Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Remix Culture

I was reading today about the how a new form of art today is basically stealing from the cultural milieu (that may be the first time I've ever written milieu)  and making it your own in some way.  This has different forms, from sampling and mixing to mashups.  Perhaps the most notorious purveyor  is Gregg Gillis aka Girl Talk who is produced by illegal art.  And there in lies the problem or at least the question.  How much of today's music and art and film is legitimate and how much is blatant stealing and re purposing of others ideas?  How do we protect artists and give them motivation to create and provide the right rewards when their work is what brings the dollars rolling in?

The other reality is that art has always been a call and response.  One person taking influence and concepts from other artists and speaking new value into them, challenging these innovations or using them as a jumping point.  If you go to any art show there will always be an interplay between artists.  This brief article about Matisse and Picasso really brings that to light.  I think this reality blurs the line all the more...sure artists of the past had to reproduce elements of art on their own, and that made it more difficult to "steal" or incorporate someone else's work.  That said, there are new mediums, new artistic forms and opportunities and those influences can be more easily co-opted.  Is that necessarily wrong?

This same question is asked of pastors as many preach books that others have written, they simply take titles and themes from other pastors and authors and present them as they try to make them there own.  Is this legit?  Where is the line?  For me, I want my inspiration to always be God's Word.  So it is my building block, his word is my starting point. I try to preach exegetically, and to address our church and cultural situation.  I will read commentaries, occasionally listen to another sermon on a topic and even take an illustration that fits a theme from another source, but I also try to give the credit to the original source or at least from the source I borrowed from.  In some ways, that is where mashups and sampling always pays homage to the original and gives the credit back since its real source is not meant to be hidden but presented in the light.

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