Last night was a sold-out lecture at the New York Public Library’s Celeste Bartos forum, featuring Steven Johnson, Lawrence Lessig, and Shepard Fairey speaking on a panel titled “Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy.” The panel posed their guiding question as follows: “What is the future for art and ideas in an age when practically anything can be copied, pasted, downloaded, sampled, and re-imagined?” The audience was mostly what you’d imagine, on the younger side and with a visible hipster contingent. It doesn’t seem to be available on iTunes yet (search “nypl”), but I’m betting it will be eventually, which would be rather in keeping with the panel’s topic. I came, of course, because of my interest in the political economy of textual production, distribution, appropriation, use, and re-use; and because of the ways I see that cycle relating to what we (me, you, our students, our colleagues) do in the classroom, but also because it was an excuse to get into the city on a weeknight, to have a tasty NYC meal (OMG Bangladeshi spiced lamb), and to feel like a bit of an itinerant again, at loose ends and doing interesting things.
The panel began with Andrew Filipone Jr.’s hilariously surreal and somewhat menacing video of Charlie Rose interviewing himself, titled “Charlie Rose by Samuel Beckett,” as a sort of introduction to the panel’s concern with remixing.
Steven Johnson then started his talk by suggesting that what he hoped would be exciting about the panel conversation would be both its timeliness and its timelessness.