Picture a sea of bean bags with a cacaphony of every concievable shape of person reclining on them in pretzel shapes, in an unassuming warehouse, in the industrial desert of Al Quoz. Add three standing ovations for the Lost Fingers, the night’s live musical piece de resistance. Lean over to chat with to your neighbour as if in your living room forgetting that you’re in warehousing hinterland. Factor in a gripping start to the evening with a screening for RIP!: A Remix Manifesto, a film that passionately argues for doing away with absurdly suffocating copyright rules that make it difficult to create and recreate from existing ideas.
Picture all this, and you may come close to the debut night of a series of musical convergence events organized by award-winning film maker Mahmoud Kaabour. An unassuming man in person, Kaabour has acheived a synthesis of two passions – music and film in a presentation that saw barely a soul move even for loo breaks.
RIP: A Remix Manifesto is a film that is so passionate about people’s right to access existing ideas, information and music to remix and mash them that it is forever destined to remain a work in progress. The film’s creator Brett Gaylor requests everyone to continue the conversation by remixing his content in new ways to present to brand new audiences.
The film pulls no puches in branding record corporations and their lobbyists as greedy dracons, not for for their regard for intellectual per se, but for their consistent attempts to squeeze the last dime out of any possible reuse. One of the film’s main protagonists is Girl Talk, a masher phenom who has entertained millions by sampling, breaking and scrambling existing music into new concoctions. By today’s standards, Girl Talk’s work is massively illegal, regardless of entertainment value or that his produce offers no resemblence to source material. The film then moves to the vibrant slums and communities of Brazil where remexing into a unique cultural mish mash is not plagarism but a way of communal creation. The Creative Common licence, now gaining traction in academic circles, was in part an answer to the dilemma posed by Brazil, where rehashing to create brand new synths is a way of life.
The Lost Fingers are a delightful band, determined to have their own mechanically instrumental way with lost tracks in the 1980’s. Having a band that’s gone Platinum play to an ensconced audience in a bijou art gallery literally close enough to touch with a tweezle stick is curiously refreshing – like being invited to your annoying cousin’s jam session but with better music.
Fortunately for those who couldn’t make the first night, Kabbour is nowhere near done. Every week, the Jam Jar will host his strangely compelling convergence of cinema and music, with a film screening followed by a live performance. So mark in red February the 1st, 8th, 15th and 22nd, and make your way to the Jam Jar in Al Quoz. Entrance is free, though it does seem to require the minutae of answering an RSVP. You won’t regret it. Who says Dubai is culturally malnourished?