[iDC] Remix Reader

john sobol john at johnsobol.com
Mon Apr 17 20:36:40 EDT 2006


listserv discussions are always somewhat non-liner and certainly we 
each try to push them along paths that interest us, but personally I 
find that this discussion has taken an odd turn in the past few posts.

It seems to me that after crying 'eurocentric' in our crowded 
auditorium, Paul, that you have name-checked a seriously eurocentric 
canon in your subsequent posts. I have a problem with that, especially 
since I think some of the people on your list (Adorno and Mailer, to 
name but two) are abysmal sources for intelligent critiques of 
African-American cultural practices.

It also seems to me that the essay/discussion on Jamaican dub has done 
little to advance the discussion about contemporary remix culture. 
Isn't it more important for our purposes to ask if – and how – the 
remix culture that has been so pervasive in Jamaica is being 
transformed, enriched or beat down by digital media, rather than to 
point out that toasting and vinyl versioning is as popular today as it 
was 40 years ago? Yes you are right that "You can think of the whole 
culture as a shareware update" but does this mean that Jamaica is a 
hotbed of FLOSS? And if not, does it matter? Does today's global 
mediascape mean things are different for Sizzla, who releases about 150 
tracks a year, than they were decades ago for King Tubby when he was 
doing the same? And if so how and why? And if not why not? In either 
case what does that say about the status and future of Afrocentric 
remixology in networked culture?

I think the discussion about music is hugely important and I welcome 
it, but only up to a point, especially since it is evident from several 
postings that many of us are already very knowledgeable about 20th 
century music history. What is of far more interest to me is the 
extension of our discussion about Afrocentric remixology into the 
sphere of new media. Nobody has responded to my request for suggestions 
of innovative non-eurocentric new media artists whom I could usefully 
check out. Is this because the answers are so obvious that nobody can 
be bothered to help me out of my pathetic ignorance? Or is it because 
people are worried about getting into a racially charged debate? Or is 
it because nobody has any names to contribute?

My guess is that the list of innovative artists doing Afrocentric new 
media work outside of the strictly musical sphere is fairly small. Off 
the top of my head people like George Lewis, Chuck D, Keith and Mendi 
Obadike and DaveyD come to mind, (as well as yourself, Paul) but not a 
lot of others. If someone can extend this list to 20 or 50 or 500 that 
would be totally great. Please do so so we can all be less ignorant, 
especially me. But if collectively we can't, then shouldn't that be a 
crucial element of our discussion about remix culture, rather than a 
mild citing of the amazing but familiar historical reality that is 
Jamaican music?

I just visited the Afrofuturist site, which I know hasn't been updated 
in a while. But doesn't it matter that the link headed Black Pioneers 
of the Internet is dead? Where should it link to?

John Sobol

2 Million Years of Technology
A one-man show by John Sobol
@ The Bowery Poetry Club, nyc
April 29, noon, pwyc
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