Things to be learnt from remix memes

One thing to think about with the Splatterbound project is the current Remix culture. The whole project is rooted in that. One of the most obvious examples of this is the meme for remixing Hitler’s rant as he realises his bunker is surrounded in the film Downfall. This was a relatively little known but nonetheless culturally significant film when it was released in (I think) 2004. It was beautifully filmed and performed, which is part of the reason why it lends itself so well to being remixed. Somehow this gives a strong basis for people to add their own pet hates. Suddenly Hitler is talking about the iPad, Rebecca Black, Comic Sans, Windows Vista. And what’s more, we can often feel his pain. At least I can.

Crucial to the success of this meme is the fact that there are key points in the excerpt. The bit where he sends most of his officers out of the room. The weeping of the two women outside the door. The part where he sits silently, brooding for some thirty seconds. When the remix is a good one I find myself anticipating these parts of the film, wondering what way this version will treat those parts of the clip. I love that anticipation and it’s only possible because I’ve watched so many of these remixes before. The first time I watched it, I laughed. But subsequently, the meme has become more and more of a familiar friend. When I laugh, it has a well worn texture. How great is that? I think it’s pretty great.

So how is this relevant to Splatterbound? One thing both Annie and I have thought is that it could be quite difficult to add to something someone else has already done. I sent her a collection of pages to draw on and she’s been having a hard time thinking of what to draw on them. I’d looked at the scans of what I sent her a few months after I sent them and had had a similar thought. ‘What would I draw on those?’, I’d thought. When I sent them to her I commented that she should feel free to cover them in tar and feathers if she wanted. There was no need to stand on ceremony or be overly respectful of what I had done. The problem is that tar and feathers don’t really progress the existing drawing, they destroy it. Here’s the rub. A really good Splatterbound drawing or page will have something in it that makes it easy to expand upon and/or rework a familiar theme.

The question then is one of how to make the site’s proposed mission familiar, or immediately digestible. This is tricky because part of the idea of the site is a lack of familiarity. It’s about making something new. Thinking about it, most really good contemporary art tends to have a certain clarity of intention about it. Formally, good work is often very simple but has an element that draws in a second look somehow. That’s the simplicity that Splatterbound needs.

Hmm… I think the key here might be suggesting five or six approaches and then alpha testing them, shifting the focus each time. It could also do with a strap line that tells people what it’s for very quickly.

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