THE AMORPHOUS NATURE OF START-UPS.
BY ANEIRA PONTIN
21 MARCH 2022
Culturally, the separation between production and consumption is narrowing. Nowhere is this more apparent than online. Users have become the
DJsof their own cultural landscape, blurring the lines between transmitter and consumer. This is evident in meme culture, particularly on TikTok, where trends emerge in response to, and using cultural phenomena. Audio on the site is designed to be repurposed, appropriated, taking on a new meaning in the process. A process which describes culture operating by transplanting, grafting and decontextualising. Also called remix.
Simon Denny is a proprietor of remix culture. In his exhibition ‘Disruptive Berlin’, the New Zealand artist reinterprets the logos and visual identities of 10 Berlin-based start-ups. His tech-driven style subverts the clean, fresh identities of these companies, presenting a direct link between their rise in popularity and that of technology in our lives, connecting the role culture plays in responding to the changing technological space.
‘Computer nerds, slacker students, 30-something capitalists, hip academics and future bureaucrats’ were all drawn to the tech boom of the 90s. Forming the so-called Californian ideology fusing together new left + right ideologies of individualism, neoliberalism and libertarianism (Barbrook, R and Cameron, A, 1995). Remixing ideologies, and cultural backgrounds to create a new one.
The ultimate example of remix culture.
Hierarchies are another key element of start-ups which have multiple components taken from a variety of places and remixed to create a new work culture. There is a certain amount of nepotism which has been borrowed from corporate environments. Skilled workers aren’t keen to work for equity in any company, and so they require personal assurance from trusted individuals that this is a worthwhile opportunity cost. Free-market economics + dislike of regulation have been implemented as private equity and individuals with experience in hedge funds involved themselves in start-ups. Flat hierarchy and flexible working culture was implemented by the early digerati who’s skills were in great demand and politics were often in the left. Remixing a range of influences and creating an entirely new business culture; one which saw the relaxation of previous formalities and processes that reflect a wider shift in culture.
The start-up’s reputation is an intricate rebranding of systems which already exist. Remixing, if you will. Transforming, grafting and decontextualising ideas to create new meaning. It sees an entirely new context be associated with
SMEs, not as the underdogs, but as the new big players.
Writing by Aneira Pontin
References:Lessig, L. (2009)
Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy. London: Penguin Press.
Artist SIMON DENNY Is Shaping Berlin’s Disruptive Startup Culture. Available at:
Barbrook, R and Cameron, A. (01.09.1995)
The Californian Ideology. Available at: