published essays

Remix Aesthetic (2006)

Remix Epistemology (2007)

Remix Identity (2009)

video essay

McLuhan Remix(2008)







art   writing   cv

Remix Essays (2006 - 2009)

The term "remix" was explored in a series of three essays, and culminated in my video essay McLuhan Remix.


I consider remix as a theoretical term; as a matter of fact, I think it is the most important concept of digital media. Its historical meaning (from hip-hop music) is a strong polarizer of cultural identity. This led me to explore the social function of art, (especially technology’s effect on aesthetics) in my book The Art of Change.


The term remix comes from the music industry. For me, its defining moment was Run DMC’s 1984 remix of Aerosmith’s Walk This Way. As a teenager, I recall the strong reaction it caused by converging two distinct music genres, because it superimposed the subcultures of heavy metal heads and rappers. This energy was later epitomized in DJ Dangermouse’s hybridization of The Beatles' White Album when he remixed it with the beats from Jay-Z’s Black Album in what he dubbed: The Grey Album. This project also raised issues of the legality of sampling, although I have been more interested in a conceptual differentiation between mixes and remixes.


The residue of my remix theorizing is a factor in all of my subsequent projects: when a DJ scratches a vinyl record, he produces a skip in the “proper” playback.  A remix is a détournement of media, a method of criticizing and processualizing consumer / producer relations in our digital economy. I like to think of Skippisox as a remix of a previous product. In my essay Remix Epistemology I discuss how hacking, physical computing and circuit bending constitute a re-mixing of software and hardware.

Unlike writers who have focused exclusively on the hip-hop roots and ownership rights of the term remix; I began to focus on its relation to contemporary art practice after I read Nicolas Bourriaud’s book Postproduction.  During this time my local cultural institution launched a series called “remix the collection” that provided a new model for preservationists eager to leverage the marketing power of digital media. Through my writings on remix, I began to see it as a bigger concept than its restricted use in music and art.


My “remix identity” Kurt Weibers became a way of relating my art practice to my students of Communication Studies. Getting outside of art-speak allowed me to re-connect to Marshall McLuhan (who I had first read when I was an undergraduate studying theater in 1990). I delved into some old thinking about multi-media and remixed a new media-ted conversation between my virtual identity and his.