SEQUENCE Three: Re/De-Composition: Sampling, Mashups, Remix, Glitch offers its readers, and potential interlocutors, space for reflection on the many forms and techniques of recombinatory media and culture. The inaugural contribution to this issue, and to this topic, is by Albertine Fox, a specialist in the later works of that most incorporative of filmmakers, Jean-Luc Godard.
Fox’s essay for SEQUENCE—‘EXTREME STATES: Remixing Cinema, Visual Art and Music in Godard’s Puissance de la parole’ (3.1 )—is an insightful exploration of the French filmmaker’s inventive techniques of fragmentation, decontextualization and recombination in his videographic work from the late 1980s, a period in which, as Fox argues, video came ‘into its own [both for Godard and other artists] as a poetic and interdisciplinary artistic force.’ For Fox, ‘Godard is devoted to the task of fearlessly re-instilling past forms of the image into new technological contexts, while embracing the instantaneousness of the medium’s present tense.’ She posits that in Godard’s version of the practice, ‘[v]ideo mashup is a plural form that thwarts our customary listening and viewing strategies, compelling us to participate in a volatile, arbitrary and indeterminate sense-making process’:
J. Meryl Krieger understands remix and mashup as cultural processes of transformation and recreation, ‘mechanisms of recycling or transforming materials from other media creators with the aim of producing new content’ (2015: 374). [Krieger] notes that mashups differ slightly from remixes in that they reuse older materials and ‘retain the references that often provide cultural contexualization for the mashup audience’, while remixes ‘blend these materials to the point where original authorship or identifiers can be lost’ (2015: 374). [Ed: Godard’s 1988 video, the principal focus of Fox’s study] Puissance de la parole is a mashup that tips into the remix, as aural and visual fragments deriving from films, paintings, pop songs and musical compositions are progressively (and aggressively) pulverised, almost beyond the point of recognition. This video forges connections between different art forms (film, poetry, visual art, music) and in doing so it exposes us to Godard’s particular contribution to mashup culture, namely, his manner of harnessing and recasting the main formal characteristics of his source material.
Fox’s article is particular noteworthy not only because of its unusual ambition (and its undoubted skill) in speaking seriously about film, video, painting and music together, but also because of its own brilliant redeployment throughout of existing scholarship on the original art, musical and literary forms incorporated by Godard’s videographic work. At points, her article utilises a kind of mashup (if not remix) technique in terms of its own citational approach, and thus also functions as a fascinating model of transformative synthesis and recontextualisation in the context of scholarly argument.
As usual, as we are sequentially inviting responses to the first entry in this iteration of SEQUENCE, Fox’s article also constitutes a Call for Contributions for further Re/De-Composition: Samling, Mashups, Remix, Glitch sequences. If you’re inspired to respond, especially if you have research work in progress on any of the topics raised by her essay, and/or the SEQUENCE title, in relation to any relevant cultural or communications medium (not just video or cinema), please get in touch with us at SEQUENCEserial[at]gmail[dot]com. Multimedia responses of all kinds are also very much encouraged. But it would be worthwhile to discuss any substantial idea with us at an early stage in your planning. All contributions need to comply with UK copyright law and the current understanding of fair dealing. Contributors should note that their submissions will be formally peer-reviewed. But there are no editorial prescriptions on length or content, except that your work should be some kind of ‘sequential response’. If you don’t want to take part right away, you can still enter the ‘chain’ of responses later on.
If you’d like to offer a more concise response, there is also the option of leaving a comment in the moderated stream at the foot of each SEQUENCE Three entry. SEQUENCES may be long and short in all sorts of ways.
- Albertine Fox, ‘EXTREME STATES: Remixing Cinema, Visual Art and Music in Godard’s Puissance de la parole’, SEQUENCE, 3.1, 2015. Online at: http://reframe.sussex.ac.uk/sequence3/archive/sequence-3-1/