Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Boing Boing: LACMA's Magritte exhibit: This is not fair use:

Inside, they've hung many of Magritte's famous works, and, accompanying these works, they've placed dozens of contemporary sculptures and paintings that riff off of Magritte, making fun of him or paying homage to him or commenting on him. These are canonical fair uses -- an artist who takes from another artist and uses his work to make new work. In these other works, from the likes of Warhol and Antin, there are instances of Magritte's work being duplicated in photos and paint.

So far so good -- there's a clear message from the paintings in the exhibit: culture is well-served by liberal rules that let one person remix another's creation.

But that message is undermined by the exhibition policy on photos: no photos are allowed in the exhibit. If you take out your camera, one of the bowler-hatted guards will come up to you and shout at you (literally shout at you!): "No photos allowed!" They won't even let you take out a phone or PDA and make notes with it, in case you're sneakily taking photos on the premises.

This is a riddle: does the Magritte exhibition celebrate fair use, or deny it? Does it want to inspire us to remix Magritte, or warn us off the idea of reproduction without permission?

5:27 AM