How to define the ownership of art work?

The article”On The Rights Of Molotovman: Appropriation and the art of context By Joy Garnett and Susan Meiselas” arouses a simple but crucial question to the contemporary art, that is how to define the ownership of the art work?  What kind of reproduction can be treated as a legal and new creation rather than the interpretation to the original artwork?

On one hand, the conservative artists have found enough references from Walter Benjamin’s book “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. Benjamin defines the existence of an “aura” when the artists is creating artwork from the certain place and specific time. This “aura” endows the artists with the uniqueness of their artwork, and blames the loss of “aura” when advanced technologies such as photography and film threaten the copyright of the existing artwork. Unlike the respect shown to the recreation of copy all over the years, when artists tend to call the behavior as “recreation”, fights and arguments are made.

On the other hand, I would keep the sense of “aura” while in a totally different way although it’s understandable that people get annoyed when they find their photography has been “turned” into a painting by someone else and meanwhile this person calls it as recreation, like what happened in this “Molotovman” case. Now that we’ve entered the times of science and technology, the obstacles of recreation of art has been decreased. When people can easily edit an artwork, what is the essence remained for the special talent of an artist? I would treat the skills and ideas of reproduction also a must for an artist. Everyone now has an “aura” when creating the art, since with different perspectives, the interpretation of an artwork must be distinct. Then the ability of creating a wonderful artwork based on the original one is the distinction between normal people and an artist.

Then why will there be all these arguments of the equality of reproduction and copy? I regard this conflict as a result of the sense of ownership. “Aura” is not enough to show the ownership of the artwork. The artists often treat their work as their little babies, and yet they forget that even if the babies seems to belong to them forever, they will always turn out to go for their soulmates when they grow up.

Instead of ownership, I would rather treat artwork as independent pieces. The artwork will have their own destiny, no matter there is an “aura” or not, no matter how many people tries to threaten the ownership of the original creators. After the artworks have been created, they have their own life, regardless of the change of the world. In this sense, technology will become the enlightenment and hope of the end of a monopoly applied on the artwork.


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