Monday, November 12, 2007

Welcome to the Virus

I am revisiting Jay Bolter and Richard Grusin's excellent work Remediation: Understanding New Media from 1999 to try and develop some perspective and depth to my use of Remix for digital literature. While reading through Remediation (which must be considered a foundational text in the areas of digital media, literacy, narrative studies, and game studies) I came across references to the Emergency Broadcast Network (Bolter and Grusin, 42). A memory awoke and I thought there must be stuff by EBM on Youtube now...and yes, I was so happy to see there is. I first encountered the EBN in the late 1990s with videos shown at anarchist occasions in Sydney. According to the Wikipedia the EBN were:

Emergency Broadcast Network is the name of a multimedia performance group formed in 1991 that took its name from the Emergency Broadcast System. The founders were Rhode Island School of Design graduates Joshua Pearson, Gardner Post and Brian Kane (author of the Vujak VJ software). Kane left EBN in 1992.

Josh Pearson [more vids from link], EBN's charismatic front man and principal performance artist, was also EBN's music composer and main video editor. The music and video editing techniques he personally developed and refined have been hugely influential on a generation of advertising and music video editors.

The first EBN video project was a muscial remix of the Gulf War, created in 1991 as the war was still ongoing. The VHS tape of the remix project, which contained the George H.W. Bush "We Rock You" cover, became a viral underground hit, and was distributed widely by fans as bootleg copies. In the summer of 1991, EBN traveled with the first Lollapalooza tour, distributing tapes and showing their videos on a modified station wagon with TVs on the roof. The group also became well known for their media sculptures and stage props which were created by Gardner Post.

The EBN Live Team included DJ Ron O'Donnell, video artist/technologist Greg Deocampo (founder of CoSA, and founding CTO of, artist/designer Tracy Brown and technologist Mark Marinello.

As remix and mashup artists the EBN set the standard that many have followed since. Many of the EBN projects have been hosted by the Guerilla News Network, another media arts collective working with remix and social action on the fringes of Intellectual Property.

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