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ange on 11/30/2012 at 09:30AM

Prelinger Remix Contest: Everyone Wins

The Free Music Archive and Prelinger Archives recently mixed their parts together and produced 122 strange and beautiful remix children. Though everyone's a winner when we contribute new and interesting works to the commons, some of our video remixes were especially full of winning.

JUDGE'S CHOICE WINNER: How Do You Say Goodnight by Carlo Patrão

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ange on 11/16/2012 at 09:00AM

Thumbs Up For Free Music Archive and Prelinger Video Mashups

When two open digital libraries fall in love... this happens.

For our on-going video remix contest, the Free Music Archive and Prelinger Archives asked you to show us what video mashups of our collections would look like. From Betty Bop dancing the Charleston to modern jazz, to 1906 San Francisco set to dubstep... our remix children are deeply disturbing, abstract, violent, beautiful, and often half-naked.

We dare you now to find a comfortable chair in a dark room and watch all 122 entries. If you see one you like, log into the website, and click the thumbs up. You can vote for multiple videos, but only once. All voting will wrap up by 5pm ET on Monday, November 25th. The winner of the popular vote will take home an iPad.

So journey on, little monkeys! Vote now, and help natural selection determine the fittest.

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ange on 11/01/2012 at 04:00PM

Remix Contest Deadline Extended

To help those recovering from Hurricane Sandy damage, the deadline for our Remix Contest with the Prelinger Archives has been extended to Sunday, November 11th at 11:59PM ET. The contest challenges producers to explore the possibilities of open digital libraries by using them to create a picture of The Past Re-imagined As The Future. You can even win an iThing!

Those of you with power can enjoy the incredible submissions we've already received on our contest portal, check out Jason's Hurricane Sandy mix, and get your tickets to our public screening and keynote on November 29.


Nov 11: 
Submissions Deadline
Nov 12: Judging and Public Voting Begins
Nov 25: End of the Public Voting
Nov 29: Winners Announced online and in a public screening at NYC's Anthology Film Archives

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ange on 10/18/2012 at 02:00PM

Don't Use Music As Wallpaper: An Interview with Vicki Bennett

Vicki Bennett has been making audio and visual collage since 1991, when the internet was a fetus and you probably didn't own a computer. She creates her work with the nom de plume People Like Us. It's a moniker that speaks to the role of the collective and popular culture in her work, and a need to belong. Using collage as her medium, she creates audio recordings, films and radio shows that mix and manipulate original sources from both experimental and popular media. Her work has been shown at Tate Modern, The Barbican, Sydney Opera House, Pompidou Centre, Maxxi in Rome and Sonar, and she's hosted the WFMU radio program Do or DIY since 2003.

Plus, she's a judge for our Past Re-Imagined As the Future remix contest. In our Q&A, Bennett shares that she's hoping to see works that are engaging and transformative. As you comb through the materials in the Prelinger Archives, she reminds us that these videos aren't just about the past, but also about the present, the future, and something timeless.

What first drew you to the practice of AV collage art?

That there is a huge palette to choose from which means you can get started right away. I've been making collages since I was about 16. I found that I like working with audio and imagery with previously existing conceptual/contextual associations, because it allows me to redirect the focus of these associations into new stories, like a conductor or director. It also appeals very strongly to my surreal, subversive sense of humour - being able to turn things upside down. Collage has a very long history and made huge statements, just by taking what already exists and representing it in a new or different way - it has frequently been political or politicized. Collage is not just about putting random images together, collage is about composition, editing, and language. It exists everywhere since all languages are a collage of content that already exists.
How has changing technology influenced your practice?
The coming of broadband, file sharing platforms, and the affordability of high speed computers and editing software around 2000 changed everything for me. No longer was I reliant upon finding things locally to work with or borrowing other people's dat machines or cassette four tracks - suddenly I could multitrack and edit in the way I always wanted to. I was waiting for 10 years to do things how I really imagined.
When did you first encounter the Prelinger Archives? How has it played a role in your work? 
As soon as I got broadband in 2000. This really changed not only the way I thought about making work but also opened my mind to just how much things were going to change now that people could share, exchange and converse. This was around this time that Brewster Kahle persuaded Rick Prelinger to share some footage online for free at Before this I was really in a difficult position sourcing well transfered moving image - dependent on vhs rips from things from video and tv. The films Rick shares are beautiful quality with wonderful images, subjects and messages. I downloaded one film from and emailed Rick and thanked him. Then I sent him a big package of CDs and we started corresponding. We were in touch for years on a daily basis exchanging ideas and so on. I made many films and two live performances entirely from Rick's films.
Is there a collection out there that you've been coveting? If you had a magic wand to digitize and public domain-ify collections, where would you begin?
I would make everything available that has ever been published! There is no reason why the future should be held hostage by the past. It is very negative to not be able to access and use the materials of your time to comment, reflect, create. Too much focus is on and around destruction and loss, using the language of fear. 
A lot of our contest participants are going to find themselves combing though hours and hours of footage and music online. What's your advice for picking out digital materials for a remix?
There's no way around that really. You have to use the search engine and your ideas and then you just have to watch. A lot. And then.. important - don't use most of it! Most of the day's work in the digital cutting room is on the conceptual floor at the end of the day and so it should be. Keep the edits concise and engaging and if you lose track of the plot/concept then so will someone else who's watching. It is not enough that the footage you source from is good, your work is to transform it with your own unique ideas and personality. Also don't use music as wallpaper to moving image, and vice versa, it gives this business a bad name!
In our interview with Rick Prelinger, he pointed out that there are remix cliches, like machine-gun style single-frame montages. Does the word "remix" carry certain associations these days? What do you think makes for a great remix?
I'd go as far as not calling it a "remix". I fear that the recent focus on archives could be(come) a fad... and people might not stay interested or feel the longterm value. There are some important messages to be shared in how we treat published material that affect more than just artists - concerning freedom, self expression and preservation, in a time when information is routinely privatized when it should be accessible by everyone.
You are one of the judges for our Past Re-Imagined As The Future Remix contest. Do you have any last words of advice for our contestants as they prepare their entries? What are you hoping to see?
To experience something engaging and transformative. These are the key aspects of creativity that make something stand the test of time. The stories we tell, the palette we use, the content found in archives, Prelinger Archives, aren't only about the past - they are beautiful reflections into the present and future. A good piece of work should ultimately stand up on it's own, outside of any time space or context.



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


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ange on 10/02/2012 at 12:00PM

Interview: Rick Prelinger Encourages Remixers To Break New Ground

Michael Edson

As you prepare your entries for our Past Re-Imagined As the Future remix contest, we thought you could use some tips.

We asked moving image archivist, filmmaker and contest judge Rick Prelinger to share his thoughts on what makes for an incredible remix. Is it lots of looping and repeating footage? Machine gun single frame montages? Prelinger suggests that there's new ground to broken as you sculpt your new Creative Commons masterpieces. In our interview, Prelinger explains how ephemera can help us avoid the trap of presentism, his new interest in collecting home movies, and more about the history/future of the Prelinger Archives.

Why preserve ephemera? How have you grown to understand its historical and cultural significance?

Nothing gives a better sense of ordinary peoples' experience in the past than evidence drawn from daily life. And most of this material wasn't meant to survive -- we have it only by lucky accident. Ephemeral material, like the kinds of films in our archives, is permeated with a strong sense of time and place. It shows how people interacted, worked, presented themselves and partied, and it's also filled with evidence of past persuasions -- how we were told to behave, study, work, and believe.

I also like ephemeral material because it's extremely vivid and accessible. It's a seductive gateway to the many histories that combine and recombine in America, and more than that, it gets people thinking in historical terms. It's one way to avoid the trap of presentism -- the idea that life was, and always will be, as it is now. It also helps us realize that we're not living in a time unlike any other. Much of what we're going through now as a society has already happened in other contexts.

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