Sunday, March 29, 2009

The rise of the Video Jockey: Israeli VJ Kutiman remixes YouTube

The Shemspeed blog caught my attention the other day with the headline "Kutiman's Turns YouTube Into Funk Machine" about an Israeli DJ who's shaking up the internet. Their post seems to largely be a cut and paste from a longer Wired Magazine writeup. Here's the Shemspeed lead paragraph....
Every once in a while someone comes along and gives you new eyes: totally reinvents the way you (and others) see things. Ophir Kutiel, an Israeli computer DJ is one of these revolutionaries. His project, né reinvention of internet media, entitled Thru-You, is an album comprised solely of samples taken from Youtube clips, disparate amateur musicians’ musical ideas merged into a single track, unbeknownst to the musicians themselves. He has hijacked clips of songs, a teenager’s basement drumbeat, a 10-second harmonica solo, a freestyle in the park, and made them work together. The truly amazing part is how good it all sounds, as if these musicians sat down to record together.
As someone of the MTV generation, who saw the term VJ (Video Jockey) coined and then abandoned, this not only makes perfect sense but in hindsight seems inevitable. Contemporary DJs have amply demonstrated that tiny snippets of old audio recordings can be combined to create new music. With the flood of music hitting YouTube and other video hosting sites (like WeJew), there is a huge opportunity to remix music and video at the same time.

The lead video that every one's talking about is The Mother of All Funk Chords. While I dig it as much as any one, my favorite Kutiman video is a song called "Someday." Check it out...

Kutiman-Thru-you - 05 - Someday

It will be interesting to see how this approach survives and evolves in the face of all the copyright restrictions on reusing other folks creative works. DJ's have to be very careful about using out of copyright music or getting permission (and sometimes paying) for the snippets they use. Kutiman didn't get any permissions and so far hasn't gotten in trouble. But he also hasn't tried to make any money directly off the music videos he produced. His argument is that he's provided a high level of international exposure to (mostly) amateur musicians and has provide credit and links to those musicians. That's true, but he didn't give them a choice about participation. Which means, legally, he's vunerable.

For more on Kutiman, see the Shemspeed blog post, the Wired Magazine blog post, and Kutiman's Thru-You website.

No comments: