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RE/Mixed Media Festival brings (remastered) beat to Brooklyn
BY SCOTT STIFFLER | Not since Gutenberg’s printing press liberated monks from the grim task of hand transcription has a new leap in technology allowed ideas to proliferate, mutate and spawn endless forms of expression.
Back in the good old 1980s, two turntables and a microphone gave DJs the freedom to put their own philosophical stamp on the work of others by mixing and matching disparate vinyl tracks. Radical at the time, it was just the first wave of a sea change in how we consume and digest music. Add a few extra gadgets over the next decade or so – home computers, the Internet and mixing software – and you’ve got nothing short of a velvety, beat-driven digital revolution with eyes set on crashing, crunching and recontextualizing creative content.
In 2010, Tom Tenney saw the writing on the wall – and founded the RE/Mixed Media Festival, in order to “bring public awareness and generate conversation around the vibrant art and practice of remix.”
Moby, Steinski, Ricky Powell, Sweatshoppe, Deanna Zandt, Jesper Juul and dozens of other artists, performers, musicians and DJs joined in the conversation that first year. In 2011, over 1,000 attendees soaked up and processed live performance, music, film and panel discussions all in the service, says Tenney, of “exploring the art of remix.”
That academic approach to appropriation calls to mind a more fully realized vision of the bold declaration made by Francis Ford Coppola when VHS camcorders first came into vogue. With crude filmmaking now available to the masses, he reasoned, the next cinematic genius would surely be an unassuming girl who used the hand-held device and create a masterpiece. In reality, camcorders spawned “America’s Funniest Home Videos” instead of countless celluloid auteurs.
But digital technology, reasons Tenney, has finally delivered on the promise of Coppola’s glimpse of things to come – by “empowering artists and consumers alike to access media creation tools that were previously limited to professionals. The result is an explosion of creativity – of remix, user-generated content and art that pushes the limits of copyright and tinkers with the premise of intellectual property.”
That’s the marrow of what RE/Mixed Media Festival digs into. Here are some of the highlights:
• A partnership with Rome, Italy’s MAshRome Film Festival (which screens mash up and remix endeavors) will bring “Archet-Hip-Hop, The Greek Theatre In Remix” to American audiences. It’s described as “Greek theatre meets contemporary arts, the performance mixes theatre, cinema, music and dance mixed all together on the same stage, to give life to a new language.” The film features music from composer and outspoken copyright law critic Ryuichi Sakamoto.
•”Where Classics and Cartoons Collide” has comic book artist R. Sikoryak presenting a reading and slide show from “Masterpiece Comics” (his reimagining of literary classics, told in the style of famous cartoons).
•The fest’s keynote address, “The Framework of Culture, Remix and Literature,” is given by cultural analyst Eduardo Navas (author of “Remix Theory: The Aesthetics of Sampling”).
• The experimental documentary film “Radioactive City” juxtaposes the 2011 Fukushima disaster with and an incident of sports violence at Dodger Stadium.
• Newly formed supergroup S.T.D. (which brings together Cecil Sinclair, Jason Trachtenburg and Matt Dallow) will perform. In a separate performance: Tessa Makes Love – the NYC band fronted by Russian-born, classically trained pianist and singer Tessa Lena (joined by Ian McDonald, a co-founding member of King Crimson and Foreigner).
THE 2012 RE/MIXED MEDIA FESTIVAL
Saturday, November 10
10am to Midnight
At the Brooklyn Lyceum
227 Fourth Ave., Brooklyn
For tickets ($8) and info,