Eduardo Navas – Remix Theory: The Aesthetics of Sampling

Eduardo Navas

Springer Vienna Architecture, ISBN: 9783709112625, 230 pages, 2012, English
The act of remixing, enabled by the technical possibility of sampling, innate in the structural definition of digital technologies, has a seminal contemporary importance. But despite its ubiquitous use, there are very few books that engage with “remix” as a paradigm, beyond its music composition applications and/or copyright consequences. So, building on Lessig’s sociological and economical research, this text finally grounds remix practice in its historical and processual roots with extensive research and a coherent theory. Remix, as Navas defines it, is “a cultural glue” (dating back to the beginning of the mechanical reproduction of photographs and phonographs) whose evolutions are explained via a clear diagram (also used in subsequent chapters with varied elements, maintaining a consistent visual analysis). The analysis takes different forms (considering audio waveforms and spectrograms as well as philosophy, for example) and explores the use of sampling and remixing in music – understandably starting with the fundamental dub and reggae practices (including “versioning”) as inspired forms of creation. The author then moves on to look at how software, blogs and the cultural industry use remixes, before defining mashups and ending with a chapter on (online) art and authorship. “Cut/copy & paste” emerge as an embedded paradigm of contemporaneity (completely obvious for digital natives), and “repetition through difference” is perceived as a stable pattern of human creation.