Here's an interesting article written by Steve Johnson that ran in the Chicago Tribune last week.
The article is about a “supercut” created by film director Victor Solomon of all the many, many MANY curse words included in the Sopranos television series. You can view and hear the piece itself at http://www.vimeo.com/2998698 It does have a certain rhythmic, almost musical feel after awhile. My 14 year old son said it sounded like chickens clucking, and I cannot disagree with that.
I remembered this article when reading the Jourdain piece for class this past week. I was particularly struck (and amused) by Jourdain's assertion that musicians in past centuries had no qualms about "borrowing" libretti and/or changing music for their own needs and/or audience preference. In other words, "sampling" isn't new or original, nor is reworking another’s work to please oneself and then passing it off as new.
While this Sopranos—what? Remix? Mashup?—isn’t strictly sampling, it’s certainly a form of expression by one creator based on another creator’s original. It seems like the digital age is moving us into a whole new realm of “appropriation”. Visual artists have used “appropriated imagery” for ages—Duchamp’s urinal, Warhol’s soup cans, and many others—for various reasons. Was their intent to make art less precious, to make art a commodity (which it certainly is among collectors), to expose the art market as a factory, or to democratize art for the masses? Or were they, to quote the Sopranos (and ex- Illinois Governor Blagojevich), “just f***ing around”?
Frankly, I’m not sure. Does art made from other people’s work have validity? Or is it just copyright infringement? Does its status depend upon its quality or its market value? That is, if someone’s willing to buy it, does it automatically have value, like Damien Hirst's shark in formaldehyde? I’m interested in this issue because we “borrow” images and words in the library world all the time. We use Google images and snippets from online book reviews, spliced-up bibliographies, etc. We’re not selling it, and of course it’s by no means “art”, but we are labeling it with our library's name and putting it out there for public consumption. “There is nothing new under the sun”, according to the Christian Bible (Ecclesiastes 1:9), so why bother to create something new?
I’d like to know what other people think about this idea of remaking/remodeling media works, whether visual, musical, print, or otherwise. And also: how far did you make it through the “supercut” before your head exploded? (Me: about 15 minutes).