Originality Of The Specious

Here’s an example of how new art can be created by copying old art – this video by Nina Paley was designed to illustrate the flaws in our current copyright systems, and how we shouldn’t be basing these systems on the impossible concept of originality…

Shoulders Of Giants

This post follows on somewhat from the previous post on AI creativity, where Cope’s creation explicitly utilises work by other artists as the basis for its own work. However – and perhaps why Emily is causing such a reaction – this is fundamentally the same approach that most (if not all) human artists take.

The concept of originality in art is often bandied about, yet it has no clear definition – and it is always possible, whether we’re talking about Michelangelo or Hot Chip, to identify multiple aspects of any artwork that are similar to previous work.

I Fought The Law

As such, we must be very careful about applying legal restraints to artistic endeavour. The argument that copyright is designed to protect intellectual property is a deceptively compelling one, as this is in itself a noble ideal. However, cumbersome and inappropriate copyright laws can throttle creativity, which would be all the more disturbing when we consider that the works they purport to protect are themselves based on prior material.

This short animation by Nina Paley is designed to illustrate just that – and nobody could argue that, although this work is clearly created by copying other artists’ work, it is not a completely new and valuable creation.


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