Paul Miller: Rhythm Science

Paul Miller’s “Rhythm Science” is a book about the history, the culture and the potential of remixing. Having read it now, I wish I’d picked it up earlier when I saw it at the ICA last year.

Miller finds the historical roots of remix culture in the history of the slave and immigrant classes of America, shows how the most avant-garde strategies of 20th century high art have passed into the DJ’s toolkit, and explores how this continues and opens up the history of cultural expression in the digital age. And Miller’s treatment of his own writing and his sources as a rhythmic mix of voices, from Marcel Duchamp to Grand Master Flash, Coldcut to Deleuze, brings his ideas alive in a way that would be lost in a more academic mode.

You’ll have to filter out the page-count-doublingly-awful graphic design. But if you do, the reward is a text with a depth and richness that is belied by its free-flowing style. The big picture of a digital, remixable, rhythmic culture that this book paints and the points where it touches on aesthetics and art hisory (Miller is an artist as well as a DJ) will be of interest to artists as well as to musicians, and to anyone interested in the origins and potential of remix culture.

Highly recommended.