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Blogger Book Club: We Love Amateurs

by Corey Dargel In a recent article written for Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal, Greg Sandow claims that the non-profit arts world doesn't have a good enough argument for its own economic relevance. He raises legitimate concerns about the NEA primarily supporting symphonies and opera companies, institutions that pay obscene salaries and charge obscene admission prices. Overall, though, the article is a smug, shallow critique that offers no suggestions or solutions, much like the current … [Read more...]

Blogger Book Club: Bangers and Mash-ups

By Alex ShapiroMarc Weidenbaum's post below, "Bach to the Future," reminds us that floating among the myriad of issues Lawrence Lessig raises in Remix, from copyright concerns to aesthetic ones, there is also the topic of psychology, and the resistance many have to to embracing any new, paradigm-altering technology. Often when a new technology arrives, people immediately become fearful that it will replace all that came before it, rather than simply seeing it as one additional tool in an … [Read more...]

Blogger Book Club: Taking What They’re Giving, ‘Cause I’m Working For a Living

By Matthew Guerrieri Marc's post yesterday made the not insignificant point that Lessig's argument is mostly focused on popular culture. I agree with Marc that "popular" is a bit of a fishy term--maybe it's better to say that Lessig is concerned with culture that seems to be important in relation to its popularity. That's another can of aesthetic worms, but it does hint at why the hardcore classical repertoire rates barely a passing mention, and why even someone like Andy Warhol … [Read more...]

Blogger Book Club: The Art of Imitation

By Brian Sacawa Everybody has their vices. Mine is listening to pop radio in the car. (And watching Law & Order.) I like to do this for two reasons: 1) I genuinely like some of the songs, and 2) out of curiosity, since I am often puzzled by what pop culture deems "good" music and think that repeated listenings will reveal the reasons for its popularity to me. Anyhow, on a recent drive I noticed some striking similarities between "The Way I Are" (feat. Keri Hilson and D.O.E.) by Timbaland … [Read more...]

Blogger Book Club: Dust In the Wind

As these things tend to happen, I read Kyle's post on leaving the baggage of scores and recordings behind by going digital, and then a couple hours later while flipping through the New Yorker, I stumbled upon an observation from Sasha Frere-Jones pointing out that what was once conjecture is getting closer and closer to plain old truth: "recordings have become advertisements for shows." Sure, sell what you can, but then don't sweat the illegal downloads. Digital copies don't mean anything when … [Read more...]

Blogger Book Club: Bach to the Future

By Marc Weidenbaum Matthew's previous post got me thinking about a lot of different things, starting with the possible illusion that remix-based music production is inherently simple to accomplish. While the effect of a turntable can be approximated with a mouse click, to equate the two is to miss the qualities inherent in vinyl manipulation (and other such means of working with recorded sound, from John Cage's sliced tapes, to CD mixing, to real-time digital synthesis). A turntablist actively … [Read more...]

Blogger Book Club: 3-2-1 Context

By Matthew GuerrieriI wanted to delve a little deeper into the whole question of what remixing means for aesthetics and culture; Lessig doesn't talk about it much (I didn't expect him to, it's not really the point of the book), but for me, perhaps predictably, it's one of the more interesting questions around the whole topic.Part of the usual defense of remix culture involves citing one or more salutary remixed works, but I'm going to be contrarian and start off with a particularly inane … [Read more...]

Blogger Book Club: Dude, Where’s Your Laptop?

A lot of Remix rests on questions of access ("Not necessarily free access. Access." p. 46)--access to content and then the freedom to use and alter that content. Related to that, then, one item that kept nagging at me as I read Lessig's book is how fast we're approaching a basic literacy that requires computer literacy. And that means not just that you can Google and send an email, but that you can edit media with real fluency and that you are comfortable organizing and processing a large … [Read more...]

Blogger Book Club: The Unanswered Question

By Brian SacawaAs Lessig explains in the preface to Remix, a central motivation for his crusade calling for the reform of current copyright law is a concern for his children and the fate of their generation. In the current digital climate, certain activities that have become completely natural to kids, including many creative processes made available by digital technology, are deemed criminal acts. What will be the outcome, Lessig wonders, in a society when a whole generation is raised as … [Read more...]

Blogger Book Club: So, Who Are You Calling an Amateur?

By Marc WeidenbaumBy and large, I don't merely drink but regularly swim in the brand, flavor, and vintage of Kool-Aid that Lawrence Lessig serves up. The issues that are central to Remix, and to Lessig's work in general, are fairly core to my own understanding of cultural consumption and of the roles of artists and consumers, and the institutions and technologies that mediate the relationship between them. If what he's getting at is that the 20th century was an anomaly in the way that music (for … [Read more...]

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