Recontextualizing is the Key

DJ Spooky states on page 016 that “A rhythm scientist begins as an archivist of sound, text, and image.” Essentially, to begin remixing and changing objects into new things, we must first gather a collection of items to use in our remix.


Most of the items we gather into our archives are familiar sights, sounds, and words.  From there, we are able to create new works.  However, people rarely dip into today’s world for inspiration.  Instead, they avoid taking risks by look back and using ideas and themes that were familiar in the past, using them to create something that is new, yet something that is familiar.  This is the concept of the “changing same.”


In order to remix anything, you need to have an arsenal of things to choose from.  Instead of finding new ways to use pieces of familiar elements, people just create new versions of them.  For example, DJ Spooky says, “It’s amazing, really, how many movie soundtracks sound like heavy-handed treatments of The Ring Cycle’s overtures” (017).  Instead of creating new contexts for these sounds, people are reusing them with tiny changes made. “Rhythm science uses an endless recontextualizing as a core compositional strategy,” says DJ Spooky (021).  The “changing same” does not recontextualize elements of image, sound, and text.


We are assigned to remix our class archive.  To take what others have made and to put a whole new spin on it.  To recontextualize the elements that ourselves and our classmates have presented.  The challenge presented is to take what we have made throughout the semester and make something completely new with it. We don’t know if it’s going to be a successful venture or not.  As DJ Spooky says on page 004, “The beginning. That’s always the hard part…you’re always haunted by the way that things could have turned out…The uncertainty is what holds the story together.”  (How does uncertainty hold the story together?)


We need to try to avoid the changing same in order to create our remixes.  We need to take cues from the world we are living in right now and not look back to see what has been successful in the past. We have our arsenal; It’s time to mix it up.




One thought on “Recontextualizing is the Key

  1. An interesting thought and very pertinent as we go forward in creating our remixes. I think our tendency to reach back and just create art that is “the changing same” is exemplified whenever someone actually does create something new. Especially in the realm of modern art, what is actually innovative and new tends to always be initially rejected as not valuable–such movements as impressionism or post-modernism serving as prime examples. It takes a lot of skill, vision, and also courage to create something new based on our perceptions of the world around us instead of just recreating what has already been done, but ultimately those risk-takers reap the greatest rewards and praise for their work.

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