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ange on 09/28/2012 at 09:00AM

The Past Re-Imagined as the Future: Remix Contest with Prelinger Archives

Showcase the creative possibilities of open digital archives!

WFMU and the Free Music Archive proudly introduces a video remix contest called "Sound for the Moving Image: The Past Re-imagined As The Future." The contest invites artists everywhere to mix video from the incredible Prelinger Archives Collection with audio from the Free Music Archive to create new masterpieces for the commons. The point of this contest is to showcase the creative possibilities of open digital archives like these.



  1. At least 50% of video and audio materials in your entry must come from the Prelinger Archives and the Free Music Archive.
  2. Use at least one video from the Prelinger Archives, and at least one track from the portion of Free Music Archive's library that can be used in videos (more info).
  3. Time limit: 15 minutes max.
  4. Upload to your hosting service of choice (i.e. Vimeo, Internet Archive) and then submit your video entry via the competition website form (here).
  5. Proper Creative Commons licensing is required. Attribute yourself by name and indicate which Creative Commons license you have selected for your video. Your submission must also include licensing and attribution (with hyperlinks) for the material you have remixed. You should do this in the video description field at the site where your video is hosted. You can also do this within the credits of the video itself.
  6. All material from outside the FMA / Prelinger must either be original, or used under a CC license, or used with signed permission

Please see our the Official Rules. And check out our FAQ.


Sept 28: Contest Launch! Entries are now accepted here.
Nov 4: 
Submissions Deadline
Nov 5: Judging and Public Voting Begins
Nov 18: End of the Public Voting
Nov 29: Winners Announced online and in a public screening at NYC's Anthology Film Archives


The two winners will each be awarded an iPad (3rd Generation with Wi-Fi, 16GB), engraved with the contest name as a trophy, in recognition of their innovative remix. One winner will be selected by the judges'. And the other winner will be determined by public-vote. If the winner is the same for both categories, the runner up in the judge's vote will be given the prize for that category.


We have hand picked an incredible panel of judges including Vicki Bennett (Musician and Filmmaker, People Like Us), Kirby Ferguson (Everything is a Remix), Ken Freedman (WFMU Station Manager, Free Music Archive founder), Mark Hosler (Artist, Negativland), Paul D. Miller (Musician and Filmmaker, aka DJ Spooky), Nina Paley (Filmmaker, Sita Sings the Blues) and Rick Prelinger (Founder, Prelinger Archives).


Join us for a free screening of our winning submissions, plus some of our judges' favorites. The event will begin with the brief keynote from film producer Kirby Ferguson titled, "Everything is a Remix."

This presentation will explore centuries of culture to demonstrate how remixing -- creating music from samples of existing music -- is a good metaphor for all varieties of creativity. Ferguson will discuss some of the myths of creativity, present several popular examples of remix-like technique, and show how creativity -- like remixing -- is the result of three basic techniques: copying, transforming and combining.

This will be at the Anthology Film Archives (32 2nd Ave, New York, NY) on November 29th 8-10pm. You can reserve your free ticket here.


Prelinger Archives was founded in 1983 by Rick Prelinger in New York City. Over the next twenty years, it grew into a collection of over 60,000 "ephemeral" (advertising, educational, industrial, and amateur) films. In 2002, the film collection was acquired by the Library of Congress, Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division. Prelinger Archives remains in existence, holding approximately 5,000 digitized and videotape titles (all originally derived from film) and a large collection of home movies, amateur and industrial films acquired since 2002. Its goal remains to collect, preserve, and facilitate access to films of historic significance that haven't been collected elsewhere. Included are films produced by and for many hundreds of important US corporations, nonprofit organizations, trade associations, community and interest groups, and educational institutions. 

Though libraries live on (and are among the least-corrupted emocratic institutions), the freedom to browse serendipitously is becoming rarer. Now that many research libraries are economizing on space and converting print collections to microfilm and digital formats, it's becoming harder to wander and let the shelves themselves suggest new directions and ideas. Key academic and research libraries are often closed to unaffiliated users, and many keep the bulk of their collections in closed stacks, inhibiting the rewarding pleasures of browsing. Despite its virtues, query-based online cataloging often prevents unanticipated yet productive results from turning up on the user's screen. And finally, much of the material in our collection is difficult to find in most libraries readily accessible to the general public.

Most important of all, people wishing to copy library holdings for research and transformative use often face difficulties in making legitimate copies. Since the act of quoting and recontextualizing existing words and images is indistinguishable from making new ones, we think it's important for libraries to build appropriation-friendly access into their charters, and we're trying to take a big first step in this direction.

The Prelinger Archives are interested in exploring how libraries with specialized, unique, and arcane collections such as ours can exist and flourish outside protected academic environments and be made available to people working outside of those environments, especially artists, activists and independent scholars.


This contest is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.



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