Nothing is original, argued film-maker Kirby Ferguson in his documentary series Everything is a Remix. In film, literature, music and technology, all great art and innovation is a result of some remixing and reuse. Here he discusses his top five artistic remixes
Paul's Boutique by the Beastie Boys (1989)
A masterpiece from the golden age of sampling. "Paul's Boutique just blew my mind," says Ferguson. "It had a sheer, dizzying volume and range of samples in it that would hop all over the place. By mixing all this music, they came up with something so much bigger and with such a wider range of expression. That's what I love about remixing."
Star Wars, dir George Lucas (1977)
Star Wars is, in essence, a remix, says Ferguson. From its plot to characters to its allegories, it's a mashup of Lucas's many influences including Flash Gordon, the films of Akira Kurasowa, westerns, and much besides. That's why it's so rich. "By incorporating all these other ideas, it achieved this kind of density that is really hard to get when you're building everything from the ground up."
Since I Left You by The Avalanches (2000)
After Paul's Boutique, copyright lawsuits put an end to the sampling party. "That kind of art just got nipped in the bud," says Ferguson. But 20 years on, somehow Australian electronic group The Avalanches got away with it, packing more than 3,500 samples into their one and only LP. "Oh my God, that album," says Ferguson. "It's the towering achievement of sampled music – it's a momentous album, and never gets old."
The Power of Nightmares, dir Adam Curtis (2004)
In Curtis's collages of archive footage, he finds links and combinations to build an argument – achieving something entirely new, says Ferguson. "Adam Curtis for me is the great remix artist of the past decade or two. He's taken the remix approach to places where it had never been before – he's an original voice and a giant, I think."
Reality Hunger by David Shields (2010)
"A really inspiring book about creativity," says Ferguson. Reality Hunger is a manifesto for appropriation told through essays half composed of snippets of others people's words. "It's a book for artists and creators that challenges people to try new things. For Shields, a new thing is a remix, is copying from other people. It was a huge influence on me.”