Thursday, March 10, 2005

tracing influence

I've recently been corresponding a little with Michael Beirut, one of the founding writers of the design blog, design observer. one of the entries struck me in particular - designing under the influence. a few months ago, aram and I co-wrote a paper for the norman lear center about creativity and copyright in the music and fashion industries for a conference they organized. (it will hopefully be published in a book by the lear center in a few months). while aram and I focused on two particular culture industries, the discussion on design observer was particularly salient to the work we had written. michael voices the confusion of contemporary designers:

We've arrived at a moment where all that has preceded us provides an enormous motherlode of graphic reference points, endlessly tempting, endlessly confusing. How much design history does one have to know before he or she dares put pencil to paper? Picture a frantic land-grab, as one design pioneer after another lunges out into the diminishing frontier, staking out ever-shrinking plots of graphic territory, erecting Keep Out! signs at the borders: This is mine! This is mine!

I sent michael a copy of the paper and he was kind enough to write back with words of encouragement (after, surprisingly, reading the entire paper). he, too, understands the desire of an artist to protect his or her own work, but understands that contemporary culture - remix culture, makes is harder and harder for an artist to do that. additionally, he concedes creativity as a whole may not be best served by strict legal protections.

why am I even writing about this on this blog? just so I can pass along these two links he sent me:

a recent Honda commercial that may have been stolen/adapted/evolved from a film by some fine artists. its not hard to find examples in commercial design and advertising that take their inspiration from "fine art" and fine art that is deeply influenced by the language of advertising (warhol, kruger, newton all easily spring to mind). but the wit and (re)inventiveness of the ad is impressive, and worthy of look. thanks to michael for passing this along.


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