In Remapping Europe, we use re-mixing of media both as a tool as well as a cultural framework. The concept of ‘remix’ refers to a broad set of social and cultural practices consisting of the fragmentation, re-ordering, and re-contextualisation of both pre-existing and new content – whether text, sound or image.
Perhaps as a result of the digital shift or perhaps simply as a sign of the times, creators today are working generally more inter-disciplinarily, less willing to define themselves by, or confine themselves to, a single discipline. Remapping Europe brings together film, video, live cinema, performance, media, remixed image and sound and reflects new audiences’ interests. The artists have different profiles complementing each other as media artists, performers, 3D animators, documentarians, musicians, DJs and VJs.
Remix culture frames Remapping Europe: de-constructing narrative(s), recreating new narrative(s) of representation, using D-I-Y forms of media production and appropriating mass media texts. It is a cultural operating system, in which existing audiovisual material and images are framed in a new context, juxtaposed and seen from a fresh perspective, revealing new visions on our past, present and future. Remix is also a tool that is accessible, reflects a multidimensional, rather than a linear interest, and encompasses everything from collaging to digital storytelling.
At its root, both Doc Next Network and Remapping Europe are intergenerational – looking at Europe as the intersection of generations rather than a division or gap between generations. The organisations on the ground have designed intergenerational activities for their communities and the project brought together the narration of the young creators with that of their parents and grandparents. It remixes and weaves the stories, contexts and perspectives of older generations through archival searching – confronting and interrogating them. A personal story becomes the centre of a more collective narrative. Because we are standing on the brink of the greatest generational shift that we have experienced in the western world, we must find intergenerational approaches and innovations – intergenerational knowledge sharing – rather than looking at projects, programmes or solutions that address ‘older’ people and others that address ‘youth’. The inclusiveness of our communities must also include generations.
Many of these intersections raise questions and fuel debate, sometimes heated. Perhaps the most debated is the notion of the value of inter-experiential connections and knowledge – placing the voice of the expert alongside that of the ‘experienced’. The digital shift has played havoc with the comfortable hierarchies that we are accustomed to: between the writer and the reader; the teacher and the student; the amateur and the professional; the consumer and the producer; the institution and the individual. Accessibility of technology means that everyone can create and share their creation without any intermediaries – D-I-Y takes on a whole new meaning. However it is not just Do it Yourself – but it is also Do it With Others, or Do it Together. The subtitle of European Souvenirs, ‘Remixing media, crossing (shifting) borders’, also refers to these elements and intersections.
The increased opening-up of archives and collections to the public further enhances this potential – allowing people greater access to information and the ability to attribute their own meaning to it. Meaning becomes much more important that the information itself.
How do we make sense of it all though? How do we make our way through the masses of information and content? We do need increased media literacy – by the creators (the millions of them) and in the sifting and filtering ability of the audiences (millions more!). Given this caveat, it is our belief that the opportunities and benefits of open access far outstrip the challenges.
Remapping Europe is seeking a new generation of digital storytellers. Remix is both the conceptual starting point and the tool to remap Europe. The existing narrative of a single new image, photograph, recording, sound or story is ‘de-constructed’ from the individual perspective of the participant and a new imagery based on the original is then created. In his book, Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy, Lawrence Lessig (2008) ‘presents this as a desirable ideal and argues … that the health, progress, and wealth creation of a culture is fundamentally tied to this participatory remix process’.
As remix culture is becoming more acknowledged as an essential aspect of contemporary art and cultural practice, Remapping Europe – a Remix provides many opportunities to exchange, interact, to be involved and to ensure peer-to-peer learning. It goes far beyond the individual remix, the individual organisation, institution or community.
More about Remix Culture
This article contains texts from “Remapping Europe – a Remix: a case study in international and inter-institutional collaboration and networking” by Katherine Watson and Vivian Paulissen, to be published in “Migrating Heritage: Networks and Collaborations across European Museums, Libraries and Public Cultural Institutions” by Ashgate Publishing Ltd, Wey Court East, Union Road, Farnham, Surrey GU9 7PT, England.