Re: [Frameworks] UbuWeb...HACKED!

From: Jason Halprin (email suppressed)
Date: Thu Oct 14 2010 - 15:41:00 PDT


Thank you for reminding me that without respectful difference of opinion,
Frameworks would be a much less interesting place (space?).

Perhaps I was again unclear it what I meant regarding Ubuweb and their practice.
They are justified in "nudging art into the digital light." They should be
commended for this. However, the past practice (and I emphasize, past practice)
of public shaming was disrespectful to the same people and work they champion.
As you point out this is not their current behavior, and they seem to have
struck a better balance.

Although I'm note well versed enough with Habermas' theory to contribute on your
point of co-ownership, I have always assumed that at the moment one makes a work
of art public, they are no longer the sole owner of that work. However, art is
an attempt at communication, and is therefore individual and human. Upon sharing
ones artwork, control of the meaning and interpretation of that work becomes
shared with the audience. Authorial intent is indeed not privileged in this
exchange. However, IMO, the artist should also have free will in deciding
whether or not their work will continue to be presented publicly, and in the
ways which it will be presented. To decide that it shall not continue to be
viewed is as valid a choice as a creative commons license, a limited edition
DVD, or free distribution online.

This is separate from what is in your head. That was done, as you put it, at the
invitation of the creator. You can and should recount your viewing and reading,
to yourself and others. But the obligation of the artist in not infinite once
this exchange has been initiated, and I will support anyone's reasonable or
unreasonable desire to withdraw work from view. Much as I will advocate that
they share it in the first place.

-Jason Halprin

From: David Tetzlaff <email suppressed>
To: Experimental Film Discussion List <email suppressed>
Sent: Thu, October 14, 2010 11:05:18 AM
Subject: Re: [Frameworks] UbuWeb...HACKED!

On Oct 14, 2010, at 1:24 PM, Jason Halprin wrote:

> Do the rights and wants of the creator outweigh those of the public?
> My answer has always been that will the author of a work is still
> alive, they should maintain as much control as they desire.

I must disagree. Once an artist has presented work to the public, they
have initiated a conversation. And in any conversation, all parties
should have a certain say in the matter, some degree of co-ownership.
(Check with Habermas on this if you want to argue the point ;-) I
don't know if it's an issue of 'rights', or just decency. And I'm not
suggesting that all concerns are equal or anything goes.

Once an artist makes a work public, it goes into the heads of people
who see/read/hear/whatever it. This happens, in effect, at the
creator's invitation. An author should not have "control" over my
head, or any part of it. Most artists take reasonable positions about
their work, consistent to some degree with the idea that they have
established a kind of trust or relationship by showing it. But not
all. For example, when an artist withdraws work from view entirely, or
has it destroyed, IMHO this violates the obligation they established
with the public by inviting them in in the first place.

I would also argue that people who present artwork in public have an
obligation not just to the audience, but to the historical practice of
the form in which they work. They and their work are not isolated
monads, but part of a thread of things that have come before and
things that will come after. The past and the future should have a say
as well.

On the evidence of what's available in the video section of UbuWeb,
I'd say their present policies strike a reasonable, even fairly
conservative balance between the legitimate claims of both authors and
audiences. They don't put up just anything, and they take stuff down
if there's a complaint.

Beth Capper noted that the online availability of Cpry Doctorow's
books has not kept them from becoming bestsellers and asks:

> Could it perhaps be a misconception that forcing scarcity (esp. in
> the case of digital works) is a good business model?

There's no perhaps about it. (And I take Beth's use of 'business' to
be figurative, referring not just to financial gain, but to broader
objectives of aesthetic practice). All evidence shows that the value/
desirability of cultural products in the form of data/information (as
distinct from the value of discrete physical objects) tends to
INCREASE with it's circulation. The code for Mozilla, for example,
wouldn't have been worth anything if nobody used it. Obviously, this
is not true in all cases, and where it does apply, it is not a simple
mechanism. It is especially tricky to know where the balance is with
something like an experimental film, which is not cheap to make and
most likely has a relatively limited potential audience (compared to a
Tom Cruise movie at least).

Unquestionably, UbuWeb generates interest in the artists whose work
appears on their site, interest that would not exists otherwise,
interest that provides a variety of opportunities to artists that they
would not otherwise have. UbuWeb helps us weave different pieces of
work into meaningful historical threads, and provides a source of
inspiration for artists of the future. For that reason alone, I feel
they are fully justified in nudging art into the digital light,
instead of waiting for volunteers.

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