Everything is a Remix: Remediation & Hypermediacy?

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These Everything is a Remix videos we watched in class were extremely fascinating to me, to say the least. As an avid user and consumer of various forms of media, I have never thought of remixing as something more than those remix tracks of pop songs I would see on soundcloud. In particular, I found the notion of almost all artistic creations being a remix of something else very unsettling. We often associate creativity with originality – but according to these videos, you could even say that there is no such thing as originality, as everything is a remix of something that came before it. I have thought about the same idea before, but it came as a bigger surprise to me to see that some of the most brilliant innovators in their fields – Led Zepplin, in particular – were also not as original as we thought they were. Also, the video talked about how great inventions, even if the people who invented them were not born, would have been invented around the same time. The video gave some examples, and I found this mindblowingly amazing. 

In my opinion, the relationship between genre, creativity and innovation is a close one. Creativity and innovation go hand in hand; without creativity (or thinking ‘outside the box’), there will not be any innovation. Furthermore, the medium we decide to use for creation, whether it be a traditional art form like oil painting or new media form such as smartphone applications, affect our creativity and how original our creations can be. I personally believe that depending on what medium we utilize, our creativity can be expressed in different levels. Some people may be more ‘creative’ when they are expressing their ideas in sounds, through music. Some may be able to fully express their creativity through visual media, through images and photography. Thus, some people are able to create more original content in some media while others can create more original content in another medium.

However, these videos uprooted my initial notion of creativity and innovation. Even some of the most creative and innovative developments, like Apple‘s Macintosh or the Star Wars series, were eventually inspired by other works, therefore a ‘remix’ of ideas that existed previously. Ultimately, the videos argue that nothing is really ‘innovative’, and ideas cannot be owned. We also take these ideas from all sorts of media and genres across the board. Quentin Tarantino did not only draw from spaghetti Westerns for his movie Kill Bill, but also from classic Japanese films, Citizen Kane, American horror films and even Japanese animation. This seems to be unavoidable, as ideas are not exclusive. In recent times, this has become an issue in due to copyright laws and legal laws surrounding the ownership of ideas. The videos seem to state that this has hindered the freedom and growth of creativity.

The reading delves into more details the ideas that were mentioned in the video, using fancier terminology. The idea of remediation and hypermediacy seem to be the ‘remixing’ the videos are talking about. It examines the ideas of remediation in art forms, such as movies that are adapted from Jane Austen movies, or early recordings that tried to maintain the live sound. Hypermediacy is a concept that I am still having difficulties grasping, but I think it has something to do with transparent interface, and how media constantly tries to be transparent and closer to reality.