[iDC] notes on media remix

Brad Borevitz brad at onetwothree.net
Thu Apr 20 13:26:50 EDT 2006

lev wrote: 

>the interactions of different
>media in the same software environment are cultural species.

marc opined:

>No doubt  this notion of Œremixability¹,  a notion that many on the list
>serve spoke wonderfully  to regarding sound and music and its cultural
>transport and mutation, which has for ever been happening  as with cuisine,
>language, architecture , festival, religion ­ on and on ­ remixability in
>software has a certain ease and fluidity now ­ but the idea and practice is
>age old ­

curt objected:

>you seem to be 
>talking about a kind of synesthetic cross-processing independent of
>any intentional conceptual dialogue with pre-exisiting,
>cultural/historical media content.

i am curious about this chasm between the cultural history and significance
of hybrididity and the assertion of software enabled hybridity as having a
cultural significance all its own (so far not very clearly specified). is
the relationship to other, culturally invested forms simply metaphorical?
what is the relationship between the circumstances of older forms
(colonialism, commerce, migration, etc.) and technological forms
(globalization, late-capitalism, etc.)? what happens when dj culture goes
digital? is it significant that this move is simultaneous with the export of
the forms beyond the enclaves of their origins? does software simulate
culture as it simulates algorithmically/mathematically the optical
characteristics of physical lenticular systems? how odd to imagine a filter
labled "jew" or "jamaica" ... i have not read on the virtuality of race, the
phrase is certainly suggestive. will version X of after effects come with a
filter named "blackness"? if it can be sold on eBay ...

one possible way to think about this gap is to focus on the process of
abstraction that is required in production of simulation. simulation is
based on very particular method of modeling, of representation: a discrete
quantitative reduction.

to create a blur filter, one imagines optics as a system of averages where
the color value of a given point at a given time is equal to the average of
that points neighbors at a previous point in time. this may or may not have
anything to do with the optical realities, but it suffices to reproduce the
_surface_ effects of blur.

simulation of race, class or gender might work similarly -- maybe the remix
is a simulation of a culturally embeded practice. working backwords from the
simulation (say from aftereffects to use lev's favorite example) can we
reverse engineer the assumptions about race that went into the model on
which the software was developed?

alternatively, can we see in the the developmental process for software a
kind of violence of erasure wherein the traces of cultural specificity are
abstracted out of simulations. what exactly are the possible critiques of
simulation as a form of (say racial) representation?

finally, it seems that simulation involves a kind of aestheticization of
cultural forms. (perhaps also fetishization given that they produce a
simultaneous absence and overestimation of a single, isolated part of the
cultural form.) one of my own favorite theories is that we are experiencing
the death of rhetorical (and narratological) communication as iconic
communication takes over and we enter a fascistic universe. so the easthetic
flattening via simulated representation of cultural forms would be
consistent with a communicative environment where the circulation of signs
of identity simply compete for attention and value (measured in saturation).
in an environment so conceived does hybridity lose its significance as a
lived strategy? certainly the mixing of images in a competition for media
attention is a different order of activity than the mixing of ways of life
in a struggle for survival.


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