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Kirby Ferguson: Everything is a Remix

It’s hard to disagree with New York-based filmmaker Kirby Ferguson when he says, “everything is a remix.”

Whether we’re aware of it or not, most of the creation we praise for its originality – past or present – is often not original. After all, homo sapiens have existed for thousands of years, creating all the way.

In his film series Everything is a Remix, Ferguson explores the process of creation. In four, short and easy-to-absorb videos, he elaborates on his belief that “creation requires influence.”

In part one, he explores the origins of remix. Defined as, “to combine or edit existing materials to produce something new,” the term became prominent in music, specifically during the heydays of hip-hop. Covers, knockoffs and remixes are all forms of what Ferguson calls legal remixing.

Although remixing gained popularity in the realm of music, it is now all-encompassing. In part two, viewers see the ubiquity of remixing. People rely heavily on existing material. They use old to make new. Why? Ferguson reasons that this could simply be because audiences prefer the familiar.

So what is the process of creation? “Creativity isn’t magic, it happens by applying ordinary tools of thought to existing materials,” Ferguson says. In part three, he talks about multiple discovery, derivative works and the basic elements of creativity. “The soil from which we grow our creations is something we scorn and misunderstand, even though it gives us so much…”

In the past, there were no laws to protect original works, but things have changed. In the finale, released this month, Ferguson discusses the laws and regulations that govern our work – copyrights, patents. In short, “When we copy, we justify it. When others copy, we vilify it.”

Ferguson worked on this project for more than two years. His insight is valuable. The revelation that everything is a remix shouldn’t be disheartening. Inspiration comes from everything. Through copying, transforming and combining, we evolve, innovate and ultimately, create.

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