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February, 2010
Anthony February 23, 2010 2:01pm
i think i've talked about Julian Sanchez. his stuff is good overall, but his inquiry into the interplay between politics, law, and culture is particularly insightful (and well-written, to boot). he's started doing video stuff periodically, and has a new(ish) piece i really love on the evolution of remix culture. the central part of the video focuses on the progression away from source material in these three videos:
Original Lisztomania Brat Pack Mashup
Brooklyn Brat Pack Mashup
San Francisco Brat Pack Mashup
Sanchez warns "four minutes of pretty hipsters being quirky may seem diabetes inducing", which is not without merit, but i think they're more than accessible and relatable (for folks in our rough age and experience background) to make that risk worth it. the lockup of culture behind increasingly restrictive copyright laws has been a concern for me for a long time, but the progressive departure from "original" source material here is really fascinating. each level of departure adds meaning without obscuring where it's coming from. the final iteration is still entirely recognizable as referencing the first (especially the wall walking), and still has most of the same emotional connotations, but adds to it (even if thinly, since those of us outside the group lack the shared context). i also think it's interesting that the meaning added by the later two (individually) is really specific to the group involved (choice of characters and such, as Sanchez notes), yet still accessible to a much wider audience: i've absolutely been in social groups that i could see doing this, and the choices the participants here make prompt the same sorts of considerations about my own groups (past and present).

i love the fact that our culture is more malleable now than probably any time in history. there are large interests who're much less happy about that, and are fighting to undo it. they've already made some substantial progress (the DMCA, for example, extended copyright way beyond anything having to do with copies), but the public domain and shared culture is hard to fence in. i hope we, as a society, can accept the fact that information follows the same laws of thermodynamics as every other form of energy in the universe before we miss too much of this.