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Malkavich Remixed

by Kristina Thomas

     In the film "Being John Malkovich", we get to go through his mind with different people.  We see people have different experiences of John's memories throughout time, and present day.  We the people experiencing John through the portal to his mind, become entranced in the reality of being ever present with him.  Each time we go down the portal we get to be a John different John, at a certain time and place.  But when John finds out about the operation, he wants to see what all the hype is all about, and what the portal will help him to see.      

Instead of him seeing himself in a memory, we see him through himself looking at himself, in every person in the room.  Those surrounding him, are him.  It becomes a remix of John Malkovich's around him.  Instead of enjoying the experience, it becomes a nightmare instead.    In the article, "Remixing and Remixability" by Lev Manovich he states "...a transformative process in which the information and media we’ve organized and shared can be recombined and built on to create new forms, concepts, ideas, mashups and services.”  In this case, John gets to see himself in a new image, and space.  John gets to see himself in the unnatural and weird space.  Creative Commons offers the same idea in which artists and authors invite other people to use a part of their work and make it new.       

 Although, we all have that one thing that we wish we could remix and make brand new again.  Manovich uses the example of a train station; the information comes, it gets remixed, remixed with other information, and a new package travels to other different places where the process is repeated.  Just like John's body being repeated when he goes into the portal of his mind.  More examples of this  “remixability” comes from the example, "modern electronic music where remix has been the key method since the 1980s."  The system of people being able to go inside Malkovich's mind is a way in which people can "subscribe" to you, such as a RSS feed or podcast.  One suggestion Manovich makes is that, "... if the blocks themselves are created using one of many already developed computer designed methods (such as parametric design), every time they are used again they can modify themselves automatically to assure that they look different. In other words, if pre-computer modularity leads to repetition and reduction, post-computer modularity can produce unlimited diversity."  Again, Malkovich seeing himself several times when he takes a trip through the portal created a new repetition of himself.       

Nevertheless, we find ourselves self-involved with Malkovich seeing himself in everyone.  In today's society, new devices or services make it easy for media objects to travel between all these devices and services, which now all become just temporary stations in media’s Brownian motion.

John Malkovich portal loop

This scene from Being John Malkovich shows what happens when a man goes through his own portal

from Being John Malkovich (1999)
Creator: Spike Jonze
Posted by Critical Commons Manager