A Journal of Rhetoric, Writing, and Culture

11: Master Hands, A Video Mashup Round Table


James J. Brown, Jr., University of Wisconsin-Madison
Richard Marback, Wayne State University

Enculturation: http://www.enculturation.net/11
(Published October 17-24, 2011)

We are excited to present “Master Hands, A Video Mashup Round Table,” a project that we see as a unique experiment in digital publishing.

Master Hands is a 1936 film sponsored by the Chevrolet Motor Company that shows the inner workings of a Chevrolet plant in Flint, Michigan. It is available for download at the Internet Archive, and it offers rich material for mashups and remixes. Richard had been considering a project involving Master Hands for some time, and when he shared his mashup of the film with Jim in May it triggered a discussion between the two of us about how such a work might be published. Richard was not interested in writing an essay to accompany his video project – he wanted the video to stand on its own. Jim suggested that the best way to engage with such work was to create another mashup, and we began discussing a round table format in which other scholars would create their own mashups using the same source footage and respondents would discuss the mashups.

During the summer, we invited four other scholars to create their own mashups of Master Hands. Richard, bonnie kyburz, Jeff Rice, Jody Shipka, and Anthony Stagliano were presented with four constraints. Mashup artists had to use footage from Master Hands, could not provide a companion text, had to create a mashup that was no longer than ten minutes, and were not permitted to see anyone else’s work until all five were completed. We also invited five others to act as respondents. Those respondents are Will Burdette, Bump Halbritter, Billie Hara, Jentery Sayers, and Geof Sirc, and they will spend the next week discussing the mashups. At the end of the week, the conversation will be closed and the comments will remain as part of this publication.

We are excited to experiment with this kind of scholarly conversation, and we are thrilled to see what these artist-writers have created. We hope that you’ll watch these videos, follow the conversation, and (of course) consider creating your own mashup of Master Hands.

Follow the link below to view the videos and listen in on the conversation.

Master Hands, A Video Mashup Round Table