A few nights ago I presented Red Riding Hood Remix: Innovation Through Storytelling wherein I discussed creative methods for looking at things from different perspectives. One of those methods was the Cut Up. The Cut Up is very simple: take a few sheets of paper and “cut it up” in quarters or eighths. Then mix up the pieces and paste them together randomly. Rewrite the randomly placed words, filling in gaps and adjusting for disruptive grammar. Turn it into poetry.
This should not be confused with Mashups. A Mashup is very similar to a Cut Up, but it requires a different set of skills. A great Cut Up artist, like William S. Burroughs (author of The Naked Lunch), can turn random words into psychedelic prose through it’s jarring and disharmonious nature. A great Mashup artist, like DJ Earworm, must listen to different material and find synchronous (or similar) elements first and THEN make precision cuts (samples) to re-fit and overlap into one harmonious track. One is a tearing apart and reconstructing, the other is fusing together and blending.
It’s kind of like the Frankenstein Monster (cut up) versus Brundlefly (mashup). One is patched together from various body parts dug out of a graveyard by a humpbacked assistant (from Mary Shelly’s book Frankenstein), and the other is genetically spliced together with the DNA of a common housefly during teleportation (from David Cronenberg’s remake of The Fly). I realize that neither of these examples make Cut Ups or Mashup very visually appealing. But perhaps this will:
DJ Earworm mashed together the top songs of 2009. There is something uncanny about mashing 25 songs into a catchy four-and-a-quarter minute song, but he manages to squeeze in the entire Billboard Top 25, and make a decent video at the same time. And it doesn’t sound like a mess, it sounds like a legitimate chart-topper on it’s own (borrowed) merit. At present it has close to ten million views on YouTube. Who says you can’t splice and dice and make something beautiful? (I now have The United State of Pop 2009 mp3 on my iPhone)
I am going to add Splice and Dice as another Creative Method to use during ideation: harmoniously fuse elements of similar mediums together, and if they don’t quite fit, use a shoehorn (or pitch-shifter or teleporter).