Remix: A Contested Practice

While we are on the subject of Remix Culture, I wanted to call attention to a contest being run this month by the website, Total Recut, designed to get remix artists of all types reflecting on what remix and fair use means to them. If you don’t know Total Recut, you should check it out since it is one stop shopping for a range of diverse and interesting examples of remix video — examples which run from fan vids to political propaganda and includes both obvious and obscure examples. Here’s some of the details of the contest:

Create a short video remix that explains what Remix Culture means to you. Using video footage from any source, including Public Domain and Creative Commons licensed work, we want you to produce a creative, educational and entertaining video remix that communicates a clear message to a wide audience. The video is to be no shorter than 30 seconds and no longer then 3 minutes in duration.

This contest is being run to promote awareness of remix culture in an educational capacity by encouraging the fair use of a wide variety of content and also to create a new pool of work that explains what remix culture is to the general public….

The contest will begin in May ’08 and will be open for 1 month. Public Voting will begin in June and will remain open for 2 weeks, after which the best 10 videos will be put forward into the final and the Judging Panel will vote on each one. The winner will be announced in July ’08.

Entries should follow the guidelines on Fair Use issued by The Center for Social Media, guidelines we discussed here a while back.

I was proud to be asked to be a judge for this competition, which emerged in part in response to a discussion with Total Recut’s Owen Gallagher about the work our Project New Media Literacies has been doing focusing on the ethics and poetics of remix culture as we are supporting the teaching of Appropriation as a cultural competency through our curricular materials. We have, for example, been collaborating with the fine folks at Organization for Transformative Works who are producing videos for our learning library about vidding. And we are developing a whole curriculum around Moby Dick which centers on historic and contemporary examples of remix. So, I am personally very excited at the prospect of this competition leading to the production of new materials which might help students, teachers, parents, and the public learn more about remix, creative commons, fair use, appropriation, and participatory culture.

Total Recut has pulled together a truly diverse and interesting group of judges, including Pat Aufderheide (from the Center for Social Media), legal legend Lawrence Lessig, Darknet author J.D. Lasica, fan vidder Luminosity, Documentary filmmaker Kimbrew McLeod, and Negativeland’s Mark Hosler. I hope that this range of judges indicates just how open the competition is to a range of different communities who are finding remix an effective mode of creative expression and social commentary. Even if you are not interested in the contest per se, you should check out this resource page which already includes a number of useful materials for explaining why remix matters in contemporary culture.