Daniel Kim and the almighty mashup
Given the exponential speed with which digital horizons are expanding, copyright is becoming an increasingly complex issue. If it's your manuscript, or idea, or song, no one else should ever, ever, ever be able to modify it, right?
Unfortunately, art is never one of those things that stays inside a box very long.
Here's an interesting example. Let's say a music artist releases a song. Someone takes that song and remixes it, either adding a beat or combining it with another song. Is that still the same song at that point? Who has the right to say they "own" that work?
I bring this up because for the past several weeks I've been obsessed with Daniel Kim's Pop Danthology works (look for them on Youtube for years 2010, 2011, and 2012). Kim mixes huge numbers of popular songs together into one unified piece, creating an entirely new audiovisual experience out of those wildly disparate components. And hey, he makes some awesome cameos, too.
I'm really not surprised to see this kind of art emerging: we're at a place where our society is becoming increasingly meta - and what's more meta than remixing songs into a veritable yearbook composition that incorporates all the best of the past year? Strictly speaking, I don't think copyright law is too nudge-nudge-wink-wink with this sort of thing, but Kim isn't making a profit off his remixes (at least, not according to his Facebook page, which gives links for free downloads. I have yet to try this out, though), but why shouldn't he be? After all, I don't fancy remixing 50ish songs on my own anytime soon.
How does our society deal with this kind of cutting-edge art?
Honestly, I don't have a specific answer, because I don't think one vaunted Answer exists. Many times, people with this sort of ahead-of-the-curve mentality are poached by the industry itself, much in the way that hackers are often re-employed as government security goons, but I have to hope Kim is able to both support himself and maintain his unique identity as an artist through his awesome skill and work ethic.
For the meantime, I'm going back to Youtube and clicking back to those songs, in the hope that somehow those hits help turn Kim's mashing mojo into Internet gold. If you've got a few minutes to spare, those songs are really worth a listen.
Courier Publications reporter Bane Okholm received her M.F.A. in Screenwriting from U.C.L.A. Email her at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @MediaHeathen.