REM: Sound 2 – Faith

George Michael’s 1987 hit ‘Faith’ literally never fails to cheer me up and make me smile. I don’t know what it is about the song but it’s close to my heart. I wondered if I would still love the song as much if I were to spend hours remixing it, and decided to put it to the test. (The answer was actually ‘yes’ – I still love it.)
I repeated the first two bars of the song over and over and decided to put five other 90’s and early 00’s songs with it. Some tracks worked better than others in this remix, and I struggled with the tempo changes, again. They’re all songs I used to play too often when I was younger, so I find this to be a very nostalgic remix.


REM: Sound 1 – Cluster

This was my first attempt at remixing sound for this assignment. I basically just imported a bunch of songs I like into Audacity and tried to link them together with drum beats I found. It was harder than I thought it would be to make the tempo of the songs match up. I loved how Dance Of The Sugarplum Fairy sounded with a beat, as it sorta mixes my love for classical with my love to dance to house music. After that however, it got a little messy. I’ve always been a fan of a good buildup and beat drop, so I tried to incorporate that and lead it to El Tango De Roxanne – which I also thought sounded pretty cool with drums. Then I placed other tracks (7 all up) in between to try and make it flow. I’m not sure how well it works to be honest, but regardless, it can definitely be described as a ‘cluster’ of my favourite songs.

REM: Image 2 – Gender Swap

I figured that if I was gonna remix stuff, I might as well draw inspiration from the things I love. Disney films have been a huge part of my life, so I decided I wanted to change the look of one of my favourite films – and ultimately I came up with the idea of gender-swapping Peter and Wendy from Disney’s 1953 film ‘Peter Pan’. In order to do this, I had to change their hair, facial structure, facial features and clothing – which I accomplished with the brush tool, clone stamp tool, and a lot of layers. I based them on each other’s composition, for example female-Peter’s lips use Wendy’s colouring, and male-Wendy’s eyebrows copy Peter’s structure. It wasn’t an easy task, but I’m happy with the outcome.


Peter (left) was a bit more difficult than Wendy (right). Despite having to fix the background, it’s much easier to crop hair than to add more on, and his eye caused me a bit of trouble. Apparently masculine features are difficult to make feminine. Also I’m a bit in love with Wendy’s adorably short haircut, not gonna lie.


Here’s the original for comparison. (Click for better quality on both images)

REM: Image 1 – Owl

I wanted to change an image to a point where it looked completely different. In order to do this, I reduced an owl vector image to just lines by getting rid of all the white, multiplied it eight times and rotated each layer a certain amount of degrees. Now it reminds me of something I could have drawn with a spirograph set in my childhood.

remix ver  image1.2

REM: But should it be illegal??

Our social norms have developed too fast for the law to keep up.  The rules and restrictions in place are out of touch in the way of how quickly we are evolving and changing as a society of people with access to new technology. It’s easy to say ‘downloading licensed music without paying for it is illegal’ but it’s equally as easy to say ‘stuff it, I’m downloading it anyway’.

It’s too easy and convenient to break copyright law. Would you rather buy a DVD with about 20 warnings before the movie actually starts, telling you not to illegally copy the dvd, or would you rather download it for free off the internet with no ads? Well personally, I like owning DVDs and as a media creator I believe we should support the films and music we like – so I can live through the annoying propaganda. However it’s easy to see the irony in this. Punishing the person who isn’t doing any wrong. Something as simple as this is a good demonstration of how the law is a bit behind the times.

A lot of us don’t see the harm in illegally downloading content. We use the reason ‘I wouldn’t have paid for it in the first place so they’re not losing any sales – i’m only doing it cause it’s free’, which makes sense, in a way – and I think this is an excellent point. I’m sure so many of us watch, read and listen to content simply because its there and accessible to us. I know for a fact that people who consider themselves ‘true fans’ of a band or tv show, will probably buy CDs and box sets and all the rest because we appreciate the work and want hard copies. My personal opinion is essentially that if you love something enough, you should support it if you can – but if you’re just looking for a movie to watch on a Thursday night and you come across some random movie on the Internet, there’s nothing wrong with watching it and breaking a few ‘laws’.

However, as important as it seems to support the music and film industry, there are other ways that creators make money. Even if 100 000 people illegally download a band’s music and they don’t get profit from the CDs and iTunes tracks, chances are that there’s 10 000 of those people who are going to buy merchandise and concert tickets. Just a thought.

To be honest, I believe ‘illegal’ downloading is ‘okay’ as long as it adheres to our society’s beliefs and values. We’re all just downloading films to watch ourselves, not so we can sell them on the black market and make mega bucks of other people’s work (which obviously is done in some places – and is slightly not as okay). 3D printing is beginning to take off, which is amazing, but also kinda scary. It was mentioned in class how people can basically download guns and weapons now. That, I believe, is not okay. If someone is downloading illegal content so they can then have illegal weaponry in their house, it’s no longer chill. It’s not harmless, and it’s not because the law hasn’t caught up to technology. Obviously the person downloading the gun may have their own reasons for it, but there are proper channels to go through in order to be allowed to use dangerous weapons in the country, and I think bypassing that is a proper offence. It’s no longer a debate about having a good time on the Internet – it’s deeper and more complicated.

I don’t have the answers to what’s acceptable to download and what’s not – but my personal opinion is that as long as no one is in danger, and as long as we support our favourite artists and creators in other ways, it’s A-OK.

REM: Hyperlinked Essay

We live in a culture that thrives from using and adapting other people’s inventions and theories.  All creation requires influence – we get ideas from other ideas that came before ours.  The term ‘remixing’ originally had a precise and a narrow meaning that gradually became diffused. With each element of a song – vocals, drums, etc. – available for separate manipulation, it became possible to “re-mix” the song. Gradually the term became more and more broad, today referring to any reworking of already existing cultural work(s).  Some forms of remix are legally ‘more okay’ than others however, due to what the authority of the matter deems as other people’s property, which is why we have patents and copyright laws.  Everyone has the right to be credited (and paid) for something they created – but is it not also true that everyone has the creative freedom to make what we want to make?

Regardless of its’ legality, it is undeniable that we remix everything.  And that means, almost literally everything.  What defines a remix is broader than a lot of people probably think it is.  It’s common to see remix in certain places where it is deemed acceptable, for example in clubs or at live events where a DJ plays their own mashup of hit pop songs and weird beats no one has ever heard before. Although, this point of something ‘never being heard before’ is arguable because almost every song nowadays is made up of parts from earlier songs. According to Ethan Hein, there are no original ideas. There are novel combinations of old ideas, but it’s neither possible nor desirable to make a genuinely new and unprecedented piece of music. If you want to hear truly original music, bang randomly on a piano keyboard. You’ll be playing something new and unprecedented, but it probably won’t be something you’d want to hear twice. Or even once, for that matter.  We as people tend to stick to what we know and we don’t like change – which almost explains why films, tv and books remix the same material over and over yet get box office hits.

It’s so incredibly easy to edit other people’s content considering that we all carry technology with us every day.  We have iPhones with apps that can edit with the touch of a screen, as well as free editing programs for download onto any type of computer.  However, accessible as remix is, we have rules and restrictions set upon us by certain bodies in attempt to stop us from remixing other people’s content, for example the algorithms on YouTube that delete a video that has copyrighted material.

Even creators as famous as George Lucas used other people’s work to create his own, as we can see from the many shots that replicate older films in Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope.  It puts remix into perspective when we realise that some really, really good things come from (essentially) stealing other people’s ideas.  However we have a choice to see it as a crime, like the authoritative idealogical state apparatuses enforce, or see it as a tribute to those before us – almost like saying, ‘thanks for the idea, I appreciate your creativity and now I’m going to use it.’

REM: The Big ’09 Mashup

One of the most well known remixes of my generation so far is Blame It On The Pop. DJ Earworm’s 2009 instalment of United State of Pop is his biggest hit, with over 46 million views on YouTube. Five years ago this was an incredibly huge thing (at least within my circles) and I can guarantee that every single teenager in my school had heard it. Every now and again I would hear a stranger listening to it loud through their headphones or answering a call with it as their ringtone. What made it so awesome was that he smashed together verses, phrases and beats from the Top 25 Hits of the year, and somehow it worked incredibly well. It probably wouldn’t sound as exciting to someone who wasn’t alive or into pop music in 2009, however I know that whenever it plays in my car, regardless of who I have sitting with me, they will undeniably sing along – usually knowing every single word.

Not to mention that in the cosplay world, Blame It On The Pop became part of a YouTube fad where cosplayers made music videos to the song displaying all the characters they dress up as. This was known as Blame It On The Cosplay and was initiated by Parle Productions. (There is at least 200 of these videos still on YouTube.) This was within itself, a remix of a remix – the pop hits of the year mashed into a song, transformed later into a string of music videos. This song was a big deal so I’m sure there’s plenty of other (bigger) places the ’09 hit went – but this is one that I remember particularly well.

There’s just something charming and now nostalgic about this remix and I can’t stop loving it.

When it comes down to debating the authenticity of remix and whether it is ‘real’ or ‘original’ content or not, I believe Blame It On The Pop is a great example. Sure, none of the media that DJ Earworm used is his own, however he used what he had access to and made something creative and awesome (not to mention, catchy). The Internet is full of remixes like this – it’s what a lot os us spend our time watching and viewing. From simple memes to mashup videos to parodies, it’s weird to think how different (and boring) the online world would be without them. And when – like Blame It On The Pop – they cross over into the ‘real world’ it really puts into perspective how important remix is to our culture.

REM: Uneccessary Connection

A really cool thing about remix is how people find meaning in meaningless media.  We’re constantly trying to find reason or explanations for things that don’t necessarily need to have an explanation.  It’s not unlike how in high school english classes we (over) analyse texts to a point where we’re essentially making up stuff the author wouldn’t have even thought of – aka, the curtains are blue to symbolise the sadness to come, the bird flying past represents Mary’s need to fly away and be free, the picture of an ocean on the wall represents … I don’t know, Susan’s love for fish??. It can be a little ridiculous at times, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  What I believe this tells us, is that as a society we’re constantly trying to understand and learn – even if there isn’t anything to be learnt from it.

In general, we do assume more than we should, however.  We make judgements literally every day about people, places and things that we don’t know anything about.  It’s not always negative but literally everyone does it.  I know I personally have a mental policy on not presuming anything about anyone before I get to know them, but I can’t stop myself from making judgements on passing people – even if it’s something as little as admiring someone’s shoes and complimenting their fashion sense mentally.

This all relates back to remix culture due to our habit of contextualising objects that need not be contextualised.  When you put two things next to each other, they’re automatically connected or related.  Image wise, if you put a picture of a chicken next to a picture of a gun, one could presume it’s either a statement about how we treat animals and livestock, or someone really hates chickens.  It’s a silly example but I’m sure that the majority of us would make some sort of assumption about the meaning of the chicken and gun in a split second.

My favourite example of this will forever be Marcel Duchamp, the legend who put a urinal in an art gallery.  Due to society’s need to over-analyse as well as tendency to believe in and stick to convention, we give the ‘Fountain’ (1917) meaning, simply because it was in an art gallery instead of where it was supposed to be (a bathroom).  Art gallery + urinal = reflection on what really constitutes as a piece of ‘art’.  What would we assume if the fountain was pink? Would it be a statement on gender and colour gender stereotypes?  What would change if we stuck a religious image on the fountain?  Would we assume the artist was implying that urinals are unholy?  Or what if we made the urinal 10 times bigger?  Would it imply that we’re all living in a giant toilet?

This is just scratching the surface but I’m sure the point comes across.  We can remix several things together and we automatically assume a different meaning from the original – but we can also have just one thing and change it’s variables (location, time, colour etc) in order to form a completely different creation.

REM: Vector vs Bitmap

In simple terms, a bitmap image is one made up of lots of tiny different coloured pixels. This differs from a vector, which rather than being made up by tiny dots, is coded by instruction. Vectors generally have sharper and nicer lines and edges, and don’t pixelate when you zoom up or look in real close. They each have their uses however, for example fonts and logos are usually vectors – while photographs viewed on a computer screen are usually bitmaps.

In class we took images of vectors from the Internet (which technically are bitmaps as Google transforms them into jpegs) and transformed them into something new. I took a simple vector of a pin-up girl, duplicated her several times and changed her into some kind of weird looking monster wheel thing. vector1

We then attempted to make a symmetrical face by cropping a celebrity in half and using a horizontally flipped copy on the other side. For quite a few of us, the results weren’t quite as creepy as we expected. As it turns out, some celebrities do have relatively symmetrical faces, such as Chris Pratt, who I edited. We then attempted to turn the celebrity into a vector image, which involved transforming the image to black and white and then manually upping the contrast about twenty times until we’re satisfied. I tried doing it a different way by using the ‘threshold’ adjustment, and the result was almost exactly the same (but a lot easier to achieve). To spice things up a little, I added a vector edit I had whipped up earlier ( – a bunch of hands I morphed together that I thought almost looked like a spider).

chris-pratt-bio-photo vector2  vector3
I suppose what’s learnt here is that the two don’t necessarily have to be isolated. You can remix both vector and bitmap based images together to create something cool.