This is the Remix

Creation requires influence.  Ideas are not property. Discovery belongs to us all.

These are just some of the ideas we’ll be exploring in our next unit: the remix. For perhaps the first time ever in your academic career, I am requiring you to plagiarize.

In doing so, remember Kirby Ferguson’s mantra: Copy. Transform. Combine.

Your task, for this unit, will be to create a remix composed entirely of existing material, a story* that is built from as little of your own original content as possible’ll

(*Remember that for this assignment, as all our others, we take an expansive view of what constitutes a story.)

For the purposes of this unit, I want you to think strategically about working in one of the modes of remix articulated by Eduardo Navas; you should be able to articulate whether your remix is extended, selective, reflexive, or regenerative. Maybe you’ll create a mashup of two or more existing pieces taken out of context and juxtaposed. Maybe you’ll retell an existing narrative in a completely new medium, transforming its context and perception. Maybe you’ll work in a collage or found mode, sampling bits and pieces until a new whole emerges. Whatever you choose, your act of creation comes from thinking strategically about what you’re hijacking, and how you will copy and combine those elements to transform them into something entirely yours.

The goal of this unit is to build a narrative the way a bowerbird builds its nest: by hoarding scraps and detritus from the world around you, and cobbling those pieces together into something new that serves your purposes.

Here are some guiding principles (borrowed stolen from Mark Samples’ class on Hacking Remix Design):

  1. Your source material must come from at least three distinct time periods or cultures (for example, textual documents from the Civil War, film footage from the 1950s,  and video game music from the current decade). If you need some ideas about where to find material to sample, check out the resources page of this site.
  2. Your remix must incorporate at least three different sources from at least two different media types. Video and audio are likely choices, but you should also consider text, images, code, games, and other works.
  3. Your remix should be about something, other than itself. That is, it must speak to, explore, comment upon, question, mock, or critique some enduring or contemporary cultural concern. The best remixes will be those that move beyond satire or parody.
  4. Your remix must break one of these rules, but only with deliberate and well-defended justification (you will explain this choice in your reflection).

Additional requirements:

  • Your remix must include credits and sources for all texts, including the soundtrack; in the credits list title; author, artist, username, or news corporation; and URL (you can use shortened URLs from
  • Your remix must be 3-5 minutes long; for non-time-based works, an analogous sense of duration must infuse the project (for instance, in in image-based remix, the story should take 3-5 minutes to fully view).

I will not be giving detailed feedback on these narratives; I’ll be evaluating only whether you completed a remix, followed the parameters above, and can discuss your artistic choices well and clearly. If you do all that, you get an A. My hope is that you’ll take this opportunity to engage deeply with an idea, and to experiment with some technical methods that are as yet unfamiliar to you. This is a chance to try something new, technically, without being penalized for your limitations.

You’ll bring a complete, working draft of your remix to class on Thursday, 3/7 for peer workshop; the final version is due via blog post by 5pm on Friday, 3/8. 

Your reflection for this assignment (which will serve as Blog #9) should be a 500-100 word detailed reflection on the process of creating your remix. You should discuss what inspired the narrative, how the form and content work together, what was challenging / fun about the process of creation, what artistic choices you made while constructing the project and why, what advantages the medium offered, and what you learned from this process that you will carry with you when you leave this class. In your responses to these questions, think about the following ideas:

  • Unexpectedness (the extent to which the project defies expectations or produces surprising results or reactions)
  • Intention (the sense of intentionality and deliberateness of the work)
  • Theme (the level of engagement with the concepts of remixing and mashups)
  • Argument (the degree to which your project is about something other than itself)

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