“Record it, upload it, remix it, ant tell your story.” This is a common meme among advertisers recently. Youtube, Facebook and Apple : the world’s major technological companies at present all base their companies on the idea of constant interactive communication. This is an entirely new model of understanding consumerism—a shift in how global interfaces function. Now, the consumer is told he is a free agent and the creator of his own reality. Ideas about culture, place and self can transferred almost instantaneously to distant places, conveying messages that would otherwise be obscured by geographical location or sociopolical conventions.
Historically, sustained cultural transaction occurred through warfare and religious conversion. Empires would amass their lands rather violently, allowing their religious code to spread through the subjugated people and act as a social control. Colonialism updated this theme, bringing technology and ideas about traffic, by it of ideas or goods, to newfound communities. “Print capitalism”, another European focused social tool, enhanced inter-group communication, allowing distinctive cultures to further define their identities religiously, culturally and politically. This mode of communication led to cultural expansion and eventually dispersal of cultural codes of conduct that bled through geographical barriers.
In the article by Appadurai, “Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy”, technology becomes a lens through which cultural ideas, and self-identification ideals, are refracted and remediated. In the case of Phillipino singers copying American pop music styles, “nolstagia for the present” is one of example of intercultural exchange. Part of the implication on the author’s point is that in past times, the Philippine people were presented with a glorified American culture that reflects values modern-day Americans no longer universally uphold. In essence, they are taking back a world they never lost. They are taking back an illusion presented to them as the ideal, making ‘their past a normalized modality of their present’.
The articles discusses ‘ethnoscapes’, ‘mediascapes’, ‘technoscapes’, ‘finanscapes’, and ‘ideoscapes’ as socio-cultural models. The first recalls ethnic aspects of a persons experience, as related by relatives, religion and larger culture. Mediascapes refers to the images and soundbites presented to us as we engage technology that attempts to tell us about ourselves. Technoscapes deals with how our existences are mediated by the internet and technological devices. Finanscapes engage the complex give and take between money transfers and global commodities, with new focus on motivations for product flow. Ideoscapes are the realm of spoken and printed ideas about the world in which we live, also newly mediated by the internet and the availability of opinions in this time. These models explain some aspects of the global interactions newly mediated by the internet and the ease of flow between locations.
An interesting view of technoscapes and mediascapes, concerning how we can further our own ignorance by filtering out information we do not wish to know:
The author makes the point that any culture introduced to a group of people becomes absorbed and remediated through their experience. Re-claiming references and subverting cultural norms has long been a celebrated practice, especially in hip-hop, but more so today personal culture makes up a person’s experience. Using ‘the imagination as a social practice’ is a large part of the reason this is so successful.
The B.E.P show this well here: http://www.pri.org/theworld/?q=node/7121
Kutiman explores how mediascapes and ideoscapes present blurred-fiction informational realities based in perspectives that are subjectively true. In new media, the imagination as social practice is a unifying force that translates everything that can be understood into soundbites and cartoons, making all things knowable and comprehensible to all. New media is the medium and the objective for the new forms of agency. Kutiman in particular explores a currently well-used technique for incorporation of experiences. In his YouTube mash-ups, many people’s contributions are used as open source material for re-imagined pieces of music and art.
The imagination is closely associated with a force that ushers in new world-changing technologies and a force that imprison masses of people. In its most negative incarnation, images of violent/negative behaviors are linked to aspirations for community in some imagined world. In its best aspects, the imagination can blend genres and styles that can bring disparate influences, and individuals together. In Kutiman’s work, the imagination is a source of a really interesting sonic experience. His work begs the question of whether the new media has meaning at all, when all aspects are taken out of context. Does the remediation render meaning or take it away? The answer, as suggested by the article, seems to be unimportant, as the listener is allowed to engage in the reimagining and imbue upon the experience his own meaning.
Does Kutiman make his mash-ups for a specific reason? Is he trying to convey anything through his work? Does that even matter?
A mash-up of biggest pop songs of 2009 shows that the process of remediation does not necessarily convey new meaning: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iNzrwh2Z2hQ
The re-imagined assemblage of past influences is prominent in a very prominent pop cultural example. Lady Gaga, another musician who works in the same media forums as Kutiman, has been noted for her visual spectacles, which are an assemblage of cultural references and pastiche. Her best feature is giving her fans the illusion that they are the actor/agent/producer of her reality, when indeed they are choosing from the buffet of experiences she has assembled for them.
Does Gaga mean anything, in her own mind, when she says she is so happy she could die? How much of her presentation is art, and how much is re-assimilation of other concepts?
Gaga on herself, her biggest lie, her art, her self-mythologized reality: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/04/arts/music/04gaga.html
In the end, the consumer would have to work significantly harder to create his own reality, however, with the advent of new media, the re-creation of work could be attempted even by those who are content to be presented with a fantastic half-truth. Inventing personal reality is an old practice, abetted by modern day luxuries and exponentially accelerated by new technology. It remains to be seen whether the inventions we re-create will bring us to a more unified ideal of of hybridity or to disjointed assemblages of personal "truth".