Guertin’s (2012) chapter “From Karaoke Culture to Vernacular Video” in her book Digital Prohibition: Piracy and Authorship in New Media Art is an excellent enunciation of the advent and power of remix culture as a manifestation of pop culture in the contemporary world. Guertin (2012) focuses her article on examining a form of remix culture that she refers to as reflexive remix which is the creation of a unique and original work from pre-existing parts (Guertin, 2012, p. 120). The authors depth of knowledge and currency with the topic is amply evident as she uses a series of examples to demonstrate the benefits and challenges of remix as an artistic form of expression and the authenticity of the form itself.
As an educator, one of the aspects of the chapter that I found most intriguing, was when Guertin quoted Michel Focault, in his famous essay “What is an Author” wherein Focault makes the assertion that that the author is never the origin or location of meaning and that meaning is fluid and changeable, always situational over time. Focault further asserts that all works are quotations from other works and that all discourses are objects of appropriation (Guertin, 2012, p. 121). While this lends credence to remix as an art form there is tension between this position and academic ideals of producing “original” work that we emphasize with our students. Being presented with an essay by a student that was justified as being a ‘remix” of the works of different authors would earn the student a charge of plagiarism. Quoting the works of others used would remove the charge of plagiarism but would be considered a work of “chaining” with no original thought and consequently a poor grade in assessment. However, remix as a form does lead to some intriguing possibilities in terms of creating interesting assessment pieces where students may for example be directed to create a rant, poem or song that intentionally asks them to research and remix a variety of different sources to create a new original and where the instructions explicitly direct the student to do so in a creative manner without fear of the charge of plagiarism.
Guertin, C. (2012). “From Karaoke Culture to Vernacular Video,” Digital Prohibition:
Piracy and Authorship in New Media Art. Continuum: New York. Pp. 119-140
Daraius M. Bharucha is a history educator and Department Head of History at Bill Crothers Secondary School. Daraius is also a student at UOIT in the M.Ed. in Digital Technology Program.