Creative Commons: Why it is Important?

“Just get the photo off of Google.” “Can’t you just download the mp3 of it?” Those words are becoming more and more common in any artist’s vernacular.  With the advent of the Internet, creative material has become plentiful wherever one might navigate.  So why is it so difficult to use someone else’s material in art, and not get in trouble?  The answer is Copyright.  With Copyright the artist has taken full control of their piece and does not allow for others to expand on it or reinvent the work.  In an age where getting your name out there is more important, many people want to broadcast their work and have others manipulate it, just to increase the exposure.

This is where Creative Commons enters the picture.  In 2001, many individuals and organizations got together and laid out the plans to have a license system that allowed artist all over the world to collectively work with other’s creations.  There are a couple variations of this license, but the most important aspect of it tends to be the ability to freely be open to finding inspiration in something and creating something new.  This age of art could probably be categorized as The Conglomerate Hybrid Movement, which focuses on many disciplines being able to take pieces and reinvent them every time.  If the license is utilized correctly, the art pieces should allow the researcher to follow the variations of the piece.

Attribution is key when using a Creative Commons license, because regardless of what is being made, the artist deserves credit where it is due.  Same as with the Copyright, the ability to attribute the original work must be given because it is plagiarism to take someone else’s work as your own.  There are many options that can be designated along with the basic attribution, such as the ability to limit commercial sales and the amount of manipulation.  The Creative Commons does not constitute a free for all with another person’s work, the original artist still has control and a connection to the integrity of the piece.  If an artist does not want to grant permission for a manipulation of their work, it is in their power to do that.

So what will come about from the rise in Creative Commons being utilized by people wanting to be noticed?  There will eventually be a moment that most original pieces are either influenced or subjected to another person’s work.  Consequently, there will be a moment of time where attribution is high and not much 100% original material is being uploaded to the Internet, printed in books, or distributed with any method.  However, this will just be a phase, just a blip of art movements, because someone will come forth and begin a new era of artists.  Additionally, there could be an increase of Copyrights again, due to the “fresh” nature of the work.

With the advent of the Creative Commons, artists have the ability to showcase their work and get their name out to a wide audience.  This is useful for the starving artist or the student, who are trying hard to make ends meet.  The license is helpful to this new age of Conglomerate Hybrid art, but can soon be too widespread and common.  So there should be caution to people who want to protect their work as best as they can.

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Happening by Chance

John Cage was a pioneer in avant garde sound design and performance pieces, helping shape many future artists in creating material that was both intentional yet seemingly random.  Cage utilized chance happenings as the skeleton of a majority of his works, which include The Untitled Event4’33”, and Water Walk.  When conceptualizing these pieces and arranging them, he would utilize the methods of I Ching to have the chance of an event determine the outcome of the time measure.  By looking at Cage’s works we can explore the method of having the universe manipulate the surroundings and end all.

One way to define what a happening consists of one can approach it as, “Happenings happen when something happens”.  While that sentence might be a tough one to wrap around your head, the idea that is being discussed is simple and complex simultaneously.  The universe consists of infinite amounts of events that are either predetermined or random, and all of these events have some actions that is changing something else.  This event is considered a happening, when looked at as not connected to any other event.  Everyday there are many things that influence our day, the meetings we have and the people we run into, each of those encounters change the outcome of the next event and this is how life is ran.  Looking at The Untitled Event, there were several events happening simultaneously in the dining hall, surrounding the audience; however, the experience was created as a result of each event in relation to the others, although these events were not related or connected in any way.  So it seems that happenings can be connected to the events that are occurring in the same space and time, but there is an emphasize on the lack of connection of the pieces.  This is the approach that artists like John Cage,  Dick Higgins, and Yoko Ono take to make their art have a natural flow.

There is a lecture by Allan Kaprow, which explains the formulation of a happening, as if you can create one.  However, I like to think of it as just setting up an environment that will promote that happening to occur.  One point that Kaprow makes is to just “take things as they come, and arrange them in whatever way that is least artificial and easiest to do,” which allows the universe to run its course and encourages the outcome to occur without human intervention.  In Cage’s piece Water Walk, he is pouring water into various containers for a predetermined amount of time before moving on to the next container.  The various happenings allow the audience to create their own narrative and understand the change in events from each water pitcher spilled.

One of the most intriguing pieces is 4’33”, which has the performer follow a stopwatch and perform specific movements while seated a piano.  This could be seen as an “anti-happening,” but the lack of an event forces the happening onto the audience.  By allowing chance to be a factor in the work, the amount of audience coughs or sneezes are always going to be different.  The performer is creating the parameters of the random events, but this retrospective piece shows that happenings occur by themselves and by the chance of the universe.

Flarfy Flarf: Exploration

**WARNING: Flarf can occasionally include very strong language and adult themes, so please understand that is a form of expression and art.**

If you every walked into a coffee shop during their poetry night, or just stumbled upon some artists poetry on the internet, chances are the material was understandable. Now I am not saying that you were able to pick up on the meanings and motifs right away, but you could figure it out. Even in Elementary school, poetry was a fun activity of rhyming and making similes and metaphors; however, there is another form of poetry that ardently defies all of these conventions and notion of “good” poetry, and it is disguised as Flarf poetry.

This poetry is commonly impossible to understand and cannot be priced together into any conceivable ideas. These artists seem to go beyond experimental and play with language in unconventional ways, in part, trying to break language as we know it. There are many spelling, grammar, syntax errors and they are not unintentional. One of the platforms of the movement is the use of “found material“, so they are manipulating other people’s works and transforming the language into their own. There are a couple pathways to take to create Flarf (which will be explored), but the method behind the madness is to break the barriers and extend past the art form’s threshold.

When creating Flarf there are some simple ways to begin to perform the artistic process. The most popular way is to Google some unrelated terms that could bring up whatever the internet has to offer; however, be cautious with your terms because your results could bring up Flarf poetry from others, but the path of plagiarism Flarf is another avenue that I will look at in the future. From those search results, you can copy and paste your favorite excerpts from the website descriptions. Another method of beginning would be to either steal someone else’s work, or to be spontaneous and leave it up to chance. Whichever method you use, in order to make it Flarfy is to use different tools, such as find/replace, syllable count, or even try to make the lines rhyme.

When you are all set and done (even though no one is ever truly done with art) you should not be able to recognize what you started off with and it will most likely be incoherent. By making your own Flarf, you are contributing to the discovery of text, not as language but as object. This exploration will expand the horizons of how people communicate and the methods of making language in society.

This is a sample of Flarf that I have created.

Exploring: Database Films

In Lev Manovich’s essay, Database as Symbolic Form, he outlines in great detail what a multimedia object is and how it behaves.  He reiterates that in order for something to be a multimedia object it must contain at least a database, an algorithm, or a narrative element.  This is where the notion of database films come in because they contain aspects of all these components; therefore, by examining the film Projek Iaught we can really understand these pieces more clearly.

Projek Iaught was produced Dr. Joey Bargsten in 2005.  It follows the progression of pop culture images along with time-compressed songs, exemplifying the rapid movement and pace of society.  The video is jarring at first but becomes hypnotic with the sounds and familiar pictures engulfing the viewers, which emulates the reactions that the topics presented in the world.  I had to watch it a couple of times before really capturing the message.  An interesting aspect of it being in an interactive player (play and pause) is that each image is viewable and can be studied in relation to each other.  The video has the feeling of brainwashing the viewer, with all the information being crammed in the smallest amount of time.

Looking at the database aspect of the film, it is clear that the audience is being presented a lot of information in a short amount of time.  With each picture lasting only one frame (1/30th of a second) the amount of information that the video is holding is astounding.  The way this database is organized is different than traditional forms of the CD-ROM or flash drive, since there is no fluidity with the presentation of the objects.  The film will never change the order that the pictures or songs are in relation to the timeline of the piece, which happens to not be a characteristic of a traditional database.

The part that organizes the data is the algorithm, even though in this case it is not using code to solidify the message.  The algorithm comes during production in the editing room, when Dr. Bargsten was compiling all the pieces and putting them into place.  By setting the precise times and order of the pictures and songs, he solidified the instructions to which the database will present the content.

The narrative is used in the film in a couple ways.  On one hand, the narrative connects all the pop culture references and allows for a logical flow of ideas.  While on the other hand, as Manovich explains it is in place to maneuver around the database and follow the path that is set forth.  Unlike other multimedia objects, the narrative does not allow spontaneity with the information provided, or new levels of information; however, it does give the film the identity of presenting the strong message repeatedly.

Combining these components of multimedia objects and comparing them to Projek Iaught really allows us to understand how they are all connected and interrelated.  There are many interesting installations of this media around.  Further exploration into this art of database cinema will be interesting because it is one of the most bare forms of cinema.  By knowing the basics, it allows for integrating the complex.

–Matthew Elfenbein

Day One

Today marks the day that I leap into my final class before I graduate.  Let’s figure all this out together.

Stay tuned for some cool articles, art pieces, and videos.

–M.E.