In the complex communication system that we now live in, a structure in which content is exchanged and shared in real time, it isn’t surprising that much of it is actually produced by alteration techniques such as remixing, collage or détournement.
They are in fact native characteristics of digital culture, the direct heirs of the internet and cutting-edge technology, a way of thinking and seeing that has roots in the last century, that of historical avant-garde movements, yet is more alive than ever today.
Moreover, it’s a given that the arrival of digital technology has facilitated, if not downright encouraged, the copying/altering/sharing of materials of disparate origin. This is because the ability to copy something to then change it, remix it and redistribute it is built into the very DNA of the digital world.
In relation to contemporary visual culture, all of the above becomes the creation of a constant flow of files generated online by a multitude of often-anonymous creators.
Among the techniques preferred by these “amateur” artists, creative copying and pasting holds a place at the top of the list, as it gives them the opportunity to create original work through the appropriation, alteration and reworking of pre-existing materials such as images, sounds, videos, text and code that is generally taken from the web.
At this point, things seem to have come full circle. On the one hand are the artists of the pre-internet avant-garde who used collage, décollage, silkscreen printing, photo montage, assemblage and video pastiche to make broad use of materials “borrowed” from various sources (magazines, journals, advertisements, newspapers, comics, performances, television programs, etc.).
On the other are the online creators that we’ve gotten to know so far, a nameless (or almost nameless) multitude that has grown hand-in-hand with the evolution of modern information technology, cropping up with events such as the arrival of Web 2.0 sites and social media.