plasticity and re-mix

Plasticity a term from Sergei Eisenstein that referred to the fluidity and creative potential of animation that extended more profoundly than mere visual surface. It is the conflict of images in a montage of attraction in which the plasticity generates a response in the spectator , an attraction of assembly, emotional shock, that extends or escapes over the wall of a conventional depiction of reality yet results in a performance that Eisenstein termed “immediate reality.”

The premise of the power of video is that we are increasingly a culture that engages in dialog through an audio visual language. The communication of experience- think Walter Benjamin’s The Storyteller- is transferred to a language constructed of pixels that both pierces through and is mediated by, the norms, conventions, and standardization of images that increasingly define our communal lives. This new design culture based on an architecture of the computer, a “matrix of sensations” as Donald Kuspit has said, is an essential part of our participation in society.

---Eisenstein, in fact, made the point that a dynamic work of art, as opposed to a “lifeless” one, is not fixed or ready-made, but arises--is born. The image planned by author, director and actor is concretized by them in separate representational elements, and is assembled--again and finally--in the spectator’s perception. This is actually the final aim of every artist’s creative endeavor.--- Read More:

Henry Jenkins interviewing Jonathan McIntosh:

From my point of view it seems clear that vidding is not only an integral part of remix history but vidding practice can also can teach political remixers an enormous amount on a wide range of practices and techniques. Through my engagement with vids and vidders I have gained invaluable insights about the fannish use of narratives and pop culture characters in remix videos. When I look at vidding I see as a core element the idea that it is possible to simultaneously enjoy and love a television show while also being critical of aspects of the show’s writing, characters, story arc, embedded messages etc.

Most people engage with mass media stories in a subtle and complex way – we both love it and are critical of it. I’m slightly embarrassed to admit this now but I didn’t really understand this tension very well before I learned about vidding. I think that part of the resistance to vidding I encounter from other political remixers might be related to this point. They may be uncomfortable with the fannish and or sympathetic relationship that vidders have to their source because self-conscious political remixers often have a relationship of ridicule or animosity to their source….

---For Eisenstein, the realization of the theory isn’t just the juxtaposition of disparate elements, but the clash of conflicting images that’s the most effective kind of montage. Indeed, he called his technique “collision montage,” which Meyerhold described as “the conflict of episodes, each one conflicting with the next.” The effect is generated by a clash of contrasting components in a kind of thesis-antithesis-synthesis dialectic. --- Read More: image:

The language, the communication aspect, is grounded in codes, abstract codes that speak through an image that is secondary; a visual cover for a non-linear narrative which is the central vehicle of the creative act in its construction. The concept of the code is the primary creative act. Kuspit: The image no longer exists in its own right, but now exists only to make the invisible code visible, whatever the material medium. It makes no difference to the code whether it appears as a two-dimensional or three-dimensional image.

…Political remix video can be a blunt tool that uses ridicule as a way to expose hypocrisy, illuminate tropes, and talk back to power – but it is a little harder to use the form in more subtle ways (especially if you still want to get the lolz).

Learning about vidding really gave me permission to embrace my fannish-side as a political remixer instead of hiding or being ashamed of it. It would have been impossible for me to conceive of making either “Buffy vs Edward” or “Right Wing Radio Duck” without the positive influence of vidding on me and on my work. In both I rely on my fannish (and therefore sympathetic) view of one pop culture icon (The Slayer and Donald Duck) which I use to critique another popular culture character or story (Glenn Beck and Twili

Edward Cullen)….

For Eisenstein, the plastic quality of the image- the squashing, shape forming abstractions- was not equated with mere appearance but a deeper aspect surrounding the material conditions of its production; elements that reflected the workings of the unconscious the interplay of  suppressive qualities and disavowal of obsessions and desires usually of a sexual or violent nature.

…I would also say that political remix video does not really have a self-conscious or intentional community, at least not in the same way that communities have coalesced around vidding, AMVs or machinima. The love of source material(s) seems to be part of the glue that holds vidding, AMV and machinima communities together. Political remix video as a genre on the other hand does not have a fandom at its core – but rather rallies around a deep shared suspicion of powerful institutions, structures and the media itself. This base of criticism is what, I think, poses challenges to building a larger sustained online community organized specifically around political remix video. Read More:


…The widespread use of automated content ID bots for removing videos from media sharing sites like YouTube has been catastrophic for remix video makers. This practice has brought about huge increases in the number of fair use works being zapped into the void by baseless copyright claims. When a creator’s remix or entire channel is deleted, not only are all their videos lost, so are all their comment, subscribers and playlists.

These video removals leave gaping holes in the Internet – and I mean that quite literally. Video embeds on blogs, forums and social networks are suddenly missing. Tweets and links to remixes are all abruptly dead or lead to YouTube’s notorious pink line of death. In the past month alone five fair use political remix videos I had planned on posting to my blog have been removed from YouTube for “infringement”. To make matters worse many DIY video creators I speak with are either not aware of their fair use rights or are afraid to rock the boat by challenging the takedowns. As a result, valuable online conversations and visual discussions are being shut down.

All of this, for me, highlights a larger problem surrounding our creative new media culture which is that it is all taking place in private corporate spaces. There are effectively zero public spaces on the Internet. The online public square has been completely privatized from the beginning. This strikes me as especially problematic because the development of the Internet was primarily done with public funds. And then it was just unquestionably handed over to corporate interests.

At the end of the day, it all boils down to corporate power and the pursuit of profits being valued far more than the public good, media literacy or a free and open culture. I see no reason why we can’t begin to create a new and truly public commons with a little good old fashioned imagination and innovation. Read More:

…I recently showcased on my blog a range of mainstream political ads which deploy pop culture references, parody, and the remixing of news clips to make their case, most often against their political opponents. What do such videos suggest about the influence which Political Remix might be having on the rhetoric and imagination of American politics?

There is no question that powerful corporate and political interests are actively attempting to co-opt the DIY video and remix aesthetic.( ibid.)

Related Posts

This entry was posted in Cinema/Visual/Audio, Feature Article, Ideas/Opinion, Marketing/Advertising/Media and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>