Appropriation as Alchemy in New Media: A Case Study

Elizabeth K. MIX


Historically alchemists were concerned with the search or a lapis, the Philosopher’s Stone, able to transmute lead into gold. A similar transformational process takes place digitally in the work of new media artists, whose computers and code are the equivalent of the philosopher’s stone, becoming agents of transformation. This essay explores how both art history and popular culture is appropriated, manipulated and transformed by new media artist Jason Salavon (an American artist working in Chicago). Salavon’s processes include performance of operations upon databases of appropriated images and the application of digital interference to recycled music, films, music videos and live television broadcasts using primarily C+ coding.

Keywords: new media, appropriation, digital alchemy, evolutionary biology