It’s been said that we are living in the time of the remix. Take the Top Grossing Movies of 2016 – 14 out of the top 20 movies were either remakes, adaptions or sequels.
And this tendency to remix is nothing new. Even Shakespeare was known to copy speeches, themes and entire plot points from other writers in his plays. Which brings to mind M.C. Escher quote, originality is merely an illusion.
What we’re seeing today is the movement of audiences from a read-only culture to a read-write culture. This is largely thanks to technology, in particular the internet, which has allowed audiences to step directly into the production process and contribute in ways that were once only possible to a select few.
This has resulted a wealth of audience created content of varying quality. My own Spongebob inspired gif, is just one of many examples of this growing culture. Although
some a lot of the content generated online is a little terrifying ‘interesting’, I still think it’s awesome that we, the audience, have the power to access what we want, when we want it and if we can’t find it, create content ourselves.
I’ll leave you with this gem by TrapMusicHDTV
According to my 16 year-old sister, memes are nothing much more than “just random quotes and different pictures, the stupid things people say. They’re everywhere.”
And to some degree she is right. On the surface at least memes are just that, a (stolen) image paired with a short message that is amusing for a second or two. At least until you read the next one.
Memes, are examples of appropriation. Yet there’s more to memes than meets the eye.
“Memes spread through human culture like genes spread through the gene pool.” – Richard Dawkins
They do this by spreading through and changing culture by framing human experiences in ways that can be shared and easily understood.
Memes have emerged thanks to the internet and the result of content no longer residing wholly to legacy media.
We are in a time when the once silent audience can now step into the creative process to transform ideas and create new ones. Yet we are only beginning to recognise this change for what it is.
I’ll leave you with these (somewhat) wise words.
For many, this is what we think of when we hear the word audience. A silent crowd absorbing the message with rapt attention. Yet with the development of new technologies and industry practices – most of which are here thanks to the web – we are seeing the emergence of a new type of audience.
Producer + USER = PRODUSER
This is all to do with Henry Jenkins there convergence. If you need a definition for convergence visit my previous blog post here.
Part of this theory discusses the transition that audience are making from a passive roll to an active roll.
We not only want immediate access to entertainment but can go anywhere to find it and if it doesn’t exist, create it ourselves.
What does this audience look like?
One of the things that people tentatively admit to liking is fan fiction, partially for it’s reputation as low-key mummy porn. And it’s true there are many weird and wonderful things that have come out of fan fiction sites (see my video below if you’re feeling curious). Yet I still think it’s kind of awesome as this has become a genre of fiction that is created by fans for fans.
In this case, content no longer resides only in the hands of the original creators and it is this that has allowed for a diverse amount of user-generated content to spread rapidly.
Now we have ‘Glitch Art’
What is Glitch Art? It’s deliberately creating purposeful mistakes by either corrupting digital data or physically manipulating to create something that embodies authenticity.
It looks like this.
This new art form not only embraces but celebrates the notion of risk in craftsmanship. It’s an example of how we are moving away from the production line towards a digital culture that is shaped by the medium of the internet.
As said by Marshall McLuhan
“The medium is the message”
There were many things about last year’s US Presidential Election that were unprecedented or at least very interesting.
Besides Trumps affinity for Batman references, one of the most interesting developments was the way in which the Trump administration used Facebook as a key part of their election campaign. Yet founder, Mark Zuckerberg still argues that saying Facebook had an influence on the election results is a “crazy idea“.
So why do we not understand the true impact of Facebook?
“The Medium is the Message” – Marshall McLuhan
It’s a purposefully confusing statement. According to McLuhan the “medium” is really another word for anything that is an extension of ourselves. So a knife is an extension of an arm, a Justin Beiber t-shirt is an extension of our sense of social identity (or bad taste).
While the “message” is defined as “the change of scale or pace or pattern” that is caused as a result of a new medium. This refers to the changes a medium brings to our social context. So the message of a Game of Thrones episode is not the endless amounts of blood and sex that is shown on TV, but perhaps the change in your understanding of whether a person can only be good or evil.
So when McLuhan states that “The medium is the message”, what he’s really trying to say is that the very nature of anything we create can cause unnoticed changes in both our personal experience and the world around us.
Back to Facebook
Facebook is a perfect example of how a change in mediums can change the way we interact with each other. Although originally intended as a Harvard social-networking website this platform is now quickly becoming for many people the preferred method of keeping up to date with news.
Although an unexpected consequence this has become a concern for many – as seen during the previous US Election. As said by Mark Federman, “noticing change in our societal or cultural ground conditions indicates the presence of a new message, that is, the effects of a new medium.”
In case that there are people reading this blog post that are not taking, have not taken or will never take the BCM112 subject know that there’s a reason why I’ve been spending the past week staring blankly at my screen.
Part of my BCM112 course work involves creating a Digital Artefact (DA). Similar to a major project.
What’s different is I have a lot of options so long as my project:
- is publicly available on the open internet;
- has clearly defined social utility
- be an application of the concept ‘The medium is the message’.
So that limits my potential project to nearly anything… It’s a bit different to just writing an essay.
So you can probably understand why I’ve been staring aimlessly at the screen hoping that some sort of idea will slip its way into my brain.
But then the seemingly impossible happened.
Actually two ideas. Let me explain.
Idea number #1
Create a blog that focuses on sharing my experiences learning how to make different forms of animation. I do admit that I have no practice skills in this,but it is something that I’ve wanted to learn.
I’ve noticed that although there is information available online for people learning how to make animations, it’s all over the place. What’s more, many beginner tutorials/sites tend to assume that you have at least a basic understanding of animation.
So my project could fill a gap.
Idea number #2
A youtube series of some sort of mash-up of Disney Princesses and reality TV shows such as Married at First Sight or The Bachelorette.
This could be a lot of fun but this idea would mean that I would have to find “willing” participants to act in the videos. Its would also involve me relying my friends busy schedules.
I’m not sure yet, which idea I’ll go with. I like both. But it’s somewhere to start.
I’m feeling nostalgic. The above picture is a snap of Stuttgart, Germany where I was lucky to stay for a few nights over the Christmas break. I truly recommend. But for me (and for many of you as well) the holidays are well and truly over. So it’s back to uni for my 3rd year of study.
Studying part-time means that not only will I never leave this university but I’m still doing first year subjects while the rest of my friends are busy graduating.
It’s ok, I’ve got the whole exciting mess of BCM112 to look forward to. Not every student can claim they watch youtube clips in their lectures.
It could be worse. Before I transferred to Communications and Media I was an Arts student. There’s no competition between history textbooks and memes.
Anyway, I know that for some of you this year is you’re first and I’d like to offer you some advice. Feel free to take it or leave it, I don’t mind.
- Never do today what you can tomorrow, unless it’s due tomorrow.
- You may think you can get a car park at the uni at 9:15am. You won’t.
- Don’t feed the ducks.
Everything else I’m sure you’ll figure out for yourself. Did you go anywhere spectacular over Christmas? Leave a comment or picture below. I’d love to hear from you.
Till next time!