This semester, I’ve been working on building my web programming chops in Dynamic Web Development and Flash of Flash at ITP.Â Using some of the new skills I’ve picked up, I have created three ways of presenting Snapshots, an online collection of music I have composed this school year at ITP.
Here is my first attempt at animation with Adobe After Effects, inspired by Surrealism, Dada, and early MTV animations.
Noir is the new video I made in Comm Lab @ ITP with Elizabeth, Catherine, and Kristin.Â It is a music video for a song of the same name that I recorded circa 1998-1999 under the Ronald Raygun band name, and re-released online in 2006 under the new HEPNOVA brand.Â It was the second or third song that I have ever written.Â Telephone Tag was the first, and either Noir or Bionic Boyband in Bollywood was second/third.Â I did the vocals and played all of the instruments except for bass.Â The bass credits go to Nico of Tsar Nicholas and HEPNOVA fame.
The video is a pastiche-y hommage to the films noirs of yesteryear, shot on location in Lower Manhattan, with basically no budget and only three weeks from pre to post.Â Here it is in all its charmingly ghetto glory:
In the February 2007 Harper’s Magazine article, “On the Rights of Molotov Man: Appropriation and the art of context,” painter Joy Garnett and photographer Susan Meiselas debate the bounds of copyright and how decontextualizing and “remixing” images affects meaning. Â
This is my response to The Ecstasy of Influence: A Plagiarism, by Jonathan Lethem for Communications Lab at ITP.
First of all, Lethem isn’t really a plagiarist because he cites the sources from which he lift phrases.Â In any case, I get many of his points, and it was a great literary ‘reveal’ at the end of a well-written piece.Â I agree that The whole idea of copyright needs to be reassessed as society and technology changes.Â In fact, technological change often makes legal structures of intellectual property ownership quickly obsolete.Â As Lethem says:
In the contemporary world, though, the act of â€œcopyingâ€ is in no meaningful sense equivalent to an infringementâ€”we make a copy every time we accept an emailed text, or send or forward oneâ€”and is impossible anymore to regulate or even describe.
Lethem also refers to modern American copyright law’s “limitless bloating.”Â It is indeed a blunt instrument, that while seemingly universal in its scope, seems to best maintain and benefit the position of copyright holders at the top of the socio-economic-political hierarchy.Â What does Britney Spears really have to lose if I release an unauthorized cover of her songs?Â I am but a peon compared to the ASCAAP and the major label’s legal departments.Â But on the other hand, for a struggling independent artist, it would really suck if some major entertainment-industrial-complex corporation ripped off my work.Â Sure I could sue, that’s the American way after all, but it would probably be too expensive and too much trouble.Â There is also the hypocrisy of what Lethem calls “imperial plagiarism, the free use of Third World or ‘primitive’ art works and styles by more privileged (and better-paid) artists.”Â This kind of plagiarism represents a one-way appropriation, and not a multilateral cultural exchange of ideas.Â Neo-colonialism posing as creative production?
The problem is with what do we replace our current copyright regime?Â Creative Commons seems like a step in the right direction, in that it gives content creators choices on how to share, or to use Lethem’s language, “gift” their works of art to the world.Â Derivative works are inevitable and essential for the continuation of art.Â I think artists should be relevant to their place and time, which for us now means a society saturated with the signs of commercial advertising and pop culture, and enabled by facile digital replication.Â Yet there is endless potential to mine that mundane world for remixing, mash-ups and the next big recombinant art form, which won’t let antiquated copyright law get in its way.Â As Lethem says, “We’re surrounded by signs, our imperative is to ignore none of them.”