The first copyright law, made in the eighteenth century, granted artists the exclusive right to control the copying of their original creations for 14 years. Too brief a period? Perhaps, but by the beginning of the twenty-first century, copyright’s term had grown to cover the life of the artist plus 70 years – which means that Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avigon will remain protected until 2043, 136 years after it was completed. Too long, surely?
In this issue we look at the twentieth-century phenomenon of “copyright creep” and its implications for artists working in the Digital Age.
The issue features an article from Dr Shane Burke titled Copyright as Medium. In the article he talks to several artists, including myself about copyright the use of copyright as a theme and driving force behind the creation of artworks. He pays particular attention to the “Blurred Lines” sonification piece I made the Common Property exhibition at Jerwood Space in 2016.
“The piece is effective only as long as it pushes the boundaries of what is acceptable. As the laws change I would need to change the work to reflect this. Overall for it to be effective it needs to do the opposite of what is permitted by law. It is only by doing this, and highlighting how, quite frankly, stupid these laws are that I can hope to bring about change.”
Asked how he feels about the fact that copyright law may impact directly on the form of this works, Roberts averred: “I’m happy about it but it also confuses me. I’m annoyed by the fact that a change in law can physically alter the state of an artwork (e.g. if I were ordered to censor/cover up offending parts of the work) or change how it’s perceived. At the same time, if in doing this it can help to start a discussion around copyright laws then I’m happy to be a part of it.” When asked if he considered copyright law as an artistic raw material in terms of his work, he replied: “Yes, as long as law can physically alter the appearance of an artwork then law is something tangible that can be manipulated and worked with.”
Alongside our exhibition No Copyright Infringement Intended, this discussion will highlight the disruptive power of technological innovation on culture and copyright.
Using the works within the exhibition as a starting point, a panel featuring artists and copyright experts will discuss how emerging technologies are shaping creative processes, how (perceptions of) copyright enable and inhibit those technologically-enabled processes and the appropriateness of appropriation.
April 7th saw No Copyright Infringement Intended open its doors to the public. The exhibition, taking place from 7th April to 21st May, features work by 10 national and international artists, each exploring the relationship between copyright and culture in the digital age, investigating how the concept of ownership and authorship is evolving and coming into conflict with outdated copyright and intellectual property laws.
It was really encouraging to see a large number of attendees, each with lots of questions about the ways in which the works challenge copyright and how it relates to their own practice or interests. Copyright is a sometimes complex issue and so I’m glad people didn’t shy away from learning more about it 🙂
There will be two events during the exhibition: a panel discussion about the themes of the exhibition and a curator’s tour. More information on these will follow.
There’s plenty more photos from the opening night and installation photos available on my Flickr stream. If you take any please let me know and/or tag them with #nocopyrightintended.
There are plenty of printed programmes available (designed by the awesome Kerry Leslie) which is a work of art in itself. Message me if you want one. It’s also available online for your viewing pleasure:
The exhibition continues until 21st May at Phoenix. It will then go on to Vivid Projects in September.
Lorna Mills, features 114 net-based artists reinterpreting John Berger’s original Ways of Seeing, leaving only the original script and voice-over in tact. The resulting piece features animation, 3D rendering, gifs, film remix and webcam performance.
I’ll be there wearing my Vivid Projects Curator hat and will be doing a short introduction to the screening (I contributed to episode two). It’s also worth checking out the screening of the original Ways of Seeing that will be happening a day earlier on 8th April. In fact, just check out the whole of Flatpack Festival ’cause it’s awesome.