calin dan on Fri, 26 May 2000 09:53:40 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> subREAL - Death by Copyright


As a fare well to the 20 century and its archive craze, we decided to turn
the Art History Archive of subREAL into a hand made wall paper. All the art
pieces reproduced in that archive by means of photography will be thus
turned back into Art by the act of painting. The craftsmanship of the
person who made this possible is a commodity we purchased under the
provision of the fact that the one who holds the idea, the content and the
financial means can buy the authorship and the processes that enhance it.

Our work with archives grew in parallel with the global extension of legal
concern for copyright issues. It is interesting now to look back at our
Berlin period (1995-1996) as being contemporary with the pre-history of the
copyright hysteria which touches nowadays all domains and all people
dealing with direct production of branded values. At that time we thought
that information is public domain and its preservation/dissemination are
moral obligations regardless of and beyond any property debate.

But our personal history, although limited to a pile of old, dusty photos,
could not be separated from the mainstream developments. And unavoidably,
our "Datarooms", "Datacorridors", and phantomatic "art servants" became a
source of suspicions concerning intellectual property, image manipulation,
rights of use, distribution and profit. Our attempt to clean the drawers of
a deceased art magazine and to see how Time is filtering History became an
issue of discontent. Discontent has so many unspeakable roots, but thank
God there still is one that can be quantified: Copyright - the father and
mother of all developments coming in the aftermath of the "the work of art
in the age of mechanical reproduction".

At this moment of political correctness nobody can dismiss a discourse
(artistic, political or else) on the base of its content. That would mean
censorship. But EVERYTHING can be questioned on the ground of ownership.
And ownership is the cornerstone of our very existance as politically
correct animals. On this ambiguity builds a new and efficient form of
censorship, born (what a coincidence) from the tormented debates of the
post-modern decades. While post-modernism was dying under the load of its
own complexity, copyright  fed on the po-mo corpse until it grew into what
it is today: the overwhelming criteria that makes fortunes and failures.
And also a target for hoaxes and cynical simulacra.

The wall paper version of "Serving Art" is belonging to a new era when
manual work and manufacture will hold their value ONLY within the spectrum
of mass reproduction. Talking from our own experience in the previous
century, a photograph found in the gutter can raise more legal issues
regarding ownership than a painting ordered and purchased under solid
contract-binding circumstances. And since what we want to preserve is ideas
and attitudes more than inventories of objects, we turn to painting as the
most stabile medium in those times of DEATH BY COPYRIGHT.

January 2000

(Text first published on the occasion of the exhibition "L'autre moitie de
l'Europe", Jeu de Paume, Paris, February 2000)

Calin Dan
Rozengracht 105/D4
NL-1016 LV Amsterdam
T: + 31 (0)20 770 1432
F: + 31 (0)20 623 7760

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