The Remix Cinema Workshop, organised by the Oxford Internet Institute, took place in the beautfiful period setting of St. Anthony’s College in Oxford last weekend. A cohort of remix enthusiasts descended upon the infamous university town to collectively contribute to what turned out to be a very successful and fascinating exploration of remix cinema and the issues surrounding this developing practice.
The keynote speaker was Stefan Sonvilla-Weiss of Aalto University, Helsinki, who edited the 2010 publication, ‘Mash-Up Cultures’ to which our very own Eduardo Navas contributed a chapter. Sonvilla-Weiss delivered a talk entitled ‘From Soft Cinema to Collaborative Movie Making in the Cloud’, influenced heavily by Lev Manovich and with particular reference to Christopher Nolan’s ‘Memento’ illustrating the concept of non-linear narrative and the potential for infinite variability of meaning once the separate elements of a text have been submitted to a database. The main proposal was the notion that if all video content and editing practices were migrated to the cloud, that is from the desktop to the browser window, then questions of authorship and ownership of content would potentially fade into the background.
Mette Birk presented a paper entitled ‘Arist Motivations in Two Online Video Remix Communities: Vidders and Trailer Remixers’ on behalf of the ‘Remix Theory & Praxis’ research seminar group. The paper was based primarily on Mette’s own research but was also contributed to by the wider group. An impressive presentation, professionally delivered and well received, it inspired some interesting debate on questions of method as well as the underlying motivations behind creators of remix content in various online communities. Mette’s presentation also generated some interest among other presenters and conference attendees in the possibility of connecting with the Remix Theory & Praxis group.
The workshop was thematically divided into 8 blocks, each focusing on a separate aspect of remix. The blocks were: ‘Remixes in a UGC Context I & II’, ‘Archives as Resources for Remix Cultures’, ‘Remix as Method’,’Networks of Distributed Collaboration’, ‘Shifting Production and Consumption Practices’, ‘Art Theory & Practice’ and an interactive poster session of various projects. There was also a fantastic dinner and live remix performances put on in Modern Art Oxford on the first night, with acts such as Dan Untitled (live stream from New Zealand), the London Poetry System and Zan Lyons giving impressive audio-visual performances.
Other presenters of note included Ethan Plaut of Stanford University, who delivered a paper entitled ‘Enlightenment, the Remix: Transparency as a DJ’s trick of Seeing Everything from Nowhere’ with a fascinating analsyis of Kutiman’s Thru-You remixes, which use everyday video clips of ordinary people singing and playing musical instruments (taken from YouTube) to create superb sound collages that are clearly greater than the sum of their parts. Ethan also discussed the question of attribution and the potential invasion of privacy by Kutiman, who sought no permission from the YouTube users to make sue of their clips in his work. Sanna Marttila and Kati Hyyppa of Aalto University described a workshop they organised where participants were given the option to create a remix by either a) ‘legal’ means or b) an ‘anything goes’ approach. The results were quite interesting, with most participants finding that legal restrictions stifled the creative process, while an anything goes method allowed for ‘drifting’ or creative exploration without restriction. Total Recut was mentioned as an archival source of public domain and Creative Commons licenced material.
Annelies Termeer and Thijs van Exel discussed their Celluloid Remix project, which hosted a successful remix contest in 2009. Participants had to create a remix using 21 public domain silent film video clips that had been recently made available through digitisation. The overall winner, Jata Haan, produced a very impressive piece combining clever editing and post-production effects to create a meaningful and memorable remix. Incidientally, Jata Haan received 2nd place in the 2008 Total Recut Video Remix Challenge for her very clever piece ‘Composition’, which combined hundreds of Creative Commons licenced images of the Sydney Opera House from Flickr to create a virtual composite of the entire building. It must be almost time to run another Video Remix challenge…
I was personally quite interested in Rune Saugmann Anderson’s presentation on ‘Reconstructing Western Visual Discourse on the 2009 Iranian post-election Crisis’, as I have been living in Bahrain for the past couple of months. There were some fascinating parallels between Rune’s take on media coverage of the death of Neda Agha-Soltan and the disparate coverage of events in Bahrain from different media sources. Rune also proposed the notion that remix work could itself be a research method and had produced an audio-visual piece combining visual news media footage from around the time of Neda’s death. Nicolas Alcala presented his ongoing film project, ‘The Cosmonaut’, which is partially crowd-funded and intends to become a fully transmedial product. Maynou and Steele, two media artists from Spain who have worked together on various remix projects showed the audience some samples of their impressive work, including ‘Burn, Run and Hide’, ‘Art in Progress’ and the upcoming ‘Sweet Dreams’ and ‘NYC.’ I was particularly inspired by their work and their take on growing up in a media saturated environment, as I did, with their apt description of this experience as ‘image bombing.’
The event was organised by Isis Amelie Hjorth and Daniel Villar Onrubia with help from Marin Hirschfeld and Robert Rapaport and others and I think they are to be commended for putting on such a useful and successful event. In their closing remarks, some interesting observations and points were made. The multidisciplinary nature of remix was highlighted as well as the varied backgrounds of the presenters and conference attendees, who all converge in their interest in remix. It was felt that perhaps these disparate backgrounds are currently disconnected communities and that it would be useful to try to develop a common language and engage more in cross disciplinary activities within the remix space. A warning was given about being potentially overly idealistic about remix culture and it was pointed out that remix has long since been appropriated by the advertising industry and others for commercial gain and even propoganda. It was felt that it is important to debate the negative aspects of remix, which were perhaps underdiscussed here, as the rhetoric around remix seems overly utopian at times. For the most part, the general feeling was that most of the research presented combined some element of the social with the aesthetics of remix and that there were many opportunities to research these and other aspects in the future. A final comment from a previous speaker drew attention to the fact that many people speak of the digital generation being a new breed of ‘produsers’, whereas the reality is that only a tiny percentage of people actually produce content, while the majority are still consumers. This may be the case, but I guess it depends where you draw the line – would you not consider updating your status on Facebook as ‘content production’?
Below are my notes on each speaker at the conference:
Remix Cinema Workshop, University of Oxford, 24th-25th March 2011
- Just arrived at St. Anthony’s College, home of the Oxford Internet Institution. First impression good – a beautiful campus set on what appears to be 17th century grounds and architecture. Beautiful sunny day.
- Just met Marin Hirschfeld, one of the organisers of the Remix Cinema workshop. He is doing a PhD and teaches film studies at the Modern Languages faculty here at Oxford University. He told me about ‘Saving Private Reels’, which took place in Cork, Ireland. http://www.ucc.ie/en/filmstudies/research/conferences/amateur/
- Intros by Helen Margetts, Isis Amelie Hjorth and Daniel Villar Onrubia at 11.30am.
- First speaker: Stefan Sonvilla-Weiss, Editor ‘Mash-Up Cultures’ – keynote on Visual Knowledge Building.
- Venue: Lecture Theatre in St. Anthony’s College – contemporary university auditorium
- Helen Margitts – political scientist – Oxford Internet Institute (OII) newest and smallest dept.
- Stephanie Shirley – software entrepreneur funded, Within social sciences – social implications of internet. Multidisciplinary. Prof. Bill Dutton. Reaching out to arts and humanities, esp. Cinema and film studies – issues of remix and convergence affecting all areas of academic discourse.
- Isis Amelie Hjorth and Daniel Villar Onrubia – planning for a year. Both PhD students.
- Digitality having significant impact on production of culture – more questions than answers
- Social, political, economic, aesthetic, technical implications.
- Stefan Sonvilla-Weiss: Keynote Speaker. Mash-Up Cultures.
- Narcissism vs sense of belonging. Collective intelligence. Identity construction.
- Collective memory – Flickr photos, a la Sydney Opera House remix, Jata Haan.
- Peter Greenaway 1969 ‘Intervals’ non-linear narrative piece. Abstract. Resistant to storytelling. List of items presented in a style similar to a database.
- Manovich – narrative vs database – conflicting concepts. Soft cinema films. (2002)
- Likens to Proust and Joyce modernist experiments. Understanding contemporary identity.
- Fusion of software and cinema – ‘ambient narrative’ – Duchamp, Warhol experiments
- Christopher Nolan – Memento – unconventional narrative, starts at end, works backwards
- Colour sequences are chronological – b/w are backwards. Disjointed effect.
- Could Memento be a ‘knowledge generating text’ if the separate pieces were put into a database and fed to the user upon random request? If the author/director is taken out of the equation?
- Ridley Scott, Kevin MacDonald, YouTube Community – ‘Life in a Day’
- Open source/ user generated / collaborative filmmaking / cinema
- The economic value of content is distorted. Users provide content for free. But who owns the finished product? Ridley Scott? Similar to Bowie MashUp contest. Star Wars also.
- Chris Anderson – Long Tail Economics.
- ‘The Emancipatory Use of Media’ is contrasted against the rudimentary interactive interface of the YouTube gallery (3D globe) for Life in a Day
- Crowdsourcing vs collaboration. Open Source Cinema. Stallman’s GNU Manifesto.
- Defragmentation – reconfiguration and recombination of information
- Information is defined by its existence? Power relations – control. Who is the owner?
- Where is code stored and what are the consequences of its misuse?
- Lessig ‘Free Culture’ – ‘You can buy a picture but you cannot buy the image in it.’
- Cloud video editing and filmmaking – a la Jaycut, Kaltura, plethora of others
- Distinction between remixes and mash-ups – in mash-ups the source material is clearly identifiable and traceable back to its origins, whereas in remix, blending occurs and transformation, transfiguration, perhaps unrecognisable from the source material
- WreckaMovie, Collaborative filmmaking – simultaneous editing online not possible yet?
- ‘Software is not a commodity’? The CD on which the software is stored is a commodity.
- RIP – Remix Manifesto. Questions of ownership and authorship. These ‘must not play an important role in this issue’, if all the information is stored in the cloud.
- Editing the cloud as opposed to storing footage on your harddrive and editing it locally.
- Ccmixter for film? Technical limitations – bandwidth…
- Highlights importance of tagging and metadata
- Automatic replacement of a video that won’t load, for example, with something similar?
Remixes in a UGC Context I
- Dr. Karin Wenz: Machinima practices. Historical changes. Sources used. Gamers.
- Term ‘Machinima’ introduced in 2004. Machine Cinema. Performance element.
- MJ Thriller video using Korean ‘Aeon’. Multiple online players controlling avatars dancing
- Parento Got Talent – Griller – Used After Effects, Phantasia and ?
- Different genres – news, music videos, archival
Marisol Salanova (www.marisolsalanova.com)
- Amateur Porn Factory of Mixing – Machinima
- Female characters stereotyped, submissive roles in the past. Characters and events can be controlled by humans, software scripts or AI.
- Difficulty of knowing who is behind the avatar, e.g. males with female avatars
- ‘Post-Porn Politics’ – iconography, representations of gender in new media – refer to JM
- Reflection on meaning of feminism in contemporary setting?
- ‘Naughty Machinima’ – Poser, Second Life tools. Created by real people in realtime
- The Sims is also used as a tool.
- Erika Lust – Lust Films, Barcelona.
- The Sims 2 – Mr. And Mrs. Berrie. (YouTube).
Ethan Plaut – Interception of aesthetic and social discourses – Enlightenment the Remix.
- Thru-You, Kutiman. Transparency, Citation. Origin of each video in description
- Attributions of agency and responsibility
- Scientists appeal to rigorous method, journalists appeal to objectivity
- Kutiman and this kind of remix appeals to transparency
- Dominant narrative – the outsider appropriating dominant media in an oppositional way
- Adorno – Oppositionality, Agency
- Girltalk vs Kutiman – GT takes commercially successful artists and recontextualises them, whereas K offers obscure individuals a shot at the limelight through his inclusion
- Mainstream reporting on Thru-You – democratisation, participatory, personal, decentralised
- None of the people agreed to be a part of Kutiman’s remix.
- Transparent Index – links to original videos, multi-layered bibliography.
- Seeing and knowing – depiction of the world.
- Watching on a laptop is like having a Skype conversation. Personal experience.
- Voyeuristic implications – slicing moments from people’s lives without their permission
- The source videos could be perceived as a 1) goldmine, 2) Pot of dirt, 3) cutting room floor
- “The Love of the mixer for the mixed” – New York Times article on YouThru
- More interested in ethical questions than legal questions
- Why reduce crediting another human being to a form of payment?
- Does the level of virtuosity of the creator / remixer have any effect on the saliency of the ethical issues inherent in the taking of other people’s work without permission
- Amateurs vs professionals – feature length machinima? Legitimacy and fame of creators
- Not likely to see full length machinima in paid cinema theatres too soon
Sanna Martila, Kati Hyppa – Practices & Challenges in Resuing Archival Video Materials
- Helsinki PhD students
- Design & media
- Framework, Licence, Strategies
- EU Screen (website)
- Open Images.eu, CC Licences
- Review, Rethink, Remix
- Interpretation, Appropriation, Reinvention
- Reuse of content, legal and ethical issues
- Remix Helsinki, Licence to Remix Workshop, Mostly young guys in their 20s
- Asked to choose between two camps: 1) Legal 2) Anything Goes
- Listed Total Recut as a source of legal content (archive)
- 7 out of 11 chose ‘Anything Goes’
- Process – drifting rather than planning, difficult to find, archives hard to search and use
- CC Attribution difficulties
- Difficult to use archival content in remixes
- Conclusion – make public domain audio visual material as easily available as possible
- Were the anything goes or legal remixes more successful? They think, equally so.
- Great idea to put on remix workshops
Celluloid Remix – A New Life for Early Cinema, Annelies and Thijs Van Excel
- EYE film institute, Seelden Digitisation
- ‘Images for the Future’ – The Reuse of early cinema
- www.celluloidremix.nl – clearly correlations with the Total Recut Video Remix Challenge
- Theme ‘Modern Times’ from Dutch early cinema archives, 21 films made available
- Public Domain, Silent Films, Celluloidremix.blip.tv, Facebook Group, Workshop
- The winner was Jata Haan, who came second in the TR Remix Challenge
- Eboman, famous motion VJ (wears motion detection suit)
Film Criticism in the Digital Era – Erlend Lavik (Norway)
- ‘Of Authorship and Originality’
- The internet has transformed film
- Digital technology has potential to reinvigorate film criticism
- ‘Video Essays’
- Tenenbaums, Wes Anderson, Orson Welles – check this video essay out)
- Matt Soler Sykes
- Documentary tradition as opposed to avant garde tradition
- Short form, 10-15 mns
- A video version of an academic paper, 30-40mns?
- The visuals “may push thought further”
- Intertextuality in ‘The Wire’ – working on this project at the moment
- The moral vs narrational point of view
- Could you write an article first and then adapt it for a video essay?
- Copyright issues, legal for film and video educators int he U.S. since 2009 to rip DVDs and use samples in their lectures
Rune Anderson – Western Discourse on Iranian Election
- PhD in Advanced Security Studies
- Girl killed in Iranian unrest following illegitimate elections in 2009 (Neda)
- ‘Visual Battlefield’
- Spectacle of Western Media, Visual News
- Every voice implicates silence, Every video implicates hidenness
- Deconstructing remediated videos
- Visual work should be capable of being a research method in itself (RSA Neda Remix)
- Over exposure of the visual…advocate of free speech
- Visual news images appear to be reality, authoritative journalism, voice
- The Political Function of the Image
- Mainstream media channels restrict the meaning of the image in favour of one interpretation over another, often more truthful one. What to believe? Whose interpretation?
- Press.tv? Any investigation of Iranian media coverage of Neda?
- Distribution questions…if published could it be dangerous for personal safety?
- For example, cartoon of Mohammed backlash (not exactly the same scenario)
Rohmer Remixed – Dr. Richard Misek
- ‘Chromatic Cinema’ check out this book
- Video Essay format (like a documentary, but using clips without permission)
- ‘LA Plays Itself’
- Good voiceover – like a conventional BBC doc
- Clear the rights of all clips?
- Noticeable lack of dramatic music to enhance points or sound effects
- Some parts show too much of the film, could be much snappier editing
- Sound levels inconsistent, too loud in parts, needs mixing
- Academic Journals using video essays: Audio Visual Thinking, Vectors, Mediascape
- Performative vs Arumentative/Documentary style videos
- Eg Zizek, Perverts guide to the cinema
- Godard, L’Histoire du Cinema
Networks of Distributed Collaboration
Antoni Roig, Participatory Film Production as Media Practice
- Interest in Machinima, video games and collaborative video production
- Participatory Cinema – Star Wars Revelation, Star Wreck, A Swarm of Angels
- Moviestorm – movie making tool for Machinima
- Stray Cinema – New Zealand remix project
- DIY Media, Convergence Culture, Universe Creation 101, Already New (Books)
- Theorising media necessarily uses practice, communities of practice
- ‘Transmedia Practice’ conception to distribution (Kristen Deena – check spelling_
- Definition of Practice: routinised type of behaviour of several elements connected to one another. Ties in with our seminar group title – Remix Theory & Praxis
- Reckwiz, 2002 – definition of Practice, Praxis
- Praxis is a field of professional practice?
- Practice spans from most simple to most complex – Nick Coldree
- Looking at the ‘Everyday’, De Certeau
- The first stages of a project: interesting in defining the practice
- Looks for trouble and controversy in the early stages – yields more data
- What are the individual collaborators doing at all the different phases of the creative process
- Wreck-a-Movie, Iron Sky
- Finished off with 15 questions – relevant for remix projects?
Nicolas Alcala, Riot Cinema
- ‘The Cosmonaut’ – a short film being developed by his production company
- Decided to turn it into a feature film. Felt story was really good.
- Sci-fi, drama, soviet space race, love triangle, showed trailer
- Funding, Production, Distribution – Transmedia
- Using various different media platforms to tell the story, not restricted by 90 mins of a feature film, eg feature film, book, comic, website, animations etc.
- Web series, cinema, events, dvd, arg, videogame, mobile, tv, merchandise, derivative works
- Planning to release film for free on the internet in HD
- Released at same time on web, on tv, cinema and DVD
- People aren’t paying for content anymore – paying for physical things that can’t be reproduced, or an experience, e.g. DVD box set, not for the content (added value)
- Questionable business model! Will they make any money?
- After screening parties, e.g. last one had 800 people, cosmonaut cocktails
- Funding – crowdfunding. Ask friends for money. Set up a merchandise store to sell stuff to fund the project. For supporting the project financially, they receive something in return
- Again – do the numbers work? Cost of making t-shirts and merchandise costs a lot!
- 2,800 producers, 70 investors, 20,000 people, 2million views – received funding from multiple sources and now have enough to go into production on the movie
- Movies.com? Made footage, audio, voiceovers etc available online to get people to remix the material and produce their own trailer for the movie
- Cross collaboration – got a music community online to create an album of music for the film and sell it, they share in the profits, build hype in both communities
- Releasing under a Creative Commons licence – encouraging remixing and collaboration
- Ended with a video of the Cosmonaut community
- Projects up to 50 grand would suit the crowdfunding model.
- For feature length movies, crowdfunding is only a small part, e.g. 12-15% while the rest of the funds come from traditional channels, investors, tv channel rights, cinema sales etc.
- Still highly unproven model – questionable whether this will ultimately be commercially successful
Irene Cassarino – ‘Remix Cinema: A Design Issue – two extreme experiences’
- NEXA Center for Internet and Society, studying remix since 2006
- No best practices yet? Talking about remix enterprises – organisational design issues
- A Swarm of Angels – started in 2006, create a £1m feature film and give to 1m people
- Cineama – alternative funding models and production models
- Films must be placed within social, economic and political contexts, Janet Wasko
- ‘Films are social and collaborative by nature’
- Biggest Issue: flawed business models
- Matt Hanson – ‘We’re part of the remix generation’ – ‘Can’t control the media’
- First movers role in revolutions – trying to make a living while surviving and making ASOA
- Comparison between ASOA and Cineama
- Advocates of traditional hierarchy but just using the web as an additional platform
- Big opportunity for truly collaborative approach to filmmaking – discard hierarchy!
- Shifting Production & Consumption Practices
Paolo Peverini, Prof of Semiotics – Open Cinema, Transforming Audiences
- What happens to a movie when it is offered up to remixers to be transformed?
- The text is fragmented into a myriad of micro texts
- Chose the Dark Knight as an exemplary case
- Filmic reworking as a continuum
- Open Cinema – Kinetic Typography of Joker Monologues
- Remix or fan art? Referenced Jenkins
- Intertextual comparison – original Batman vs the Dark Knight (Keaton vs Bale)
- Juxtaposition of audio track to alter the meaning of the source
- Meaning – alteration of meaning. Reading a text – interpretation. Multiple interpretations.
- Kinetic typo, Flash, After FX
- Manovich, 2008
- ‘An intertextual breach’, e.g. get one character to make a phone call and have a character from a different film answer it to radically change the meaning of the scene
- Cross media, First motion, AV industry – Baltic Sea Region
- PhD research, textual evolution of media forms.
- Cultural Semiotics – reference Yuri Lotman
- Semiosphere: An analytic model to ‘make sense’ of cultural activities and outputs / texts
- Giving meaning or taking meaning from cultural works
- Lotman re: remix – http://www.mediainnovation.eu/?p=192
- Memory as a conditioning force
- Convergence, divergence, emergence
- E.g. The Guardian news website, cross media output, web sphere, Hartley Mediasphere
- Lotman Semiosphere
- Power struggles between various media spheres influences evolution of cultural texts and media forms
- Remix Cinema – the cinemasphere
- Case Study 1 – Superhero Blog
- Funded by First Motion
- A comedy film a la Kick Ass
- Web Series, ARG, Starts off as a blog, will happen in realtime, Transmedia/CrossMedia
- Facebook, Twitter, Blog, iTunes, Torrent, Anti-Piracy material, iPhone App, Feature Film, YouTube episodes
- Interviews with people involved, analyse interviews, report findings
- Not audiences anymore but followers and community building
- Findings – tensions between path dependencies and innovations
- Textual evolution
- Famous 98 AV Festival
Evelin Stermitz – Women’s Images Re-Edited
- Critical Remix within a feminist context
- 1920s Dada movement, Hannah Hoch Photomontages
- Second Feminist Wave – Martha Rosler, Ammand Hammer – Your Body is a Battleground
- Hermine Freed, 1970s and earlier, video montage techniques
- Third wave feminism, Culture Jams, Tracey Moffatt – Against Freudian Hysteria
- Split screen powerful effect – Vesna Bodivec, Endless Game
- Show portrayal of minorities in mainstream media, idea of how Irishness is portrayed. Start with most famous then more obscure, stereotypes vs accurate accents. Eg. Bradd Pitt, Kevin Spacey, Tom Cruise, Leo di Caprio, show reach of Irish but also ‘putting down’ of a culture
Maynou & Steele – Burn, Run and Hide, Media Artist Duo
- ‘Image Bombing’ (media saturated environment growing up)
- Clever idea, original audio and sound effects to match remixed images, Running Man
- Act of Zapping, to watch the same thing, archtypes in cinema – same scene slight differences
- Running without knowing where we’re going or where we’re coming from
- Illusion of continuity, 250 films sampled
- Selection, organisation, reselection
- Editing process, organisation essential
- ‘Art in Progress’ – MacGuyver remix! Pixellation and noise adds texture to the image – similar to what our common experience of watching web video has come to be
- ‘Sweet Dreams’ – sleeping cartoon characters just before something happens
- N.Y.C. (Could do one of Dublin) using the geography of New York from different films
- Previously published works / texts have a meaning, which is altered through the process of remixing
Gabriel Menotti – EMBED (check name)
- Embed Festival – contemporary digital audio-visual content
- Sita Sings the Blues, Crowd sourced, Creative Commons, Given away for free
- Used Flash to animate it (Collage style)
- Eclectic method, Reconstitution 2008, Soso Limited Production
- La Pelota Vasca, Julio Modern
- Que Fue de Jorque Sanz, Arros Covat
Aurite Kouts, Paris
- You make the movies – audiences as new filmmakers in the age of UGC
- UGC – various definitions, emergence of a participatory audience
- IMDB vs WreckaMovie profiles of the same director / producer
- Alteration to the power relations between audiences and producers
Closing Comments, Conclusion and Thoughts about the Conference
- Disconnected communities
- Different practices
- Building a common language
- More interdisciplinary collaboration needed
- Create a group of conference attendees to share contact details
- Be aware of limitations, beware of being overly idealistic
- Remix has been appropriated by the advertising industry for commercial purposes & propaganda
- Important to talk about the negative aspects of remix as well
- Social and aesthetic
- Remixes make social impulses visible
- Air guitar impulse ?
- Tiny percentage of people are produces, most are still just consumers despite all the rhetoric about everyone now being ‘produsers’