John Philip Sousa could have possibly be the reason why remix culture never thrived. Sousa campaigned for stricter copyright laws arguing that there was a cultural emptiness from the mechanical forms of art (Lessig 2008, p. 24). He was totally convinced that our culture would become less democratic, fewer people would be able to access the materials or have the confidence to create. He had romantic ideals of the ‘Read-Write’ culture which traditionally entailed a regular citizen of society to read or listen to a piece of work and then recreate and represent this work in a new way, using the same tools as the professional used for the original piece (Lessig 2008, p. 28). But for Sousa a mindless society ran by machines meant our culture falls under the ‘Read-Only’ category which was “more comfortable with consumption” (Lessig 2008, p. 28) than it was with amateur creation. Sousa saw a world focused on mass production there lack of creative flair.
Thankfully remix culture thrives and John Philip Sousa eats his words. We are a culture who redefined the Read-Write culture, taking what is already out there from multiple sources and sharing, reusing & editing material to create works that are increasingly stimulating for the senses. Street art is a very public advocate for the remix culture, literally using the city as their canvas. Both amateur and professional street artists have appropriated and remixed imagery from the digital photography of the web (Irvine 2012, p. 1) to create a whole new form of unconventional.
Banksy is an internationally recognised “guerrilla” street artist who’s identity remains anonymous and signature spray painted stencils are extremely outspoken. Banksy’s street art receives increasing attention from the media for his adaptations of classic images. When you find a Banksy artwork you feel like you’ve found treasure because they are scattered in oddball spots in cities around the globe and I have had the pleasure to have found one in London; The Les Miserable mural of the character Cosette has been painted with tears running down her face and gas leaking and rising from the bottom left side the frame. Banksy has adapted a common image used for the Les Miserable musical to spread awareness on the mistreatment of syrian refugees in camps based in France. Banksy stands to not only move the remix culture forward but proves that the art of remixing can produce works that are much more striking and effective than the original.
- Lessig, L 2008, ‘Cultures of Our Past’, Remix: Making Art & Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy, Bloomsbury Publishing, London & New York.
- Irvine, M 2012, ‘The work on the Street: Street Art & Visual Culture’, in Sandywell, B, Heywood, I (eds.), The Handbook of Visual Culture, Bloomsbury publishing, London and New York.