[iDC] Remix Culture vs. Object-Oriented Culture

Patrick Lichty voyd at voyd.com
Thu Apr 13 19:13:28 EDT 2006

A Conversation between Manovich and Lichty 
LM: We live in 'remix' culture. Are there limits to remixing? Can 
anything be remixed with anything? Shall there be an ethics of remixing?

PL: Actually, I don't think we live in a 'remix' culture, I liken it 
more to pastiche or collage, or even object-oriented culture. To remix 
is to take cultural elements and transform/repurpose them tot he point 
where the source referent is obscured, idsappears, or its signifying 
power is backgrounded to the point where the new 'author's intent 
overrides. This is actually tightly linked to issues of intellectual 

In an object-oriented culture, the artist is more like a 
bricoleur/collage artist where elements of culutral and content and 
contextual 'code' are combbined and thend compiled for transmission 
throughout that culture. The material is then, ideally, available in 
the cultural databes, with the new components added by the artist, to be 

Therefore, I have few or no problems with an ethics of the remix as 
such, as the singularityof the artist as such as singular entitiy in 
light of a distributed, networked culture, is circumspect.

LM: In the last few years information visualization became increasingly 
popular and it attracted the energy of some of the most talented new 
media artists and designers. Will it ever become as widely used as type 
or photography - or will it always remain a tool used by professionals?

PL: Actually, in the hands of the VJ, there are alrready real-time data 
visualization tools ready and in use through inexpensive packages, 
freeware, & open source. I also understand that many VJ packages are 
severly limited, but others have excellent potential for low-cost data 

In addition, programs like VVVV, PD, Onadime, Keyworx, and even fairly 
accessible programming environments like Blitz3d, Java, Programming, and 
Python can allow users to c reat data visualizatin environments (2-or 
3D) _fairly easily_ and at low cost.

LM: Today cinema and literature continue the modern project or rendering 
human psychology and subjectivity, while fine art seems to be not too 
concerned with this project. How can we use new media to represent 
contemporary subjectivity in new ways? Do we need to do it?

PL: This really depends on what we mean by being subjective. Some of 
the award-winning fine media art seems to be very much about conveying a 
human moment/experience. David Crawford's SMS contains a great deal of 
frozen pathos in the way his programs access his stop-motion experices. 
Barney's Cremaster does not seem to be wholly formal, either. But I do 
agree that a lot of fine art does lack a subjective component at this 
time, and I consider this part of the era. This will come and go.

LM: 'Blobs' in architecture and design - is this a new 'international 
style' of software society, here to stay, - or only a particular effect 
of architects and designers starting to use software?

PL: Probably towards the latter. Adoption of new technologies often 
spurs practitioners to explore their new potentials, and this becomes 
evident. My belief is that after a certain point in time that the 
'styles' of the blob and other architectural forms will see some sense 
of integration.

LM: While the tools to produce one own media have been more accessible 
and more powerful, people never consumed more commercial media than now. 
Thus the essential division between 'media amateurs' and 'media 
professionals' which got established in the beginning seems to be as 
strong as ever. In short, the 1960s idea that new technologies will turn 
consumers into producers failed over and over again. Will this situation 
ever change? What will be the next stage in media consumption after MP3 
players, DVD recorders, CD burners, etc, etc, etc.?

PL: The producer/consumer model really depends on the modes of 
production and consumption being examined. If we look at Antin's model 
of video vs. television (grass roots/distribution vs. institutional 
transmission), I would say probably not, although the model might be 
changing. To consider this question, I think that one has to reevaluate 
the models of the producer and the consumer. Production is not merely 
about making the product; it is also about having the promotional and 
distribution methods/infrastructures to transmit the message-unit and 
get it seen/consumed.

Can we say that the consumer will somehow get access to mass-market 
distribution channels mainly because they can make mass-market format 
media? Mostly not, for obvious reasons. However, can distributed media 
transmission models like Video IPods redefine transmission and 
distribution models? I don't know - maybe.

To ask which medium will arise next is difficult, and seems more of 
interest to marketers/manufacturers than consumers and grass-roots 

I think we can look at criteria for such a medium. There will have to 
be mass market saturation of technology. This is evident in terms of CD 
players, DVDs, VCR, IPOD, and so on. In short, there has to be a format 
and a platform that there can be a one-to-many model. For the 
grass-roots, there has to be some ease of use and ability to 
effortlessly get basic elements of high quality. Media artisanry is more 
of a cultural than a technical issue, and is beyond the scope of the 

Lastly, and probably the most compelling, is the argument that there has 
to be content worth looking at, and making people aware of it. In an 
era in which there is exponential growth in media production, it's 
increasingly difficult to get media in front of eyes, so one has to be 
increasingly savvy. That might be the reason for tactical media, but 
that's another topic.

Thanks for the questions. 

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