The Rise of a Mash-up Culture Essay

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A great deal has been said about the move from physical media to a ubiquitous, digital culture. Some decry the downfall of the vinyl record, falling compact disc sales, the cheapening and degrading of an art form. I’ll try to stay away from unverifiable judgements about the direction modern culture is moving in. More interesting is the way musical creation is changing as a result of new technologies, whether we like it or not. What comes to mind is hyperreality - what Jean Baudrillard called “the generation by models of a real without origin or reality” (166). Digital representations, originally intended to recreate the original sound waves of the music, are losing their point of origin and becoming musical works on their own.…show more content…
Its pointless to look for the original blueprint of a digital representation, because it’s independent of the hardware it’s stored in, and meaningful only in the information it encodes. Hyperreality results from a loss of distinction between the representations and the things they’re intended to represent. In our culture, the separation between a song and the digital file of a song is becoming trivial. Computers allow information to be torn free of its original context, and reinterpreted upon retrieval. Representation engines are the ideal enablers of hyperreality, giving almost limitless power to reorder simulacra upon simulacra. The internet takes the representational capacities of computers, and spreads them over a vast symbolic network. Anyone with an internet connection instantly gains manipulative control over a whole world of digital abstractions. These have the unique property of not being tied down to any specific physical origin. It follows that they’re infinitely recreatable, and intimately tied to their user-defined context. This decontextualization began, to a lesser extent, with the advent of audio cassettes, allowing the creation of mix tapes. A mix tape lets the listener take small parts (usually whole songs) from different physical source material (records), and combine them into a new whole, consisting of copied parts. This process, known as dubbing, creates an experience that is, at least in part, distinct from each
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