Canto (For Evie)

“Canto (For Evie)”, Copyright © 2005 Rob Myers, Tom Chance.
This image is licensed under a Creative Commons license (CC-BY-SA-2.0).
These are shapes autotraced from a posterised PNG and re-arranged. Original colours. There’s so much potential even in just a single image…

Free Culture

Think Of The Creators!

“Intellectual Property” is of course about rewarding the creative geniuses behind cultural works, not about paying the middle-men and hangers-on. This why the record industry in the UK are so upset that songs from 50 years ago, including the beginning of Elvis’s “catalogue” will enter the public domain this year. The record companies will no longer get their royalties. But, far more importantly, performers will no longer get their royalties. Think of the children!

These songs will be able to be copied freely. People will share them. Some may even see a revival of interest and get played publicly, even used in the media.

Which may be good news for the people who really were the creative geniuses behind the songs. You see, the copyright on the lyrics and the score of the song won’t expire until 70 years after the author’s death. And whilst it’s maddeningly difficult to get an answer from any of the UK’s many IP-exploitation organisations that isn’t just singing from the content industry hymn sheet, it looks like that copyright may be unaffected by the expiration of the separate recording copyright, meaning the composer/lyricist should still get their royalties.

It’s just the session musicians and studio executives who won’t. And they are trying to stop the creative geniuses reaping the rewards of increased distribution and performance of their work.

Never mind piracy. This is wrongful imprisonment.

I could well be wrong. If anyone really knows how this works (rather than the self-serving tale of woe that the record companies are pushing) do please let me know. In either case it wouldn’t prevent non-public copying and listening.

But wouldn’t it be funny if the record companies, in trying to keep old work buried, are doing exactly what they claim to be fighting against: preventing the creators of work form being rewarded for their efforts.

Free Culture

Metaphors That Don’t Hold Water

I’m a big fan of Boing Boing, and I want to be Cory Doctorow when I grow up, but I’m sorry to say that the metaphors in his interview here ring false:

Well, locomotives didn’t require horseshoes. You know, the blacksmiths might not have liked the fact that locomotives didn’t require horseshoes. But if you started a business to outfit locomotives with special horseshoes in order to keep the blacksmiths happy, you probably wouldn’t have lasted very long.

The blacksmiths would like it even less if you stole the horseshoes from their anvil for the metal to make your trains. When you’ve driven all the blacksmiths out of business, how will you pay for the metal that you’ve previously got for free?

Likewise, if you’re starting a business to outfit phones with special locks that make it hard to copy things in order to make the music industry happy, then you’re probably not long for this world.

Yeah, you’ll never train kids to pay for things they used to be able to do for free. Like talking to each other…

Generative Art

Kazushi Mukaiyama

Kazushi Mukaiyama seems to have been a student of Harold Cohen’s, and is working on his own drawing program, “Shizuka“. Where AARON imagines its own world, Shizuka seems to be more observational. The early source code of the random-walk turtle and the class diagrams for a later design were very influential on me when I started working on draw-something, as was seeing someone work through their ideas. (If the above link comes up in Japanese, go to the main page and click on the little US flag).

Kazushi’s blog is great fun, interlacing useful algorithmic insights and links with pictures of food he’s bought and is about to cook. 🙂

Generative Art

Synthesizers in Processing and jSyn

Looks interesting, and it’s probably easier than using Flash or Director…

Via Kazushi Mukaiyama’s blog.

Free Culture

The Social Contract Of Art Copyleft

The GPL is an attempt to formalise the code sharing social contract of hackers. It does this through the mechanism of copyleft, using a copyright license to ensure that code is made publicly available. The closest thing to a GPL for art are the Creative Commons licenses. But how well do they match the social contract of artists creatively using the work of others?

Creative Commons produce a number of licenses. Not all of them are copyleft licenses, indeed only CC-BY-SA (the Attribution-ShareAlike) comes close to the provisions of the GPL. Creative Commons also produce licenses for sampling, file sharing and licensing work to developing nations. Altogether there are around 15 Creative Commons licenses for artists to choose from.

Many artists have licensed images online CC-BY-NC or CC-BY-NC-ND. The problem is that these are non-commercial licenses, which means that other artists cannot use that work to make work that they can sell.

CC-BY-SA allows anyone to copy or use the licensed work. Anyone can print or sell copies of it, and anyone can make new work that uses all or some of the original. This is a good match to the “Four Freedoms” of the GPL, and allows artists access to a broader culture of images. No “Joywar ” under CC-BY-SA. You lose more control of your work – anyone can copy or sell it without paying you, and in return you get access to any work they derive from it and attribution for the use of your work. But however worthwhile GPL-style Freedom is, and it is, it may not be a good match to the existing social contract of art.

CC-Sampling is designed for music but can be applied to any medium. Like CC-BY-SA you can make work that uses part or all of the licensed work. Unlike CC-BY-SA, you must creatively transform the work that you use, you cannot exploit it as-is. You also cannot use use it in advertising. This requirement of creativity and opposition to corporate exploitation is intended to capture the social contract of musicians for sampling and mash-ups, but fits artists as well. This is a much better fit for artists, and protects work against simple exploitation, but may preclude some creative or beneficial uses of the work and may allow the access to less work than the main CC licenses.

To align work with the broader Free Software and Free Culture movements, CC-BY-SA is best, although it is important that artists understand what they are giving away and receiving in return under this license. To match the existing social contract of artists creatively using the work of others, CC-Sampling is best, although it may be limiting in other ways. Artists may balk at placing work under either license. But like Willem De Kooning faced with a young Robert Raushenberg asking for a drawing to erase, they should rise to the challenge and see what happens when they let other people use at least one work to create something unexpectedly new.

(I am not a lawyer, this is not legal advice.)

Generative Art

Historical Remixing

Whilst searching for CC art to remix (is there any outside of Remix Reading???) I found a couple of older CC postings that I may have mentioned but are worth mentioning again:

Franz Liszt, Mixmaster, and J.S. Bach, Klepto

The Creative Remix

The next time anyone complains to you about those kids today stealing other people’s art, ask them if they know what a canto is. 🙂

Generative Art

Computer Art, High Art

Art computing before the launch of the PC was in a strange way guaranteed as high art by the simple fact that access to its means of production excluded the masses. The cost of computing machinery prior to the PC, and its location in fortresses of academia or business, guaranteed this. High art is high culture, the culture of the ruling class, not of the masses. So computer art, in a circular sort of way, must be high art, unless we create some sort of category of high folk art. 🙂

Generative Art

Pure Computation

Art computing has settled on consumer hardware and software, the PC or iBook and Flash or Processing for the most part. Using consumer hardware and software may simply be like artists using gloss house paint to make work, the use of a convenient and referential medium. There’s nothing wrong with it. But it also fails to differentiate art computing from design computing and consumer computing. I think that in addition to appropriating consumer hardware art computing should pursue the kind of access to non-consumer systems that were the hallmark of early computer art. I do not mean GPS systems, wearable computing or any other gadget fetishry. I mean technology that expands the artist’s means of pure computation, of running an interesting algorithm for interesting output. Such as beowulf clusters, massively parallel systems, neural and biological systems, and even early quantum systems and their simulations.

I am not arguing for techno-snobbery or the fetishism of raw computing power. I am arguing for an art computing that continues to differentiate itself by engagement with the possibilities of advances in pure computation.

On that note:

The Transterpreter an open source Occam system (paralellism).

libquantum a library that simulates a quantum computer.

Free Culture


I finally got around to updating my user page at fledgling Free Culture nexus CNUK :