The series of computer shortcuts that today we call “cut, copy, and paste”—and which, from this point on, will be abbreviated as “copy-paste” (the difference between cut and copy is substantial, but irrelevant as far as the purpose of this e-book is concerned)—is an action that, at least in terms of the visual arts, has its roots in the “rudimentary” collages of the early 20th century.
Collage, which derives from the French coller (to glue), in some ways was a true break from the academic traditions that still prevailed at the dawn of modernism, so much so that it became one of the most popular creative techniques among experimental artists of the time.
It is worth noting that collage has been used successfully over the years not only in fine art but also in other creative industries, such as graphic design and advertising, photography and film, fashion and design.
Nonetheless, the roots of this particular creative form can be found in the avant-garde art movements of the early 1900s, which quickly gained popularity throughout the short 20th century to reach the present day and, as far as visual arts are concerned, achieve perhaps its most resounding results.
Therefore, to take a general look at the history of collage and similar media (photo-collage, photomontage, assemblage, video pastiche, memes, etc.), we must summarize the avant-garde artistic movements and cultural trends that have made these still-thriving appropriating creative practices some of the longest-lasting of modernism.