A Little More On The Remake

July 14, 2010  |  By
Filed under: Field Notes

I really loved Lynne’s terrific post about the remake, the remix, the mash-up . It’s interesting on one hand to consider how gestures of appropriation, participation, relationality are present across so many genres, from the blatantly mainstream allegiance of the pop song to the indie band translating punk or 70’s soul. These questions have also come to be critical for much experimental writing.

What especially interests me about her conversation with Eugene Cheung is Cheung’s insistence that the production of these videos is an artwork, and an artwork of which he is the “author.”  I wrote a post here for Open Space considering Felix Gonzalez-Torres and Cliff Hengst’s interventions into both private, institutional and public space. The Internet is a material space for “exhibition,” one that absorbs and complicates both private and public.

I think it’s easy to forget that the Internet, like the museum requires a ticket for admission: the machines that load this blog seem pervasive to many of us, but neither the means nor the content of the Internet are totally accessible for everyone.  And so I hesitate in calling these internet mash-ups “gifts,” as they arrive out of a culture so far estranged from any authentic experience of gift-giving. But obviously, as Lynne points out, generosity is built into the piece and its distribution, which makes it quite a bit different than the conventional art object in its commodity form.

Still, the videos Lynne posted  are comfortably understood by their makers as works of art. I also wonder about works that aren’t consciously made as art objects, but enter into our culture as viral videos. I’m not sure if terms like “art brut” or “outsider art” have an agreed-upon meaning anymore or have a lot of use for us now. But I do think of some of these pieces as being both like and not like traditional “artworks”. So check out the clips below:  the somewhat notorious clips made by actively serving American soldiers, scored by contemporary popular dance music, in this case Lady Gaga and Ke$ha.

There’s a lot, of course, to say about all of this and I don’t mean to wield “outsider art” as a reductive trope. But in thinking about the popularity and importance of so-called “relational” and “participatory” art practices, could we think of these videos in those terms? Obviously they aren’t conceived to be shown in the museum, the gallery, the institutionalized art space. Although they’re built on a major cultural phenomenon, the pop song, their makers have not attempted to assimilate them into the discourse of art, exactly.

That said, the makers of these videos do seem to be extremely conscious of the wider scope of their works. Lady Gaga and Ke$ha are extremely different artists, but both songs fit into the world of the endless party, the club scene that can’t be interrupted by romantic obligation or traditional courtship. Contrast this club scene with its carefree alcohol consumption and sublime flirtiness to the scenes in which these videos are made: boot camp and a base in Afghanistan, respectively. The irony is privileged, weird, funny, and fucked up all at once.

They’re also both heavily feminized; the irony of these voices being appropriated by male soldiers is not lost on the authors and actors. They might not finally appear redemptive or progressive, but they’re not ignorant of their codes and messages either.

2 Comments

  1. Steven Trull Says:

    Everything is happening in art today.

  2. Lynne Says:

    Hi Brandon
    I am so glad you liked the post about the mash ups.
    But I have to point out that even though I may have placed these videos in an ‘art’ context i.e., the web site of a major cultural institution, they are not considered “Art” with a capital ‘A’ by their creator, or for that matter by me. In fact what attracted me to them in the first place is that unlike so many social practitioners using conviviality in their work, Cheung and his friends claimed no more social currency for these works than that they documented a wonderful afternoon with friends and entered into a dialogue with the other video makers.

    I love, love, love the gaga response videos, she is worth a whole post alone – the queer fabulousness of telephone really does need some dissecting.
    But where I think these fan tribute video’s differ is that they are still in conversation with the original and are iterations of that as opposed to being in conversation with the remakes and those who made them.

    What I especially like about your post is that it has created a space for us to now to be in conversation, a conversation caused by a slippage of understanding, which as you know from my initial post, is one of the things about writing that I relish so much.
    To the infinite conversation Brandon
    L

Add a Comment



XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Follow the comments on this post using the RSS 2.0feed.