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Against recreativity: Critics and artists are...

Oct 05, 2012
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Against recreativity: Critics and artists are obsessed with remix culture

Over at Slate, Simon Reynolds lumps a recent crop of books on remixing and artistic theft (mine included) into a field called “recreativity.” His final point:


  The stealing and the storing is the easy part. The much harder—and forever mysterious—stage is the transformation of the borrowed materials.  Recreativity has nothing to say about this stage of the process, the bit where, every so often, genius comes into play. It’s not the fact or the act of theft but what’s done with the stolen thing that counts: the spin added that “makes it new” (to twist slightly the modernist injunction of Ezra Pound, a major exponent of quotation and allusion himself).  The hallmark, or proof, of genius, in fact, is not merely transmitting or remixing. It’s fashioning something that others will someday want to steal.


Not sure if Reynolds made it to the end of chapter two in my book (all the pull quotes he uses are from chapter one) but here’s the last paragraph:


  In the end, merely imitating your heroes is not flattering them. Transforming their work into something of your own is how you flatter them. Adding something to the world that only you can add.


Or, stealing a bit from Coppola, how I usually end the Steal talk:


  Take [the thing you’ve stolen] back to your desk, combine it with your own ideas and your thoughts, transform it into something new, and then put it out into the world so we can steal from you.

Against recreativity: Critics and artists are obsessed with remix culture

Over at Slate, Simon Reynolds lumps a recent crop of books on remixing and artistic theft (mine included) into a field called “recreativity.” His final point:

The stealing and the storing is the easy part. The much harder—and forever mysterious—stage is the transformation of the borrowed materials. Recreativity has nothing to say about this stage of the process, the bit where, every so often, genius comes into play. It’s not the fact or the act of theft but what’s done with the stolen thing that counts: the spin added that “makes it new” (to twist slightly the modernist injunction of Ezra Pound, a major exponent of quotation and allusion himself). The hallmark, or proof, of genius, in fact, is not merely transmitting or remixing. It’s fashioning something that others will someday want to steal.

Not sure if Reynolds made it to the end of chapter two in my book (all the pull quotes he uses are from chapter one) but here’s the last paragraph:

In the end, merely imitating your heroes is not flattering them. Transforming their work into something of your own is how you flatter them. Adding something to the world that only you can add.

Or, stealing a bit from Coppola, how I usually end the Steal talk:

Take [the thing you’ve stolen] back to your desk, combine it with your own ideas and your thoughts, transform it into something new, and then put it out into the world so we can steal from you.

(Source: )

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