Property and Morality (2011)

Curated by tigerseatflesh
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In this exhibit, I want to showcase the various types of intellectual property and the ways that ownership becomes transferred and even taken away from creators. Many times, the situation unfolds that artists are sent cease and desist letters or even sued by larger corporations that feel their companies are being portrayed in a bad light. The overall issue is public domain and what actually comprises such a "space" or social space. For example, if a user uploads an audio or video file to their own personal website, and it is not simply linked from a video sharing site such as youtube, vimeo, or even facebook, someone could effectively download the media and then upload it to one of those sites. These sites have policies that would end up making the media essentially "theirs", in effect stealing from a secondary source in this case. At the same time, however, artist are in the process of using existing media to create new designs, films, and other forms of expression digitally. The corporations spoofed or used otherwise to encapsulate a new form of media have begun expending time and resources almost unheard of to try and destroy this movement in various stages of it's branching. Similar to the suggestion that larger corporate entities can eventually steal your art, so too do they fight lengthy court cases to keep their own out of your hands. The first artwork that I added is called re-code.com. This project was very loosely considered art when it was released. The idea was that you could walk into a corporate store such as Walmart with a bar scanner and collect the codes you scanned. You might then submit them online for others to download, or download some yourself. Then, you could print a sticker with the code, and attach it to any product you wished within the store. The intention was that if Walmart was charging $6 for a box of cereal while another store charged only $4, you could basically make Walmart sell you the product for the price you were willing to pay. Walmart didn't see the art in the project, and for a while, many of the project's members were in legal danger. Attributed Text, a project started by Thompson and Craighead in 1997 is simply a website with a generic copyright statement. Each of the terms within the statement are hyperlinked to a page that relates (sometimes loosely or not at all) to the idea of copyrights and legal standing of property. Many of the links are broken or produce 404 errors which I assume are new, but could also be a depiction of the truth in mortality of web media. A website or media in general does not subsist on its own when uploaded but must be hosted somewhere physical. Ignoring maintenance ultimately will cause intellectual property to fall out of the digital stream and at that point, who can say they are responsible for its use? The Burning Question was an artistic experiment in teaching individuals how to effectively use media in responsible ways. Rather than stealing, the media used in this project was gathered through donation. The use was then provided to individuals who visited the installation and could actively connect to the media. Then, after the users would create queues, the music would stream across the internet for others to tune in to. This is an example that shows intellectual property is not as needed to be adamantly protected as some would state—we can police ourselves. Together We Can Defeat Capitalism was a project that ultimately tried to distill ideas of collective governing and rights. Though not entirely tied to the theme of intellectual property, it is interesting that this work exists in a very creative format that is interesting enough to garner a further look even by those who would shy away from terms as anti-capitalist or anarchy. Capitalism is truly the reason we rely on copyright laws, but it is also the reason that copyright laws have become more important than creating value in media and art. Captured is a project that I chose to add to this exhibition for the way that it reverses appropriation. Your picture can be uploaded and processed to be "collaged" by tiny images of corporate logos. In a way, this is duality. Though the intention is to suggest that we as individuals are "made up" out of the residuals of these corporate entities, the act of submitting a photo pf yourself TO be digitally reconstructed in this way is a personal choice. For many of us, it is a personal choice to eat at and buy from many corporations we do not agree with. In the end, however, I feel this art project makes the statement, concerning intellectual property, that something is trying to declare ownership over every little piece of us. Contrasting that point, why are some individuals sued when the truth is, we actually own a small piece of what made that corporation a success? It is very interesting to me that this is not the beginning of the debate — due to not realizing the extent of new media to come — but it has become a focused thing at the present due to the intense amount of media available through the speed of digital communications. There is no one copyright law that will be passed within the next decade that will appease the chaotic maelstrom that corporate America wishes to hide their intentions within.


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