Remix, Rediscover, Reinvent

As an artist, I have spent many years struggling so hard over the idea of “remixing.” It is a topic that I never approach lightly, because of how close its boundaries hug the line of plagiarism within the realm of creativity. I think the reason that I struggle with it so much is because of my aversion to the original art history movement that started this idea of remixing – pop art. I thoroughly dislike the ideals set by artists such as Marcel Duchamp (mentioned in the chapter) and Andy Warhol. To me, their works are unoriginal, because in a sense they were producing copies of things that already existed in our world and claiming them as art since they were created with art materials and an artistic audience in mind. While this was a revolutionary idea in the art community for its time (forcing the viewer to confront the mundane and over-marketed images with an artistic view) the works themselves are just replicas of everyday objects such as soup can labels, toilets, bicycle wheels, pipes, and other objects. After studying this movement for many years in college, I never gained a greater appreciation for this movement, only a bigger distaste for it. The other reason that it challenges me is that I often find it difficult to separate my own work as my own when I rely so heavily on other people’s resources and creations for inspiration. Don’t get me wrong, I do look to other works of art to become inspired, but what I’m saying is that if I spend more than half of my time remixing someone else’s work it never truly feels like mine. For these reasons, the chapter “Music Remix in the Classroom” from this week really challenged my perception on what it means to be inspired by another work of art.

The sentence that really set my mind at ease about this new idea of remixing music in this chapter stated the following: “However, remixing is not simply taking somebody else’s intellectual property and putting your name on it.” This is what I have been trying to say for many years. As I studied artists like Warhol, who decided that his signature was the work of art and by placing it upon whatever he pleased the image would then also transform into art, I became disgusted by the pretension behind this act of taking what’s not yours and making it only slightly different for the sake of making a statement. So when the chapter opened up with this sentence, I realized that there can be more to remixing than simply copying. Instead, it should be thought of as a conversation. The remixes exist not as a way to copy someones work, but to show an understanding and appreciation for the original while also allowing new artists to add to the conversation that was started in the original. To me, this makes a lot more sense, and brings value to the educational table through students engaging in interpretation, communication, and collaboration skills. Something I eventually realized about myself through this reading, too, is that I’ve been enjoying remixing for quite some time in my music library without even realizing it. The following are examples that I have identified to be appropriate remixes without overstepping the bounds of the original works of art.

Original Remix
Rehab by Amy Winehouse

Toxic by Britney Spears

Rehab/Toxic Remix by Anonymous
Down with the Sickness by Disturbed Down with the Sickness by Richard Cheese

Over the the course of my life I have learned the difference between using a resource to become inspired and copying a resource without adding my own flair, but the question I keep hitting a wall on over and over again is “how do we teach this skill to students?” This is something I still haven’t answered for myself, but I am seeking input and responses so that I can lead my students down the path that delicately balances self-expression with inspiration.

Chapter 3 of this text did not provoke as much of an emotional response from me as Chapter 2 did, but I wanted to recognize it within this post, if only in a small way. I have been listening to many podcasts for a long time (as you may have noticed in my blog post titled, “We’re Alive.“). I really see the power of engagement in them for myself, and I would one day love to try using podcasts in the classroom. I do not, however, have any particular ideas in mind about how to do this in math, but if anyone has ideas for me I would be glad to read about them in the comments below.

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