Negativland is a band that originated in the late 1970s and the current band consists of Mark Hosler, Richard Lyons, David Wills and Peter Conheim. This band focuses on producing experiemental music by remixing sounds and music to regenerate them to create something new. Negativland has released a number of albums ranging from pure sound collages to more musical expositions.
In 1979, Negativland created their own record label Seeland Records as a platform to release their own recordings. They are considered a highly controversial band after receiving a lawsuit for using U2’s name on the cover of their 1991 album. The album consisted of experimental music and making parodies of U2’s famous hit ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’. U2’s label Island Records sued Negativland for claiming that placing the word “U2” on the cover violated trademark law, as did the song itself. Negativland’s album was confusing U2 fans as it has false advertising on the cover. Negativland are interested in intellectual property rights, and argue that their use of U2’s and others’ material falls under the fair use clause.
Members of Negativland contributed their efforts to Creative Commons, a non-profit organization devoted to expanding the range of creative works available for others to legally build upon and share by providing alternative copyright licenses. With the rapid advancement in technology, it appears that anyone can experiment with sampling sounds and remix exisiting content. When musicians like Girl Talk can become hugh pop star, with millions of teenage fans, and yet it’s still all illegal, then something is still wrong with this picture.
I have explored the idea of remixing content by using existing audio. For my first piece I used The Amen Break, slowing it down by adjusting the speed, and accompanying the music with the audio from a construction site. To tie the remixed content together, I used Barak Obama’s voice to complete my first audio piece. My intention was to experiment with the commonly used beat, The Amen Break.
To create my second audio content, I used the YouTube audio library to source my material. I used the beat of Giant Leap and the ambience of Space Chatter. What I found worked well with these pieces was clips of Bart Simpson prank calling the local tavern. These are the clip I used – Simpson Prank Calls and Bart’s Best Phone Pranks. My intention for this audio piece is to allow people to reminisce the older epsiodes of The Simpsons, and bring back the 1990s Simpsons humour.
Fianlly, for my third remix I centered it around Arnold Schwarzenegger. I used rock beat to contribute to the personality of Arnold and adding the background track of At the foot of the Sphinx. I used quotes from various movies of the famous actor. I used a supercut of Arnold saying I’ll Be Back, No Problemo, It’s Not a Tumor and Hasta La Vista Baby. My intention for this audio piece was to create music to represent Arnold’s personality through the characters he has played in his career.
The concept of piracy was discussed extensively in this week’s tutorial. Piracy is considered an ideological word and is usually perceived with negative connotations. However, piracy can be viewed in a more positive light – sharing. People in society use the word piracy for actions like illegally downloading films and TV shows and selling it to others, it is actually considered as a form of sharing content. Piracy is typically an act of robbery or criminal violence at sea. Therefore, it doesn’t relate to sharing media content with others. The idea that we can sell other rightful owners content for a much cheaper price, and just because it is can been seen as sharing content, it doesn’t make it ok to do. There should be more regulation on what we can download, whether or not we should be able to share any of it and how much of it can we share.
There is a lot of concern about what we can download online. Personally, I don’t think everything that we consume online needs to be shared. We have this idea in our heads that we need to show our peers everything we experience in order to communicate with one another, but sometimes it’s not fair to the creators of the content we consume. If I had the chance to change the law on the regulation of consuming content, I honestly don’t know who should be in charge. The government? The artist? Free for everyone to consume? However, to use someone else’s creative content for educational purposes, for example for an assignment in University, even for the recreational purpose for fan art and fan fiction, it is seen as a way to promote the artist, or producer, TV show or film. I do believe crediting the source is always expected. If you can’t credit the source, don’t use their original content.
In week 4 we discussed the concept of participating in our culture is essentially breaking the law. We viewed a video of Lawrence Lessig highlighting the legalities that are involved when remixing existing content.
Lessig argues the idea that technology has evolved faster than the law. He says that the law needs to be changed in order for everyone to participate in our own rapidly developing culture. Ideally, to have a system to better represent democracy when it comes to how us as producers and consumers can create content.
The idea of a free culture was debated, and a topic that I found quite interesting. Free culture is similar to piracy and it’s a complicated term to grasp. We have a lot of people creating, buying and consuming in our culture and the question is where should the money go? Morally, the creators, although legally the money is distributed to the company who own the rights to streaming or uploading your creative content.
We took a look at the Creative Commons website. As we are all producers of some form of media content, this website gives us the opportunity to create a licence to protect ourselves of copyright infringement. We are all a part of this culture – where we are both creators and consumers – and we need to think about what we can and can’t use legally, ethically and morally.
In week three we were encouraged to create our own remixed audio piece using existing content. Through the audio editing program Audacity, this enabled us to become content creators by using what already existed, changing it slightly and making it something new. The idea of remixing does have copyright issues, however remixing should be seen in a positive light. It’s innovative with influence and it is easy to do.
It seems unharmful because there is no discourse for financial profit over this, however I do see where the issue of copyright infringement can arise. Here is a piece that I have created. I took a drum beat loop, added a background noise from a construction site and used Barack Obama as the accompanying voice. I used the effect Paulstretch on my sampled audio to make them different from the original.
Week three focused on the idea of remixing existing audio content. The main concept of this week was highlighted through the drum loop called the amen break. The Winstons, a funk and sole music group, used this drum loop in their song ‘Amen Brother’.
Since then, many other artists have remixed this particular drum loop in their own songs. It has been sped up, slowed down but very similar at the end of the day.
Before this week, I had heard this drum loop before in other contexts and music, although I had never known that it was originally The Winstons. When we viewed a video explaining the drum loop, I realised that I had heard the loop before in other audio content, that it was familiar to me, but unsure where I had heard it. I heard similar samples used in the movie ‘Me, Myself and Irene’. In particular when the protagonist, Charlie, develops into his split personality, Hank. This is the music used when he transitions.
I found this concept very interesting because to most people, remixing audio would go unnoticed.
Remix culture is a society that allows and encourages derivative works by combining or editing existing materials to produce a new product. The concept of remix culture originally only applied to music in the mid to late 20th century, however it has now expanded across all media forms and has become easily accessible through the advancement of technology. Today, many of cultural and lifestyle arenas – music, fashion, design, art, web applications, user created media, food – are governed by remixes, fusions, collages or mash-ups.
As remix culture has developed, it has become a global issue because of all the advanced technologies that people have makes it easy to take anything that is out there and call it their own. The whole concept is a war of ideas and the internet is the battleground. Although, there is no definitive answer of just how much remix is acceptable in any one piece of work. Copyright infringement is at the core of this dispute on whether remixing can be accepted in our society. Essentially, copyright is an exclusive right to the author of a particular work…the right to copy and distribute the work, the right to be credited for the work, the right to determine who may publicly perform, adapt, or benefit financially from the work.
Copyright is out of control now that we are all producers and consumers; prosumers. The risk of more remixed content being produced online is higher with software programs available to the public, such as Photoshop and Audacity. Everyone is exposed to the idea of creating their own content. Although, it is extremely difficult to create something original. Influence plays a huge role in remixed content. Works of art, culture, invention, and creation are informed and inspired by things that we experience in the world around us. No amount of lawsuits or legal threats will change the fact that this behavior is considered normal. The 2009 film ‘RiP: A Remix Manifesto’ by Brett Gaylor encourages content creators to continue to sample for remixed content as sampling is an instrument. Though, there is a difference between influence and copying. The other older term commonly used across media is “quoting” but I see it as describing a very different logic than remixing. If remixing implies systematically rearranging the whole text, quoting refers inserting some fragments from old text(s) into the new one.
The idea of convergence is prominent when discussing the development of producing and consuming remixed content in all forms. Our cell phones are not simply telecommunications devices; they also allow us to play games, download information from the Internet, and take and send photographs or text messages. Convergence involves both a change in the way media is produced and a change in the way media is consumed. In society today, it is not uncommon to always be doing multiple things at once on technology so it is only natural for our creative content to represent sampling from various material. As with…recorded music, the internet represents just another technological shift that we have yet to fully reconcile with current regulation.
Here are some vector graphics that I created through Photoshop. I used the repeated technique of bringing down the saturation of the image, and then adjusting the brightness and contrast to create this effect on the image. My intention for these images was to make them appear different from the original photos. I have altered the images enough to change the way we perceive the celebrities in the photos.
Week two consisted of remixing through montage and collage. This form of remixing became quite prominent during the second world war, particularly between Germany and Russia. Collages were used to create propaganda in order to influence people’s political views. In the 1930s and 40s, propaganda primarily communicated to people through images. It was the most efficient way to promote power within the country to those who lacked basic education in literacy. Putting two images together can influence the way we perceive them and we can form associations depending on the context in which we experience the images.
In the week two tutorial we focused on the concepts of a bitmap and a vector graphic. A bitmap refers to a display space and the color for each pixel or “bit” in the display space, whereas a vector graphic refers to the use of geometrical primitives such as points, lines, curves, and shapes or polygons—all of which are based on mathematical expressions—to represent images in computer graphics. Our task this week was to turn a bitmap into a vector graphic. Through Photoshop I was able to remix an original picture to look different after changing it by experimenting with the brightness and contrast of the image.
Week one of Remix focused on the basic idea of what remixing content is about, and how we have remixed over the years in film, music, images and other media forms.
We watched a YouTube video entitled ‘Everything is a Remix’, in the week one tutorial discussing just how much of our pop culture has been remixed over time. This video highlights the legalities of remixing and the consequences that arise when using someone else’s content and calling it your own. From this video I learnt the concept that there really isn’t any definitive answer of how much remix is acceptable, although obvious remixing is perceived as copyright infringement. An example of this involves Men At Work’s hit single ‘Land Down Under’, and the original hit ‘Kookaburra Sits Under The Old Gum Tree’. Men At Work were sued for plagiarism allegedly stealing the flute riff in the original song. This highlights the main concept of the whole subject. In 2015, we live in a world where nothing is original anymore and everything content creators make is influenced by what has come before them. With creation come influence. We need to experience existing content before we can create something new.