The Social Online: Copyleft

Free, booking essential
This event will take place on Zoom

The Social is our bi-monthly advice and networking session for photographers, where participants are encouraged to network and join the conversation. Deliberately informal, each event includes two presentations by photography professionals, who offer tips or advice on the chosen theme, with a short break in between for socialising.

This online version of The Social addresses the topic of Copyleft. Wikipedia describes copyright as “a strategy of utilizing copyright law to pursue the policy goal of fostering and encouraging the equal and inalienable right to copy, share, modify and improve creative works of authorship”. Artist and curator Antonio Roberts will be joined by researcher Jonathan Worth in this session that offers information and tips on alternatives to copyright.

Antonio Roberts is an artist and curator based in Birmingham, UK. His practices explore what ownership and authorship mean in an age impacted by digital technology.

Jonathan Worth is a former editorial photographer and a teacher and senior researcher at Open Lab, Newcastle University.

Please note: Bookings for The Social will close at 17.00 (BST) on 28 May. Once you have made a booking, you will be sent a link to join the session. Please check your junkmail if you fail to receive the link to your inbox.

Copyleft presentation at Arts and Science Festival, 17th March

On 17th March I’ll be delivering a presentation on the topic of Copyleft as part of my exhibition, Permission Taken, and the Arts and Science Festival at University of Birmingham.


Antonio Roberts introduces concepts behind the exhibition and knowledge of copyright gained through undertaking a CopyrightX course. This session encourages participants to think critically about how Copyleft concepts could be applied to their own practice or area.

If you missed the one that happened at Birmingham Open Media now’s your chance to take part! Places are free and can be booked here. There’s loads of other cool events happening during the Arts and Science Festival which you should check out!

Exquisite Corpse workshop at Arts and Science Festival, 15th March

On 15th March I’ll be running an Exquisite Corpse workshop as part of my exhibition, Permission Taken, and the Arts and Science Festival at University of Birmingham.

Exquisite Corpse

Antonio Roberts leads a workshop inspired by the Exquisite Corpse surrealist storytelling technique. Participants are invited to co-create an artwork re-mixing archive images and other materials.

Following the workshop there’ll be a discussion questioning authorship and ownership of the collaboratively created artworks.

If you missed the one that happened at Birmingham Open Media now’s your chance to take part! Places are free and can be booked here. There’s loads of other cool events happening during the Arts and Science Festival which you should check out!

Copyleft Workshop, 26th November

On 26th November from 18:00 – 21:00 I’ll be holding the second event as part of my solo exhibition, Permission Taken, at Birmingham Open Media.

Copyleft Workshop

In this workshop I’ll introduce concepts behind the exhibition and my knowledge of copyright gained through undertaking a CopyrightX course.

This session encourages artists to think critically about how Copyleft concepts could be applied to their own practice.

Places are free but limited, to reserve places please get in contact.

Permission Taken opening

Permission Taken launched at Birmingham Open Media on 23rd October and it couldn’t have been better!

Permission Taken opening

You may have noticed my internet presence has been somewhat quiet over the last few months. This can all be attributed to the many hours it took to prepare for this, my first solo exhibition. Prior to this I had done many performances, contributed videos, gifs and still images to group shows, and curated shows featuring the work of other artists. Being given the large gallery space of BOM was therefore quite a challenge and a new experience.

Permission Taken opening

In developing work for this exhibition I wanted to present work that best represented the direction my work is taking. Aesthetically this will still include lots of screens and projections, and will still incorporate the (mis)use of technology and glitch art. However, there will be more of a focus on the free culture and the open source movement.

Archive Remix

These issues have always been present within my work, just not at the forefront. For example, it’s no secret that I only use open source software and have done since around 2008. I also release my work under Creative Commons licences in the hope that people will reuse my work somehow. Through this exhibition I aim to encourage others to do the same in their own practices.

Permission Taken opening

I know that this can be a difficult message to convey through visual artwork alone. There will be a few upcoming events that will invite the public to further look into these issues, explore new approaches to ownership and authorship, and learn about how creativity is restricted by outdated laws and practices. Information about those will be published very soon, but in the meantime keep an eye on my events page and the BOM website.

Dead Copyright


This exhibition wouldn’t have been possible without the help of loads of people. In particular I want to thank:

  • Karen Newman – After being a curator at FACT and Open Eye Gallery she came to Birmingham to open up BOM and support artists interested in art, science, and technology. She immediately offered me a slot in the BOM programme for my solo show and has been extremely patient and supportive over the last year.
  • Clare Mullett/Research and Cultural Collections – This exhibition is happening as part of my residency at the University of Birmingham. I was really honoured to be accepted onto the residency programme, especially considering the technical aspect of my proposal. The exhibition will culminate with a showcase of this and other work in 2016 at the University of Birmingham. More information on that in time.
  • Arts Council England – Their support shows to me that there is a place for science, technology and digital art within the wider art community.
  • Pete Ashton, Lucy Hutchinson, Sebastian Lenton, Marianne Mulvey, Kerry Grace Leslie, Leon Trimble and Matthew James Moore. Each helped me in their own special way, be it helping with the Arts Council application form, installing the show, building the Copy Bombs or just being generally supportive.

Permission Taken opening

And last, but by no means least, I’d like to thank everyone that came out on the opening night and has been to the exhibition since. I was really touched by all of the support from my family, friends and the art community.

The exhibition continues at Birmingham Open Media until 23rd January. It then will happen again in March 2016 but more on that later 😉

Permission Taken

I’m happy to announce the launch of my first solo exhibition, Permission Taken, taking place at Birmingham Open Media from 23rd October 2015 to 23rd January 2016.

Dead Copyright

The exhibition features a number of digital, video, print and installation pieces developed as part of my residency at the University of Birmingham’s Research and Cultural Collections and Fellowship at Birmingham Open Media. The pieces explore ideas of ownership, copyright and free culture – issues which are pertinent as online communities become more prolific and harder to police.

Archive Remix

Over the course of the exhibition a number of events will be held that invite artists and the public to rethink ideas surrounding ownership and authorship in the digital age.

Dead Copyright

Permission Taken is supported through public funding by Arts Council England and with funding from University of Birmingham.


University of Birmingham Artist in Residence

I’m happy to announce that I have been accepted onto the University of Birmingham’s Artist in Residence programme for 2014-2015.

The University of Birmingham‘s Artist in Residence programme provides artists with a studio on campus and a unique chance to engage with the diverse range of cultural collections held here. The artists work alongside the University’s curators, conservators and researchers with the opportunity to forge new interdisciplinary relationships. They also work with the cultural engagement team, delivering a series of workshops and lectures to staff, students and the public, bringing an exciting active aspect to the University’s cultural offer.

Over the next year (August 2014 to June 2015) I’ll be working with the Culture and Collections department to look at the issues of copyright, resue, and reapprorpriation and how it affects their extensive collections. Below is an excerpt from my proposal:

Archive Remix

As more people share their work online many questions have arisen over copyright, patents, intellectual property and remixing of artworks. Writers and artists such as Lawrence Lessig and Phil Morton have, through their work, argued that placing restrictive terms on an artwork prohibits creativity, rather than stimulates it.

In my practice I encourage engagement by releasing my work under so-called Copyleft licences (such as Creative Commons and GPL) that encourage the work to be reused, reinterpreted and remixed whilst still retaining authorship over original works. I also freely release all code, documentation and sources.

There have been many high profile cases of artists and institutions adopting similar approaches, such as The British Library releasing its image library into the Public Domain in 2013, and the Google Art Project, which, since 2011, has allowed users to view in very high-quality collections of artworks from 134 museums.

Through the residency I aim to work with the University to find effective methods for opening their collections to the public for them to be used, reused and remixed whilst still maintaining the integrity and reputation of the the University and Copyright holders.

Although I have proposed some outcomes for the residency – new tools built for remixing artworks, hosting a remix party, an exhibition of remixed works – this will all likely change as the residency progresses. You can follow the progress of my residency over at Archive Remix, and the academics amongst y’all can also view my Zotero library. Any major developments will also be posted here.

If y’all would like to talk about ideas, collaborations, meet me IRL in the studio, or just throw some suggested reading my way please do get in touch.

Free Art Or Free Design

Reading Floss+Art really has got me wondering if art should be free. By free I don’t mean public domain, but rather in a way that ensures the work stays free, such as releasing their work under Creative Commons or some similar Copyleft licence?

When I approached this question I split it into two questions, should art be free and should design be free. To clarify, I see art as something more aesthetic, more pleasing to the eye. I don’t think it strictly is there to answer questions, but more to raise them. It’s like a fiction book, which isn’t there to provide facts, but to entertain.

I see design as something that solves problems. Need to push something up a hill? Design created the wheel. Need to make a mark on a paper? Design created the pen and pencil. It is true that there is some artistic (as I’m defining it here) concepts that went into it’s design, but primarily I see it as design.

Overall, of the two I feel that it is design that should be set free, especially when it can benefit so many people. On the screen a UI design may make a program easier to use but on a wider scale it sets the scale for other programs. If all other/similar programs followed the same design principles those programs in turn would become easier to use and everyone would benefit. However, too often I read of stories where companies patent whatever aspects of their program they can. Doing this does give them the upper hand over their rivals, but it prevents others from improving on their work and benefiting the users.