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From Douglas Eyman’s Digital Rhetoric: Theory, Method, Practice

From Douglas Eyman’s Digital Rhetoric: Theory, Method, Practice, chapter 4, “Digital Rhetoric: Practice”:

Textual Appropriation and Remix

  • At (a no longer extant site), Kristin Thomas produced poetry from the subject lines of spam email, a practice she began in 2003. On her site, she noted that she saw her work as “a little bit Found Art, a little bit Whimsy, and mostly, just to find a way for me to find a peaceful intersection between digital communication and my life” (qtd. in Hurvitz, 2006). Although likely not the first person to create poetry from spam, Thomas’s work received a great deal of attention and inspired others to create their own spam poetry (or “spoetry”). The genre of spam poetry has become quite popular, and a number of fine examples can be found on the website of the Spam Poetry Institute (, which bills itself as “an organization dedicated to collecting and preserving the fine literature created by the world’s spammers.”

  • Jonathan Lethem, author of You Don’t Love Me Yet, is offering several stories on his website ( for others to appropriate, remix, and adapt (but not copy in their entirety). On his site, he explains that he likes “art that comes from other art” and likes to see his stories adapted into other forms: “My writing has always been strongly sourced in other voices, and I’m a fan of adaptations, appropriations, collage, and sampling.”
  • Micah Ian Wright’s “Propaganda Remix Project” ( presents classic wartime propaganda posters with new, antiwar slogans replacing the originals. In this case, the remix happens at the littoral zone of contact between text and image.
  • A blogger who goes by the handle “Canis Lupus” has created a parody remix ( of Jack Valenti’s “Moral Imperative” speech, given at Duke University February 24, 2003; this remix converts Valenti’s antipiracy message into a pro-fair-use rights message.
  • Peter Gabriel has created a site that promotes the remixing of his and other artists’ work; at Real World Remixed (, users are encouraged to “to download our ‘sample packs’—multitrack recordings from Real World Records and Peter Gabriel” and use them to create remixes, which are then uploaded to the site and voted upon by other site users. (See, for example,
  • An anonymous artist has created a mashup of rapper 50 cent’s “In Da Club” and “Yakkety Sax” (better known as the theme song from the Benny Hill show); this is considered a mashup rather than a remix because neither song was edited for content, they were simply layered one atop the other (although the 50 cent song was sped up just a bit). The mashup, accompanied by the original video for “In Da Club,” is available on YouTube (
  • In 2006, Luis Hernandez and Paul Holcomb (formerly created a techno-dance track that featured an edited and remixed version of former Alaska senator Ted Stevens’s commentary on net neutrality (they later created an even more pointed parody remix using more of Stevens’s words to create another techno-dance song called “The Internet Must Die”).

Appropriation and Editing (Remix)

  • Working in both audio and (music) video, Alanis Morissette has produced a parody video of the Black Eyed Peas song “My Humps.” Although she does not change the lyrics, her ballad-like rendition certainly provides pointed commentary on those lyrics, and the video itself has many elements of the original video for the song, thus qualifying as remix. This example is also available on YouTube (; however, there doesn’t appear to be an official upload, so it is likely that NBC Universal will at some point issue a takedown notice for copyright infringement.
  • Johan Söderberg created a parody that synchronizes several different video clips of George W. Bush and Tony Blair in a way that appears to show them singing Diana Ross and Lionel Richie’s “Endless Love” to each other (
  • A popular form of video remix for anime fans is the creation of music videos: clips from anime cartoon serials or films are edited together to create a video that thematically represents (or even lip-synchs to) whatever song the remix producer has chosen.
  • One of the most impressive examples of multimodal composition, appropriation, and remix that I have seen thus far is the “Thru-You” project created by an Israeli DJ who goes by Kutiman ( Kutiman selected clips from several hundred video posts to YouTube, mostly of people playing instruments or singing (some include instructional videos, others are children showing off their musical skills, and one memorable example is of a mother singing a lullaby to her baby); Kutiman extracted the audio from these clips and remixed them into an album’s worth of original songs—these video clips became the instrument he played as he crafted his composition (
  • But Kutiman didn’t just use the music; he cut all of the video together in technically precise configurations to create a visual representation for each of the songs as well. He also provided a means to access a series of citations that can be followed back to the original clips, and placed the full project on a website that collects all of these multimodal compositions together so they are available and accessible through a single interface—an interface that appropriates and remixes the interface of YouTube itself (