The question of who owns what, when it comes to the creative world has always been a touchy subject. There has always been a very fine line between inspiration and plagiarism, whether it is a printmaker using a photographers image, an songwriter using a line from a novel or a dj sampling another musicians song. Although some artists and musicians completely support the idea of open source creativity (i.e. Radiohead, David Byrne, Robert Indiana) there are still many, and will always be, people and companies (i.e. Disney, U2, all the large record labels) who refuse to share anything without a significant price tag attached.
I personally am completely for the idea of creative mash ups, creating something completely different, and possibly improving on what already exists. Over the last few years I have become obsessed with DJ mash ups and mixes by artists like Girl Talk, DJ Danger Mouse and Cecil Otter & Swiss Andy. These producers/DJs have created some mind blowing albums like Danger Mouse’s Grey Album, a mix of the Beatles White Album and Jay-Z’s Black Album, along with Cecil Otter & Swiss Andy’s amazing creation, Wugazi: 13 Chambers, which takes songs from Fugazi’s kick ass catalogue, deconstructing them and melodically head butting it with Wu-Tang’s hip hop verses.
Music is certainly not the only art form to use existing creations and twist them into something completely different. Street artists like Space Invader, Shepard Fairey and Banksy use preexisting images and graphics to tell a completely different story or poke fun at the originals. Filmmakers take from novels, novels borrow from articles, songwriters quote poets, and the endless stream of creative inspiration, or thievery (depending on what side you’re on), continues.
So as the battle will inevitable continue I hope that the fear of being sued will not stop the creative industry to continue stealing, tweaking and improving each others artwork. A lot of DJs and producers have decided to make any of their questionable creations free for download to avoid any greed fueled corporations or artists with an army of snarling lawyers knocking down their door. So go out there and steal, borrow, be inspired by, deconstruct, pilfer anything and everything you can get your creatively worn hands on and make some awesome shit.
Stolen from/Inspired by:
Marianne R.Petit’s Video and Sound Class
NYU ITP Week 1