Exquisite Corpse workshops overview

Permission Taken, which exhibited at Birmingham Open Media and University of Birmingham between October 2015 – May 2016, focused on copyright, remix culture and ideas around sharing, originality and ownership. In planning the exhibition I was fully aware that these concepts can be quite complex to comprehend and, worse still, incredibly boring, so I devised various ways communicate these ideas . I did so not in order to dumb it down but to give audiences as many entry points as possible. The exhibition featured images, texts, videos, sculptures, documentation of research and workshops. One such workshop was the Exquisite Corpse workshops.

Exquisite Corpse workshop

It’s highly likely that you will have encountered the Exquisite Corpse idea before but under a different name such as Picture Consequences or Exquisite Cadaver. The concept was originally developed by the Surrealists in the early 1900s as a way to collaboratively create a piece of art. Having discussed this concept with David Littler whilst at the Fermynwoods Contemporary Arts Copyright + Art event I began to think about how this could be recontextualised to talk about ownership and copyright.

In the workshops, which took place at Birmingham Open Media and University of Birmingham as part of the Arts and Science Festival, I split the participants into small groups and gave them the task of creating an image based on a theme – children’s cartoons or mythical creatures. The tools they had at their disposal were images from the University of Birmingham’s Research and Cultural Collections, lots of small bits of vinyl and pens. In both cases artistic talent wasn’t the focus, more the communication of the theme. After a short time I made the groups switch places and add to the new piece using their theme i.e. not adopt the original theme.

Exquisite Corpse Workshop

Exquisite Corpse Workshop at Arts & Science Festival

Following the collaborative art making we regrouped to have a discussion about several topics. Imagining myself as an art dealer will lots of cold hard cash to spend (I wish!) I asked the group how the funds should be divided if sold. Initially most were more than happy to split it equally. That is until I decided to introduce some doubt.

I suggested to the group that the amount of funds given should be based on the quantity of their contribution. In planning the workshops I specifically gave each group less time on their second piece than I did on their first, the theory being that with less time they would be able to contribute less. Should this result in them receiving less funds?

I then suggested to them to think about the quality of the contribution and not just the quantity. One group used the imagined scenario that they were a highly successful artist and the others were still unknown. Even if the unknown artists contributed the same or more to each piece should the successful artist receive a greater share of the funds? Socially their contribution could be considered worth more due to their status and so, in theory, this could be reflected in the funds received.

Exquisite Corpse Workshop at Arts & Science Festival

Finally, they took into account whether the originator of the idea should be rewarded with a greater share of the funds. Although I was technically the originator of the idea of this iteration of the workshop, in each group you could see participants leading or guiding others using their own ideas. Using this line of thinking should the “originator ” of the idea receive a greater share of the funds?

All of these ideas and more were discussed at length. The participants began to see how this relates to their own practice as they often collaborate with others and consider how it will affect the market value of their artworks and themselves. There are still no obvious answers to these questions and it often boils down to opinions and lawyers, of which there are many! For related things see Writing About Comics and Copyright by Ronan Deazley, which looks at quantity and quality in relation to copyright, the Sweat of the Brow doctrine which talks about effort in relation to the worth of art, and the Monkey Selfie which highlights authorship and ownership of art.

Exquisite Corpse Workshop at Arts & Science Festival

In the end what these workshops showed is that the legal side of art can distract from the creative aspects of it and make collaboration with others something more akin to a strict negotiation process. Nina Paley is an artist I often cite for her talk in which she talks about how copyright affected her work, Sita Sings the Blues.

Although my thoughts do mirror those of Paley’s, I am not advocating for a dismissal or abolition of the copyright system. Instead I would like to see the adoption of more permissive licences such as the Creative Commons licences and a greater focus on encouraging sharing and collaboration.

Permission Taken at University of Birmingham, 2nd March – 30th May

I’m happy to announce that the second part of Permission Taken will be taking place from 2nd March – 30th May at the Bramall Music Building at the University of Birmingham

ptanimation

This exhibition displays work by Antonio Roberts created during his 2014/15 artist-residency at the University of Birmingham. Roberts focused on issues surrounding copyright, permission culture and art: issues which become ever more pertinent as online communities become more prolific and harder to police.

The exhibition includes gifs and videos created by Roberts and other artists using images from the Research and Cultural Collections. Whilst his practice focuses on digitally reusing and remixing archive material, Roberts uses his work to encourage audiences to engage with issues such as the ownership of art and intellectual property rights. In doing so, he highlights the possibilities of a future where Free Culture and Open Source ideologies are adopted.

The exhibition features work originally shown at Birmingham Open Media alongside a reworking of Dead Copyright made for this exhibition. Alongside the exhibition there will be a series of workshops as part of the Arts and Science Festival.

Remix Party, 20th January

To celebrate the closing of Permission Taken, on 20th January I’ll be having a closing Remix Party at Birmingham Open Media from 19:00 – 22:00

remixparty

Artwork from over 20 national and international artists will be projected onto BOM’s walls, floors and ceilings in celebration of artists that appropriate, remix and rework. All this set against a backdrop of Copyleft/cut-up music from Ryan Hughes.

Artists include
Dan Hett, Lorna Mills, Ashley James Brown, Shawné Michaelain Holloway, Michaël Borras, Benjamin Berg, Michael Lightborne, Morehshin Allahyari, Daniel Salisbury, Carla Gannis, Faith Holland, Nick Briz, Daniel Temkin, Adam Ferriss, Víctor Arce, Chema Padilla, Kate Spence, Jessica Evans, Emily Haasch

During the evening Nomad, the newly opened restaurant next door the the gallery space, will be serving food from their ‘no rules’ pay-what-you-want menu.

Hope you can join in and celebrate remix culture!!!

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.

Archive Remix prints

The Archive Remix print pieces are a continuation of the remix pictures that I have been making as part of my residency at the University of Birmingham’s Research and Cultural Collections. The content that I have been making for that has focused on what can be lost when restrictive copyright is enforced. In keeping more with the themes of this exhibition the Archive Remix print pieces focus on the effect of corporate branding on imagery.

Archive Remix

The most central imagery consists of 3D scans of artefacts from the archives of Research and Cultural Collections. These then become obscured amongst the visual barrage of slightly distorted corporate branding, something which might not seem so visible at first.

Archive Remix

Copy Bomb

The Copy Bombs are my way of contributing to the free culture movemnt by encouraging the public to share images, audio, text and video in an unhindered way.

Copy Bomb

The Copy Bombs are, at their heart, PirateBox installations.

PirateBox creates offline wireless networks designed for anonymous file sharing, chatting, message boarding, and media streaming. You can think of it as your very own portable offline Internet in a box!

When users join the PirateBox wireless network and open a web browser, they are automatically redirected to the PirateBox welcome page. Users can anonymously chat, post images or comments on the bulletin board, watch or listen to streaming media, or upload and download files inside their web browser.

By building these sculptures (well, I employed Matthew James Moore to make them) I aim to give more of a physical presence to the wifi network. It serves as an object to signal that media can be shared freely within the vicinity. Due to being powered by battery (which can last nearly three days) these can be located anywhere.

In practical terms to use the Copy Bomb only a browser is needed, which can be on a mobile or desktop OS. A user needs to join the CopyBomb Alpha/Beta/Gamma network and then point their browser to http://copybomb.lan. They will be redirected to the sharing site, which is a PirateBox with the theme/CSS changed.

Copy Bomb

Once there they can browse the current contents or upload their own. I have hand picked content from the following online open archives:

In addition to this there is content from the University of Birmingham’s Research and Cultural Collections and my own archive of previous artworks.

The content from the public archives was chosen based on how easy it could be to remix and modify it. So, many of the items can easily be isolated from their backgrounds and used in other projects.

Dead Copyright

Perhaps the most immediately visible piece in my exhibition is the Dead Copyright vinyl wall installation.

Dead Copyright

Dead Copyright

Inspiration for this piece came from the Copyright Atrophy project I undertook in 2013. I began to consider how objects, logos and images can be abstracted into basic geometric shapes that eventually become noise. Are they still recognisable when presented in their most simplified form? This is combined with the projection of the glitched logos from the Copyright Atrophy project to create forms that might seem almost recognisible but disappear shortly afterwards.

Archive Remix videos

The Archive Remix video pieces are a continuation of the remix gifs that I have been making as part of my residency at the University of Birmingham’s Research and Cultural Collections. The content that I have been making for that has focused on what can be lost when restrictive copyright is enforced. In keeping more with the themes of this exhibition the Archive Remix video pieces focus on the effect of corporate branding on imagery.

Archive Remix

The most central imagery consists of 3D scans of artefacts from the archives of Research and Cultural Collections. These then become obscured amongst the visual barrage of slightly distorted corporate branding, something which might not seem so visible at first.