Lead? … For Breakfast?: A video remix analysis

Far too often we are confronted with the ever so common video remix. A bold form of creativity where an artist takes existing video clips along with audio clips and combines them in to something new. The YouTube video “Lead Breakfast” is a audio and video mash-up of the famous cult classic film “Pulp Fiction” directed by Quentin Tarentino. The video itself was posted in July of 2012 and was created by Nick Bertke a popular music producer and remix artist. Nick has clients such as Disney and Microsoft and mush of his work has been displayed in museums around the world. The remix “Lead Breakfast” simply takes audio from the film “Pulp Fiction” and pairs it up with video clips that match with the audio to make a complex three and a half minute rhythmic experience. In this particular remix the author has spliced several video clips to show many at the same time using some framing techniques not limiting the viewers creative absorption to just one clip at a time.

A good place to start the analysis is to go in depth with Scott McCloud’s triangle concept to pull apart the remix piece by piece to fully understand what parts and pieces we have. In the first second of the remix the audio says “Hey Kids” and the door slams on the camera. I immediately reference being a child and watch those old commercials that said something along the lines of “Hey Kids! Try this!” or “Hey Kids! Check this Out” trying to get our attention to go out and buy something as a small child and this statement itself has made an iconic impression, grabbing my attention. What happens after that in the video is nothing short of reality. McCloud’s triangle has reality in one corner, the iconic realm in the other with abstraction at the top. The video, if you have not seen pulp fiction, can be very gross and unpleasant and with what we have talked about in class, this remix video is certainly in the corner of reality, most of the remix is in this category as well. At 0:56 seconds you can hear words of profanity and a very disturbing picture of the actress in the movie overdosing on cocaine, this is reality and is as clear as can be. Since there is no animation or visual effects in the remix itself we will discuss what could be more abstract and iconic instead of reality.

Right after the last clip we discussed pops on, at 0:57 seconds there is a quick flash of two people standing on a stage that looks to be Marilyn Monroe and Richard Nixon. The movie used these people to act as two iconic celebrities from the past to play as restaurant employees and the whole world knows how iconic these people are and the author must have used them not only as the audio fill but also to show recognizable faces in the film besides just the famous actors in the movie. The entire video shows heavy drug use and iconic images of needles and guns along with alcohol and cocaine. Some parts of the audio are a bit iconic as well, such as the class shotgun reloading sound but also there is significant ‘clap’ sound which is the briefcase slamming against the table but it is the sound that keeps the rhythm going and gives you that classic iconic beat that people are very familiar with.

The end of the video we are introduced to a silence in the audio, and if we were to remove the time at the bottom of the screen we can witness something pretty remarkable. The break in audio and the video continuing gives our brains a sense of completion or as McCloud would discuss, a sense of closure. We have reached the end of the video and John Travolta’s face sends us with a blown kiss goodnight, like the story is over and everything is o.k. The chaos of the video and blood, profanity and drugs has lead us here but take time to calm yourself and welcome closure into your mind. I think the artist did a great job at doing this and I really couldn’t think of a better way of completing the remix for his audience. Watching the actual film and seeing this remix, you may have guessed that the ending of the video would be a car crash or a gun shooting or something very dramatic based on the clips used for the remix video but the artist took a very strong and meaningful meaning by doing it in this calming way.

When we take a closer look at what is abstract is this remix there is evidence of a very un easy feeling when looking at all the clips being played, but where are the marching guards coming from? The whole video makes sense in its own way but the marching guards are a very hard image to follow. I can assume the audio is the low indescribable sound coming from the video, but the marching backwards and the movie don’t match up as well and I would be curious to see what the artist’s intention was. The audio in the ‘chorus’ part where the guards are marching is a bit of a dark mood to it and it does fit well with the remix as a whole, but I love how the artist thought of this particular part and decided to play it backwards and found out you get this low “hmmmm”-ing noise, very interesting and very abstract.

The colors in the video are directly from the movie; no effects or changes have been made in that way. The film made over 10 years ago is not extremely high definition and the saturation and tone is a little bit high, reds and greens stand out the most in my opinion. The colors are strong and apparent but I cannot find any patterns or relationships that draw to my attention, or anything I could work off of. We could be start to be very abstract and talk about the blood in the video and what cultural reference that means for us and the relationship with the soldiers marching and how they are wearing red uniforms and the difference between them and the blood but that could be a whole other paper in itself.

When pulling these videos and putting them on YouTube, how can one get away with not recognizing the rights to the movie itself? When researching I understand that the artist has many affiliations with many companies but I have yet to find one that he has not affiliated with and writes a disclaimer about the film company. The artist uses everything from the movie, all the effect, all the audio is all ripped directly from the movie. Even the iconic framing technique as the video pans from left to right is based off of the intro to the movie, he simply replaced the actual movie clips with clips that sync up with his audio. These lines a very thick to divide the clips from the videos, a very almost iconic film strip effect panning by. We read left to right and our eyes have a very easy time understanding the clips when delivered in this way. Where can we draw the line and say that is against the law, or can we draw the line? I think as long as you clearly explain where the product came from and how you made it different it should be ok to use at your disposal, I think much more creativity and art would show up if people we not scared of the copyright laws that many companies have on their products.

The artist has a website called pogomix.net, it does not explain anything about how he takes the audio or video or how he is able to legally acquire and use the mediums, I do have one theory, and that is I believe he can do this because he doesn’t charge for his creativity. If you actually go to his mp3 link on the homepage you actually set the price of each product you would like to have, kind of like a donation, and you are free to download your favorite pieces.

The audio and video are very interdependent from each other. In McCloud’s readings he discusses how, for example ‘writing’ is relying on the ‘picture’, these words in this text are separate from the pictures them selves but without the words you would have no idea what is going on. Same with the pictures you can look at the pictures all day but without reading anything about the pictures you are lost in a sea of confusion and probably many questions. This is the same for Nick Bertke’s “Lead Breakfast” video, the audio is there and the video is also there, but let’s sees how they stand alone form each other. We can mute the audio and notice that the flashes are repetitious and quick. I cannot read the lips of the actors neither get any sort of context along with the video. The audio is a little different, if you listen to the audio and do not watch the video it is rhythmic and a bit catchy, but there is no reference to any parts of the movie and even seeing the movie many times it would be hard to guess what film this audio was from. Since there is no text in the video it strengthens my opinion about how the audio and video are interdependent in each other. If there was text in the video we could read and follow along and the audio and video would be a more of a intersecting combination of elements where there all work together.

This remix is a moment to moment visual culture approach simply because the video clips are so fast across the screen that you almost find yourself not even blinking during the entirety of the clip simply because you do not want to miss anything. It is interesting because at the end of all these clips, after all the moments are met you can kind of put together in your head what this movie is about, a very vague representation of what the movie is about.

If I hadn’t seen this artist other works I would think that he was trying to express the entirety of the video in one three and a half minute clip and his interpretation on what was important about the movie, but since I have seen his other pieces I actually think he is a musician expressing himself through the simple audio and video from movies. The remix itself could be expressing in a way that the artist is expressing sound that we did not even know was there, he is showing the world that audio from popular movies can be made into a very pleasing and melodic piece of music.

I think with all these remixes they are very much experimental, very conceptual. It is the artist’s personal approach to development and creativity. I think the reason these remixes are so successful is because no one has done things like this before and we a getting more comfortable with things that change the way we feel and asa culture we enjoy seeing new and exciting things. The way these remixes are most important to us is that as a culture we view movies like this everyday and we enjoy these movies, they are familiar to us and the success of these remixes designed by Nick Bertke relies on how important the movie is to us as a person, as a culture. If we were to see a remix done with a video no one had ever seen it would be far more abstract to us and many of us wouldn’t care about it, now every time I watch the popular cult-classic movie ‘Pulp Fiction’ I am going to remember this remix and probably show whomever I am watching the movie with the same remix too.

– Casey Cotcamp





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