Wednesday, July 22, 2009

RIP: A Remix Manifesto Screening in SF Tomorrow Night w/ DJs

Director Brett Gaylor outlines his intentions to attorney Lawrence Lessig about 20 minutes into RIP, declaring that he wants to make a "mash-up movie." Lessig watches what Gaylor has edited so far and tells him, "that's totally illegal." It's one of several self-referential moments in RIP: A Remix Manifesto, which screens at the Mezzanine tomorrow night, followed by performances from Eclectic Method and Adrian and Mysterious D.

Gaylor's doc looks at the remix culture that the web has given life to - one made up of artists whose work centers around the sampling and distortion of others' work to create new art. The film opens with Girl Talk and the famed DJ drives much of the narrative, with the film frequently cutting back to Girl Talk's live shows and commentary. There is also a rather charming visit with his parents.

The goals of the film are very clear - this is not a fair and balanced attempt at showing both sides, with hopes of arriving at a hand-holding conclusion. With Manifesto in its title, RIP intends to point out the wrongs of the present while arguing for the future. And the future is remix. Besides Girl Talk, RIP brings in major players in the remix and free culture movements such as Lessig, Girl Talk precursors Negativland, Brazil's former Minister of Culture Gilberto Gil and pop culture critic Cory Doctorow.

The film's argument is one that I wholeheartedly agree with - culture builds from the past but copyright law as it stands now is preventing the building of said culture. Gaylor shows how the principals of remixing and mashing up have been a part of art for centuries and copyright law was originally intended to promote creativity. Only in the 20th century with mass media consolidation has such creativity been the subject of legal action. RIP maintains a cut-and-paste/mash-up/remix visual style to further drive its point home.

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