For this week’s post, I will be talking about remixing media or remediating media in a way that conveys a new and completely different meaning from the original. A remix “deconstructs other’s creative expressions and reforms them into a new creative expression” (Dail and Thompson, 2016). In the classroom, more specifically, the ELA classroom, we want students to develop their own meanings from texts and media as a way to advance their critical thinking skills. Remixing allows both students to make an image, texts, song, etc. a transformative (a multimodal) piece as it can now take on multiple (new) meanings that the teacher may not have been able to reach in a “teacher-centered” classroom.
To illustrate what remixes are, blow is an example of remediating a media in order to convey a new meaning:
The remix above is created using imgflip.com, but more on that website later. I have taken a popular stock photo known as “distracted boyfriend” and remixed its meaning a bit by adding text to the image. Memes are one if those pop culture things that I think will never go away, so I wanted to use the format because it is the epitome of remixes as well as a great example of “double exposure.” Students also love to create memes using their own life experiences, so again, this multimodal was perfect to convey the purpose of this post. While the image still holds a bit of its original meaning, i.e. we know the context of this image without the text, the image has now taken an unintended meaning.
The image now takes on a double exposure (Rish, 2012). The tension of double exposure is created because while I have created a new meaning for the image, it still retains a bit of its original definition. For this particular meme, Ryan Rish would say I have ” [superimposed my] own beliefs and experiences on found images through remediation with text, sound, or other effects” (Rish, 2012). We still understand the image is of a boyfriend/girlfriend pair and that the boyfriend is being a bit “distracted” by another woman, which his girlfriend clearly notices. We get that as a viewer of the image, but with the added text, our reading of the image changes drastically (hints the double exposure). We now see that the boyfriend is me being distracted by my love of the The Office, even though I have assignments due by midnight. Because you, the reader, are my target audience, I know you will understand this new meaning I have created, but still understand the old.
Using both the concept of remixes/remediation of texts discussed by Dail and Thompson, as well as the ideas of double exposure talked about in Ryan Rish’s blog, I set out to develop my own understanding of the terms for this post. I wanted to create what Dail’s concept of a remix by creating a product that others could relate to, but still hold on to its original meaning (Dail and Thompson, 2016).
For my meme above, I used a website called imgflip.com. It is essentially a meme creator/generator. It is completely free and had over 1000+ images of widely used memes. These include the popular stock photo memes, as well as popular Spongebob, Avengers, and miscellaneous images. The website also allow the user to upload their own image if they would like to. Once the user selects an image, they then add text to image where it is superimposed on the picture as they type. Once done, it is as simple as saving the image or copying the URL. Easy-peasey.
In this particular Makercycle, we explored remediation of content (images, songs, text, etc.) in order to convey new meaning. As I have stated when discussing the details of that theory (see above), memes were the perfect way to illustrate such a point. Memes are created by taking an image and adding a certain text in order to produce a satirical tool. Creating a meme was perfect for this post because of its transformative nature. It remediation at its core.
Affordances for a tool like ImgFlip is that they are so inclusive in their content. Not only do they have a large image inventory of images to choose from, the images are also labeled based on their names/titles in pop culture. The one I created above is from the stock photo “Distracted Boyfriend.” Most people that are active on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) know these images by their names, so having them labeled allows for users to identify the image they want faster. It also helps users chose what image matches their purpose and convey their meaning in a more organized manner.
I think one the highlighted constraints of this digital tool is that no credit is given to the original source. We, as teachers, always want out students to cite their sources when using someone else’s ideas and work, so it is a big issue when the tool they might be using does not model that behavior. Even within this post, I could not cite that source as I could not find it on ImgFlip. For me, this is somewhat of a big constraint for students/users of the platform. The website does put their own watermark on the memes the user creates, but I did not see a way to credit the original source.
Another constraint I see is that the platform only deals in images and text. I know this sounds quite obvious, but if a teacher is looking for a platform that allows more than images, ImgFlip is not the place. We talked about remixes being taking one “creative expression” and transforming its meaning by adding sound, text, etc, but this platform only allows for one of those transformations to take place (Dail and Thompson, 2016).
Looking forward, I think this tool has some potential in the classroom. I mentioned earlier that memes are the ultimate “multimodal.” Memes are so related for students, and students understand their “double exposure” so well, using memes seems like a great way to get students to show (rather than tell) their understandings of class content. For example, students can easily create a meme as a home work assignment and post it in a Padlet that shows their understanding on the day’s content or even, show what they are still are struggling with. I can also see creating a lesson plan where students create a meme (or multiple memes) based on their interpretations of characters or events in texts the class is reading. As the Dail and Thompson repeatedly mention, remixes (remediation) are meant to make the class student centered, which they do, but they also make the content and lessons such as well.
Advice, Suggestions and Precautions for ImgFlip
1.) Because memes are so versatile, there will always be some not-so-appropriate, teachers need to set clear boundaries on what students can and cannot create. There are a lot of “WTF” memes like the “Pickard WTF,” which can have highly adult meanings if used the way it is meant to be, so teachers need to establish (or at least be knowledgeable of) some of the connotation behind the memes. Students may take advantage of that.
1.) In the same “inappropriate” line of thinking, the website is free and is funded by ads. These ads change and some may not be school-approved. Some ads may be racy. The second time I loaded the website, it popped up an ad for “enhancement” surgery…Just be aware.
2.) Like I said previously, the image sources are not cited or given credit, so you (or your students) may get in some murky copyright waters. Students will also not credit their sources either, especially the images that come from big companies like Viacom or CBS. Model behavior you want to see (if you can, I know it is not that simple).
Let me know what you think!
Dail, J., & Thompson, N. (summer 2016). Talking Back: Remix as a tool to help students exercise authority when making meaning. The ALAN Review,35-48.
Rish, R. (2013, November 18). Double Exposure. Retrieved June 30, 2019, from https://ryanrish.com/2012/10/30/double-exposure/