Copy-Paste Creativity



Take a newspaper.

Take a pair of scissors.

Choose an article as long as you are planning to make your poem.

Cut out the article.

Next carefully cut out each of the words that make up this article and put them in a bag.

Shake gently.

Then remove the scraps one after the other in the order in which they left the bag.

Copy conscientiously.

The poem will resemble you.

And there you are: an infinitely original writer with a sensibility that is charming, though beyond the understanding of the vulgar herd.

– Tristan Tzara (How to Make a Dadaist Poem, 1916)


What you’ve just read is the pioneering (for its time) tutorial with which Dadaist poet Tristan Tzara dispensed advice to all those who wished to become “infinitely original writers” way back in 1916.

Thanks largely to avant-garde artistic and literary movements such as Dada, we can pinpoint this era as the one that gave rise to a new creative and aesthetic practice, the one that I like to call “cut, copy and paste” to whimsically bring it into the 21st century.

In this e-book, I offer a historical overview of the phenomenon, starting from its roots (the avant-garde of the early 20th century) to reach contemporary versions with trends and labels of different origins and meaning: new media art, Post-Internet, remix culture, appropriation, postproduction, etc.

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