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Everything is a Remix

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I just saw a great video that breaks down Led Zepplin and how many of their tracks were stolen from other tracks.  While interesting, it makes the larger point which i completely agree with that “everything is a remix” today and it always has been.  Taking previously created content and altering it to make something similar but also original and unique is what art’s all about.

Over the past few years, i’ve grown to love the music mashup which is when a DJ takes two or more (sometime a dozen) songs and mixes them all together to create a new song.  Some of my favorites have U2+a rap song, an instrumental with Star Wars soundtrack, and 80′s classic with Jay-Z (links to all songs are below).  I’ve noticed a few things: (a) that listening to these tracks is totally different than listening to the original, even though they sound extremely similar; (b) the best music mashups have a classic rock backbone and then from another tune faster lyrics on top of it.

Mashups and remixes of all kind are all over.  I’m seeing it in TV shows, for instance in The O.C. where they did an episode just like the Spider Man movie or when Avatar recycles the plot from Dances With Wolves.  Everyone has biases and influences so it’s rare to find something truly original.  Even when copying though, you are creating something new.  When Twitter launched, people thought it was just a copy of the News Feed application that was just one part of Facebook ,but it’s grown into something completely different than Facebook.  I always thought a cool movie idea would be an entire movie and narrative but every lined used is from another film.  Some lines are famous, and others wouldn’t be as recognizable. I think it’s a cool thought.

I’m pro-remix.  I think more people should try it.  Personally, I have a goal for myself over the next 12 months to actually create a music mashup of my own where i can actually use the tracks i enjoy the most to make something original.   I’ll let you know how it goes.

Here are my favorite music mashups that i’ve posted on my music blog where i post one good song every weekday:

Written by Mike Lewis

October 10th, 2010 at 6:37 pm

Startups: The Open Road

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There’s an article in this week’s New Yorker (link) that i found on Caterina.net about the painter Luc Tuymans, who describes how he creates his work: “It’s like I don’t know what I’m doing but I know how to do it.” The article’s author, notes that “uncertain ends, confident means is about as good a general definition of creativity as I know.”

That quote made me thing of the activities around launching a company.  You never know what’s going to hit you but you know that you’ll be able to solve it when it comes.  It makes me think of one of my favorite quotes:

Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune,
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,
Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms,
Strong and content I travel the open road

- Walt Whitman

I have found that you must be both excited and confident and if you are, it’s very fulfilling.  Just some words to think about over the weekend

Written by Mike Lewis

October 9th, 2009 at 1:16 pm

Posted in Art,Inspiration,Quote

Babel Tales by Peter Funch

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This is pretty cool.   A Danish photographer, Peter Funch, who lives and works in New York City has created a photo series called “Babel Tales” which consists of pictures of people passing New York City street corners.

Every photo is an edit of several photo’s he took at exactly the same spot in a period of two weeks. He then Photoshopped the images he captured to create the Babel Tales series.

The pictures are all pretty cool.  As a former New Yorker, i think these do a great job of catching the energy of the sidewalk.  People doing their own thing and creating a dynamic piece of art every second of the day.

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For a view of the whole series check out the Flickr photos

Written by Mike Lewis

April 24th, 2009 at 4:38 pm

Grandmaster Flash's Science

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Everyone’s a pioneer in their own way.  This is from a quote i picked up in this month’s Wired Magazine.  In 1973 Grandmaster Flash invented Turntablism:

The DJ’s at the time were picking up the arm and dropping it down exactly on the break of the song. But i was dancing, and i noticed everybody’s head was bobbing at the same time, and then suddenly everyone’s head would go in disarray, and then come back together again.  I found this to be very strange.  From that moment, i decided to come up with a science that would allow me to have full control to manually edit the beat.  I came up with the science called Quick Mix theory. It consisted of me having to do something that DJ’s at the time never did: placing my finger on the vinyl. I was ridiculed for a long time. I was told that i ruined needles, ruined styluses, ruined records, and also that placing my fingers on the vinyl was something DJ’s never did because I’d make the record filthy. But i knew that i had to do it to have full control over the vinyl

Written by Mike Lewis

April 1st, 2008 at 9:00 am

Posted in Art,Music,Quote

In Defense of Boredom

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In the latest copy of The Week, i read a great article about boredom. My favorite lines:

To be bored is to stop reacting to the external world, and to explore the internal one. It is in reflection that people often discover something new, whether it is an epiphany about a relationship or a new theory about the way the universe works. Granted many people emerge from boredom feeling that they have accomplished nothing. But is accomplishment really the point of life? There is a strong argument that boredom – so often parodied as a glassy-eyed drooling state of nothingness – is an essential human emotion that underlies art, literature, philosophy, science, and even love.

If you think of boredom as the prelude to creativity, and loneliness as the prelude to engagement of the imagination, then they are good things. They are doorways to something better, as opposed to something to be abhorred and eradicated immediately

I agree – solitary time whether hiking or running or just thinking is a great thing. With my cell phone, Tivo, iPod, work, and busy schedule, it doesn’t happen as often but i do think it’s important. You agree?

To further illustrate this last point. Check out this quote from JK Rowling talking about her experience sitting board on a train:

It was extraordinary, because i had never planned to write for children. Harry came to me immediately, as did the school and a few of the other characters such as Nearly Headless Nick, the ghost whose head is not quite cut off. The train was delayed, and for hours i sat there thinkig and thinking and thinking… The irony is I almost always have pen and paper; I write all the time. And on this one occassion when i had the idea of my life, I didn’t have a pen. For hour hours my head was buzzing. It was probably the best thing, because I ended up working the whole thinking out before i got off the train

Written by Mike Lewis

March 31st, 2008 at 10:12 am

Muppet Viewing for your Friday

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Here it is for your viewing pleasure – some muppets that were on display at the Photoshop contest at worth1000. Check ‘em out:

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Written by Mike Lewis

March 7th, 2008 at 5:54 pm

Posted in Art,Funny,Photographs

Beauty – Looking vs. Eating

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I read this post on Caterina Flake’s blog. I thought it was worth a repost. I love the concept of looking vs. eating. I believe we live in a culture that is consistently eating rather than appreciating.

“Beauty is the only finality here below. As Kant said very aptly, it is a finality which involves no objective. A beautiful thing involves no good except itself, in its totality, as it appears to us. We are drawn toward it without knowing what to ask of it. It offers its own existence. We do not desire something else, we possess it, and yet we still desire something. We do not know in the least what it is. We want to get behind beauty, but it is only a surface. It is like a mirror that sends us back our own desire for goodness. It is a sphinx, an enigma, a mystery which is painfully tantalizing. We should like to feed upon it, but it is only something to look at; it appears only from a certain distance.
The great trouble in human life is that looking and eating are two different operations. Only beyond the sky, in the country inhabited by God, are they one and the same operation. … It may be that vice, depravity and crime are nearly always … in their essence, attempts to eat beauty, to eat what we should only look at.”

–Simone Weil

Written by Mike Lewis

February 26th, 2008 at 1:13 pm

Posted in Art,Quote

All-Wooden Bike

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I love this. Some high-school kid built a wooden bike. Everything is wood – even the chain. Pretty sweet (from Gizmodo)

Written by Mike Lewis

January 25th, 2008 at 11:11 am

Ron Mueck is the coolest artist i've seen in a long time

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Finally, a truly modern sculptor.

Ron Mueck is a London-based photo-realist artist. Born in Australia to parents who were toy makers, he labored on children’s television shows for 15 years (like Fraggle Rock) before working in special effects for such films as Labyrinth, a 1986 fantasy epic starring David Bowie.

Eventually Mueck concluded that photography destroys the physical presence of the original object, and so he turned to fine art and sculpture. In the early 1990′s, still in his advertising days, Mueck was commissioned to make something highly realistic, and was wondering what material would do the trick. Latex was the usual, but he wanted something harder, more precise. Luckily, he saw a little architectural decor on the wall of a boutique and inquired as to the nice, pink stuff’s nature. Fiberglass resin was the answer, and Mueck has made it his bronze and marble ever since.

His work is lifelike but not life size, and being face to face with the tiny, gossiping Two Women (2005) or the monumental woman In Bed (2005) is an unforgettable experience. The Big Man is in DC and i’ll definitely go check it out soon.

 

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Lewis

August 16th, 2007 at 9:13 am

Posted in Art,Washington DC