Everything is a Remix is produced by Kirby Ferguson, a New York-based filmmaker. It's a four-part video series that explores the challenges of originality and freshness in a world where creativity takes root in what has come before. Art cannot be created or destroyed—only remixed. Without previous inventions we would not have the iPhone, the Model T Ford, Star Wars, Warhol’s soup cans, or the electronic musician Girl Talk. Ferguson highlights that remixing, referencing and reproducing previous innovations allows artists to engage in a cultural dialogue and allows art, technology and society to continue evolving.
What Ferguson calls remixing many call plagiarizing. At the heart of US patent law is the desire to protect intellectual property rights and incentivize individual innovation by protecting it from copycatting. But Ferguson argues that these laws ultimately contradict their own intent to “promote the progress of useful arts,” stifling the root of creativity. The problem, says Ferguson, is that we think of creative works as individual property, rather than content that sits in the public domain.
“A lot of artists are used to their music being reused online and have come to accept and embrace it. You have a generation who go on YouTube and remake and remix music online all the time. They remake and upload songs and videos, and then other people remake the remakes; it just keeps going.” —Girl Talk
“Every spoof gives more power to the original.” —Shepard Fairey
“I had gotten the Jay-Z vocal tracks and wasn’t going to do anything with them. A week or so after that, I was at home in Los Angeles, listening to The Beatles and cleaning up my room. Then it hit me: Oh [bleep], White Album, Black Album. … At one point I saw that I had logged more than two hundred hours … It would have been easy just to slap the vocals over music of the same tempo. But I wanted to match the feel of the tracks, too.” —Danger Mouse, on mashing up Jay-Z and The Beatles’ classic albums into the The Grey Album