Fan/Remix Video special issue in TWC

I’m thrilled to finally share with you my special issue of the online journal Transformative Works and Cultures, co-edited with Francesca Coppa. Two years in the making, this project brings together new scholarship and multimedia from across the continuum of fan/remix video. One of our animating concerns was the intersections and tensions between fan vidding practice/study and more visible trends in viral video and “remix culture” at large. I believe that the resulting dossier exemplifies a nuanced and historically aware perspective on today’s online video ecosystem, with differing critical evaluations but a consistent respect for the contributions of diverse subcultures.

Fan/Remix Video – Contents

The issue adds to what I have experienced as an ongoing conversation over the past five years amongst academics, artists, and activists working on/in various spheres of vernacular video. Vidders, for example, have become increasingly attuned to the relationship of their creations and community to more male-dominated genres of fanworks and to YouTube’s spreadable culture of memes and mashups — a trend documented in certain vids that have attained critical or “viral” acclaim, remixers’ stylistic influence by vidders (and vice versa), and “meta” vids that comment on this larger context. In our introduction, I wanted to embody the spirit of remix as much as possible by incorporating references and artifacts from these networked discourses. This culminated, for my part, in a critical video component — a vid I’m calling “Oh Internet (A Vidding/Remix Romance)”:

Audio: Oh, Internet by Harto (Hannah Hart) and Creator&Distractor

By drawing on the excellent selection of citations and authors in the issue as my video sources, I hoped to evoke visually the fertility and unruliness of collisions between forms and cultures that we’re witnessing in remix today. The tone of this work is largely set by the song, a tender (if tongue-in-cheek) ode to geeky internet technologies and communities. It’s a recent slightly viral hit from the YouTube-famous creator of the vlog My Drunk Kitchen, inspired by anti-SOPA campaigns. Editing a music video to this song mingles vidding conventions of format and female “voice” with references to mainstream cyberculture. Styling the story as an anthropomorphic romance (evidently a “het” one, although marked by a /) between Vidding and Remix also invokes both feminine/feminist themes of intimacy and desire and some of the parodic critical distance more common to political remix. So the song choice establishes themes of hybridity within the frame of a love ballad — sweet and harmonious, but not without fear of loss.

The video consists of a remix of remixes that I expect rewards greater familiarity with the footage in terms of parsing its narrative structure (e.g. Vidding sings to Remix in the first verse; Remix sings to Vidding in the second verse). I intended for at least some of the complex connections and contestations between heterogenous artists and art forms to come across. The visual sophistication of my source material necessitated using longer clips, so I employed a simple digital technique called “datamoshing” on many of the transitions (this tutorial from Bob Weisz taught me how). Basically: by manually deleting a keyframe, you generate a distortion that makes the moving parts of a new clip emerge out of the image in the previous clip. The juxtapositions and moshed pixels celebrate the capacity of remix to generate collective and passionate interventions but equally suggest that its appropriations can be misrepresentative and violent.

Let me know what you think! You should also check out a series of trailers created for the issue by Kevin Tomasura — they appear in the introduction and OTW’s announcement.

4 Comment

  1. When I first saw this I was going to send you a message telling you that it looked like some I-frames dropped during conversion. I think this is the downside of knowing too much about digital video 🙂

    1. jlr says:

      LOL! I had to warn everyone I showed it to in beta: “it’s supposed to look all distorted like that!”

  2. You could definitely see your enthusiasm within the work you write. The world hopes for more passionate writers such as you who are not afraid to say how they believe. Always follow your heart.

  3. […] I hope to have more news to share here soon. In the meantime, I’d like to link you to the latest Transformative Works and Cultures special issue, which is a magisterial collection on Fan/Remix video. There are articles about fannish vidding, political remix, and everything in between, from a variety of perspectives both in and out of the academy. Julie Levin Russ even created a beautiful example of scholarly remix as a frame for the collection, one that’s also a commentary about online culture and our affective investments in it. She talks about it at her blog. […]

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