Begun in 1997 with “I’ll Be Missing You,” a remake by Puff Daddy of the Police’s 1993 hit, “Every Breath You Take,” remixes took over the airwaves. Our generation has mastered the art of making what is old, new again. Apparently, this is not just in music but also in art.
The CUT/Film as Found Object exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art, located conveniently only 24 minutes away from campus, is the “I’ll be Missing You” of art works in a sense.
The artists of the exhibit have manipulated familiar films by editing, playing with lighting or adding sound (one of the exhibits played “Leaving on a Jet Plane” and I could not get the scene of Liv Tyler and Ben Affleck in Armageddon out of my head). I appreciate that the artists evoke a new and different emotional response by reworking the medium; I even support that the viewer is compelled to reconsider his or her knowledge or memory of particular movies or experiences with new and often disruptive representations of the same visual period.
Yet, I long for invention. Let’s create something really new, entirely exhaust the creative resources of the minds of artists in our generation and not merely recycle old material by having it resurface in new or manipulated form.
Omer Fast in his “CNN Concatenated” piece, however, makes a strong statement by manipulating CNN live news coverage. He takes single words from the mouths of newscasters and arranges them into dizzyingly fast fragments so that the news they deliver is far from the information found in the original newscast. Instead, the sentences the anchors form roll into paragraphs and speeches that plead with the viewer and justify their role in creating the American citizens’ current dependence upon news.
“Video Quartet” by Christian Marclay was also a valuable work of art appreciating music, as well as being a commentary on music’s transcendent effect on the musician. The piece involved the biggest television screen I have ever seen complete with four panels displaying four different video motifs. I watched as strangely enough all four screens had action and sounds, crescendo and decrescendo at corresponding times. Each screen displayed, if not standard music movies, example Amadeus or Mr. Holland’s Opus, then music scenes from classic movies (even Jimi Hendrix makes a brief appearance). The various scenes and sounds from the piece were reworked to compose “an original musical score.”
Although I agree that the artists were able to use pre-existing films to create new narratives, different emotional content and new musical scores, isn’t it time that we create something really new and stop remixing?
Melanie Klesse may be reached at email@example.com