Cutting Across Media

Appropriation Art, Interventionist Collage, and Copyright Law

Cutting Across Media

Book Pages: 376 Illustrations: 28 illustrations, incl. 4 in color Published: August 2011

Art and Visual Culture > Art History, Cultural Studies, Law > Legal Theory

In this collection of essays, leading academics, critics, and artists historicize collage and appropriation tactics that cut across diverse media and genres. They take up issues of appropriation in the popular and the avant-garde, in altered billboards and the work of the renowned painter Chris Ofili, in hip-hop and the compositions of Béla Bartók and Zoltán Kodály, and in audio mash-ups, remixed news broadcasts, pranks, culture jamming, and numerous other cultural forms. The borrowing practices that they consider often run afoul of intellectual property regimes, and many of the contributors address the effects of copyright and trademark law on creativity. Among the contributors are the novelist and essayist Jonathan Lethem, the poet and cultural critic Joshua Clover, the filmmaker Craig Baldwin, the hip-hop historian Jeff Chang, the ’zine-maker and sound collage artist Lloyd Dunn, and Negativland, the infamous collective that was sued in 1991 for sampling U2 in a satirical sound collage. Cutting Across Media is both a serious examination of collage and appropriation practices and a celebration of their transformative political and cultural possibilities.

Contributors. Craig Baldwin, David Banash, Marcus Boon, Jeff Chang, Joshua Clover, Lorraine Morales Cox, Lloyd Dunn, Philo T. Farnsworth, Pierre Joris, Douglas Kahn, Rudolf Kuenzli, Rob Latham, Jonathan Lethem, Carrie McLaren, Kembrew McLeod, Negativland, Davis Schneiderman, David Tetzlaff, Gábor Vályi, Warner Special Products, Eva Hemmungs Wirtén


“[An] absorbing collection of essays, interviews, and experiments in form. . . . The 24 entries explore appropriation, interventionist collage, and copyright issues from a variety of perspectives (not too many of them female, though) and in a wide range of art forms from music to film to painting to photocopied ’zines to altered billboards.” — Craig Bunch, Cassone

“Prioritising usage over rights lies, ironically, at the heart of capitalism itself- which adds to the current contradictions of perceived digital freedom. McLeod and Kuenzli are more than aware of this, adding that those lamenting the expansion of intellectual property often ‘sound like Libertarian cowboys’ On the whole, and to its credit, this volume gives voice to both sides. Participations range from, to name just a few, Craig Baldwin’s catalogue of ‘billboard liberation’ activities to McLeods’s essays on the KLF (remember the K foundation? Burning £1m and giving Rachel Whiteread the ‘Worst Artist Award’ at her receipt of the Turner Prize and other anarcho-pop manifestations) to David Schneiderman on the cut-ups of William Burroughs and DJ Danger Mouse’s Grey Album.” — David Ryan, Art Monthly

“Reflecting both McLeod’s spirited cultural critique and Kuenzli’s interdisciplinary approach to the arts, Cutting Across Media explores diverse forms of collage and appropriation in music, painting, publishing, spoken broadcasts, poetry, and narrative. In this collage of essays, readers are challenged to rethink notions of intellectual property and to consider the complex political and cultural issues that accompany collage and appropriation aesthetics.” — Christine Masters Jach, American Book Review

“What separates this volume from other contemporary works around sampling and intellectual property law is that research in this area rarely attempts to
marry aesthetic and political concerns so overtly. . . . [A]n edited collection that successfully manages to explore the political and artistic imperatives that inform the practice of collage and appropriation.” — James Meese, Media International Australia

“I believe this is an important book, specifically because the issues discussed affect much of our future artistic creations; as mentioned this has profound social and cultural ramifications. As such, this book should be at minimum included as a recommended text in a variety of applicable tertiary education courses. The stakes are too high to ignore the erosion of artistic freedom brought about by ignorant and greed driven application of copyright law.” — Rob Harle, Leonardo Reviews

“Spanning media from visual art to popular music, literature to culture jamming, this series of essays challenges the litigious environment in which copyright is used as a blunt weapon to prevent reinvention of existing works and the transformative process of reuse to inform the creative cycle of ideas. . . . Advanced undergraduates through faculty in art, art history, media studies, film, literature and music will appreciate the interdisciplinary treatment of collage.” — Cara List, ARLIS/NA Reviews

“Where the most prominent works on the subject tend to dwell on digital’s infinite capacity to reproduce and share itself freely and its current kowtowing to corporate rights management, this book begins by situating appropriation art and collage in the earlier recesses of the twentieth century with Walter Benjamin, the Surrealists, and Dada. Along the way, it touches upon zine culture, audiotape collage, street art, and new wave science fiction; it critiques the international outflows of copyright-subject culture and then it critiques the debate itself.” — Allie Curry, Rain Taxi

Cutting across Media is a very welcome addition to the evolving discourse on intellectual property issues in the arts. Its editors Kembrew McLeod and Rudolf Kuenzli, the former a respected commentator on intellectual property issues, the latter director of the International Dada Archive, have found a good balance between analysis of well-established collage techniques and the exploration of new contexts for theories of appropriation. The resulting anthology presents an extensive cross-section of critical perspectives on the intersection between creative expression and intellectual property law.” — Martin Zeilinger, Media, Culture & Society

Cutting Across Media fills important gaps in our understanding of the real, lived practices of remix and the legal strategies that surround and inform these practices. Students new to the topic and seasoned scholars alike may find something of value here.” — Andrew Famiglietti, Popular Music and Society

“Communication is much like a work of art—it is a process of copying, repeating and varying what we hear. There is no originator or owner of that which shapes our very being, and Cutting Across Media demonstrates how placing restrictions on creative commentary can stifle our cultural development.” — Vicki Bennett, aka People Like Us


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Price: $28.95

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Kembrew McLeod is Associate Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Iowa. He is the author of Freedom of Expression®: Resistance and Repression in the Age of Intellectual Property and Owning Culture: Authorship, Ownership, and Intellectual Property Law, and co-creator of the documentary film Copyright Criminals. McLeod and Peter DiCola are the authors of Creative License: The Law and Culture of Digital Sampling, also published by Duke University Press.

Rudolf Kuenzli is Professor of Comparative Literature and English at the University of Iowa, where he is the Director of the International Dada Archive.

Table of Contents Back to Top
I Collage, Therefore I Am: An Introduction to Cutting Across Media / Kembrew McLeod and Rudolf Kuenzli 1

Digital Mana: On the Source of the Infinite Proliferation of Mutant Copies on Contemporary Culture / Marcus Boon 24

Copyrights and Copywrongs: An Interview with Siva Vaidhyanathan / Carrie McLaren 38

Das Plagiierenwerk: Convolute Uii / David Tetzlaff 51

PhotoStatic Magazine and the Rise of the Casual Publisher / Lloyd Dunn 57

Plagiarism&reg174; 101: An Appropriated Oral History of the Tape-beatles / Kembrew McLeod 76

Ambiguity and Theft / Joshua Clover 84

Where Does Sad News Come From? / Douglas Kahn 94

Excerpts from "Two Relationships to a Cultural Public Domain" / Negativland 117

Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Lawsuit: William S. Burroughs, DJ Danger Mouse, and the Politics of Grey Tuesday / Davis Schneiderman 132

How Copyright Law Changed Hip-Hop: An Interview with Public Enemy's Chuck D and Hank Shocklee / Kembrew McLeod 152

Hip-Hop Meets the Avant-Garde: A Cease and Desist Letter from Attorneys Representing Philip Glass / Warner Special Products 158

Getting Snippety / Philo T. Farnsworth 160

Crashing the Spectacle: A Forgotten History of Digital Sampling, Infringement, Copyright Liberation, and the End of Recorded Music / Kembrew McLeod 164

Billboard Liberation: A Photo Essay / Craig Baldwin 178

On the Seamlessly Nomadic Future of Collage / Pierre Joris 185

Cultural Sampling and Social Critique: The Collage Aesthetic of Chris Ofili / Lorraine Morales Cox 199

Remixing Cultures: Bartók and Kodály in the Age of Indigenous Cultural Rights / Gábor Vályi 219

A Day to Sing: Creativity, Diversity, and Freedom of Expression in the Network Society / Jeff Chang 237

Visualizing Copyright, Seeing Hegemony: Toward a Meta-Critique of Intellectual Property / Eva Hemmungs Wirtén 252

Collage as Practice and Metaphor in Popular Culture / David Banash 264

Assassination Weapons: The Visual Culture of New Wave Science Fiction / Rob Latham 276

Free Culture: A Conversation with Jonathan Lethem / Kembrew McLeod 290

The Ecstasy of Influence: A Plagiarism / Jonathan Lethem 298

Bibliography 327

Contributors 341

Index 345
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-4822-1 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-4811-5
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