When I was driving home from work Tuesday, I caught the All Things Considered story on the music producer Kutiman and his mash-ups created by layering together multiple YouTube videos. Here is a sample:
Now, I am aware that there is nothing new about mash-ups and sampling, but what interests me about this is that in all of the videos (and if you want to see more, go to his website: http://thru-you.com/) mash together the work of amateur artists, rather than sampling and manipulating the work of professionals. It is an example of an professional artist (Kutiman) using his skills to bring together and enhance the disparate talents of "normal folk."
I continue to be interested in a new role for the artist, one that is not only about self-expression or the creation of products to be sold to a passive consumer, but also is about facilitating the creativity of others, of using artistic talents to help magnify and amplify the creative talents of people who are not highly-trained specialists, but rather amateurs in its original meaning of "one who loves." Of course, anyone who is a church choir director or the director of a community musical understands the joy of using your own talents to allow others to use their. It seems to me that Kutiman takes this to another level by doing more than simply helping people to interpret already existing work, but instead combining their talents in the creation of an entirely new work. In the theatre, this might take the form of creating new performance pieces by combining the words, images, and music of local people, local stories, local images, local histories in a layered, musical sort of way. In a world where people may not have the time to participate in traditional rehearsals four or five nights a week, the idea of a theatrical mashup might be a way to put together a series of pieces involving different people that center around a common theme, for instance.
I'm not sure -- there are probably even better ways to build on Kutiman's inspiration. I just know that the what-if part of my brain felt a tickle when I heard the original story, and having now seen the videos I find myself thinking even more.