Rethinking the rhetoric of remix

Margie Borschke*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


How did 'remix', a post-production technique and compositional form in dance music, come to describe digital culture? Is it an apt metaphor? This article considers the rhetorical use of remix in Lawrence Lessig's case for copyright reform in Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy (2008). I argue that Lessig's understanding of remix is problematic, as it seems unable to accommodate its musical namesake and obscures the particular history of media use in recent music culture. Drawing on qualitative analysis of popular music cultures, I argue that the conceptualisation of remix as any media made from pre-existing media is problematic. The origins of remix, I argue, provides a lens for thinking critically about the rhetorical uses of the term in current discourse and forces us to ponder materialities. My aim is not to dispute the word's contemporary meaning or attempt to establish a correct usage of the term - clearly a wide variety of creators call their work remix; instead, this article considers the rhetorical work that remix is asked to perform as a way of probing the assumptions and aspirations that lurk behind Lessig's argument.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-25
Number of pages9
JournalMedia International Australia
Issue number141
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011
Externally publishedYes


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