Reaction to Regressive and Reflexive Mashups in Sampling Culture, by Eduardo Navas

Before the start of the article, I was sure that mashups were always remixes but this article changed my mind.

Mashups are everywhere now. Glee had two mashup centric episodes, DJ Earworm makes a yearly mashup of the Top 25 songs on the US Billboard, and movie/TV show mashups are everywhere. Naval posits that mashups are not always remixes, particularly in the case of reflexive mashups (with the other type of mashup being regressive mashups). His definition of this didn't completely sense to me - he called up newsfeed mashups and maps with specific location information as a reflexive mashup, but he defined reflexive mashups as regenerative remixes. It sounds to me like Foursquare is a reflexive mashup then, combining user feedback and tips about local places with map guidance. By his definition then, it's also a regenerative remix (at least, that's my understanding of it).

Naval goes on to define remix as the activity of taking samples from pre-existing materials to combine them into new forms according to personal taste. There are three types of remix

  • Extended - a longer version of the original composition containing long instrumental sections 

  • Selective - adding or subtracting material from the original composition 

  • Reflexive - allegorizes and extends the aesthetic of sampling, where the remixed version challenges the “spectacular aura” of the original and claims autonomy even when it carries the name of the original; material is added or deleted, but the original tracks are largely left intact to be recognizable 

he first two are completely recognizable, but the third is new to me. I listened to Massive Attack's Protection and Mad Professor's Radiation Ruling The Nation and can see why Navas used this as the shining example. I can't think of any other examples however.

Where I start to see Navas' argument that a mashup is not always a remix is in this line: a remix will always rely on the authority of the original composition, whether in forms of actual samples, or in form of reference (citation). A mashup, on the other hand, has the ability to tell a whole new story that disregards the ones told by the original compositions it samples from. 

do struggle with the idea of software as a mashup - media makes sense because you can see where the origin comes from, but things like news feeds don't feel like a mashup because of the nature of news. It's meant to be shared and dispersed, allowing for multiple view points and takes on the events of the world. Media on the other hand is purely the creation of the artist which allows for remixing. Naval touches on this when he compares software mashup to music mashup, but it'll take me a bit longer to digest this idea.