[iDC] Lev Manovich on Remix Culture

Danny Butt db at dannybutt.net
Sat Apr 15 04:23:33 EDT 2006

I agree with Paul, but I think the problems of Lev-ish formalism are  
even evident within white media theory. The "remix" of the techno  
artist and the hip-hop artist are not the same thing - they spring  
from radically (and, somewhat, racially) heterogeneous contexts, even  
as artists use remixing to traverse these contexts (perhaps like  
Paul). Ultimately, from my POV, if we generalise anything about the  
value of the remix it lies in a reconfiguration of those contexts,  
and the results/effects are at least partially oriented toward those  
responsible for maintaining those contexts.  Where, contextually, is  
new media formalism located, in what social context? To me, it just  
seems to be appropriating "culture" for, who?, Euro-academics and  
those who share cultural capital on new media mailing lists? A few  
battles with rival crews could be in order to sharpen the game.

We need an anthropology of new media theory in the worst way. If only  
to "prove" the ethno-cultural construction of the scene, which I  
think we already know. Calling Lev's formalism "intentionally  
provocative" only papers over the ruptures that need to be levered  
open further if new media theory is going to develop real "openness".



On 13/04/2006, at 8:18 AM, Paul D. Miller wrote:

> hey folks - as usual, this is waaaayyyy too Eurocentric.
> Arghh! When will people look at other stuff... This gets to be a drag.
> Again: Sons et Lumiere - no people of color.
> Visual Music: No people of color
> Thoughts?
> Paul
>> Hi there Trevor,
>> I was in the audience and another area of question came to mind,
>> though I didn't have a chance to pose it.
>> I thought the audience points were relevant, although I
>> support the need to narrow the focus when examining
>> formal issues.
>> Lev Manovitch's talk focused on the visual hybrids of remix culture.
>> However, historically there is a rich precedent for examining
>> sound and image together, and I missed this in his over-view.
>> In going back to the birth of cinema and modernism,
>> it is important to  note the early dialogue about color and
>> sound, or sound and image going back to the 1880's:
>> Whistler, Baudelaire and at the art Critic  Stanley Pater,
>> not to mention this influence on later artists like Kandinsky,
>> Switters, etc., etc... all of early modernism.
>> Lev's point  regarding the path cinema took
>> as being mainly mimetic, and his questions regarding
>> other time-based forms (digital painting for example)
>> as seen in early  experimental film and animation,
>> is important.
>> I have been to 2 major exhibitions that encompass this
>> history, one at the George Pomideau Center (fall 2004)called
>> Son's and Lumiere
>> http://www.centrepompidou.fr/Pompidou/Manifs.nsf/AllExpositions/ 
>> E4B6AD56B6DA4B2FC1256DD600561C77?OpenDocument&sessionM=2.10&L=2
>> and another at the Hirshorn this summer  called Visual Music
>> http://hirshhorn.si.edu/visualmusic/
>> I bring this up because I think a key area of interface and  
>> exploration exists
>> between what we see and what we hear, and how the 2 are interfacing
>> in ever more intertwined ways....
>> including interactive object-based manipulation in programs like  
>> max an jitter,etc.
>> As an artist and educator, it is exciting to explore formal issues  
>> trying to make
>> links between the two.
>> Best,
>> Beth Warshafsky
>>      .
>> On Apr 9, 2006, at 12:01 PM, Trebor Scholz wrote:
>>> At the occasion of the exhibition "Media Miniature" at Pratt  
>>> Manhattan
>>> Gallery Lev Manovich introduced a new essay from his upcoming book
>>> "Infoaesthetics."
>>> <http://www.pratt.edu/news/popup.php?story=03.02.
>>> 06_Pratt_Manhattan_Gallery_Exhibition_Explores_Diminutive_Scale.html 
>>> >
>>> <http://www.manovich.net/IA/index.html>
>>> Quickly going back and forth between a projected myriad of open  
>>> browser
>>> windows he presented his notion of remix culture.
>>> Manovich anthropomorphized the evolution of new media. He  
>>> delineated a
>>> map of the development of new media and linked stages in that  
>>> trajectory
>>> to the computerized simulation of physical objects. His core  
>>> suggestion,
>>> carefully constructed, was the emergence of hybrid media emerging  
>>> out of
>>> remix culture. Multimedia for Manovich is an inadequate concept that
>>> defines media as standing next to each other. Today, "the computer
>>> becomes a petri dish in which different media mate, hybridize, mix.
>>> Media come together and create offspring. Meta media" (roughly  
>>> quoted
>>> from memory). Manovich called himself a biologist of new media  
>>> observing
>>> and reflecting this process. In his visual presentation he quickly
>>> switched back and forth between art examples and commercial business
>>> applications such as corporate promotional MTV-type video clips,
>>> maps.a9.com or mappr.com.
>>> <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multimedia>
>>> <http://mappr.com/>
>>> A9 maps shows a video of the location next to the map of the  
>>> searched
>>> spot. Examples demonstrated included the joining of video,  
>>> drawing, and
>>> 3D objects. Hybrid aesthetics. Manovich indeed treated the computer
>>> programs and hybrid media forms like lab test animals. "We are  
>>> not yet
>>> techno-deterministic enough..." he said.
>>> In the question and answer session several problems were posed.  
>>> Instead
>>> of phrasing his media historical map as one aspect of the current  
>>> media
>>> landscape, he argued for these phenomena as the evolution of new  
>>> media
>>> in which one technological development informs the next. The
>>> intentionally provocative formalism at play here leaves several  
>>> facets
>>> out of sight. But Manovich's argument undoubtedly sheds light on one
>>> detail of the current media development.
>>> Someone in the audience questioned the speaker's decisively  
>>> formalist
>>> approach dissecting the surface of the described media mix without
>>> looking at the algorithmic workings of these processes. A perhaps
>>> conscious blind spot of Manovich's suggestion, already evident in
>>> "Language of New Media," was that "old" and emerging media are  
>>> somewhat
>>> described in a social vacuum. The idea of the isolated petri dish in
>>> which one media copulates with the other pushes that notion to its
>>> logical extreme. At the talk the question was posed if new media  
>>> are not
>>> conditioned by both, societal driving forces (e.g. the cold war  
>>> leading
>>> to the invention of the Internet) and the cross-pollination of one
>>> technological development by previous technological findings.  
>>> Manovich's
>>> response to this question was "Can you prove that social factors  
>>> were at
>>> play?" Manovich's historical trajectory was also drawn in a straight
>>> line as if one occurrence just leads directly to the next.
>>> A second comment was concerned with another aspect, central to  
>>> today's
>>> media panorama. Sociable media. Manovich's talk did not address  
>>> the way
>>> in which the users of technologies shape their development  
>>> through their
>>> use. Our devices are shaped by us and they in turn shape us. The
>>> participatory characteristics of the current culture of sociable web
>>> media as well as physical computing were absent from Manovich's  
>>> mental
>>> media history map.
>>> None of the mentioned concerns would have been all that pertinent if
>>> Manovich's argument would have been phrased as a micro-history of  
>>> new
>>> media, a snapshot of one aspect, instead of a grand  
>>> representation of
>>> the history of new media at large.
>>> People left Manovich's talk vividly debating, inspired, and  
>>> provoked to
>>> position themselves.
>>> -Trebor
>>> <http://collectivate.net/journalisms/2006/4/9/lev-manovich-on-remix-
>>> culture.html>
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> iDC -- mailing list of the Institute for Distributed Creativity  
>>> (distributedcreativity.org)
>>> iDC at bbs.thing.net
>>> http://mailman.thing.net/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/idc
>>> List Archive:
>>> http://mailman.thing.net/pipermail/idc/
>> _______________________________________________
>> iDC -- mailing list of the Institute for Distributed Creativity  
>> (distributedcreativity.org)
>> iDC at bbs.thing.net
>> http://mailman.thing.net/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/idc
>> List Archive:
>> http://mailman.thing.net/pipermail/idc/
> _______________________________________________
> iDC -- mailing list of the Institute for Distributed Creativity  
> (distributedcreativity.org)
> iDC at bbs.thing.net
> http://mailman.thing.net/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/idc
> List Archive:
> http://mailman.thing.net/pipermail/idc/

More information about the iDC mailing list