“Art is an evolutionary act. The shape and its role in society is constantly changing. At no point is art static. There are no rules.”
–Raymond Salvatore Harmon, BOMB: A Manifesto of Art Terrorism
Intertextuality is defined as the modeling of a text’s meaning by another text, which is essential and beneficial in understanding our current culture. Listed below are a few branches of intertextuality:
Allusion – “it is left to the reader or hearer to make the connection by sharing in the author’s cultural knowledge.”
Quotation – “a work of visual art, literature, or music that imitates the style or character of the work of one or more other artists.”
Calque – “a word or phrase borrowed from another language, word-for-word.”
Plagiarism – “wrongful appropriation and stealing and publication of another author’s work and claiming it as one’s own original work.”
Translation – “communication of the meaning of a source-language text by means of an equivalent target-language text.”
Pastiche – “a work of visual art, literature, or music that imitates the style or character of the work of one or more other artists.”
Parody – “imitative works created to mock, comment on or trivialize an original work.”
In today’s culture, whether it is professional or amateur, there is a constant revision to what is being created in art. Everyone, not just limited to big media outlets, retains some sort of control that allows one to construct remixes on his or her own for free. The term remix culture refers to a society that tolerates and urges derivative works. By merging or editing current materials to construct a new product, remix provides a space for many talented voices to be heard.
Legal Aspect of Remix
Being technology driven, remixing is not going anywhere, in fact it will become a more common practice, unless laws to prevent it are established. One main issues remix culture seems to always face is violation, since remixes contain a vast amount of unauthorized copyright material. In view of that, people have developed several arguments claiming remix culture is fair use and is legal. Here are a few arguments in favor of remix:
1) Remixing is criminal behavior
Today, children are the main target audience for remixing. Viewing it as a form of crime, remixing makes children into criminals, which is bad for the individuals and for society, by causing their actions to assume disregard for the law and increase illegal activity. So, if remixing were lawful, children would not be branded as criminals. Therefore, making it legal will take away the unwanted label and not harm society, or the individuals. Bottom-line is remixing is fair use.
2) Remixes cause no harm
Another argument is remixing does not produce any harm. In fact, remix culture creates social benefits. Specifically, it encourages creativity within communities; remixing is socially acceptable and actually of positive social value. As a result, creative practices that do no inflict harm and produce social benefits need to exist in today’s culture. Thus, remix cultural practices should not be constrained, instead be reinforced by legal rules, including copyright law.
An example of remix culture is graffiti. Using spray paint, graffiti artists remix and change walls by borrowing from former works or from public understanding and then put his or her own twist or critique on the subject matter. Graffiti allows participants to interact with his or her surrounding environment. For that reason, authorship is continuously shifting due to the viewer’s participation. Similar to how advertising decorates walls, graffiti lets the public have a say in what images they want to be displayed in their communities.
“Style Wars is a work of art in its own right too, because it doesn’t just record what these artists are doing, it somehow absorbs their spirit and manages to communicate it across the decades so that we can find ourselves, so many years later; in the city; understanding what made it beautiful.”
–A. O. Scott, New York Times
Director Tony Silver, along with collaboration from graffiti documentarian Henry Chalfant, produced the 70 minute 1983 hip hop culture documentary Style Wars, which was awarded the Grand Jury Prize: Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival.Style Wars depicts the young artists who are struggling to express themselves as individuals through his or her works of art. Concentrating on the subject of graffiti, interviewees, such as New York City Mayor Ed Koch, deceased graffiti writer Case/Kase 2, graffiti “villain” Cap, and Seen, changed people’s perspective of graffiti and hip-hop subculture by providing their points of view on the misunderstood form of art. Specifically, only appreciating the aesthetic, a majority of people never truly understood the significance behind the art on the wall.
There’s More Than Meets The Eye
“Some people become cops because they want to make the world a better place. Some people become vandals because they want to make the world a better looking place.”
– Banksy, Wall and Piece
Graffiti is so much more than artless mischief, it is intentional. Artists do not care about what other people think of his or her work. When making graffiti, or ‘bombing’, graffiti artists are doing it for him or herself and all the other writers. Furthermore, individuals put in time and effort to design his or her own ‘tag’, proving graffiti is not a childish impulse to act out and destroy public space.
It is crucial to keep subjectivity in mind while analyzing simple acts of crime. One cannot hope to understand or even solve the meaning behind graffiti if he or she does not recognize the different ways to interpret it. Precisely, law enforcement is unable to appreciate the context of graffiti. Ignoring the nature of the community behind graffiti, police officers and others view it as a criminal act committed by bad kids, instead of as a response to a deeper socio-political issue. In other words, most people fail to see thatthe foundation of graffiti is to feel represented in his or her community.
“People who feel pain, that’s common. Someone who uses pain to create, this is an Artist.”
Looking at the bigger picture, graffiti is an attempt to solve feeling disconnected from ones community and possessing the power to shape it. Everywhere one turns he or she sees space that is either blank or reserved for company ads. This suggests individuals who are able to afford buildings or billboards form the appearances of the neighborhoods. Though less of a concern in small towns because people have the ability to influence the outside appearance by owning homes and having lawns, space in a city is mainly kept for advertising purposes. For that reason, graffiti writers desire to influence the space around them in order to contribute to the fabric of the community.
Participating enables an individual to develop understanding through his or her own personal active engagement. Graffiti remains a popular and creative way of voicing one’s opinions, despite the dispute of whether or not it is acceptable to the community and society.
“Graffiti is one of the few tools you have if you have almost nothing. And even if you don’t come up with a picture to cure world poverty you can make someone smile while they’re having a piss.”
–Banksy, Banging Your Head Against A Brick Wall