Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Appropriation in art: Redux

In my quest to find answers to appropriation in the arts, here is a quiz: Is the image below by the Austin based artist Baxter Orr a twisted parody, an example of creative appropriation or just blatant plagiarism of the original artwork by Shepard Fairey (on the right)? Full article here. You decide.

Baxter was ordered by the court to stop making this class of art (a class that involves deriving from existing artwork made by the famous graffiti artist Fairey). Appropriation is a funny thing – the legalese in the court order that orders Baxter to cease and desist states that ‘as you have neither asked for nor received permission to use the work as a basis for the artwork, I believe you have willfully infringed our rights – blah, blah…”.

I cringe when I hear that people cannot ‘use other works as a basis’ (at least as idea founts with an aim to creating works of their own). Of course, ‘as a basis’ should not mean an outright copy with minor cosmetic modifications, but should accomodate for developing ‘appropriate derivatives’ that merits enough meaning to stand on its own – now defining that will take time and effort and will need to be assigned to that austere circle of artists and lawyers working out common ground together (something like the GNU GPL), but using blanket threats of ‘cannot even use the work as a basis’, will not do good for either of the parties involved…

Left: Baxter's 'Dope'; Right: Shepard's 'Hope' (Image ripped from here)Disclaimer: I read about this first on Fecalface

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Baxter has taken elements of the original design and created a new work-with a new idea. I think this is approriation/border line plagarism-the designer could have had a bit more input into creating a new design-but if he had changed it anymore-then the whole idea would be lost. Hmmm.. Appropriation.