Tuesday, September 13, 2011

hacking the city, the streets, the copyright

Earlier this summer we were in San Francisco with some friends, trying to reacquaint the kids with Chinatown without breaking anything or getting run over, when we saw a guy painting a brilliant dragon mural that had a big square of plexiglass down in the corner. Here's the Banksy stencil painting, now protected by the City, that he was painting around. As great as it was to see the Banksy painting, it was an even better surprise to see someone now working in the margins of that painting. Wish I'd gotten a photo. Sorry, I guess you'll have to visit Chinatown.

Until then, here are a few movies that I've been into lately that sort of deal with this idea of working and playing in the margins, starting, actually, with Banksy. I'm not out to review them or anything, but I do give them each a bunch of stars.

Exit through the Gift Shop (2010)

Dogtown & Z-Boys (2001)

“Two hundred years of American technology has unwittingly created a massive cement playground of unlimited potential. But it was the minds of 11 year olds that could see that potential”
- Craig Stecyk, 1975

Be Kind Rewind (2008)

Finally, here's one recent take on margins and this question of the cultural commons--not part of the film, don't worry:

“In premodern England, villagers used to annually ‘beat the bounds’ of the commons. Armed with axes, mattocks, and crowbars, they would perambulate the public ways and common fields, demolishing any encroaching hedges, fences, stiles, and buildings that had been erected without permission. To bring formalities back to copyright would nicely beat the bounds of the cultural commons. I doubt it was apparent in the late 1970s that abandoning formalities would amount to a taking from the commons, but that is what it has turned out to be. To restate but one piece of what has already been said: In the old days, with a renewal requirement, 85 percent of all work passed into the public domain after 28 years; now, without it, that sizable portion remains enclosed (uselessly so) for another generation or more.
Simply put, by reducing the de facto reach of monopoly privileges, formalities enrich the cultural commons. If they also remind us that copyrights are creatures of positive law, not of natural right, and thus also push back against what might be called ‘conceptual enclosure,’ so much the better.”

related: Moose Curtis, feeding fish


T.R. said...

Be Kind Rewind was not a good a movie. But the movies they made within the movie were awesome. Actually, that makes sense somehow.

english said...

Oh, come on. it's not a great movie. but it's at least as good as, say, Talladega Nights.