Joy Garnett, Juke Joint, 2007, oil on canvas, 26 x 46 inches
My second interview in a series of six with artists the residence program at iSummit this year went up this morning on at iCommons. An excerpt below for your reading pleasure.
New York based artist and blogger Joy Garnett frequently uses images depicting natural and technological disasters she finds on the web as a starting point for her paintings. However, the real objective of her work is not to make political commentary, but to reveal the malleability of meaning within these images.
Joy is well known for her involvement in a copyright fight called “Joywar” which began when the well-known photojournalist Susan Meiselas threatened to sue her for the use of part of a photograph she had taken in 1979, as the basis for her painting Molotov. Joy removed the image from her website, but by that time artist members of Rhizome.org had already copied it in protest inspiring countless online permutations of the painting. Joy also runs the popular and often political reblog NEWSgrist.
AFC: As an artist who makes and sells paintings, what is the role of Creative Commons for people such as yourself?
Joy: To me painting has always been a remix. It is a really old technology that excels at remixing. But the remixing has to do with the eye, the hand, the memory”¦ So I think the idea that the commons is something we just thought of is a misconception. It's just that we've had to re-identify it because our culture has become so proprietary and it's been leaning in that direction for some time. As a painter dealing with the idea of copyright, I see that it doesn't really function for us as it was intended to because it doesn't really apply to “one-offs”; copyright was first devised in the context of publishing and it is meant to function for works that are mass produced. So for me, Copyright has nothing to do with how I earn my living, and it has nothing to do with how painters earn their livings.
AFC: So given this statement, does Creative Commons have a place in the professional art world and amongst artists?
Joy: Yes. To me the idea of Creative Commons licensing is the beginning of a way for artists to take charge, to try and understand how claiming or relinquishing property can serve them and the community.
AFC: And do you think that the community at large is basically on the same page about copyright as artists?
Joy: I think not; one of my favorite judges, who specializes in issues of copyright and fair use, Judge Pierre Leval, said something at a recent panel discussion regarding this very issue that made me and other art professionals in the audience jump.
He said, “Without copyright, authors and artists would still be at the mercy of and dependent on the good graces of wealthy patrons for their living” Well, we all know that artists are dependent on the whims of the wealthy and that our careers aren't really affected by copyright. So that was a revelation to me: that there is such a gap in understanding between these different realms of expertise, that there's such a split between art people and law people. And even within the artist community there is a gap between those who feel like they need to control their work because people might steal it — there's paranoia on the one extreme end — and then way on the other end there's the open source sampler position . And there are many shades in between. It's very interesting to see how polarized the community is. I think redefining the commons can help us create a dialog.
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