Symposium review: Copyright, digitisation and Turner Nominees

Jonathan emailed us just prior to the week’s symposium and suggested we view a few things beforehand. These were: 

  • Greg McMullen’s talk at the Luman prize seminar;
  • Creative Commons;
  • This years Turner Prize nominees.

McMullen’s talk was focussed on how digitisation had effected art and its making resulting in three major issues: The first was an end to scarcity as multiple copies could be made; the second was the messy legal issues this has given rise to; and the third was how it has broken the attribution of much work because of the ease in copying and adapting work.

I thought about these issues and can imagine that if one is working commercially having work replicated for gain means that it is in effect stolen and money will be lost as a direct result.  But even for someone like me who does not aim to make money out of art but uses it to express things and engage with others would be affronted by  seeing my work go unattributed if used by someone else. It just seems to be right to acknowledge who created work. Indeed it’s just like referencing ideas referred to in any essay.

I looked at the Creative Commons site and could see where that approach comes form but it seems to me that it should be a given that anyone can use anything on the web to adapt and develop – isn’t that part of the Web’s function? But they just need to attribute any source materials or ideas back to their originators.    However this doesn’t – can’t really – apply to commercial stuff can it? If we didn’t pay Adobe for their Lightroom code who would invest time and effort to make it?

I don’t have an answer to this.

The Turner Prize nominees
Jonathan’s reference tot he Turner prize nominees immediately raised some of the issues noted above. Is it okay for me to copy and paste a photo copied off the Tate website?  I am not asking whether the Tate think it’s okay but whether I think it is okay. I do. Why? Because 1) I am not aiming to make money from the copy , rather I am about sharing ideas. 2) I have referenced my source so people can get back to it.

Nicole Wermers

“Wermers creates sculptures, collages and installations which explore the appropriation of art and design within consumer culture.” (Tate, 2015)


Janice Kerbel

“Kerbel borrows from conventional modes of narrative in order to create elaborate imagined forms. Her precisely crafted works often take the form of audio recordings, performance and printed matter. DOUG is a performative work which takes the form of nine songs for six voices.”

Bonnie Camplin

“Bonnie Camplin has been nominated for The Military Industrial Complex, South London Gallery [….]Her work spans the disciplines of drawing, film, performance, music and writing as well as immaterial and situational research. The Military Industrial Complex took the form of a study room exploring what ‘consensus reality’ is and how it is formed, drawing from physics to philosophy, psychology, witchcraft, quantum theory and warfare.”



“Assemble are a London-based collective who work across the fields of art, design and architecture to create projects in tandem with the communities who use and inhabit them. Their architectural spaces and environments promote direct action and embrace a DIY sensibility.”

An immediate reaction was to like the form of the photo of Assemble but wonder if that was just that – a photo – or a piece of the art in of itself? Does it matter? Well yes if I want to know more about their or the photographer’s intention. For example, much of the work I post on my blog is not finished and may never be seen by me as complete and ready to show. But it’s out there on the web! That’s partly why I tend to make a distinction between my body or work ie completed images and other stuff.

Then when the session started we had a great time discussing copyright. Here is my summary below. Winking smile



About Pete

South Londoner struggling with life, art and photography.
This entry was posted in Proposals, Tutorials, Symposiums, and Term Reviews and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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