As far back as I can remember I’ve always felt that people don’t create new and original things all on their own. I was a “creative” kid thrilled with art and invention but I somehow understood that the things I made weren’t singularly mine in origin.
At a young age I once attached two motors to each other. With a lightbulb attached to one motor and a battery powering the other motor I was amazed to discover the lightbulb faintly flickering. I had invented a generator! Or not. Others more famous than I had beat me to it by generations. This moment made me realize that even ideas that one may think are novel are likely on the minds of others as well.
Years later I began building sculptures from found objects. I’d gather and collect interesting bits and pieces and squirrel them away for later use. One of my favorites was a handgun constructed from small shiny pieces of metal like ball point pen clips and the flame guard from a Bic lighter. I recall thinking that these scupltures looked pretty cool but what I was doing wasn’t all that special. Anybody could do it and in fact others had. But did that mean I shouldn’t do it at all?
My endeavors were always inspired by the world around me. Someone invented pickles and someone invented potatoe chips but was it really I who invented dill pickle flavored potatoe chips when I wrung the juice from my pickle onto my chips? I would just grab pieces from here and there and mash them together into new things. I wasn’t a creator or inventor. If anything I was an opportunist.
To get to the point, I believe that everybody borrows in order to create. I believe that the world is built on the backs of those that came before us. I believe that future generations ahead of us will borrow and adapt from the works we leave behind. I believe in the mash-up, the remix and sampling.
This post was inspired by Kirby Ferguson’s TED Talk: Embrace the Remix.