DRAWING IN THE AGE OF INFORMATION

Posted by Pall Thayer | Mon Jan 7th 2008 8:19 p.m.

Holy Moly, Roz! What exactly is it that you're trying to patent here:

"This patent-pending, state-of-the-art process is created by artist, Roz Dimon."
http://dimonscapes.com/

I'm all for artists getting credit where and when it's due but attempting to patent creative processes is counter intuitive. That's aside from the fact that I don't see what's "unique" about your javascript-based image-swap. People have been doing that for ages. Again, what exactly is it about this work that is "patent-pending"?

Pall Thayer

On Jan 7, 2008 10:29 PM, Roz Dimon <roz@dimonscapes.com> wrote:

Posted by Roz Dimon
Link:
http://www.appliedartsschool.com
Date:
February 16, 2008

An invitation to Rhizome members and friends:

DRAWING IN THE AGE OF INFORMATION
February 16th ? March 28th, 2008
Hosted by Applied Arts, School Of Visual Arts
ARTIST: Roz Dimon
CORPORATE SPONSOR: Wacom Technology

OPENING RECEPTION: February 16, 4:00-8:00PM (6PM demo by Roz drawing with Wacom)
EXHIBITION: 10 limited edition pigment prints of drawings created working live from a nude model

5 Free Training Demos:
Feb. 18th & 25th 6:00-6:30 (Mon., part of the 6-9PM open studio figure drawing)
Feb. 28th & Mar. 20th 5-6PM (Thurs.)
March 8th, 11AM-12noon (Sat.)

What?s unique about these drawings? Surrounded by other artists using traditional media (charcoal, pen and ink) drawing from a live model, Roz Dimon sketches, honing her skills. The only difference is she plugs her backlit canvas into the wall and draws with a pressure-sensitized digital pen and tablet designed by Wacom Technology. Her unique style is captured perfectly as she applies her stylus to a plane in space. The tools she uses are of today but point towards the future, and give her work an exciting edge. At the same time, it?s still all about her hand, her touch, her vision.

What?s exciting about this exhibition? Dimon?s drawings connect us with the past, the classical roots of drawing and painting, and they explore the future. In a larger scope, this show comes at a time when the field of digital art is reaching a new level of maturation in both artistry and technology; alongside a growing public?s ability to understand and appreciate it. It also seems fitting that a show such as this originates in Long Island, a region teeming with artistic energy and American art history.

?I am beginning to do some of my best work here. I work with a different kind of light than the American Impressionists or the Abstract Expressionists? however, there is an undeniable creative force at work here on the East End where moraine meets sky and artists gather.? Roz Dimon

This exhibition and educational venue is made possible by a collaboration between:

Wacom Technology, providing funding and equipment for demonstration, including several Wacom tablets as well as the Cintiq, a state-of-the-art interactive tablet
and
Roz Dimon, an ongoing innovator in the realm of digital painting and drawing who has 8 pieces in the collection of AT&T among others. She has been featured in Forbes magazine alongside David Hockney and has had numerous shows both nationally and abroad. Dimon curated a major show of digital art, ?code,? for Ricco/Maresca Gallery in NYC which drew a crowd of over 300 on opening night and was covered by all 3 National Television Networks, Prix-Ars Electronica and CNET online.

Roz will discuss her work and demonstrate drawing with the Wacom throughout the exhibition.

Please join APPLIED ARTS in bringing this exhibit to a wider audience.

Call 631-267-ARTS (2787) for more information.

Visit us on the web at www.appliedartsschool.com

--
*****************************
Pall Thayer
artist
http://www.this.is/pallit
*****************************
  • Roz Dimon | Fri Jan 11th 2008 1:56 p.m.
    Paul. Re: Holy Moly!That gave me a chuckle... haven't heard that one in a long time... I thought I was the only artist who said corny stuff like that - I’m not being glib here. (You won't usually find me quoting Baudrillard, although I must say I found Ross Barber’s commentary on his latest piece here on Rhizome’s artbase, Getting over Baudrillard 2007 white noise, wonderfully thoughtful while sweet and very funny.)

    However back to this - I don't see what's counter-intuitive about trying to patent a creative process. I am not going to try to explain here exactly what it is I'm patenting, because yes it is "patent-pending" and my lawyer would not advise it. It certainly isn’t a light undertaking on my part and is the first time I’ve ever considered such a step in 23+ years of working in digital media. I certainly wouldn't undertake such an effort which is time-consuming and expensive, if I didn't think I was doing something unique, but suffice it to say that I do see this creative process, or idea, as inclusive of but much more than "javascript-based image-swap."

    I am all for sharing creative ideas, but I do want to have some ownership and recognition for this particular creative process. I also feel very strongly about crediting other people’s creative ideas as well. One thing I love most about the DimonscapesTM is that every idea or appropriated image is foot-noted. (much like a novel which brings resonance to the written word by citing and quoting all.) The DIMONscapeTM format brings credibility to all imagery loaded on the digital brush/palette I’m using. Every image I use/edit is either purchased by me or used only with the permission of the artist who created it, whom I always credit in the footnotes if they desire, and with a link to their site if they wish.

    On the commerce side, I have always rubbed up close to the commercial world and while I make fun of it (in Pale Male: A Pilgrimage, where I pit Jesus against Nike, or in Washington Pig, where the dollar bill goes explosively beserk), I think artists should be paid and recognized and feel that we only ghettoize ourselves when we pit terms like “fine” and “commercial” against one another. I do not feel an artist is “selling out” when they make money; on the other hand, no amount of money thrown at a work of art will ever make it great. (witness the current art market frenzy… it’s not about art, although some good work is there. I’m personally for resurrecting rules of the academy so we can break them again… no avant-garde is possible without rules to be broken which is one reason I feel that art as publicly perceived is currently caught in a boring morass of “everything goes”, which isn’t to say there isn’t some great art being done, but that’s another discussion…)

    An artwork that is commercially viable, accessible but which transcends commerce and product… there’s the ticket. Well, I’m rambling a bit here but I’m all for dialog on these issues. And yes, per your point, the outcome is unknown! I have no idea if I’ll get a patent on this process but I’m going to try.
  • Pall Thayer | Fri Jan 11th 2008 8:05 p.m.
    Thanks for the response Roz. I'm glad to see that you're not taking this as a personal attack, which it of course isn't. But I'm very surprised when I see this sort of thing (and it's not the first time although I think it is the first time I've seen it within the visual arts). I posted a little additional message that didn't seem to make it to Rhizome's "Discuss" page (see my footnote Rhizome!) where I explained that I meant "counter productive" as opposed to "counter intuitive". Patenting artistic processes hampers the free flow of experimentation and further development. That's why some companies that do own patents on technology allow for free use in an artistic context (such as the Fraunhofer institute with their patent on Mp3 technology). From a super-commercial standpoint, I can understand what reasons you might have to apply for a patent though I don't agree with them. Let's say that you do receive a patent (but in all honesty, I don't think you will... explanation below). What then? Another artist comes along, does essentially the same thing but applies a very different concept to it. But technically, it's the same thing. Are you going to go after that artist? Demand that they stop doing what they're doing or demand that they pay you a licensing fee? That goes against everything that has carried the fine arts along throughout history and there's a reason. The open sharing of methods is what makes art so dynamic and flexible. Another clarification here; I should have said "artistic" rather than "creative" practices even though I feel that they more or less boil down to the same thing. Where would we be if Duchamp had patented the readymade? Or if Hockney had patented the photo-collage? What if Seurat had patented "the process of building up an image as a series of colored dots?" Where would the arts be today? Where would your work stand if someone had patented the idea of "allowing a viewer to affect the composition of a visual image by clicking on hyperlinks" 15 years ago? There was plenty of work around back then that did just that.

    And now on to why I don't think you're going to get that patent. First of all, just based on my meager, layman's knowledge of patent assessments, I recall seeing or hearing somewhere that you can't patent artistic concepts. That's what copyrights are for. You could patent the technology behind them, but then the assessment of the application is going to be based on that technology and not any kind of artistic concept that surrounds it. If these recollections of mine are correct and true (and they might not be) then there is plenty of "prior art" (a patent-law term that has nothing to do with "art" as in "fine art") to what you're doing. You can't patent technology that's already "out there" and being used by everybody. Not even if no-one has claimed a patent on it yet.

    I'm not going to pass any judgment on the work itself but when you say that "no amount of money thrown at a work of art will ever make it great" we can likewise say that no patent on a method or process is going to make a work of art great either. Exclusivity, especially enforced exclusivity, doesn't equal good art. The "inventor" of a process isn't always the artist best remembered for that process; it's the artist that turns it into the best art. So if you want to make sure that you gain recognition and acknowledgment for "inventing" an artistic method, process or concept then all you can do is make your very best out of it and hope that the rest of the "artworld" thinks it's as good as you do.

    Pall
    • Philip Galanter | Wed Jan 16th 2008 9:55 p.m.
      I'm going to defend Ms. Dimon on this one. But first some clarifications...

      So far as I know there is no way to legally protect a concept. You can trademark something used as a unique identifier, but not the concept behind the thing being identified. You can copyright a specific expression (the literal words used, or notes sung, or images presented) but you can't copyright the concept the expression points to. And you can patent a concrete process, but not the abstract concepts that contribute as background or theory.

      There are also trade secrets. They also generally refer to processes as an alternative to patents. It's a way to claim a proprietary interest in a process without revealing that process to the public. The upside of that is that it is not time limited, so as long as you make a good faith effort to keep it secret you are protected from the theft of that process. The downside is that if someone can show they independently discovered what you've kept as a trade secret, they are free to use it immediately and the first inventor has no claim to royalties or the like.

      So this isn't about concepts. If it's a patent it's about protecting a process.

      Artists have had secrets about their techniques, their processes, for centuries. Generally they've protected those techniques essentially as trade secrets. If such processes met the appropriate tests they could, as a matter of law, be patented.

      So the notion of patenting a process used to make art isn't so foreign when seen in this context. It's just an alternative to keeping a process secret.

      In fact, the notion of patents is often defended on the basis of the general good it creates. It's a way for the inventor to profit from his or her labor without keeping the process forever hidden from society.

      In the context of art, an artist who invents a unique process *could* keep it secret and let the process die with him/her. Isn't society better served by making the process public and available for general use after some finite interval? That is exactly what a patent allows.

      And who is to say that this process doesn't have non-art applications? I don't know specifically what aspect Ms. Dimon is working on patenting. If it is already a technique in popular use, then any attempt to defend the patent can be defeated simply by showing prior use (AKA prior art).

      But maybe behind the scenes Dimon has invented a new image compositing process that could just as easily be used in non-art imaging services or products. Or maybe it's an information retrieval technique that could just as easily be used to visualize stock market information or other commercial information.

      But even if there is no other use for this process other than art, I would tend to agree with the intent behind patent law. That intent being that society is best served by both rewarding inventors AND making the invention public for eventual free and general use.

  • Eric Dymond | Sat Jan 12th 2008 2:26 a.m.
    OK, so I get the ideation, but the technical process is ubiquitous.
    document.gm.src='images/gm_13.jpg', not really unique.
    eyc.
    So pending a patent review, how is the technical making of the art unique? How does it escape from being general knowledge (we all have built image rollovers)? If you decide to claim a patent on the image are we now dealing with copyright instead of patent law?
    Now here's where it gets interesting. Have you decided to appropriate all image rollovers? If so then I support the patent. Collecting on patent infringements will be a daunting task however.
    NN
  • Roz Dimon | Tue Jan 15th 2008 12:52 p.m.
    Eric... I hope you are being funny with your comment about appropriating image rollovers...

    To Pall's point that no patent on a method or process is going to make a great work of art -- that's true but in response to your "all you can do is make your very best out of it and hope that the rest of the "artworld" thinks it's as good as you do.":

    Yes, one can hope, but I would add that one's best work is never driven by what the artworld thinks, or the world for that matter.

    Roz
  • Pall Thayer | Tue Jan 15th 2008 7:14 p.m.
    Roz, I would think it was pretty obvious that I was referring to your statement regarding "ownership and recognition for this particular creative process." Who's recognition were you referring to if not the "artworld's" and/or "the world's"?

    Perhaps you're growing tired of my negative criticisms. What business is it of mine anyway? Well, as a practicing artist it is my business. If any artist were to successfully patent an artistic process, it would be devastating to the arts. We can already get a sense of its damaging potential through some of the ridiculous copyright-based lawsuits that have popped up in recent times, like the JoyWars (http://www.firstpulseprojects.net/joywar.html) issue a while back. Art has a long history of "borrowing" and even "stealing." Wasn't it Picasso who was supposed to have said, "Good artists copy. Great artists steal." It's part of the trade, an integral part of the dynamic flexibility of the whole and if someone decides to "steal" from me, or probably more correctly, "steal" from me what I "stole" from someone else, I just hope that my original was significant enough for people to know where the next artist "stole" it from. At the very least, I take pride in knowing that my work had an influence on someone else's. If you get your patent and then gain significant recognition for your work then unfortunately, you're not going to be an influence on future generations of artists because you've effectively made it illegal to be influenced by you.

    Patents may be OK in the big corporate world, where there's plenty of money to throw around but in the arts they're bad. Bad, bad, bad.

    I've been attempting to search the USPTO website for your patent application because I'd be interested in seeing the wording. Do you have any idea why I can't find it? It was filed in your name, wasn't it?

    Pall
  • Rob Myers | Wed Jan 16th 2008 5:56 a.m.
    Yves Klein patented the chemical process used to create his IKB colour (French patent 63471, allegedly) rather than any of his artistic methods but that was still an immoral restriction on the ability of other artists to extend or critique or represent his work. It is even more immoral to patent a "creative process".

    Copyright can cause harm, Pall mentioned JoyWar, but copyright is at least limited only to direct copies rather than other realisations of the same idea. And patents don't have Fair Use.

    This is the most disturbing thing I have heard about from an artist since the copyright overreach of Christo's "Gates" and Kapoor's "Cloud Gate" a couple of years ago. It fails even as an illustration of the evils of business method patents, a la the trademarking of "Freedom Of Expression" to illustrate trademark excess by Kembrew McLeod.
  • Roz Dimon | Thu Jan 17th 2008 12:42 a.m.
    To Philip Galanter. I appreciate your open-mindedness:

    "That intent being that society is best served by both rewarding inventors AND making the invention public for eventual free and general use."

    as this approximates my intent.

    Roz
  • Narasimha Murthy Gollapudi | Thu Jan 17th 2008 2:01 a.m.
    Hello
    my name is narasimha murthy gollapudi. I am from India....rather , I consider myself a citizen of the world...and I believe I belong everywhere. Coming from Indian culture I see everyday this madness by the corporate world...in its greed driven policies and dare I say strategies...for truly speaking I do not see any strategy in their version of the word...anyway, I am reading Buckminister Fuller's Critical path... perhaps that is influencing my current thinking.... Patents are about making money...by denying others simultaneously the said methods or practices... it implies that thoughts are unique and only few can have these thoughts and others are not capable of the very same thoughts (and ideas)...
    well my take is...thanks for staying with me so far... given a particular problem, a (set of) possible solution(s) presents itself.... unique to that particular problem....and it is this ...[[a solution]]...that is being attempted to be patented....
    In my humble opinion
    nothing to be worried about!
    I for one believe in Human ingenuity... I see many examples in India everyday...
    Mind you- I am not even remotely advocating copying...please never assume that... I am interested in Original thoughts and ideas... and the Patent system is a feeble attempt to recognise the efforts of humans (..everywhere?...)
    One additional thought... Lets say one has legitimately invented say something like a floppy disk, or a cassette... well we all know that patent is probably collecting dust somewhere...so lets not assume, especially when technology is part of the equation that...in the future this patent in any way restrict anyone's freedom of expression, or even inhibit ideas!...in fact as it is doing now...it will stimulate new ways of thinking ...if only to circumvent it!
    Thanks for listening.
    narasimha murthy gollapudi
  • Rob Myers | Thu Jan 17th 2008 6:15 a.m.
    Keeping an artistic process secret is mediaeval. In science, the risk of secretive mediaeval alchemists embarrassing their courtly sponsors led to the publishing and public review system of the modern scientific method. Patents may resemble this but they exact a price for disclosure. A secret process has no legal and economic repercussions for anyone else who succeeds in reproducing that secret process. Patents do. Contrary to Philip's assertion they can easily prevent you from using a particular concept. Such as "adding a third portion of liquid", to give one notorious example of a business method patent. And they prevent you from using that concept even if you have never heard of the patent and have arrived at the concept independently.

    The business method patent I mention applies to cereal bars. Now imagine the damage similarly basic and expansive patents could do to artistic practice.

    Artists using "intellectual property" laws to chill public and artistic discussion of their work are shooting themselves in the foot in much the same way as the RIAA/MPAA. Nobody loves a bully. If the only interesting thing about an artwork is that it is the product of a patent then the artwork is not very interesting as art. If it is interesting as art it probably doesn't need protecting by a patent.

    Patenting artistic processes reflects the ego and tastes of corporate information culture and venture capital, not the culture of art or the broader culture of society. In fact it is opposed to these. Reflecting this ego and these tastes is harmful in business and will be harmful in art. To do so may nonetheless be one of the tasks that faces contemporary art. It is not a task that should be approached lightly or complicitly though.
  • Salvatore Iaconesi | Thu Jan 17th 2008 9:04 a.m.
    it is also true that the institutions are not doing a good job either in promoting new ways of thinking. It's lobby/monopoly/consensus on one side or/and cash_cash_cash on the other.

    as an example I quote a call for submission (that i don't seem to be able to post here) based on a recent law passed in Italy on copyright. It states an unsustainable principle by which copyrighted material can be "freely used" on the *italian internet* only for scientific or educational purposes as long as it ir reproduced in *degraded* form.

    We teamed up with some people from newspapers and other media and we created "Degradarte", degraded art.

    It is halfway between a joke and a research.

    I invite you all to participate and submit artworks that are based on copyrighted objects to which a degrading process of some form has been applied.

    It could prove to be interesting.

    www.degradarte.org
  • Michael Szpakowski | Thu Jan 17th 2008 12:02 p.m.
    There's no such thing as 'invention' -there's only
    wrangling the facts of nature; applied discovery.
    Furthermore no one does this by themselves but only by
    building on the work of countless others.
    Human beings are social beings in everything we do.
    Something analagous applies in art which is why not only patents
    but copyright too should be consigned to the dustbin of
    history.
    It's utterly bizarre that anyone would expect to be
    personally recompensed (except of course for their
    labour time) for something that potentially benefits
    everyone.
    Look at the way patents are used in medical and
    pharmacological research for an indication of whether
    they represent something progressive...
    michael
  • Philip Galanter | Thu Jan 17th 2008 7:52 p.m.
    There is an underlying assumption here that if patents were eliminated the problems they pose would go away without being replaced by new problems. I would argue that not only would new problems appear, they would be far worse than the old ones. Countries with weak intellectual property rights and enforcement tend to also be weak in terms of innovation and overall economy. Coincidence? I don't think so.

    And yes large corporations use patents to their advantage. But so do individuals. If it were not for patents, innovation by individuals or small groups would be crushed by large corporations...it's only the law, not good will, that keeps that from happening in the first place. It's those who are powerless relative to corporations who benefit the most from patents, because it is the small and weak innovators who need that kind of protection the most. A world without patents would yield an increase in corporate domination, not a decrease.

    And I don't think it is at all bizarre that people are personally compensated for things that benefit everyone. That, in fact, is *exactly why* they are compensated. And the more people it benefits, the more it is sold, and the more they get compensated. That's a pretty good system because it encourages people to do things that other people appreciate.

  • Rob Myers | Fri Jan 18th 2008 6:03 a.m.
    Countries with weak intellectual property rights and enforcement such as the US prior to the mid 1970s can be economic powerhouses precisely because they are not hobbled by arbitrary restrictions on what people can think or make. China is in a similar position now, and unsurprisingly the US wants them to respect American IP rights to make them less competitive. So the argument that economic weakness correlates in any way specifically with weak IP law is incorrect.

    Individuals are at a disadvantage to corporations with or without patents because of their relative economic power. Without patents, if I invent a new computer, Apple or Sun can simply copy it far faster than I can raise the funds required to make it myself. With patents, if I invent a new computer, Sun and Apple each have thousands of patents they can assert against me to prevent me making my new computer or to charge me for the privilege of making my own invention. In either case the problem is relative economic scale, and the moral high ground of being able to pay the tens of thousands of dollars it costs to draft a patent or the hundreds of thousands it costs to defend a patent is cold comfort for a private individual. The best you they hope for is to sell their idea to one of the big players, in which case they have basically agreed to take on the economic risk of corporate R&D without the economic or social rewards.

    It is not bizarre that people can be compensated for benefiting society, but we are artists and if we think of ourselves in microeconomic terms we are clearly insane. Economically, we would make more money and benefit society more as plumbers, or if we suffer white collar delusions of grandeur as accountants.

    What would be bizarre would be if people were compensated for preventing others from benefitting society. But that is precisely the practical effect of software and business method patents.
  • Erika Lincoln | Fri Jan 18th 2008 10:11 a.m.
    Okay I have to weigh in here....many good posts on different components of determining ownership or freedom of an idea, process, product, thing. But in the following discussions things are mixed up, to follow Rob's points he starts at patents moves to copyright then ends with trademarks. One can't use these words interchangibly (sp), each are a serise of complex things. I am certainly not an expert in this area, but I do know some things, first of all,

    Patents--25 years then it becomes free... as a patent owner you can sell patent (not best idea) or licence patent(smarter idea). Phillip-in patent advatage is protection I agree, but when you have laws in different countries the governements can circumvent (sp) this but changing the law, best example is pharmicuticals, some countries produce generic drugs so that people can actually afford the drugs. examples Anti-retro HIV drugs in SA and Canada's generic drugs (which some US state governments buy from Canada).
    p.s patenting a process is the hardest thing to actually patent

    Copyright- life of author plus 25-70 years depending on what country you are in. this is for things you produce, painting , scupture, book, music.

    Trademark--a brand or a name of a product or buisness, one cannot trademark words, but can a phrase or a made up word.

    There are more, personality rights, ect. Law is a complex thing but to say that it is evil is not fair and a simplified response. I think that as an artist one should be aware of all of these things that does not mean be an expert.
  • Vijay Pattisapu | Fri Jan 18th 2008 10:20 a.m.
    All code is reducible to math. It's illegal to patent math.
  • Eric Dymond | Fri Jan 18th 2008 5:49 p.m.
    but I love it when I read something like this:
    "Abstract: For the effective use of information in the information society, information should be protected and outflow of information by illegal users should be prevented. This study sets up user authentication policy, user authentication regulations and procedures for information protection and builds information protection key distribution center and encryption user Authentication system, which can protect information from illegal users"
    http://citeseer.ist.psu.edu/579214.html

    and refreshingly:
    http://ciphersaber.gurus.com/#cknight

    Eric
  • Max Herman | Fri Jan 18th 2008 10:58 p.m.


    It may be we are focusing on the product here or object rather than the process. You wouldn't want a robot to go skating for you for example, you'd rather skate yourself. If the final product though is important, which it sometimes is, theoretically a machine could make a better one and humans could benefit by viewing it. Thus all the artists would be robots, because they create better drawings and the key is the end product, not the process of creating. The process in such a view would be the process of viewing the robot-drawing, learning to appreciate them, and so forth.

    However, you could also say that creativity is a cycle, and we don't just want good productions, we want to create or foster good producers. Therefore showing people objects they can't create themselves would stymie this. Again however, the robot drawings could work better at teaching people to draw or inspiring them to draw, perhaps by being less pretentious than human drawings. But, not being human, they could not show how someone dealt with the risk of human pretentiousness. So they could be specifically less instructive.

    Philip, does this relate to your ideas of feedback and information-level in complexity cycles? Norbert Wiener thought we should give everything over to the machines and this could be one thing not to give over, i.e. drawing.

    I don't draw much but here's a recent drawing I made:

    http://www.geocities.com/genius-2000/elmdrawing.jpg

    Max Herman
    The Genius 2000 Network
    Le Cafe now online
    www.geocities.com/genius-2000

    +++

  • Roz Dimon | Tue Jan 22nd 2008 11:37 a.m.
    I am thinking alot about all of this and will put up a more thought-out response to this shortly but want to get up a quick note to say (yes, before I go the dentist... still a real world event. Fun!) that as far as my intent: 1) I am not applying for a patent to sue other artists or prevent creative collaboration... and 2) yes I am applying for a patent because I see significant commercial application for this in the realm of business and advertising and 3) yes, I'm an artist that has to assist in paying the rent, which living in NYC is currently going out to the highest European investor and 3) I am concerned about issues of appropriation not only of my own work but other artists' work, especially in an Internet driven world where so many boundaries are being blurred (art/commerce, sharing/privacy, etc.) while co-existing simultaneously... much like the DIMONscapesTM themselves which are both on the wall and up for purchase while off the wall and free in virtual space; and, a creative process while simultaneously a technical one that can be applied outside of the artwork itself in another realm. I will write more later but as I did my morning headstand, I observed how strange and yet exciting the world looked upside-down. However, some laws still govern like gravity... familiar objects still stay on the floor to be maneuvered, but the landscape is completely different. This is the world we now inhabit. Little did I know when I started on an IBM with 4 colors in 1985... it is exciting and also painful. I enter this discussion with you as I am wrestling with many of the issues of which you speak... I suppose if I didn't want this discussion i would have put a password on all my DIMOnscapesTM, so yes, there's the conundrum but many co-existing views are true here...
  • Roz Dimon | Thu Jan 31st 2008 8:17 p.m.
    Artists taking their own authority:
    I want to add something here although it appears I'm now posting to myself... but it's important to clarify my previous post. When I say the patent-pending DIMONscapesTM are "free in virtual space, I mean "free to view" not "free to steal." Which is why I make it clear that this work is “patent-pending.” If any of you wish to collaborate with me on further developing these works, please feel free to send me a proposal. This is what usually leads to creative collaboration. Otherwise I respectfully ask that you honor my request. I do the same for other artists as faithfully as I know how - especially if this is their request. Please note that responsibility to and recognition of other artists is part and parcel of the DimonscapesTM invention itself, giving authority to the emerging lexicon of our visual information world, of which we artists are the progenitors.

    Patenting a technique, not a single artwork or merely code
    Patent law aims “to promote the progress of science and useful arts.” It also protects the single entrepreneur, although the larger conglomerates are winning some battles here recently in the arena of patent law as we have been in a very pro big-business era these past 8 years under the Bush administration. And yes I feel strongly that DIMONscapesTM have a very useful, underlying technique… as I stated before, that is what I am trying to patent, not the artwork or the code alone.

    Sharing with artists/sharing with Coke
    I may ask a nominal fee/recognition agreement or whatever of other individual artists. I am still formulating this. On the other hand, this is not an idea I want to give “free” to Coca-Cola. And if I do choose to share or teach this technique to a select atelier of artists, I would like to do so with my own authority and with some control as to that process.

    The Present is not the Past
    When you compare today’s world to that of Picasso or Seurat… they did not create their most innovative work in a medium both instantaneous and mass (as in McLuhan’s connotation of a one -to-all globally connected universe). Artists traditionally worked on their techniques either privately or in ateliers and showed/marketed their work to select venues before it became public knowledge.

    Going forward:
    Keeping one's own authority and technique in the world of the internet while being willing to share one's art with others brings up important issues that are unresolved in our new visual universe. I am still formulating a larger manifesto around all of this, but it’s turning into a novel, or an e-novel. I welcome you to join me in the ongoing discussion. I do ask that we treat one another with respect and civility as we continue the dialogue.
  • Rob Myers | Fri Feb 1st 2008 6:08 a.m.
    If an artist is worried about people stealing their work, they need to talk to the gallery about getting security guards or improving the locks on the windows and doors. If an artist has confused "stealing" with people being inspired by their work, they probably shouldn't exhibit their work. Nobody is forcing them to. And if an artist has this confusion and still wants to exhibit their work while trying to force their audience, including other artists, to behave in a particular way then that isn't something anyone else should feel particularly bad about ignoring.

    Coca Cola either won't care about an artist's idea or will have much more expensive lawyers and a much larger patent portfolio than than them. If receiving power and control over others is an acceptable substitute for participating in artistic society then politics or HR are probably better career options than art is.

    Artists such as Picasso used the mass media and industrial manufacturing techniques in their work from the start of the 20th Century. What if they had infringed on an art method patent? We would not be discussing them now, and they would not have gained reputations that can be invoked in the name of IP Maximalism. The Mona Lisa has not become less valuable due to the endless millions of reproductions of it. Thomas Kinkade's work has not become artistically any better through reproduction either.

    A world in which an artist asserts their authority (what authority???) over others is a world in which others are entitled to authority over them. Unless an artist feels that they will be one of the bosses in this brave new artistic culture they probably shouldn't try to bring it about. And if they do feel they will be one of the bosses, they are concerned with matters quite outside of what actually creates the value of art.

    A mediaeval guild system of secret methods and masters is a poor fit to the open space of the Internet or to contemporary artistic society. It is not a solution to any actual problems faced by artists or society. And by trying to afford a few artists an economic advantage over their peers it furthers the cause of controlling and exclusionary legal creep in society as a whole.
  • Pall Thayer | Fri Feb 1st 2008 9:03 p.m.
    Since I started this thread I feel I have to inject something although I've been very busy with opening my exhibition in Stockholm and now with open-sourcing the code for the work (yes, I had to mention it!)

    Rob's reply is excellent as far as my own views go. I really like this statement "If an artist has confused 'stealing' with being inspired by their work..." Roz, I think we are diametrically opposed on these issues and nothing either of us says is going to convince the other of the merits of their argument. But I'm still going to say that on the off chance that you are rewarded your patent (I still don't think you're going to get it), I believe it will backfire on you, at least artistically. I just can't believe that the wider 'art community' is willing to accept someone taking ownership over creative methods and it will result in the work simply not being taken seriously. It's just plain wrong. How many artist's ideas did you 'steal' on the road to 'your' idea? Also, on the off chance that you are rewarded the patent, if you attempt to enforce it, I think it's going to crumble. I say this simply based on what I saw. Again, you can't patent methods that are already in widespread use.

    Aside from all this, I think you're very wrong about [paraphrased] "artists working on their techniques privately" and "showing/marketing their work to select venues." Seurat and Picasso both belonged to informal communities of artists that visited each others studios and shared ideas and methods. Most artists of Seurat's times (including Seurat himself) sought to get their work accepted to the Paris Salons and later the "alternative" salons such as the Salon des Refuses and Salon d'Automns which were all the "mass media" of art at the time. Picasso and Braque's collaboration on ideas and methods is legendary, as are Picasso's nosy visits to fellow artist's studios to see what they were up to. Of course there is also the team of Gaugin and van Gogh who purposely teamed up to share openly. And what about the Barbizon School, most of whom also showed their work at the Paris Salons? Funny how history remembers so well these artists who were into sharing their ideas so openly. Those who so unabashedly 'stole' and allowed others to 'steal' from them.

    I can at the very least say for myself that I have never 'stolen' anything that I didn't find absolutely fabulous.

    Pall
  • Joe Edit | Sat Feb 2nd 2008 1:04 a.m.
    I'm still confused here.
    Is the patent the copying of images projected by a light source (might piss off all the photorealiists who engaged in a similar activity for years) or is it the web site that portrays the event? So using a tablet is original,
    As far as I can see the images are photoshop collages, the thing we see everwhere. Would Rauschenberg hold the previous patent.
    Either seem trivial, but the process of patenting is at least interesting.
    Can I issue lies about it?
    Does Steve Read now this is going on?
    questions, questions.
  • MTAA | Sat Feb 2nd 2008 11:13 a.m.
    Hi,

    Lurking a tad on this thread...

    To Joe Edit "what is the patent?"

    What I can glean is that the patent has to do with appropriating images but bringing along some metadata about author, etc of the original image in the appropriation, and doing so in a real-time way, i.e. the appropriation artist can 'paint' the image and the metadata stays intact and attached.

    Roz Dimon, is that correct?
  • Philip Galanter | Sat Feb 2nd 2008 11:21 a.m.
    Some observations about some things that have been said...

    ** Regarding the idea that an artist applies for a patent because they are worried about people stealing their work.

    There is an ambiguity in using the term "work" here. If by "work" one means the art pieces themselves...the look, the meaning, the style, specific graphic elements...patents can't be used in the first place. Some are, at best, objects for copyright protection, and pure art ideas enjoy no form of protection by patent, copyright, or any other legal status.

    But "work" here can also mean the hours and hours of *labor* it takes to develop and perfect a process, without any reference to the specific works the artist happens to produce. This is not at all the same as, say, being inspired by impressionist or cubist paintings and responding to those styles or ideas in one's own paintings. It is more like inventing a new way to make paint, or a new technology in photography lenses, and so on.

    In other words *art ideas*, the content of the artists work, are not the issue here. That's still a free for all. They simply aren't patentable. What is being protected is a new technology that might be used to paint art or might be used to paint machine parts or road signs. Or a technology that might be used in fine art photography or commercial catalog work.

    Put another way, this is a case of an inventor with a patentable invention. And it just so happens that the inventor in question is an artist. And it just so happens that the invention is useful to artists as well as (perhaps) others.

    This leads to the next observation...

    ** It would be useful if those who object to this proposed use of a patent would be more specific as to whether there is something special they object to when artists apply for patents, or whether they are simply against patents in general and by all inventors.

    If the objection is very specific to artists applying for patents, and is not an objection to patents in general, then I've yet to see that objection well defended here. Again, keep in mind that what is going to be patented is *not* an art idea, but rather a technology that just happens to be useful to artists or was invented by someone who just happens to be an artist. It is arguable as to whether the evolution of art ideas emerge from a unique (cross) culture in a way that is different from other ideas. But that's not the question here. I see nothing unique about the process of innovation required to invent new *technologies* that are useful to artists as opposed to engineers or businessmen that would argue for treating it as a special case. And I've seen no case for that being made here.

    If the objection is actually merely an instance of a wider objection to patents in general, that launches a much different kind of discussion. It invokes, for example, a general discussion of property rights, capitalism versus the alternatives, game theory and the economic psychology of incentive structures, and on and on. I frankly doubt whether a good case could be made in this problem space by any "side" using this medium. It's just too big and too complex.

    But for the purposes of this particular discussion I would simply ask why a single artist, likely with modest resources and competing with large companies with much stronger legal, technical, and funding resources, is the best place to fight a battle against all patents? For the duration of this battle, can't we allow the marginal protections patents afford the "little guy" while the general war against patents is waged against the "big guys?"

    ** Finally, regarding the idea that other artists and the art-world will shun artwork that is associated with patented technical processes...

    Ummm, see that computer sitting in front of you? The one you use to make pieces? It's full of patented technology. Are you going to stop using it? Do you expect the art-world to shun your pieces if you don't? Or is this again a special (negative) case? That it's OK to use patented technology to make art, so long as the patent isn't held by an artist?
  • Roz Dimon | Sat Feb 2nd 2008 3:28 p.m.
    Philip - I couldn't have said it better myself... Roz
  • Joe Edit | Sun Feb 3rd 2008 3:04 a.m.
    OK then, I think I get the gist of it.
    I have to side with Pall here though. This patent is corporate speak, the same 'speak' that is depleting the oceans of life, ruining the atmosphere through greed and consumption, and ignoring the end of our ecosystem.
    If Roz had an iota of conscience she wouldn't have brought this up . And no, you don't get to say "well that was the point"
    Not a lot of time left for frivolous art, and silly self aggrandizement.
    Free ideas allow for quicker actions than corporate mandates.
    Stop this vector in its tracks. Time is running out, and this ain't just a comment.
    http://www.slanderous.org
  • Rob Myers | Sun Feb 3rd 2008 1:06 p.m.
    ** Regarding the idea that an artist applies for a patent because they are worried about people stealing their work.

    It is important to recognize that, by the inventor's own admission, this is a patent on an artistic process intended to exert control over other artists.This is a restriction on use of an artistic process announced on an arts web site, to a community of artists. We cannot ignore the content based on the form.

    ** It would be useful if those who object to this proposed use of a patent would be more specific as to whether there is something special they object to when artists apply for patents, or whether they are simply against patents in general and by all inventors.

    There is more than one kind of patent: medicine, software, business method, manufacturing process, mechanism, someone even tried for a story patent the other year. These are clearly not the same kind of patent, and one does not have to believe that they are all equally valid.

    There is more than one practical reason why one might oppose a given class of patents. Medical patents are killing people in the third world. Software patents make maths patentable, breaking the US constitution. Business method patents allow intangible things to be patented.

    There is more than one reason to believe that patents can be valid. One can believe that they are indeed a strange new form of property. Or one can believe they are a legal construct. Or one can believe they are a product of the constitution (if one is American). Or one can believe they are a means to encourage disclosure, and a reward for doing so. One can believe that they are an economic incentive. One can believe that they are a limited monopoly. One can believe that they are an alienable, claimable right over one's invention. One can believe some, all, or none of the above.

    There is more than one ideological reason why one might oppose some or all kinds of patents. One might be criticizing property in general if one accepts patents as property. One might think that they lead to market inefficiencies. One might oppose monopolies of all kinds. One might believe studies that show that first adopter advantage is sufficient. One might oppose government intervention in the economy. And so on.

    One need not accept that all patents of all kinds are valid. There are many reasons why a particular patent of a particular kind might be problematic. They might be obvious. There might be prior art. They might be socially or economically harmful (a recent FCC decision hinged on this). They might be trying to apply a particular kind of patent to something they were not intended to. The effects of large numbers of patents of a particular kind held by a few actors might be harmful where a single patent is not. This is not an exhaustive list.

    All of this shows that there are no simple binary oppositions to be had in considering patents. In particular there is no simple binary opposition between believing that patents are a form of property and are valid, or believing that they are a form of property and invalid.

    ** But for the purposes of this particular discussion I would simply ask why a single artist, likely with modest resources and competing with large companies with much stronger legal, technical, and funding resources, is the best place to fight a battle against all patents? For the duration of this battle, can't we allow the marginal protections patents afford the "little guy" while the general war against patents is waged against the "big guys?"

    It is not the best place. It is the place that has intruded into Rhizome. I oppose IP Maximalism elsewhere, so I don't see why I shouldn't oppose it on an arts web site that I'm a member of.

    When a large corporation comes onto Rhizome and announced their intent to start restricting artistic freedom through patents I will oppose them here as well.

    IP Maximalists *always* plead for protection for the little guy. It is like landlords pleading for stronger eviction law so they can empty up properties to house the homeless. It's chutzpah, not ethics, and examining recent legal history shows just how well small patent holders do against large patent portfolios.

    ** Ummm, see that computer sitting in front of you? The one you use to make pieces? It's full of patented technology. Are you going to stop using it? Do you expect the art-world to shun your pieces if you don't? Or is this again a special (negative) case? That it's OK to use patented technology to make art, so long as the patent isn't held by an artist?

    None of the patents on my laptop were taken out specifically to control my ability to make art with it. So this really doesn't compare. And we have already established that you don't have to oppose either all kinds of patents or none.

    Rather than accepting the harm of hardware patents and seeking to extend this to art, I support free hardware projects and work to prevent the harm of patenting wherever it arises.

    Including in art.

    And rather than accepting the harm of restrictions of artistic freedom and seeking to extend this to the rest of society, I support free culture projects and work to prevent the harm of restrictions of artistic freedom however they are expressed.

    Including through patents.
  • MTAA | Sun Feb 3rd 2008 2:18 p.m.
    ... just kinda jumping into the middle here ...

    re: artistic processes

    Is there an 'artistic process' ?? Something that can be used only exclusively for the making of art? I can't think of one... Even something as clearly defined as 'art' as oil painting. For example, the process of mixing pigment with linseed oil may be used to create paint that a fine artist uses or for a wall painter. If you expand the definition further: mix pigment with linseed oil and apply it to a light-weight canvas stretched over a frame -- then that's something that a fine artist could use, but a sign painter could use it as well.

    I guess my point is that to speak of someone trying to patent an 'artistic process' is a bit of a straw-man. Perhaps it's just a quibble as I could see how someone could attempt to patent a process that is extremely important to artists without that process being exclusively an 'artistic process.'

    But when you imagine someone trying to patent the process of oil painting -- and the enormous problems *that* would have caused -- then one can see why artists are somewhat outraged by the idea of patents on processes that could hinder their activities as artists. But as Phillip pointed out, most of us are using formats and processes that are patented. The restrictions are somewhat invisible to most of us as we get licenses to use these processes when we buy software and computers. (Except for the hardcore FOSS users -- and even that is arguable.)

    I'm curious, does anyone know, if oil painting were invented today, could it be patented? (Imagine that the only prior art is what existed when oil painting was invented -- egg tempura, fresco, etc)

  • MTAA | Sun Feb 3rd 2008 2:32 p.m.
    ... just kinda jumping into the middle here ...

    re: artistic processes

    Is there an 'artistic process' ?? Something that can be used only exclusively for the making of art? I can't think of one... Even something as clearly defined as 'art' as oil painting. For example, the process of mixing pigment with linseed oil may be used to create paint that a fine artist uses or for a wall painter. If you expand the definition further: mix pigment with linseed oil and apply it to a light-weight canvas stretched over a frame -- then that's something that a fine artist could use, but a sign painter could use it as well.

    I guess my point is that to speak of someone trying to patent an 'artistic process' is a bit of a straw-man. Perhaps it's just a quibble as I could see how someone could attempt to patent a process that is extremely important to artists without that process being exclusively an 'artistic process.'

    But when you imagine someone trying to patent the process of oil painting -- and the enormous problems *that* would have caused -- then one can see why artists are somewhat outraged by the idea of patents on processes that could hinder their activities as artists. But as Phillip pointed out, most of us are using formats and processes that are patented. The restrictions are somewhat invisible to most of us as we get licenses to use these processes when we buy software and computers. (Except for the hardcore FOSS users -- and even that is arguable.)

    I'm curious, does anyone know, if oil painting were invented today, could it be patented? (Imagine that the only prior art is what existed when oil painting was invented -- egg tempura, fresco, etc)

  • Ethan Ham | Mon Feb 4th 2008 10:04 a.m.
    I just skimmed the conversation (it is a getting pretty long).

    What stood out to me is Roz's statement that I am not going to try to explain here exactly what it is I'm patenting, because yes it is "patent-pending" and my lawyer would not advise it.

    If it's patent-pending, then you're safe to tell us what the idea is... if someone copies it after you put in the patent paperwork, they are liable for paying damages. (Though it would be unfortunate to take the route of suing other artists... we all borrow and build upon each others' ideas and techniques).

    If simply telling us what the idea is (as opposed to explaining how it is done) gives it all away, then it seems like it is a pretty trivial idea patent-wise. I'm not saying that it is trivial artistically or what-have-you, but perhaps it is technically obvious.

    Based on that second point, you may want to keep the idea to yourself, because it probably isn't patentable (you cannot patent the obvious) and then the only way to protect is as a "trade secret." But looking at your project I don't see anything that causes me to wonder, "Gee, how did he do THAT!" So perhaps the best idea is to share and to hope to gain credit for being the person to promote the idea.

    My last thought is a concern for you that a lawyer may simply be soaking up your money even though there isn't a patent to be had.
  • Roz Dimon | Tue Feb 12th 2008 12:54 a.m.
    This thread's getting long I agree. A few thoughts before signing out of this one:

    SHARING/CREATIVE COLLABORATION/REFERENCING/STEALING

    Sharing is an act of giving -- authorized in some part by the giver.

    Creative Collaboration is something both parties agree to. I wrote in this thread earlier that anyone who wants to creatively collaborate with me should send me a proposal via email.

    Referencing: All of art somehow references itself all the way back to the first drawing on the cave wall. At the
    same time we are all part of a larger social order, an original voice often still erupts not from the pack, but from the individual. We wouldn't want to lose that celebration of or recognition of individuality even as we go forward in a complex visual world that requires increasing collaboration. When words reached a global high in literacy, footnoting was part of the equation, giving credibility to all words & ideas while still coming under the name of one book by one author. (And the discussion we are having here is also going on in the writers’ world today where authors' words are being copied without citing sources, but on the other hand freedoms are sometimes being repressed in the protection of the same. A similar conundrum that we have here.)

    Stealing is theft, and I would argue that the artistic glorification of it is getting a bit worn, especially in our Information Age where there is so much information free for the taking and yet it is so difficult to protect one's words, images and ideas. Perhaps we need a new honor code much like Creative Commons adds on top of the copyright -- but one that addresses patents. A friend of mine stated that we probably won't figure all this out for another 50 years as the internet has turned our world upside-down as regards the blurring of so many issues (mentioned in a post above that I made Jan. 31) This discussion is a beginning...

    AN IMAGE IS WORTH A THOUSAND IMAGES
    I think the calling for the next generation of artists is to bring meaning, understanding, yes beauty to our contemporary world. While I admire Duchamp's brilliance, we don't need another urinal to understand how nuts, evil or mad the world is. Innocence may be forever lost but there is still possibility for meaning and understanding - especially in a world where one has access to and can digest so many points of view at once. (Someone here argued "and what if Duchamp had patented the ready-made?" That made me laugh as I feel we have more ready-mades and conceptual art than we need at this point... a statement like this is most brilliant in it's first offering, just like Warhol's soup cans. It can be re-enacted over and over with some degree of excitement but it gradually loses its edge and connectivity to the world.)

    PAINTING WITH A NEW BRUSH
    Time to move forward. We are on the cusp of a golden age of painting with a new brush. Yes - photography is taking the 2nd position as we load our brush with all media. We digital image-makers could be where wordsmiths were in the time of Shakespeare, (as an outcome of the Gutenberg Press) but we have to take the reins and go for it. We are in a new Information Painting Age -- Do we degrade it, hack it or take it to new heights working within the world? I'm for the latter. Artists today have an opportunity to create beauty that brings sense to the world - a call to make complex things comprehensible and accessible; in the process making a radical break with the current concept of "avant-garde." (Which at this point usually lands art in the back pages of Arts & Leisure... closer to Leisure. Yawn.)

    COPYRIGHT/PATENT/TRADEMARK
    To Erika Lincoln... thank you for your post where you attempt to clarify the differences between patents/copyright/trademarks and where you end with "There are more, personality rights, ect. Law is a complex thing but to say that it is evil is not fair and a simplified response. I think that as an artist one should be aware of all of these things -- that does not mean be an expert."

    I am not an expert either but I do know that patents last, at the most, 17 years, (whereas copyright law has become increasingly more restrictive, lasting in some cases now a lifetime!) and have to be continually revised and updated (and yes, my lawyer will probably make a lot more than I ever will) and then the patent expires so all can jump in. Trade secrets can be taken to the grave and I'm not big on secrets but I do like some protection from theft. You're correct Ethan. If I were more ruthless and ONLY driven by money it would be smarter not to share any of this online. However everything is not mutually exclusive. I didn't set out to create a process that is inventive and patentable, but I think I have - we'll see. I like to share and yes, I also like to make money. And what's so bad with getting the patent, starting a DIMONscapesTM school and teaching the method to others? Or as I stated above - working with Creative Commons to somehow change how this whole process works? However, I would first have to have a patent to do so. Even they state that it is advisable to first have a copyright to use their system - which is for copyrighting not patenting. One reason I would really like to succeed in licensing this process is so I can, yes, develop and share my process while making some $$, and who knows, maybe make a small dent for the better in the new landscape.

    Trademarks: I agree with Marshall McLuhan that naming things is important in the Information World. It helps one identify something that is new, as how else to easily explain a new concept as one talks about it with others over and over? Remember that word Daguerreotype? I've trademarked this artwork DIMONscapesTM. After working 30 years to make something I truly feel is unique, I'd like my name to be associated with it. Plus I think it's a good name for the more high-end, complex side of the process, which is where I want to focus, both alone in my studio and in creative collaboration with others. (Hey it may look simple but that's part of the new calling: taking complexity and making it look easy, understandable... that doesn't mean it isn't hard as hell to do.)

    MONEY/WORTH
    I have always preferred insurrection from within. No amount of screaming and whining about patents while professing to be "artists who love to steal" will do a whit to change patent law. At the same time, there is a duality to every system for both good and evil so I understand the concerns expressed here as regards patents. Even though they were designed to "promote the progress of science and useful arts," human beings have an extraordinary way of messing things up. So yes patents aren't perfect. However, I think I've explained that messy or not, I’m going for it.

    CAPITALISM, SEX GODDESSES, ART and THE WORLD
    Capitalism has lots of faults; however, it’s still the system I prefer to work in even as I sometimes rail against it. An individual should be able to protect an idea for a given time unless it is crucial for world peace -- which, while I feel the DIMONscapesTM are important, they probably don't qualify. (On the other hand, Hedy Lamarr & George Antheil’s patent for Spread Spectrum Technology was rather important along those lines, although neither she nor he made a dime from it.*) Artists should not be exempt from such protections as we are not gods but mere mortals. (Of course I speak for myself.) To make real change in the world, artists have to come down off their pedestals and work IN the world. By bringing this discussion to Rhizome I think it invigorates our thinking on all these issues and regardless of our disagreements, it’s not detrimental to art or artists or Rhizome... it's exciting.

    If I don't get the patent I'll hold a party at Rhizome and we can all toast one another's mutual health and visual sharing/exploitation going into the future.

    Sincerely yours,

    “capitalistpiglet.com terrible”

    *Who were both artists and scientists respectively; she, an actress (Ecstasy) and he, a musician.

  • Joe Edit | Wed Feb 13th 2008 3:17 a.m.
    sure sure, yeah yeah,
    but is it Art_Worthy?
    you can patent all kinds of ideas, some silly, some clever, some devious...
    but that still ain't art.
    send me an aesthetic and then we'll talk, for now..., make money not art.
    good vibes were had by all.
    Joe
    ****************************************************
    *http://www.slanderous.org *
    *archived for at least another month *
    *****************************************************
  • Pall Thayer | Thu Feb 14th 2008 5:28 a.m.
    The way I see it, practicing art-creation is to participate in a communal effort towards the advancement of sense-based culture. Anything I do feeds off of the ideas previously worked on and, if relevant or any good, feeds what is yet to come. Regardless of relevance and/or quality, it all goes back into "the pool." Every now and then someone comes along and manages to arrange the drops in that pool in a manner that brings them a lot of attention. They sell a bunch of work, make some money, good for them. But they continue contributing to and taking away from that pool. Making money off their art means that they are able to concentrate more on their art and contribute even more to the pool which is good for everyone. I wonder if we can retroactively apply the Gnu Public License to the history of art. That way if you take from the pool and then try to lock up what you do in another license, you lose your right to anything from the pool. It would be interesting to see what's left of people's work when that's all been removed.

    I was the one who posed the question "what if Duchamp had patented the ready-made?" It's interesting that you should mention Warhol after referencing that statement because his soup-cans may never have existed if Duchamp had gotten a patent. Richard Hamilton's work would almost certainly have infringed on that patent. Even if Warhol would have come up with his ideas without the precedence of the early British pop artists, his work would have lacked relevance to recent "advancements" in the visual arts.

    Sharing is NOT "an act of giving." It is an act of giving AND taking.

    Pall
  • Philip Galanter | Thu Feb 14th 2008 10:26 a.m.
    Anything I do feeds off of the ideas previously worked on and, if relevant or any good, feeds what is yet to come. "

    etc.

    This kind of argument could be said about virtually any form of human invention in any field. It is an argument against all forms of patent. But not a successful one I think.

    A patent is not meant to say "here is an invention that owes nothing to the past." It merely designates an invention that offers a novel incremental improvement over then current technology. And it rewards the inventor for finite period of time in exchange for first making the invention public knowledge.

    You seem to assume that sharing should be mandatory and an axiom of public policy. Others would point out that economic systems that don't reward individual achievement tend to be less productive. Besides, if sharing is made mandatory in law against the will of those who innovate, it's not really what we normally think of as sharing. Being forced to give, or allowed to take without permission, is more like theft. A patent, by contrast, paves the way for a fair exchange of value. I.e. both sides of the transaction are allowed choice in participation, and both sides have something to give and something to gain.
  • Pall Thayer | Thu Feb 14th 2008 11:06 a.m.
    Philip, I don't recall saying anything about mandating anything. I'm expressing certain views and opinions, not suggesting laws. Yes, my argument could be "said about virtually any form of human invention in any field" but that's not what we're talking about. We're talking about art and there are certain precedents involved.

    Art has evolved and built up through a flexible, free and open exchange of methods and ideas. It's worked wonders till now, why should we stop? My comments here are an appeal to conscience. Sure, we know what individual artists might gain from patenting artistic methods or ideas but what does art in more general terms gain?

    Pall
  • Rob Myers | Thu Feb 14th 2008 11:55 a.m.
    Warhol had trouble with patent infringement. He commissioned some 3D photos (based on the flowers series he'd already lost a copyright lawsuit over) using a Japanese system that infringed on a US patent at the time and then tried to import them.

    Economic systems that punish individual achievement are even worse than those that fail to reward it. The current patent system has that effect in software and business methods. It also produces perverse incentives in medicine. Art method patents are a clear parallel to business method patents and so fall under the same general critique whatever the relative merits of other kinds of patents.
  • Philip Galanter | Thu Feb 14th 2008 8:24 p.m.
    In the US patents come more or less directly from article 1 of the constitution as one of the enumerated powers of Congress.

    "To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;"

    I tend to assume that when people argue against patents they are implying that the laws should be changed. I suppose another stand might be to advocate keeping the patent laws as they are, but making such a strong moral case that few will want to apply for them.

    The founders thought patents and copyrights to be so important that they wrote them into the constitution. That's also a system that has worked wonders.

    Art doesn't trump all other concerns, and I've heard no reason to think that innovation in art is helped or hurt by patents any more or less than in any other field. The burden of proof should fall upon those who present special pleading, and hand waving about special "free exchange of methods and ideas" in art is just a restatement of the question, not evidence. And again, art ideas cannot be patented so that's a non-issue.

    Methods historically *have* been kept secret by some artists, and some of those methods have died with those artists. By contrast, patents put such methods in the public record, and after 17 years (a relatively short time in terms of art history) those methods are essentially in the public domain for free use by all. So patents do not endanger public dialog, nor do they impede progress. They, in fact, encourage both in the arts as well as other fields.

  • Pall Thayer | Fri Feb 15th 2008 5:56 a.m.
    Philip, I don't think you're doing your argument much justice by pointing out that "some artists" have kept secrets. All this does is suggest that most artists haven't kept secrets. That the "traditional norm" is to share.

    Please explain to me how you think that artists patenting their methods is going to "encourage" progress. Because 17 years later we're all free to use them? That's 17 years of impeded progress in my book.
  • Philip Galanter | Fri Feb 15th 2008 10:51 a.m.
    It's not just a question of how soon can the general public use a patented process for free. It's also a question of providing an incentive structure to not only make discoveries public, but to also give the discoverer an incentive to work on making the discovery in the first place.

    First, mostly for others following along, remember that patents on a process that can be used to make art does not in any way impact the art ideas embodied in the work, nor does it impact the use of similar looks or styles or other aesthetic aspects. Those are still all up for grabs.

    To put it figuratively, a patent *cannot* restrict others as to what they paint, or why they paint, or what a painting means. A patent cannot keep others from joining an art movement, or prevent an art movement from forming, or otherwise prevent others from exchanging, responding to, or even parroting a new art genre or set of art ideas. What a patent *can* do is allow an inventor to make a profit from discovering a new way to make paint.

    Progress in art is much more about all of those aspects mentioned that patents cannot touch. The vast vast majority of artists do not engage in activity that leads to patentable discoveries. And most discoveries that are patentable and of use to artists (1) are not discovered by artists and (2) have more lucrative applications *outside* of art.

    The reason patents encourage progress then, in the above context where most progress in art cannot be impeded by patents anyway, is that it provides an incentive to work on such discoveries by those who, for the most part, are not artists and perhaps not terribly interested in art per se in the first place. E.g. few research chemists are going to apply years of learning and years of research to discover a new way to make paint that will then be given away for free and leave them with no return on their investment in the form of hard work.

  • Erika Lincoln | Fri Feb 15th 2008 12:19 p.m.
    Do artists have special status? In some of the posts there seems to be an attitude that somehow artists are above the law. Is it that some artists think that they operate in some parallel universe outside of the social contract?
  • Pall Thayer | Fri Feb 15th 2008 12:57 p.m.
    Do artists have special status?"
    Well, yes. They do. Artists have long enjoyed (informal) special status in society. Are they above the law? No and nothing of the sort has been suggested. I'm not saying that artists should ignore patents as if they didn't exist. All I'm saying is that it is wrong for artists to attempt to patent their artistic methods; Methods used to produce a specific type of art.

    Philip, I'm not really sure about your entries into this discussion because we're not talking about the patented technology in computers and we're not talking about patenting a new type of paint. We're talking about the fact that it appears as though Roz is attempting to patent the methods she uses to produce her DemonScapes(tm!) (not the tools). She has suggested herself that she may enforce the patent against use by other artists unless they're working in collaboration with her (or something along those lines). People and companies are successfully patenting methods that don't involve any physical invention as such; surgical procedures, algorithms, etc. So, if her method is deemed unique enough to warrant a patent, then she will effectively, based on her statements, have patented a method for producing works of art. All of us on this list who are practicing artists know that the production of a work of art involves more than "what you paint", "why you paint", or "what a painting means." It also involves methods.
  • MTAA | Sat Feb 16th 2008 10:37 a.m.
  • Erika Lincoln | Mon Feb 18th 2008 10:17 a.m.
    Pall, I don't necessarily agree with you , but i will rephrase my statement. Do artists have some special status where they are above the law.

  • patrick lichty | Mon Feb 18th 2008 11:02 a.m.
    As a polemic statement, I will say - "Yes!".
  • Pall Thayer | Mon Feb 18th 2008 12:08 p.m.
    Erika, I was going to say "no" but after Patrick's polemic statement(!) I'm going to say that the law becomes slightly more flexible when it pertains to artwork. I guess you could argue that it's the artwork rather than the artists. I don't know, I don't care. What does it have to do with the patenting of artistic methods?
  • Pall Thayer | Mon Feb 18th 2008 12:20 p.m.
    Erika, I was going to say "no" but after Patrick's polemic statement(!) I'm going to say that the law becomes slightly more flexible when it pertains to artwork. I guess you could argue that it's the artwork rather than the artists. I don't know, I don't care. What does it have to do with the patenting of artistic methods?
  • Erika Lincoln | Mon Feb 18th 2008 8:43 p.m.
    Pall, what I posted has nothing to do with the patenting of artistic methods. It has to do with the language of the posts, not only yours but others as well.

    Patrick, As a polenta statement, I will say- "maybe
  • Pall Thayer | Tue Feb 19th 2008 6:14 a.m.
    The only thing that's been said about artists "breaking the law" (as far as I recall) regards so-called "stealing" of ideas, which I think Rob Myers quite correctly pointed out, is a misleading way of saying "inspired by" or "influenced by."
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