Leonardo: remixthebook

By Jan Baetens

Amerika_remixthebookThe least one can say of remixthebook is that is an unconventional publication, at least, according to current academic standards (after all, it is published with a very prestigious academic press). From a formal point of view, the volume resembles any other, but contentwise it is astonishing, if not explosive. At the same time, Mark Amerika is doing exactly what we are all doing and experiencing today: copying, transferring, reusing, mixing, remixing, mashing-up in a culture whose key words have become detournement, collage/montage, readymade, quotation. The avant-garde's fascination with the remix, in literary as well as in visual culture, has now become totally mainstream: We write like Lautréamont (the first to claim that "plagiarism is necessary"), we paint and sculpt after Duchamp (whose fountain is now the icon of the 20th Century), and no one who writes can ignore Burroughs's cut-up technique (or one of its multiple variants). Mark Amerika has been, and still is, one of the pioneering authors of this remix culture in the digital age, which Lev Manovich has taught us to understand as an expansion of the Soviet montage principles.

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