Though the Ecstasy of Influence was a long read, it was a very interesting one. I was fascinated by the concept of ‘cryptomnesia’, because I knew it existed as a phenomenon, but I never had the word to describe it. There have been plenty of instances when I’ve read certain works and seen it be reminiscent of other’s works, and I’ve also been guilty of creating something and then realizing that it was based on something that I had read or heard before. I also loved the quote “Invention does not consist in creating our of void, but out of chaos”. Art, literature, music, film, and any creative pursuit take place in a world. They cannot exist or be created in a vacuum, because the person who is creating them has had so many influences from the world around him/her. This brings forward the question, how much can we really create? and how much of it is even original? This reminded me of Kirby’s ted talk because the principles were similar – everything is essentially a remix. of Burroughs – Art and creative ventures are a part of culture, they are created in a culture and they add to culture, so to the question can “culture ever be intellectual property?”, I firmly believe that no one individual has the right to own a segment of culture.
I also like how the author discussed that the idea of copyright which is seen as a given and as something static is wrong. His idea that the copyright is something that is constantly being negotiated socially is very relevant to now. In light of insane uses of artists “owning” ideas or work, is Anish Kapoor’s decision to have the exclusive rights to the use of the pigment Vantablack. How can a person “own” a color, a pigment?
I especially liked the author’s critique about Disney’s cultural sampling. A majority of their movies, especially the succesful ones are adaptations of stories from different cultures. They are guilty of imperial plagiarism, and even though they themselves “borrow” or are “inspired” by other cultures, they themselves refuse to be allowed to used in any culture or in any manner.
I also enjoyed what he wrote about the public commons, and the idea of how it is built and developed by common consent, and how language itself can count as a commons. Undiscovered public knowledge can count as originality, but is just someone coming to a conclusion before another person?
I really liked the way he showed where he was “inspired” or influenced by other sources and how he mapped them out down to the exact sentences and words.
When the picture of the “Molotov Man” was taken, he was unaware. He wasn’t trying to sell anything. Instead, he was asserting himself through a public protest. One conflict in the reading occurred when the owner of the photo, Susan Meiselas, felt that someone else was stealing her work. The issue is that, she probably didn’t even get permission from the man. She felt that by taking the photo, she owned the image.
Another conflict occurred when Meiselas believed that the photo was taken out of context. The actual context of the photo have a significant importance to it; however, she misses the fact that the world is a diverse place. Once the photo went public, the creativity of those who created a new context of the photo went rampant. Yet, that new context did not take away any meaning from the original context. I believe that embracing the free use of a creation also embraces diversity.
Ever since I started to watch cartoons as a child, my capacity to imagine grew. My dreams were more vivid. When I became old enough to read books, my style of writing improved. Whenever I’d have trouble with my essays, I would read other people’s work to get inspiration. Sometimes, I would write an author’s text word for word until my ideas began to flow. Then I’d begin my own essay. Some would call it inspiration. Jonathan Lethem would probably call it plagiarism. If I were to track back my current motivations and creations, I’d bet I could attribute them to the work of other artists. Even my passions derive from the work of others. However, I don’t profit off my ideas or publicize them on social media.
A problem with plagiarism comes from the publication of other people’s work. As long as one’s work is used as inspiration to derive to original work I’ve created, I think what Jonathan Lethem advocates is all right. However, my actions become problematic when I publicizes another person’s work without putting in too much effort of my own.
To me, this essay was an example of the virality of the internet and of computational media when creating art. It also touched on what is and isn’t art. Based on the slight legal issues that Joy ran into when showcasing a piece of art inspired by another piece of art. I don’t study intellectual property, so I’m just going based off of my own experiences, undoubtedly influenced by the type of art I’m used to. Due to my age, I’m used to seeing collages, reproductions, and remixes. These are accepted as art in their own right, even if they were based on another piece. Most people are inspired or influenced by something else when they’re creating art. I would assume that most people who create art want to create their own original pieces, even if they’re ‘reproducing’ a photograph, or ‘remixing’ a song.
An artist will work on a project and bring their own experiences and areas of expertise to the to the piece they’re working on. Using music as an example makes more sense to me because I feel like there’s more of a tradition of building upon someone else’s work. One common example of remixing is Daft Punk’s “One More Time” which heavily samples Eddie John’s “More Spell on You” both are individual pieces of music in their own right and some people listening to “One More Time” may not even recognise that Daft Punk used samples to create this music. There is also a tradition of singers singing a composer’s music. There’s Ella Sings the Cole Porter Song Book and different singers will sing pieces from operas etc. Both artists are appreciated in these instances. There isn’t a debate over who created what or gets the credit for such a piece. Furthermore, many operas were originally plays, which a composer appreciated and then set to music, i.e. Madama Butterfly. I don’t think there needs to be a medium shift or genre shift for a ‘borrowed’ piece of art to be considered a work of art in its own right, however, there often is.
The article presents an interesting copyright debate between the painter Joy Garnett and the photographer Susan Meiselas. Susan argues that Joy’s painting “decontextualizes” her photo. However, after filing a copyright claim against Joy, the community started a “copyfight” and started remixing Susan’s photo even more. I think that this is one of the most crucial parts in art, remixing and transforming old art. However, sometimes context should be kept intact and should not stray too far from the original context. An example of this is the meme “Pepe the Frog”. This meme was one of the most popular memes on the internet, however, it was considered a hate symbol when it started being used in white supremacist images.
In my previous blog post that I did for this week on “The Ecstasy of Influence: A Plagiarism”, I mentioned at the end, that there is a line, that one is not supposed to cross when engaging in Ferguson idea of, “everything is a remix. I agree with Ferguson, but I do not believe that people should outright take other people’s work. It is true that technology has made behaviors like this easier to do, but it “does not mean we must do them”.
In this case of Garnett’s painting and Meiselas’ photograph, the line may have been crossed. Yes, Garnett did find the pictures on Google, but it was copyrighted and it is disrespectful to reproduce art based on others’ art, especially when no permission was asked. As Meiselas explains, “my own relationship to this picture obviously is very different from Joy’s. No one can ‘control’ art, of course, but it is important to me–in fact it is central to my work–that I do what I can to respect the individuality of the people I photograph, all of whom exist in specific times and places’ (56). This is very important because for Garnett to use Meiselas’ work and to not credit her at all is to disrespect her work and her mission. Indeed, Garnett did paint it, but that idea that picture was Meisalas’.
The questions mentioned on page 55, in particular, “Should artists be allowed to decide who can comment on their work, and how?” is a question that is highly debatable. After Garnett used Meisalas’ picture for her painting, it kind of blew up, spread like wildfire, and appeared on many more platforms. I think that no, artists cannot control who can comment on their work, and how, but they should be able to decided where they want to present their art. Garnett, doing this, did not give Meisalas that right.
In the Ecstasy of the influence, Jonathan Lethem discusses the relationship between influence and plagiarism and how this relation can affect creativity. He starts the discussion by questioning the cause of the similarity between a novel of a prominent journalist Vladimir Nabokov and another story titled Lolita, which was published after 40 years by Heinz von Lichberg. Lathem claims, ” most artists are brought to their vocation when their own nascent gifts are awakened by the work of a master.” Thus the influence plays a major part in the process of creation. If we make plagiarism accusation whenever someone tries to recreate the works of another artist, that will diminish the incentive for creativity.
Lathem says, “honoring the commons is not a matter of moral exhortation.” The common should be available to anyone and the exploitation of the common by few for personal gain shouldn’t be allowed. ” All ideas are second hand” and in the debate between corporation and artists, the victim is the imagination of the public.
I understand Lathem’s argument and I also believe that in order to nurture creativity we need to make the resource more open.
In this essay, Leham talks about his opinion towards the copyright law, which gets in the way of copying and remixing. His idea is related to our next project about remix this semester.
With the development of the internet, his idea of building imitating nature seems more and more achievable. He says that artists’ works are gifts for the society, and you can never steal a gift (11). And now I think it’s clear for me that copying or remixing is not stealing but innovation.
On “The Ecstasy of Influence: A Plagiarism”
I want to begin by addressing the title “The Ecstasy of Influence”: When I think of the word, “Ecstasy”, I think of extreme happing, uncontrollable happiness. It is not just joy or excitement, it is PURE joy and, or excitement. To describe taking influences or “plagiarizing” with the feeling is ecstasy, shows the drastic-ness, need, or desire to engage in such a behavior. It is almost as if it is addicting, like the drug, nicknamed, ecstasy.
Another thing that I am drawn to is the title of the first section of the this piece, “Love and Theft”. It seems to suggest that these acts of “theft” or “plagiarism” are performed not out of greed or desire to claim others’ works as one-selves’. Rather, they are performed because of oneself’s love of the art. As the Fergunson, in the TedTalk we watched last week exclaimed, “Everything is a remix”, including music, files, and, as Lethem states, even literature. “Literature has always been a crucinle in which familiar themes are continually recast”. Furthermore, Lethem believes in this form of refusing because art that reuses, for example, Bob Dylan’s music, “urges us mot to look back, [but] also encodes a knowledge of past sources that might otherwise have little home in the contemporary world” (Lehem 60). In other words, it allows art to live. Because of technology, “reusing” others works is much easier: “musicians have gained the power to duplicate sounds literally rather than simply approximate them through allusion” (Lethem 60). This has obviously raised issues, regarding ownership and originality, but like Fergunson and Lethem have expressed, I too, agree that nothing is original. I believe that great art is built on others’ great art. However, I do not believe that it is okay to copy exactly and claim it as your own. There is a fine line, and a lot of societal expectations and rules that one must live up to.
This week’s reading is thought-provoking indeed.
Copyright issue has long existed in China for decades, yet it is a controversial thing to bring up for some people because they even do not have the idea of seeing plagiarism as a fundamentally wrong thing. Therefore, contextually in China, the issue has to be devided into two different thing: intentionally or accidentally plagiarism. Either way they should be considered wrong for no doubt, yet the authority needs to take different actions towards the two circumstances.
However, in my opinion there truly exists a grey area where it is hard to decide whether someone is plagirising or just being inspired by others’ work. sometimes good work need to be spread and “reproduce” (interpreted) by the audience, possibly even be added to other elements and style, which would probably result in a brand new different work. People also say that art work has more vitality and longer lifespan in the public’s view if they are enough widly-spread. But on the other hand, it is unfair to the original author of the artwork/ publication because others are making use of their intellectual work without any permission from them.
Jonathan Lethem’s article was hard to follow along, but I still learned these surprising facts that some cartoons famous in the history of cartoon development were actually somewhat similar to other great works. And for this point I think that some work of the same category or style would inevitably possess common elements with each other. Therefore, there always needs a criterion as clear as possible defining what is to plagirise and what is not.