Week 2: Digital Remixing

Lankshear and Knobel (2007) Ch4: New literacies and social practices of digital remixing: Critique

One of the most notable features of this chapter is the somewhat irrelevancy it transmits to today’s times. Written only a few years ago, it already seems easy to critique, especially when the majority of content refers to tools and technologies. Lankshear and Knobel further discuss the concept of new literacy as the practice of remixing cultural artifacts into new products. Remix is then discussed in the context of conditions for culture and a new form of writing. Both contexts are viewed through the lenses of Lawrence Lessig’s writings and interpretations of the concept of remixing as a condition for cultural development and well-being. This means that remixing, as interpreted by the authors is the practice of not only manipulating, but discussing and interpreting certain medium. “…we can say that remix is evident in every domain of cultural practice”, according to the authors, “ – including everyday conversations – and that ‘culture is remix’. At the broadest level, remix is the general condition of cultures: no remix, no culture. Cultures have to be made – created – and they are made by mixing ‘new’ elements with ‘pre-existing’ elements in the manner of ‘conversations”. Such statement can be argued based on the lack of framework defining culture. If we derive the statement from the sociocultural perspective, one would have difficulties agreeing with “no remix, no culture”. It is almost like saying “no remix, no people”, “no remix, no societies or communities”. It is just too broad and unspecified. I think when Lessig discusses free culture and the concept of remix, it is in the context of media culture and remix is defined in the context of copyright laws. It is interesting that the authors are interpreting the remix concept as essential to defining digital literacies but it is not clear to what exactly it constitutes. It can be also argued that culture does not always consist of remixes, no matter how broadly defined.

In the discussion of ‘Photoshopping’ as image remix, the authors discuss various techniques, features and tool use of Photoshop but the concept of what the relationship of the tool is to the new literacy practice is omitted. Remixing is thus just a synonym for image editing, image manipulation, color distortion, and so on. The discussion is missing value to me and does not elaborate on why should image manipulation be called image remixing. The case of Maguma does convey to certain extent a sense of engagement with new literacies with respect to the elements of new literacies outlined in Chapter 1. However, one can argue that new literacies in the context of Maguma are no longer new. To say it in other words, Maguma had to learn and explore new skills and knowledge. But is Maguma wanted to learn traditional techniques of Japanese manga or anime, the color theories or to read music instead, would that have constituted for new literacies?

 

 

 

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