A Brief History of Remix

From Caves to Networks

Authored by: Giancarlo Frosio

The Routledge Handbook of Remix Studies and Digital Humanities

Print publication date:  February  2021
Online publication date:  February  2021

Print ISBN: 9780367361426
eBook ISBN: 9780429355875
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9780429355875-1

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Abstract

For most of human history, remix practices dominated the creative process. 2 Premodern creativity sprang from an unbroken tradition of reuse and juxtaposition of pre-existing expressive content. As literary pillars of Western culture, the Iliad and the Odyssey were forged in the cumulative and collaborative furnace of the oral tradition. Out of that tradition grew medieval epics, which appeared under the aegis of Macrobius's art of rewriting and the Latin principles of interpretatio, imitatio, and aemulatio. Continuations, free reuse of stories and plots, and the remodeling of iconic figures and characters, such as Alexander the Great, King Arthur, and Roland, made chansons de geste and romance literature a powerful vehicle for propelling cross-country cultural dissemination. This is, however, by no means only a Western experience. For millennia, until the Enlightenment and Romantic Individualism, Western and Eastern culture shared a common creative paradigm. From Confucian China, across the Hindu Kush with the Indian Mahābhārata, the Bible, the Koran, and Homeric epics to African xhosa imbongi and European troubadours, the most valuable components of our immortal culture were created under a fully open regime of access to pre-existing expressions and reuse. 3

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