Art + Copyright / Copyleft – a symposium

Here’s the programme for the symposium on art, copyright and copyleft that will take place at Bank Street Arts, Sheffield, on June 16th. There will also be an exhibition of works by Bryan Eccleshall. All proceeds from the event will go to Bank Street Arts. £10 entrance fee, including light lunch and refreshments.

art and copyright with programme - jpeg A5

occursus recommends…

Benjamin Noys (ed.), Communization and its Discontents: Contestation, Critique, and Contemporary Struggles (<.:.MinOr.:.>. cOmpOsitiOns.)

 This collection is dedicated to a critical questioning of the concept of communization, and in particular to analysing its discontents – the problems, questions and difficulties that traverse it. It is not easy to define what the word communization refers to, and it has often been used more as a slogan, a nickname, or even worse a ‘brand’, than forces together very different per-spectives and analyses. What we find ‘in’ communization is often a weird mixing-up of insurrectionist anarchism, the communist ultra-left, post-autonomists, anti-political currents, groups like the Invisible Committee, as well as more explicitly ‘communizing’ currents, such as Théorie Communiste and Endnotes. Obviously at the heart of the word is
communism and, as the shift to communization suggests, communism as a particular activity and process, but what that is requires some further exploration. (p. 8)

Another free book : Trans-local-act

Trans-local-act: cultural practices within and across

This book brings together a series of reflections and practices around issues of local and trans-local cultural production within different contexts in Europe, prompted through the agency of a collaborative and networked project : Rhyzom.

All these cultures developped within local contexts are intrinsically related to political, economic, social and material aspects and to specific temporalities, spatialities, individual and collective histories and experiences. Like the whole Rhyzom project, the book is an attempt to create transversal links and connections within and across different local framings and to seize instances of the dynamic and complicated nature of notions of ‘local’ an ‘culture’ through multiple forms of practice, which address the critical condition of culture in contemporary society. In relations with ‘local’, ‘trans-local’, ‘place’ and ‘culture’, issues of conflict and contest, ecologies, politics and care practices, common and commonality, institutions and agencies are adressed.

The book is written by architects, artists, activists, curators, cultural workers, educators, sociologists, geographers and residents living in different rural and urban areas in Europe and is addressed to anyone concerned with the relation between culture, subjectivity, space and politics today.

The list of projects and topics presented in the book is open : the Rhyzom website provides the framework for futher displays and possible collaborations.


The copy – some ideas

Copying has long been seen as the inferior partner in the binary original/copy.  How do we rethink this relationship productively?

The copy as transitional act: When something is copied a change is effected within the action. Can copying then become a generative rather than a derivative act?

‘The copy (is) the underlying condition of originality’ (Rosalind Krauss The Originality of the Avant-Guard and Other Modernist Myths)

Is Krauss right?  If so was the post-modern turn to simulacra the return of the repressed of all that the historic avant-garde was founded on but denied?

The copy is only a problem when it comes into conflict with capital. Only when proliferation undermines profit does the copy become a subversive act. Discuss.

The conceptual copy: to steal the idea but not the form. Kraftwerk were huge Beach Boys fans and decided to copy them. Not by apeing them formally, but by trying to embody/capture the environment in which they lived. For the Beach Boys this was the surf and drag racing culture of South California. For Kraftwerk this was the reconstruction of industrial Germany.  What of the opposite – to steal the form but not the content? Consider artists like Blinky Palmero, who uses the forms of Rothko/Newman high modernism but rejects the metaphysical/existential content.

Parody/Irony- the copy as critique

Are there copies that are better than the originals? John Coltrane’s version of My Favourite Things surely beats Rodgers and Hammerstein’s.

Walter Benjamin- please, not The Work of Art essay –  let’s have  ‘the new as the ever the same’

Mark E Smith: ‘All I learnt at school where the three R’s: Repetition, repetition, repetition’      Quentin Crisp: ‘The young always have the same problem – how to rebel and conform at the same time. They have now solved this by defying their parents and copying one another’.   What is the relationship between originality and copying in the formation of subjectivity?

The doppelganger, the clone and other doubles: Is the obsession with the human copy a permanent feature of the human imagination or is the uncanny double a social historic concept? Do we need to have reached an era of technical reproducibility for it to appear?  Science fiction and psychoanalysis are contemporaries. How does technological progress effect how we depict our doubles?

Scientists tell us something about cloning! Lawyers tell us something about copyright! It will counter our tendency to artistic and metaphysical excess.

In Kale Iasn ‘originality is dead’ . In the contemporary era only the copy remains.  The market’s need for novelty could be seen as condemning modernity to creativity – to its ceaseless production of ism’s.  If so, what was the relationship between the market and the postmodern turn to repetition? Is there a relationship between the market and copying that goes deeper then copyright issues?

There are two distinct but interrelated discourses of the copy.  On the one hand there is the copy as metaphysical conundrum, a trans-historical debate of essence and appearance that has dogged philosophy since its birth in ancient Greece, whilst on the other there are historically specific arguments over who controls the copy. From the Church and State’s attempts to control printing – the birth of copyright law- through to today’s debates about the internet, the copy is connected to the needs and interests of capitalism.  Control of the copy is also the control of wealth and information.   What is the relationship between these two levels of discourses?

For further information on this section: Simon Marginson (

Another free book

We really liked Marcus Boon’s book, In Praise of Copying, and also the fact that it’s free to download from Harvard University Press.

Just found another great – free – book by Brian Holmes: Escape the Overcode   

occursus invites you to send in links to other books which have been made freely available by their authors and publishers, with a view to curating a copyleft  virtual bookshelf. Please post ideas as comments here or email