Newton South’s after prom party takes place at the high school, which is a nice way to avoid having kids out on the roads at 4:00 in the morning. Parents go all out to transform the space. The theme this year was music, and my hall was “Remix”. Others were Rock and Roll, Reggae, and Disco, to name a few. I tried to do visually what Remix artists do with music — that is, to borrow, warp, repeat, interrupt. Most of the photographs were originals that I took in and around Newton and Brookline, MA. Most were changed with photoshop elements. A few images here and there (esp. the skateboarders) were downloads from the internet. Although the eleven 4′ x 4′ collage panels were interesting in and of themselves, the overall effect was somewhat disappointing.
The collage above (not one of the 11) is on foam core board and hung from the ceiling. It’s 8′ x 4′ and includes a Lawrence Lessig quote (about 2/3’s showing above). The full quote, from the introduction to his book, Remix, reads as follows:
I then want to spotlight the damage we’re not thinking enough about — the harm to a generation from rendering criminal what comes naturally to them.
Here are some more pictures, all from the Liberty panel:
Here are some close ups of collage from the lavender paper pieces, which, as I said, were about four feet square —
Most of the parents helping me hang the decorations didn’t know what Remix was, which made me feel a little better, because before I heard Lessig’s interview on NPR some months back, I didn’t either.
Lessig is not anti-copyright, by the way, and does not advocate piracy. However, he makes the argument that copyright laws do not fit the current landscape and badly need updating. No one would ever expect a high school student to get permission to quote Thoreau, say, or Whitman, in a paper. And yet, the maker of a YouTube snippet using 40 seconds of badly recorded music (in other words, not a potential source for an illegal download) can and has been sued.
Since digital technology has ‘democratized’ the ability to create with music and images in a way unimaginable twenty years ago, we now have an entire generation of people comfortable and adept at documenting their experience with sound and image, and laws designed to address movies and books. These young people are obviously not a group paying enormous sums to lobbyists to protect and promote their interests. If you read “Remix”, you will not be surprised to find out that Lessig’s expertise and frustration with the difficulty in changing outdated copyright regulations has segued into a new focus, which is advocating that MONEY be subtracted from lawmaking. It just keeps producing the wrong result (is GM even listening?!!)
I recommend Lessig’s book and his blog.