On The Rights of Molotov Man By Joy Garnett and Susan Meiselas
During my audio project, I decontextualized N.W.A’s song “Fuck The Police”. After reading Molotov Man, I now understand the problems that may arise when doing so.
I was quite perplexed when the misusage of the song was called out to me. Since we had previously discussed remixing and how it can lead to creativity in class, I thought using songs in this manner was acceptable.
Even today, I find it hard to draw the line between what is remixing and what is misappropriation. However, Molotov Man and Susan’s response to the situation go good lengths in describing how this particular painting infringed the image’s very meaning.
I also understand the artist’s point of view, as I committed the same mistake myself, but saw his lack of understanding of the image as somewhat ignorant. Perhaps it is worse that I knew of the context behind the song and yet used it for other purposes. Regardless, I agree with Susan. What the artist did was not remixing. He copied Susan’s image and treated it as his own. He stripped the “Molotov Man” of his identity, not caring why he’d be carrying a Molotov cocktail, not giving the man credit for his struggles.
The Ecstasy of Influence By Jonathan Lethem
“You take away our right to steal ideas, where are they going to come from?” is a phrase quoted from Roger Meyers Jr. which stood out from the passage itself.
The quote got me thinking, as did the examples provided by the author thereafter, that some ideas are original in themselves. By this, I mean that there has always been one idea which did actually emerge from thin air. With this statement, I recognize I am contradicting posts I have previously written but just now I began to consider this possibility.
Just like Kirby Ferguson mentions, Jonathan Lethem is emphasizing the fact that most art is a derivation of another art form that came before it. Except, the cycle must have started at one point.
Having said this, I do agree that ideas can build up on themselves. Meaning, that one can come up with an art project based on ideas previously conjured, yet we cannot rule out the possibility of ideas being completely unique.
Another interesting insight was the explanation of how a photographer may be plagiarizing the objects featured in his images. Yet here, I find a flaw in the reasoning. A photographer makes everything in his picture his because of how he presents it. What a photographer does is let you see the world through his eyes, making whatever is within the picture indisputably his. This is his view, his way of looking at the world, and he is sharing such an art with you.
Finally, I appreciate how the author explains the idea of copyright has been gradually molded with time. He explains how nowadays, copyright is based on the idea that everyone must own something, even intellectual property. This is, in a sense, the world we live in today. A world where everything has an owner, even air rights! It seems only logical, that copyrights would deviate in towards that direction as well. Where businessmen even try to take profit from their ideas, turning a blind eye on the fact that they may be crushing another man’s genius.