When Jim Jarmusch published his poster-sized manifesto on the art of filmmaking, he borrowed his thesis from Jean-Luc Godard. It reinforced his point that nothing is original. But you don’t have to be a fan of Ghost Dog or the French New Wave to know everything’s derivative of something else. All you have to do is watch Everything is a Remix.
Created by Kirby Ferguson (who you should remember from his engaging output of video art and observations under the banner of Goodiebag, and you may remember from his earlier, sexier productions), the four-part series is an examination of how our world is the way it is because of an innate cut and paste culture. Stealing, borrowing, remixing, or whatever verb you prefer isn’t just how a handful of things come to fruition. It’s how everything gets made.
In the first installment, Ferguson chooses to look at remixing through music and lyrics of Led Zeppelin. “I want people to watch it,” Ferguson said over the phone. “I could’ve started with Shakespeare or Michelangelo or Homer, but I thought Zeppelin had an opportunity to pique the interest of more people. They’re also a particularly bad case of remixing without attribution.”
With the archival footage and informative voice over of a Ken Burns documentary and the fast-paced editing of an MTV News segment, Ferguson takes you on a historical tour of sampling in late ’60s rock ‘n roll. Further installments will touch on movies, low culture, and high art. They’ll be released whenever Ferguson receives enough donations to cover production costs.
Ferguson knows he isn’t covering entirely new territory. He’s borrowing from predecessors like Copyright Criminals and Walking on Eggshells to give the topic a new spin. “Other people have done the legal side,” said Ferguson. ” I wanted to do something that’s more about the creative side. It’s just something everybody does. Remixing is how the creative process works. It doesn’t matter what level you’re at. You’re either doing it in a crude way or an ultra-sophisticated way, but it’s all the same thing.”