Mar 6, 2006

Do-it-yourself mashups like a digital blender

Visual Remixes Quickly Spreading Around Web Sites And Blogs

Source: The Mercury News
Written By Michael Hill – Associated Press

Tom Cruise zaps Oprah Winfrey with the Dark Side of the Force. Bert and Ernie pose as poster boys for gay cowboy love. Sweet, white-haired Mary Worth belts out Black Eyed Peas song lyrics: “I’m a make, make, make you scream!”

Entertainment from a parallel universe?

Not exactly.

They’re alterations of familiar pictures and videos posted on the Web. Artists, often anonymous, snag the images then mix them in a digital blender to create something new — usually something dripping with irony. The Cruise clip from “The Oprah Winfrey Show” was married with “Star Wars” effects, Muppet heads were grafted on to the “Brokeback Mountain” poster and word balloons from comic strip’s Mary Worth were scrubbed and funked up.

They’re often called mashups, just like the do-it-yourself songs that combine tracks from separate tunes. And like song mashups, visual remixes are spreading like viruses around Web sites and blogs, those increasingly popular personal online journals.

With software making it easy to slice, dice and subvert everything from movie clips to comic strips, the unauthorized visual remixes could become a significant movement in digital art, a copyright lawyer’s worst nightmare or both.

“We’re at the start of an age when anyone can produce a short/joke/remix/recut and get it online and out to millions, all within the space of one day sitting at their personal computer,” said Demis Lyall-Wilson, who created a popular mashup movie trailer recasting “Sleepless in Seattle” as a stalker film.

“You just have to submit your link to the right blogs.”

But media executives are not amused. Entertainment companies zealously fight to protect their characters’ images — be it Disney lobbying to extend copyright protections or DC Comics sending a cease-and-desist letter to a New York art dealer last year for showing paintings that cast Batman and Robin as gay.

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