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March 20, 2009
"Mash Up" Just Seems So Inadequate
These days lots of people send me links to things they think are interesting and Copyfight-able material. I don't want to discourage people, but I can't possibly blog every one. Cory Doctorow I am not.
But I did want to use this video of interesting images from Google Earth to jump off into a bigger thought or more like a set of related questions. I'm sure there are dozens or hundreds of such videos, and this one combines many individual interesting 'finds' that people have discovered and posted. This one isn't unique but it's got me thinking.
It seems like we've got several things going on here, and we lack language for it. I feel like this is a new art form, but I don't know how to talk about it, much less what to call it. When someone makes art that's only visible from space because he KNOWS satellites will photograph it, and then someone else puts the image into a montage of deliberate art and found objects and natural-things-that-look-like-they-were-made-as-art, and someone else sets that montage to music with dramatic timing, gorgeous camera swoops, and almost narrative pauses built in... what do we call that?
Mash-up, the hip term of the day, seems so horribly inadequate. Plus the term is overused. I first heard it in reference to a style of musical mixing that involved taking two tunes and beat-maching them while intersampling parts like lyrics and vocals. That in itself is a fun art form, if somewhat copyright-transgressive. But what's the relationship of that to this? Not much that I can see.
And isn't there something essential to this art in that it's placed on the net for free distribution? Wouldn't it be something different if we saw it in a movie theater, confined to our seats? Would it be different yet again if it was played on the wall of a club and we were encouraged to dance to it?
I have a lot of questions, and no answers. But I'm convinced that if this isn't being taught in design schools right now then they're doing their students a disservice.
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