No-copy creativity: the taste for appropriation shared by creators and avant-garde artists alike



Whether talking about the internet or the “real world,” one thing is clear: a penchant for appropriation, remixing and borrowing is an aspect that defines a good part of contemporary creativity.

There is no shadow of a doubt that, especially on the internet, the transformation and re-assembly of pre-existing materials taken from the web to be then re-presented online by creators in their amended, rectified version, is entirely commonplace.

What results is a frenzied, uninterrupted flow of file sharing, linking and forwarding, downloads and uploads of remixed music, edited videos, retouched images, memes, clips and animated gifs, and endless “shares” on social media.

In these modern, original works of art, a bit Naïf and often for this very reason also underappreciated, what truly matters is surprising the viewer, making an impression or astonishing and shocking. The goal, after all, is to be shared and go viral.

In many pieces by web creators, we often find a taste for the surreal, a delight in the juxtaposition of incongruous elements, a search for bizarre and disorienting effects, the use of nonsense and irony, all characteristics also found in many pieces by historical avant-garde artists, with the Surrealists and Dadaists at the top of the list.

Just as, in the 1900s, the wall separating the object from its artistic representation was shattered (with an everyday bottle rack becoming a work of art on par with a painting or a sculpture), today another fence has crumbled, the one separating “professional” artists from do-it-yourself creatives with no specific training or systemic foundation.

One of the techniques often used by these untrained new creators is, not by chance, that of copy and paste, a formula that allows just about anyone to bring original work into existence using modern technology and the boundless cauldron of images, videos, sounds and texts that is the internet, remixing and shaking them together, over and over again.

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