the formal properties of a work of art. This remix is most noticeable in music (DJ culture): extended remixes of tracks are often made for club DJ performances. Selective remix of a work of art involves adding and/or subtracting certain parts to/from the original work. This means that the recontextualizing interventionism in a selective remix is usually more pronounced than in an extended one. The reflexive remix, by contrast, additionally extends and allegorizes the remix aesthetics, with the remix often exhibiting a tendency to transcend the authenticity of the original. The reflexive remix imposes its own autonomy over the original copyrighted work, though it is largely based on it. (Navas)

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