Economics are usually not on my hot topics list to write about or even think about, however recently I came across too many too good articles on the discrepancy between “free” and “open” content (find an incomplete list in the references at the bottom of this post) that make me want to join the conversation.
There was a time, ages ago, when everything was offline and if you want to read an article you buy a newspaper and if you want to listen to music you buy a cassette (or a CD if you are that cool). People were actually much poorer then than we are today and yet they were crazy enough to spend money on things like art or culture.
Not paying for art and information is a big problem in a world where everyone can post information and there is no one to curate it. Curation is something we need more than ever today and yet noone is ready to pay for it. Nevertheless, I fear this is just one symptom of our big big problem.
In a 2010 TED Talk on passion and creativity David Byrne draws an interesting connection between architecture and music. Through the ages, he argues, it was the change in architectural style that induced progress in composing music and stimulated the birth of new genres and musical structures. Each new space has different acoustics and therefore needs a different sound. This direct connection between the two arts, which seemingly have nothing in common, made me wonder if this connection works the other way around as well. Has music influenced and inspired the development of architecture in history? We do know that of all the arts, architecture is the one, which develops the slowest, so whenever a new movement in philosophy, painting or music arises, buildings are the last to catch up and therefore receive heavy influences by all other arts. But music… how?
“Who can still believe the opacity of bodies, since our sharpened and multiplied sensitivity has already penetrated the obscure manifestations of the medium?”¹
Nowadays it is common to talk about the revolution that technology caused in our lives and its profound influence in every field. Of course we mean mostly the digital technology and the revolution that happened in the last decade – the unique circumstances and consequences that surround it. However this is by far not the only technological revolution that our civilisation has seen and neither are its consequences unique.
When in the beginning of the 20th century railway and motor cars entered our lives for good, the entire perception of space, time and mainly speed changed. Science explained it, but it was artists who first expressed the altering sensitivity and worldview that was soon to infect us all.
The following is an attempt to grasp the contemporary wide spread disregard for copies and glimpse into a world of future copying, therefore also a world of future originality.
In a study by Angelika Seidel and Jesse Prinz at CUNY (the City University of New York) the researchers told test subjects to imagine that the Mona Lisa was destroyed in a fire, but that there happened to be a perfect copy that even experts couldn’t tell from the original. If they could see just one or the other, would they rather see the ashes of the original Mona Lisa or a perfect duplicate? Eighty per cent of the respondents chose the ashes. That is to illustrate the state of our almost obsession with originals and hate for copies. But this wasn’t always the case. Romans used to copy Greek art, in particular sculptures at an unprecedented rate and that was not regarded as forgery. There are countless roman copies of roman sculptures too – and with each copy a different concept comes to life. So how did we end up here? And where do we go from here – with the rise of digital technology and digital artworks – where is the boundary between original and copy? And when is it a copy we are talking about and when an instance of an object.