Alter, Re-Purpose, Repeat

The implementation of remix in today’s world is more widespread than many know, or would dare to believe. I’ve found that movies, music, television, virtually anything you can imagine could potentially fall into the category of a remix. Is anything completely original (ie: free of any outside source of inspiration)? In Rhythm Science Dj Spooky stated that “many movie soundtracks sound like heavy handed treatments of The Ring Cycle’s Overtures”. Upon further inspection, it becomes clear that he is correct in this assertion. He goes on to say that “Rhythm science uses and endless recontextualizing as a core compositional strategy, and some of the generation’s most important artists continually remind us that there are innumerable ways to arrange the mix.”

To me the changing same is his way of expressing, in short, his major ideas which I have reiterated above. It makes reference to the fact that we look to the past when creating, because of the sense of familiarity that it provides. We don’t necessarily draw our inspiration from the present moment. That’s not to say that our creation completely unoriginal, in fact it is original in the creative differences you incorporate.

I feel as though the concepts outlined in Rhythm Science can be applied to different facets of our lives as well. I was struck when Dj Spooky made reference to technologies integral role in society, and I agree wholeheartedly. The term ‘remix’ can apply to most anything. The shirt you’re wearing, initially made of ‘god knows what’, has been remixed and altered using polyester, cotton, silk, or any number of other materials to create something that still resembles the original. From a technological standpoint, products are made, altered, then re-purposed, altered again, and then re-purposed yet again. The cycle of progression never slows. It is past learning allows future advances to be made. Remix shouldn’t be seen as a cheap alteration of the original, but as a potential growth in the genre in which it resides.

For our final projects, we are asked to make remixes of our class archive. We will be creating works of art from our classmates content. How can we alter the archive to create something new; to re-purpose it to tell a unique story, and elicit emotional responses all its own. How can we make these remixes stand alone as one cohesive whole?




Technology: A Part of Being Human

So many of the remixes and mashups I find myself coming across are “the best of…” one time period or another, be it summer 2013 or the ’90s. As DJ Spooky describes,”Dj-ing lets you take the best of what’s out there and give your own take on it.” The artists of such mashups do just that. They look back on what has been produced, collect the pieces they like- beats, rhythms, lyrics, vocals- and create their own piece of art to add to the public archive. This sampling of other artists work is what Spooky refers to as part of the “changing same.” While these artists limit themselves to what has already been produced- hence the same– they combine and manipulate these pieces to produce something changed.

Perhaps it is because like Spooky, many others “can’t think of a sound [they] haven’t heard or couldn’t make” that remix culture is so prevalent. Is it that creating something completely new and different is just that difficult because of the sheer volume of songs, movies, and plots that has already been produced? To avoid crossover or similarities with everything that has been previously produced is- in my opinion- impossible. That is not to say that creativity is dead or that progress cannot be made. But simply, that all creativity and progress are possible because of where they are able to begin based on preexisting archives.

Spooky describes that technology is becoming an intrinsic, “core aspect” of human existence. Just as early humans developed spoken language as a means of communication and this original language grew and developed, branching into different languages in some cases, technology is becoming an integral part of our communication. It is growing and affecting each generation more and more deeply. “Children… aren’t alienated from these technological and geographical phenomenon, they are born into them.” If we are at the beginning of technology being a part of being human, where will we take it? As language has completely transformed throughout it’s history of being part of being human, how will technology transform?

DJ Spooky & the Changing Same

When I first started reading this book, I was unsure about what DJ Spooky was talking about with Rhythm Science, and even further, what the “changing same” could mean.

As I continued to read, I realized something I hadn’t ever thought about before. There is most likely no sound that hasn’t been heard before.  I mean, think about it.  That doesn’t mean we have each individually heard every noise to exist, but unlike images or words that we might be surprised to see or understand, are we often surprised to hear a specific sound? Sure, we are startled when a loud buzzer goes off, or when our stomach makes a funny noise. But it’s familiar. Maybe I’m completely wrong about this, it’s just an initial thought, but one I’d like to explore in the future.  On page 017, DJ Spooky says, ” All of which points to the fact that it’s not so much new ways of hearing that are needed, but new perceptions of what we can hear.”  So maybe he disagrees with me.  But in a different perspective I agree with him as well.  While I still believe that most noises have been created and that there aren’t new ones to be made, that is very different than saying that new ways of hearing can’t be made.  I still think that we can change what we hear, manipulate the “same” thing and “change” it into something remixed. Like a Dj. But does that mean the sounds haven’t been heard? Or is it just that it’s in a new format, structure, frame of mind?

That was probably a rant that might have left you confused about where I stand on this. But to be honest, that’s exactly where I am, a bit confused.

As for the changing same, DJ Spooky plays with the idea that nothing we create is truly new or different.  It is a reflection of our culture, seeing all around us we take in experiences and change what is the same idea  into our own perspective, over and over, time and time again. This falls right into the notion of remixing and archives in our class. Our projects, for example, are completely comprised of remixed archives. We’ve taken stories, objects, people and ideas that have existed before and changed them into whatever our creative desire might be.  Is there anyway we could have avoided archives? Everything from writing a script to special audio effects have existed somewhere in our culture. We’ve taken it in, chewed it up, and spit it back out. It might not look the same, but it is the same.

Hopefully someone understands this because I had a lot of fun thinking about it, but not the easiest time conveying it.


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?

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.



DJ Spooky Knows How to Party

“It’s the twenty-first century.  Things should be really wild.  Anything else is boring.”  Well this explains a hell of a lot.  According to the Changing Same it’s basically wrong/should be illegal to stop creating, changing, and making new out of old.  When grandpa says,  “Back in my day we never did things like that!” it means that his grandpa probably didn’t do the same thing he did either and we should expect our grandkids to do even more unbelievable stuff than we do.  Wow that was a mouthful.  (This may come off negative but if you look at it from a standpoint of say, iPhones or the Polio Vaccine, it sounds a heck of a lot better).  And what if we did the same exact “stuff” that our grandparents did.  How boring would that be?  “ Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  This sounded like some sort of horrible prison sentence when I first read it.  Life would become one sorry cycle of boredom, birth, life, death, birth, life, death.  You get the point.

The reason it is so important that we keep “offering iterations of versions and versions of everything, all changing all the time” is so that we can keep our future fresh and exciting, give people something to live for.  And lately it seems to be moving faster than ever.  When I was reading DJ Spooky’s part about “every story leading to another story to another story to another story” reminded me of a class I took last semester—Indo European Folktales.  In a nutshell, hundreds of years ago the Grimm Brothers wrote horror stories for parents to tell their kids so they wouldn’t disobey them.  Through out the centuries those stories have evolved.  Now these stories go something like, “pretty, pretty princes, trouble, prince, happily ever after.”  No wonder kids don’t obey their parents anymore!  Anyway, after learning about archives through this semester and then reading DJ Spooky, the meaning of Folktales kind of changed to me.  The way DJ Spooky talks about archiving and changing the current to make something new and actually newsworthy makes me realize how important it is, not just on a digital media level but on an EVERYTHING level.  But, class: unless I took this class and watched all the puzzle pieces fall into place I don’t neccessarilty know if I would agree that archiving and creation is really that important.  How can we show our peers and the youngins’ following in our footsteps that it’s uber-important to keep creating and keep this future new and exciting??


Elements of Remixing

Before I begin discussing the changing same, I want to take a step back to a few passages before this discussion. I feel the underlying element of understanding the changing same stems from what DJ Spooky says about technology’s core existence. “Future generations won’t have a ‘dependency’ on technology. They will have technology as a core aspect of their existence – as much as the languages we speak, the air we breathe, and the food that we eat are all aspects of technology.” (16) When I think about this passage, I compare it to my younger cousins and the technology they use. I have an eight year old cousin that knows  more about her iPad than I do, and I’m 22. Technology is something inherent, something that’s part of human beings, and something that they can feel deep within their soul – it’s already programmed into them.

After I began wrapping my head around that aspect of the text, I then approached the changing same, which he defines as ‘offering iterations of versions and versions of everything, all change all the time.’ The way I’ve been thinking about it (in the most simplistic way) is it begins with something – the original source. Then, over time new creations are made from tweaking the original source in the most minute way. Based upon who the audience is and changing tastes, this can have infinite options. Or can it ?

I feel that DJ Spooky wants to convince and empower the reader to be constantly creating, remixing, DJ-ing, sampling, and repeating. “Rhythm science makes possible…tries to convey a sense of how conceptual art, contemporary technology, and timeless idealism might function today.” (20) This passage brings things full circle for me when considering remixing and archives. DJ Spooky wants us to visualize creatively, interact with technology and reflect on past principles. Archiving and remixing follow the same pattern – you start with an idea or source, use the appropriate outlet for your creation and make the archive or remix with influence of the past. Is the process that simple? Or is it the synergy and interaction between these three elements that truly makes an archive or remix?

– LH