DJ Spooky Response – Remixing the Way We Use Technology

Something from the first week of class came to my mind as I read this week’s blog post prompt. The idea of the changing same really reminded me of the film we watched in the first few days of class, particularly the part where the filmmakers traced the roots of the Verve’s song “Bittersweet Symphony”. I remember listening to this song as a kid, and really liking it—I still do. But before viewing the film, I had never considered how completely recycled and in a way un-innovative its melody and beat is. I think the words say something unique, but the melody and beat don’t do anything different. They are essentially a slight variation on what’s already been done, or in other words, the changing same. What does differentiate this version of the song from other, past versions is its more electric reverberations and strong base. In other words how it was produced. It’s a long cry from EDM, but simply as a byproduct of the era in which it was made, it incorporates the sounds made possible by new technology and digital music production. In that way, this song demonstrates how technology is now part of music production at its core, just as it’s a part of everything in our society and culture.

This musical example is just one of many that relates to DJ Spooky’s point that future generations will “have technology as a core aspect of their existence” (16). The technology in the song is not tied to its meaning or a deliberate artistic choice. It is simply included because technology is fully indoctrinated as a core part of the music producing process. DJ Spooky proposes we will see similar inclusions of technology in all aspects of our lives. He compares technology to the food we eat, the air we breath, and the languages we speak. He discusses it not as an accessory to our lives, but as definitive of our cultural and social constructs.

I also really enjoyed when he got into speaking about “the machinery of culture as an organizing system”. I interpreted this to mean that the technologies and machinery we use are definitive of our culture. It’s an idea similar to “the medium is the message”—similarly, the technologies we use directly and absolutely dictate the way we operate within our society. DJ Spooky says this idea is not one that should be feared or resisted, but instead embraced. He conveys that we think about the possibilities allowed by new technologies in a stiff, restrictive way, writing “it’s not so much new ways of hearing that are needed, but new perceptions of what we can hear” (17). DJ Spooky sees the possibilities of technology, specifically tied to music production, as limitless. He asserts that we shouldn’t limit our utilization of technology to what we already know to be possible.

In terms of thinking about the archive, this reading got me thinking that our class archive might be mostly valuable because of the way we are documenting ourselves. The technologies and methods we are using say a lot about our generation and the era we live in. In our digital work, we talk about our lives and the lives of others, but future generations might see the methods by which we went about doing so as more indicative of what our lives were really like.

DJ Spooky’s avowal that we need to be utilizing the technology around us to their full potential got me thinking, how (if at all) do songs, books, poems, or any other creative work depreciate in value over time?

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2 thoughts on “DJ Spooky Response – Remixing the Way We Use Technology

  1. I totally agree with this post – and what Spooky says about how we need to utilize our technologies as much as we possibly can. Because that’s the direction our lives are taking, and if we don’t learn this new language of art and remixing, then we’ll be left behind.

  2. Your discussion question is interesting. I’m not sure creative work depreciates over time. Rather, it gains value as it ages. This is evident in the way older music is sampled, older literature is still avidly read and quoted, and movies contain references to other movies. Being able to remix these works lends to their value. If it was something that was not highly valued, it would not be seen over and over again in pop culture.

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