Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘collaboration’

05 JUNE, 2009

RiP: A Remix Manifesto

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Why you’re an outlaw just by reading this, or how the era we live in will change creative culture forever.

It’s no secret we’re big proponents of remix culture around here — and strongly believe that the cross-pollination of ideas, the fundamental backbone of creativity, should be celebrated rather than hindered by copyright law. Which is why we love RiP: A Remix Manifesto, a documentary about copyright and remix culture.

Filmmaker Brett Gaylor, of Opensource Cinema fame, digs deep into the flaws of copyright in the information age, exploring the ever-murkier line between content consumers and producers.

The film echoes the excellent REMIX panel from a couple of months ago, featuring CreativeCommons founder Lawrence Lessig and the now-iconic Shepard Fairey. Not coincidentally, Lessig is a key player here as well, along with Brazil’s Minister of Culture Gilberto Gil and BoingBoing’s own pop culture critic, Cory Doctorow.

RiP deals with the absurdities of copyright law — did you know, for example, that you have to pay royalties every time you sing Happy Birthday in a theater, restaurant or any other public space? Worst part: You wouldn’t even be paying to the two sisters who wrote the song — they’re long dead — but to Warner/Chappell, the world’s largest corporate music publisher.

RiP isn’t merely a documentation of the changes taking place, it’s a proposition — a manifesto, actually — for a new view of intellectual property that inspires, not obstructs, creativity.

In true walk-the-walk manner, the filmmaker has made all the footage available on Opensource Cinema, free for anyone to remix, while the film’s soundtrack is an open call for fan submissions. And for the ultimate new media cherry-on-top, if you live in the U.S., you can download the film under a pay-what-you-want model. (Remember how much we love those?)

Ironically, the very act of putting this documentary together is illegal by current copyright legislature — Gaylor’s use of samples by remix artists, whose work is in and of itself illegal, also violates the law. Doing it the legal way — getting clearance by paying royalties to the hundreds of copyright owners, most of whom aren’t even the original creators but mere media holding companies who bought the rights over the content — would’ve cost well over $4 million, making RiP the most expensive documentary ever produced.

And if that’s not a brilliant allegory for the fundamental brokenness of copyright law, we don’t know what is.

You can follow Brett on Twitter and support the project on Facebook.

Meanwhile, there’s nothing better to do than just watching the film (or grabbing it on a perfectly legal DVD) and really relishing this incredible new era of media that is unfolding around us.

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21 MAY, 2009

Behind the Scenes of Project N.A.S.A.

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From Jamaica to L.A., by way of the underground.

Five years in the making, the N.A.S.A. project — which stands for North America South America — made waves last year as one of the biggest creative collaborations between iconic “underground” artists across music, art, film and more.

One of N.A.S.A.’s most high-profile manifestations was the video for the track Money, featuring David Byrne, Chuck D, Ras Congo, Seu Jorge, and Z-Trip, directed by Syd Garon and Paul Griswold, and with artwork by none other than the now-iconic Shepard Fairey.

Today, we go behind the scenes, with background on the N.A.S.A. project and the unprecedented but excellent idea of pairing up music artists with animators.

N.A.S.A.’s first album, The Spirit of Apollo, is an equally impressive string of unlikely but brilliant collaborations, including Karen O, Method Man, Santogold, M.I.A., The Cool Kids, and many, many more — grab it now.

05 MAY, 2009

(R)evolutionary Record: The Darwin Song Project

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Under house arrest by art and science, or what evolution has to do with independent music.

You may have forgotten Charles Darwin’s birthday — he turned 200 in February — but you still have a chance to commemorate it. Recently, Neil Pearson, owner of Fish Records and director of the UK’s Shrewsbury Folk Festival, persuaded 8 of Britain’s finest singer-songwriters to visit Darwin’s farm house. Little did they know he’d lock them inside for one week and have them create an album from scratch, dedicated to the life and work of the eminent evolutionist.

What has emerged is a juicy mix of storytelling and incredible talent, dubbed the Darwin Song Project.

British singer/songwriter and multinstrumentalist Jez Lowe, for instance, found inspiration in Darwin’s personal affairs: His wife, Emma, with whom he never seemed to agree, always wanted to spend more time with her husband, who spent countless hours away from Emma on his work, Voyage of The Beagle. They differed on many levels, particularly in the clash between Emma’s belief in God and Charles’ evolutionary theory. Lowe writes,

Where’ve you been, your tea’s been in the oven. Come home now.

Other artists include Rachael McShane, Stu Hanna, Emily Smith, Chris Wood, Mark Erelli, Karine Polwart and Krista Detor — and they seem to have had a blast collaborating. Catch their reflections on the experience here and here.

Originally created for a live concert at Theatre Severn in March, the music from the project will be released as an album this summer. The group will also reconvene to perform at the Shrewsbury Folk Festival in late August.

Stay tuned on the project’s website.

Update: The album is now out, and it’s every bit as fantastic as we’ve come to expect it to be. Grab a copy.

Julian Dominic carries a pocket notebook and 0.3 pen everywhere; continuing to record, research and repeat almost everything he sees, hears and tastes on the road.