(con)juncture was lawson fletcher's thought pile. Now blogging at soundofruins.net
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don't get any big ideas

How might one model the Nude Remix project? Well, it's pretty representative of things as they are musically at the moment - a hybrid broadcast/network thing:Wow, that's terrible ... Some explanation:
  • Radiohhead/Nude are the broadcaster, the centre - regardless of the whole 'you can do what you want with our song' remix contest thing, which has been played out similarly countless times before, the primacy of the original always stands. But no longer as the authoritative master-text, but rather a sort of set of signifiers to be put to use, shuffled (now that's a cultural mode!). The Internet mediation of this whole exercise just exacerbates the level, not the quality, of this remix comp in relation to previous ones (?). This is not the death of the authored-text, but its reconstitution in network.
  • All the lines coming off the circle are the remix stems - clearly I wasn't going to draw 2,254 lines so you'll just have to imagine that many (that's what the poorly-drawn infinity symbol is for too). They stand alone to one another but are all crucially linked through the fulcrum of the original song and the voting system, which I suppose is what those lines between the stems represent. But then that's not accurate, because as per the vote mechanism I would need to structure this thing as a dual hierarchy (a two-step flow?) - the top is Nude originally, with a hierarchised network of remixes below that have their own top and bottom (most/least votes or plays). Shit this is getting complicated.
  • By design (website design too) there is nothing that would seem to privilege any one remix over the other for voters prior to its content (considering the title as content too - who wants to listen to the 'Nude Beethoven-Heiligenstabt Remix'?). But then the way the front page defaults to viewing the top ten remixes by 'most popular' creates a kind of domino effect where the ten on display there are continually voted for more often (just because they are there, easily accessible) than the thousands of others that lie in the 'random' button.
  • Then of course, I'd need to add something to represent the outside of the site, because clearly influencing the number of votes something garners is its promotion on other websites, blogs, editorials, etc. These all have their own hierarchies. This is getting silly.
If anything, this whole thing proves the futility of modelling events like this. What I just wanted to get at originally, which almost escapes me now, is that democratisation/diffusion of control is only ever ostensible; the producer's power is crystallised by being spun off into countless user iterations. And that sums up Web 2.0 and music's existence on it.

1 comment:

James said...

I love this post.

One cannot kill the author, despite every second French philosphy professor's attempt to do so in the late 20th century. This is only highlighted by remix projects such as nude, in which the centrality of the work is only highlighted further by the wonderful, innovation which forms around it in the form of the remix.

However I think it's important to focus on the term web 2.0. I'm becoming increasingly aware of it in people's work (including my own) to quote that phrase and then claim it as the saviour/destroyer of culture. However the term actually encompasses alot of things to do with media/authorship and culture and i think that it's important to deconstruct the concepts underlying the actual issues rather than just name-dropping the phrase 'web 2.0'. God knows I'm going to.

I don't think what's at stake here is web 2.0. I know because I totally agreed with your statement of the centrality of the nude work in the world of remix. However (and here's where the web 2.0 failing commes in), the problem with talking about the democratisation of media is the assumption is that the author must either be all powerful or rather we must find the author's rotting carcass at the bottom of a deep ravine. The phrase democratisation/diffusion of control is only ever ostensible highlights this. It's clear here that control is placed in the hands of Radiohead.

However while i place the nude work as a central focus of the piece, I think it's important that a text is free flowing and constructed through a number of channels. Barthes highlights this when he notes that a text is a 'tissue of quotations' on his way to murdering the author. I disagree with his central tenent that the author is dead as I disagree with the concept that the author has full control of his work. I think what we see in this remix project (which is also a much limited concept of remix than what is currently flying around the netz) as well as in other work is a space of negotation. Neither author nor reader has ultimate control but instead has the ability to distort and twist the way a text is understood.

I think the 'control' of a text has always been shared between reader and author and is much more than ostensible, it has been before the internet and will be during the age of the internet. I equally question notions of wresting control from the author and dumbass tech determinist notions but one doesn't have to cry revolution and stick a flag in the author's heart to realise that the playing field between author and reader hasn't been leveled recently but instead is part of a long tradition of appropriation, re-imagination, negotiation and re-creation.

We just get to use cooler tools now.