My latest Guardian column, "Warhol is turning in his grave," describes the photography ban in place at the Pop Art Portraits show at the National Portrait Gallery in London. It's an amazing show, and practically every work hung in it violates someone's copyrights, trademarks, or both (this is pop art, after all). In a stunning display of either Dadaism or irony-impairment, the gallery has hung the show with a "no photography" policy (not a "no flash photography" policy, either), and the even extend the ban to the "no photography" signs themselves, which, they claim, are copyrighted works.
Any gallery that bans reproducing Warhol on the grounds that you'll violate his copyright should be forced into an off-site, all-day irony training session.
So what's the message of the show? Is it a celebration of remix culture, revelling in the endless possibilities opened up by appropriating and reusing images without permission?
Or is it the epitaph on the tombstone of the sweet days before the UN set up the World Intellectual Property Organization and the ensuing mania for turning everything that can be sensed and recorded into someone's property?
Does this show - paid for with public money, with some works that are themselves owned by public institutions - seek to inspire us to become 21st century pop artists, armed with cameraphones, websites and mixers, or is it supposed to inform us that our chance has passed and we'd best settle for a life as information serfs who can't even make free use of what our eyes see and our ears hear?
Over at the Japanese culture website Tofugu (where my wife Carla is on staff), there’s a great article by Kanae Nakamine on Japanese bug eating traditions, complete with tasty recipes like bee larva omelets, baby ant minestrone, and rice grasshopper granola bars. There are also vending machines in Japan that sell edible bugs. If you’re […]
Enjoy this clever welcome message/plea to the new leader of the United States. Picking on Germany may not pay off in the long run, folks.
Three-thousand pounds of marijuana were seized recently at Pharr International Bridge on the Rio Grande. Customs and Border Protection report that the weed, disguised as watermelons, did not fool the sniffer dogs during inspection of a 1993 Thermo King tractor-trailer. The search resulted in the discovery of 390 packages disguised as watermelons. The packages contained […]
Whether I’m trying to relieve some stress at work or entertain myself on the metro, Space Putty is there. You can bring this magical goo home and try it for yourself for just $9.99Like Silly Putty of yesteryear, this viscoelastic substance can be molded into different shapes and stretched around in your hands. Use it […]
You know as well as I that writing complex, long-long form text requires significant organization. You’re probably also well aware that Word just isn’t up to the task. That’s why I’m a huge fan of Scrivener, the software suite used by best-selling authors and technical writers alike.Scrivener is much more than another digital typewriter. With a […]
Looking to upgrade your weekend? Here are three randomly awesome products on my mind this week.#3 FRESHeBUDS Pro Magnetic Bluetooth EarbudsAs more and more phones and gadgets switch to Bluetooth-only compatibility, you’ll need to get Bluetooth headphones like the rest of us. I’ve been super impressed with these affordable magnetic headphones. Pull the magnetic earbuds apart to auto-connect […]