Various political remix videos have climbed their way up the YouTube charts, including many forcing soon-to-be-former President Bush to sing various songs. But is interest in the activity enough to warrant an entire online community dedicated to the topic? The creators of the new site RemixAmerica.org, launching in beta today, think so.

With YouTube already a popular hub for bizarre political remixes, RemixAmerica tries to bring some extra features to the table. They upload content to use, from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address (really) to “I Have a Dream” to current figures. Seen John McCain’s "summer of love" ad? Click "remix," and it’s yours, for editing via an online tool in basic or advanced versions or in your own editor of choice. The site also hosts discussions, enabling video remixers and vloggers to communicate with one another. There’s even a feature that allows you to “talk back” with your webcam – so if you don’t want to bother remixing that McCain ad to the song “Age of Aquarius,” you can just shout at your screen instead.

The site has quite a founder behind it — none other than progressive activist and TV legend Norman Lear. Lear, creator of The Jeffersons, Sanford and Son, and All in the Family was also a political activist. He filmed a celebrity-laden dramatic reading of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, founded People for the American Way, and frequently used TV as a political weapon for advocacy. (Photo: mrfilms1)

Here’s Lear himself introducing the new site:

Kaltura

The remix tool itself is very cool – you can import videos straight from YouTube. Actual editing is tough, though, so I suspect people will stick to their trusted editors. But the community could be the thing that lets American visualists stay sane through the oncoming Presidential campaign.

You can certainly expect more of this sort of thing — Blair and Bush’s "love that dare not speak its name" was something many had observed, but perhaps it was more meaningful when it became musical.

For their part, RemixAmerica claims to be non-partisan and non-profit. It’s a project of Declare Yourself, a project working to get young people to vote. I do wonder about the promises of an “informed and engaged community” – it seems to be that, like so much political material these days, this is mainly about reinforcing people’s existing perspective. On the other hand, video remixing can ask questions, too, aside from just creating alternative propaganda. And, whether it changes anyone’s mind or not, there’s something empowering about the ability to subvert someone else’s intended message. How interesting the results are, as always, is dependent on who gets involved and what they have to say.

VJs, of course, have been causing mayhem with video footage for some time – live and in person, not just on video sharing sites. I called RemixAmerica and YouTube remixes the “Emergency Broadcast Network” effect. See, previously:

EBN Releases Audiovisual Album Telecommunications Breakdown Online

Emergency Broadcast Network: 90s Video Artists, with Projection Vehicles and Missiles

Brian Kane, co-founder of EBN, responds via IM that it’s the “Norman Lear effect.”

And maybe political video’s ability to be eye candy can raise questions of its own. I’m especially fond of this video by Brian Kane, with music by David Last:

This tribute to our country’s 200th birthday was funded by a Bicentennial Project Grant and animated by Vincent Collins who made other psychedelic cartoons. This film was produced by the United States Information Agency.

Thanks to my friend Noel Hidalgo, who’s onboard on this. So, RemixAmerica – live VJ party with Create Digital Motion? What do you say? Remember, it’s more fun when it’s live.

PS – Brian sends this bonus video, his first up on the site:

Kaltura

Updated: Not specifically political, but reader Mark points to this community of video remixers via comments:

TotalRecut

  • http://www.itison.net Mark

    I spotted this the other day too. A good deal of the remixes / mashups online do tend to be political by nature although this is just one genre of many. I wonder what effect this will have on politic in the future. Will the politicians start making there own mashups and rehash old speeches while the spend more time on the fairways?! It could be argued that most politicial communication is heavily edited by the spin doctors before it is broadcasted from the mouths of politicians, so why not just speak the dictioanry and put speeches together as required? Just a thought. A bit of a scary one at that.

    Anyway, I thought I should bring your attention to a more genernal community of remixers, mashup artists and visualists they you should all become a part of. It is Total Recut and it has been up and running for a while now. There was a recent contest on it with some good entries.

    Go have a look see at Total Recut

    Oh and what better a time for a plug of an old mashup I made a few years back albeit more longform. It's Re-Inventing ©ulture.

    Stay tuned!

  • http://createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Thanks for that, Mark!

    Oh, and great domain name, by the way. ;)

  • Cort3x

    The Brian Kane/David Last collaboration is freaking awesome! Very inspiring.

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  • http://artificiaelyes.tv exiledsurfer

    Thanks for the info, peter. i joined up and uploaded a piece of mine from 2006, called "May This Country Forgive You",
    http://www.artificialeyes.tv/node/673

    This piece was originally posted to another great experimental video community called sendung.net
    http://www.sendung.net/projects/may_this_country_

    The piece is not your typical vj-style mashup, it is more of an original conceptual work, using mixed media.

    Don't forget to vote in November!

  • http://artificiaelyes.tv exiledsurfer

    Oh yeah, i just remembered: here is former artificialeyes.tv member synesthete's remix of some of the same footage used in the kane/last remix, called "Patriots and open source cells"
    http://www.artificialeyes.tv/loopcast/2005/06/vjb

    which originally appeared on falk's vjblog "life through an artificial eye" in 2005. http://www.prototypen.com/blog/vjblog/

    The concept of the life through an artificial eye vj blog project was to take the day's event's and the media describing them to create a live 30 second vj mix. There has been a long history of political mashups from the vj scene, a number of which have been incorporated into the open source cinema project from Brett Gaylor
    http://www.opensourcecinema.org/user/44/track

  • http://createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    @exiledsurfer: Thanks for that! Hmm… perhaps we can have a huge political guide together in time for election week. :)

    Other entries?

    What about the scene *outside* the US in terms of political videos?

    I remember reading about Javanese political activists doing really elaborate stuff with shadow puppetry and activism, so I imagine videos take on interesting significance elsewhere, too, including remixing as a technique.

  • http://www.itison.net Mark

    Glad to be of service somewhat! Total Recut really has some great stuff collected there. The remix is certainly a poweful tool to view culture in a new way. One of the best I've seen is Planet Of The Arabs

    So I added a pice I made a while back toRemix America… here's one i made earlier

    Glad you like the domain(s)! I have a plan.. Mail me to find out more!

  • humanbulk
  • http://remixamerica.org noel

    let's party!!! call me and we'll start the ball rolling.

  • http://aycliffedropzone.ning.com mongrelthekoalakicke

    kiss kiss bum bum

  • http://aycliffedropzone.ning.com mongrelthekoalakicke

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bnt5ZLGbO0 mongrelthekoalakicke
  • http://FunTube! Dirk Pens
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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003405408940 Vinny

    / My own aewsnr?Mario Kart. Seriously. That game just … argh. How come whoever’s behind me always – ALWAYS gets a red shell 500 yards from the finishing line? I repeat: ARGH.