Negativland art show in Los Angeles

 8286 7796290452 47Ee46B446 Z Seminal culture jammers and master appropriationists Negativland have an art show hanging September 7 - 30 at Los Angeles's La Luz de Jesus Gallery. "Our Favorite Things" is a retrospective of their visual collage output and opens with a rare musical performance on September 7. Hi-Fructose interviewed Negativland:

If you could design and set up your own ‘market’ for copyright clearing for works in all easily-replicated media, how would you do it? The goals would be to maximize utility to all parties, guarantee that works enter the public domain after a fixed period, certify originator as well as possibly ‘owner’, and should incentivize creators, re-creators, and consumers alike. Any ideas?

Don: Copyright laws should freely allow any reuse of existing work as long as a NEW work is created from them. Only the reproduction of pre-existing works in whole and unchanged should be prohibited without permission. Collage should be free to practice. (I can easily imagine a system like this gaining enough momentum that it would become the de-facto standard, but you would need an army of lawyers to prop the thing up.) It’s pretty easy to see whether something has been changed from its original form in a reuse or not.

Mark: Your questions are good “real politick” ones about the complexities surrounding these issues. The real world solutions you allude to will always be hopelessly and horribly compromised, and will never work very well due to the technologies we are stuck with. I guess I’m a pessimistic idealist, so I assume that what I would like to see will never occur in my lifetime. My slightly realistic advice to artists about intellectual property issues is “ignore the law and create good work.”

"Negativland: A Hi-Fructose Exclusive Interview with the Pioneering Culture Jammers"


  1. Negativland rocks.  I brought them in to speak with hackers at Yahoo back circa 2005 because they were at the forefront of teasing out the IP issues of remix culture (that are obviously still not resolved today.)

  2. [quote]Only the reproduction of pre-existing works in whole and unchanged should be prohibited without permission.[/quote]

    If there were no scumbags in the world this would be a perfectly fine solution, but if that were the case we wouldn’t need laws like this in the first place. 

    If someone grabs a piece of art and changes 1 pixel (making it 0.1% more blue), should they be exempt from copyright restrictions and be able to sell the piece as their own original?  If there were a simple answer to copyright we wouldn’t be in this mess. 

  3. As to “ignoring the law and creating good work.” I should add that I  ignore it all the time. I am currently making large collages out of paper calendar prints, cutting them up a lot but also using a smaller whole print once in a while – a whole small picture as it appears in a magazine, etc.
    Overall, I’m tapping hundreds of sources for these collages. No payment, no permission. I couldn’t make them if I had to be legal legal.

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