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.