What could be better news that Kirby Ferguson is launching a new wave of Everything is a Remix? Even if I do feel old seeing Tik Tok (I’m not there, but I get it) (that of course cannot be true) (except for being old).
What happens when something you created long ago gets peeled back almost by accident, and you realize… I did not invent that! It’s not about the ego of originality here, but that you begin to wonder if you really can neatly compartmentalize that swirl of brain activity into piles of “all mine” vs “influenced by someone else”
But then again, if Everything is Everything, then there is only one pile. It’s illuminating, humbling, and actually refreshing to find your idea is… not really just yours.
As Usually A Curious Click on a Semi Random Tweet is the First Step into the Rabbit Hole (and is too long for a heading? hey it’s my blog!)
Maybe not completely random, as comic artist and teacher Nick Sousanis is amongst my Tweetdeck column of people I check more than the public stream.
I followed NIck back when he was doing his PhD on and in comic form, and I think somewhere in there I responding to some weird twitter thing where he asked people to tweet back a tracing of their bare foot (why do I remember these shreds but I cannot recall where I left my favorite adjustable wrench?). I got a signed preview of his Unflattening book, the published version of his dissertation.
We’ve crossed paths, never really met.
But I was so impressed with how much he recrafted and shared fully his remaking of his comics course as pandemically forced. And of all things, he did this not as a substack or a podcast or a twitter thread but a good old fashioned long, link heavy blog post.
The curiosity light flicked on where Nick cited Matt Madden’s 99x concept:
The book is based on a simple one-page anecdote which I re-draw and re-tell 99 times in different genres and drawing styles, in the form of homages and parodies, and in formal experiments that test the boundaries of the medium of comics.https://mattmadden.com/comics/99x/
Matt took a single story and told it 99 different ways as a comic, each a different representation of the same story. Matt cites that he has remixed the concept:
Now I am scurrying down into Wikipedia to learn about Exercises in Style. It’s a remix, indeed:
Exercises in Style (French: Exercices de style), written by Raymond Queneau, is a collection of 99 retellings of the same story, each in a different style. In each, the narrator gets on the “S” bus (now no. 84), witnesses an altercation between a man (a zazou) with a long neck and funny hat and another passenger, and then sees the same person two hours later at the Gare St-Lazare getting advice on adding a button to his overcoat. The literary variations recall the famous 33rd chapter of the 1512 rhetorical guide by Desiderius Erasmus, Copia: Foundations of the Abundant Style.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exercises_in_Style
And Bach we go... remix of an idea all the way down.
Did I Remix and Not Even Know It?
This same premise was at the core of my ancient now big thing in 2007 when I thought I came up with an original idea, 50+ Web Ways to Tell a Story. I was working on some creative workshops on storytelling, aimed at using what were emerging as different media making tools that worked in a web browser. After finding a handful and influenced by watching a musical performance, well my idea spun out (here was how I told it then).
The thing was, I realized for a workshop I could not just toss out a list of web tools, I would have to run them through the paces myself. I had just done a 60 second video story about a lost dog, and that was my aha moment- I could use the same media and story in every tool.
I even at one point pulled from the story tools a narrative for a presentation (I do miss Xtranormal!)
Anyhow, now I know I was remixing an idea that I do know I had swirling in my subconscious.
I never did no want to claim that I was 100% original here, but it’s actually quite exciting that others have done it before (and better) then me.
If you ever question otherwise, remember when the Man says Everything is a Remix, that means Everything.
That makes me happy.
Featured Image: After failing to find a good photo among my own, I turned to a flickr search. No surprise to find the image I liked was again my by friend Michael Coghlan. Thanks Mike!