Rebirth of the Nation
This past evening (Thursday Nov 17th, 2004) my girlfriend Julia and I attended a performance by DJ Spooky of his remix of Birth of a Nation at the MCA here in Chicago.
First, the show itself. A fantastic mix of visual and audio, mixed in a live demonstration of DJ and "VJ" skill DJ Spooky reinterprets an important, yet very troublesome film (if you are not familiar with Birth of a Nation is a 3 hour epic silent movie film which combines phenomenal skill and visuals with propaganda for KKK.
What DJ Spooky does is a demonstration of what creativity and software and a modern sampling perspective can create - art that works on many, many levels - is visually compelling and great to listen to, but also full of influence from the improvisation of great Jazz.
If copyright laws were modernized (and not seemingly infinite in duration) more amazing examples like this could be created. I know that I, for one, would love to see what someone like DJ Spooky might do with a film such as Apocolypse Now.
A project I am trying to work on might help - though not, alas, with respect to movies, but if it goes well I may help add hundreds of gigabytes, perhaps more to the commons for creative use and reuse. It may not be 100% free of restictions, but hopefully it will be quite open to experimentation, reuse, and creativity. Further, there will be a compelling (I hope) economic envelope around the whole project - ensuring that not only can people use the content in creative ways, they can - perhaps - see those uses rewarded.