N.B. we now have the Remix Reading web site online, with much of the information here rewritten - more cogently, I might add - in the learn more section. Find it at www.remixreading.org
- What is Remix Reading?
- Why promote remixing?
- Who's involved?
1. What is Remix Reading?
RR is an artistic project based in Reading, UK. Its main aim is to get local artists (working with music, video, paint, wood or any other medium that can conceivably be represented on a web site) to come together and start sharing their work, be inspired by each others' work, and ultimately to create "remixes", whether they be a music remix, a mash up, or simply something inspired by another work.
It will initially be based around a web site that will allow artists to register and upload their work. So John may upload a track from his band, and provide the original tracks (lead guitar, bass guitar, drums, keyboard) as separate files, along with the instrument tabs. As with all material on the web site, it will be released under a Creative Commons license that will specifically give people the following rights:
- The right to download, play and copy the file as much as they like
- The right to "remix" the work unrestricted
- The right to redistribute remixes for non-commercial purposes
So then Jane may come along and think the music is interesting. She could take the source tracks and, on her computer, create a remix. Or she might write a poem inspired by it, or new lyrics, or do a drawing, or even create a video for the piece. She can then upload this "remix" to the web site, attached to the original.
Then Samir, who is a great drummer, but who isn't in a band, visits the site. So he records a few drumming tracks, and uploads them. Perhaps someone will like them and mix them in with other tracks? Suddenly you don't need to close yourself off into a small group, your band, but you're able to collaborate with anyone who likes your stuff.
In this way, we hope, we will both give local artists a growing pool of art that they can work with, and be inspired by, and we'll give the wider public an interesting cultural experiment to enjoy.
Further on we intend to try pressing CDs (so you perhaps have the original and several remixes, or the best remixes, or whatever), providing computer equipment and training, and working in partnership with the local colleges and businesses to secure studio space, promotion, gigs, and other nice things. We can also use the web site to promote these events and artists.
2. Why promote remixing?
Culture today is becoming increasingly one-way. As the media conglomerates extend their control through technology and laws, we are left with fewer options once we've bought or created a piece of art. Audio CDs, for example, now come with copy-protection technology that ensures you can't ever copy the CD; so you buy it, and listen to it, and that's all you can do.
But true culture is about more than consuming. Take, for example, the most basic form of culture - story telling. When something interesting happens to you, you take that experience and tell it to friends; they may pass the story on, and mix it with their own experiences. You may embellish it to make it funnier, or whatever. The point is that culture is about both consuming, creating and remixing. Where would we be if playwrights couldn't write revisionings of Shakespeare, or if musicians couldn't blend in bars from Beethoven?
So to counter the consumerism spreading through our culture, this project aims not just to whine and to protest, but to create a new space in which true culture can unfold freely. If we can get lots of local artists and the wider public to begin to really appreciate how great culture can be when we have the rights to it, we can go some way towards defeating those who want to reduce culture to a profit machine.
See also a letter written to the BBC from artists, urging them to adopt a similar approach with their 'Creative Archive' scheme. It specifically asks them not to restrict access by means of licenses and technology.
3. Who's involved?
At the moment, most of the work is being done by myself and Clare Hooper from X-Ray Folder. But here's a list of people roped in so far:
- Reading Uni Campaigns Forum
- X-Ray Folder
- Bčr Kessels (technical stuff)
- Creative Commons
- Miriam Clinton (teaches remixing)
- Campbell Orme (graphics)
People we're after include:
- Junction 11, Rough Cuts, and Reading Uni Students' Union in general
- Artists for graphics for the web site and posters
- Reading Uni Dept. of Film, Theatre and Television
- Reading College & School of Arts and Design
- Rising Sun Arts Centre