?

Log in

No account? Create an account
Microproperty in Flow World - click opera
February 2010
 
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
 
 
 
 
 
 
Page 1 of 2
[1] [2]
Sun, Apr. 1st, 2007 06:02 am
Microproperty in Flow World

Hello. Today I want to push some ideas past your eyeballs. I've numbered them, and I welcome your comments. They're about the erosion of the idea of property in "Flow World". I want to start with a little quote I lifted -- shoplifted, in fact -- from Streetwear Today magazine yesterday. I think this quote illustrates something we could call "ownership's infinite regress".

Streetwear Today interviewer: You also invented something that everyone uses right now, maybe not knowing who was the first one to do it. I'm referring to the small label on the shirt sleeve. People should pay royalties to you. How did you come up with that idea?

Hiroshi Fujiwara: It came from the original Vivienne Westwood shirts. They had a small tag on the shoulder. I really liked the idea... so I came up with the special tag on the sleeve. For shirt royalties I'm a medium (laughs). It somehow became a commodity that is for free, common sense and now it's everywhere.

Okay, the rest of this is numbered. The numbers are tags which will set off the alarm system if you try to leave the store without paying for an idea. No, not really, the numbers are to help you take the ideas away with you more easily, and refer to them in the comments section without quoting tons of text.

1. I ended yesterday's piece on recycling fashion crew Andrea Crews with a parallel. "Andrea Crews shares something with Palais de Tokyo architects Lacaton and Vassal. For Lacaton, 90% of what you need to make a building is already present on the site. In Africa they learned from people’s resourcefulness and how existing materials are endlessly used, reused and hybridised with very little waste."

2. This isn't just crafty, thrifty architecture, it strikes me as a realistic description of what artists or journalists do too. We use the material to hand, give it a twist of our own. That twist might just be 10%, but it's enough for us to call it our own. This is why I'm big on the folk tradition but not big on copyright law. The person who "owns" something is usually just the thief with the best lawyers.

3. This "10% twist on existing material" thing applies particularly to digital culture on the internet, where curation becomes more important than origination. A whole new concept of "micro-property" emerges. For instance, someone will post a link on their blog, and put a little "link via Jean Snow" acknowledgment. That doesn't mean Jean Snow originated or owns the material, though. It goes back to someone else he got it from, and back from that person to another, and so on endlessly. These circles of reference make the internet the ultimate "flow world", a world where content is the reference to other content, in endless huge circles.

4. In Flow World, transformation is more important than origination. Recontextualization is more important than production. The basic conditions are plethora, love-sifting, and the instant, free worldwide circulation of totally weightless cultural goods whose production either cost next to nothing or was long ago amortized.

5. In Flow World, the most important thing is circulation itself. Things must keep circulating. Assigning and asserting ownership is a kind of circuit breaker. It disrupts the free flow of information. It's like a grouchy old man shouting "Kids, you can't make sculpture with that trash, that's someone's private property!"

6. Obviously, something like Viacom's court case against YouTube is a huge drag. Most of the copyright material on YouTube is "garbage", stuff which had its production costs amortized long ago and was, itself, just a 10% twist on something already existing.

7. Okay, this is where we bring in Karl Marx's distinction between Use Value and Exchange Value. Use Value is the value of things to their users, whether they own them or not. Exchange Value is the price of something agreed between a buyer and a seller, whether either of them uses it or not. Exchange value is the domain of traditional economics, because price is something you can easily quantify, attach a number to. Use is subjective, so economics tends to have little to say about it. And yet it's absolutely the whole point of our relationship with commodities. We buy them to use them.

8. Unless, that is, we buy them to speculate. Evan Davis concluded his fascinating four-part BBC Radio 4 documentary The Price of Property with a programme that examined, amongst other things, a phenomenon called "Buy to Sit". In the UK property market, because property is scarce, prices are expected to keep rising. Buy to Sit is Buy to Let -- without letting. You have a guaranteed profit at the end of, say, a two-year wait between purchasing the property and re-selling it. There's no reason to let it out. In fact, let (in other words, used) property is considered "shopsoiled".

9. There's no such thing, though, as a website that's been "shopsoiled" by its users. Websites gain value if they're used. The typical model of a successful website is one that gives away free material from a previous medium (music, television), establishes itself as a brand thanks to millions of users, then either sells itself to a media magnate (MySpace to Rupert Murdoch) or makes money from advertising, or starts charging for the content that once was free (Napster). But the Napster solution is the least satisfactory because, as every husband knows, if you bring your spouse breakfast in bed one day, you have to do it every day, forever. You can't start charging her a fee for it. So, rather than go back to regarding cultural goods on the internet as something that can be charged for, successful companies have made their money using them as eyeball lures, ways to make people look at advertising, which they then get paid for. An "attention economy" is replacing a property economy.

10. Even in a property economy, the profits you make are only meaningful when you convert them into things you can use. For instance, many home owners are under the impression that they're rich because the house they live in has doubled its price. But if every other house in any neighbourhood you might want to live in has also doubled its price, you won't be able to buy a better house when you sell yours. Use value hasn't doubled, only exchange value. And you need somewhere to live.

11. The internet might be making us think in a different way about things in the real world. If we're moving away from an ownership and exchange model and towards a flow and use model, perhaps we'll look at all property and think, "Hey, that's a bit fishy. That thing was free, and it passed around, and at some point someone said it was their property, and put a price on it. And then every time it changed hands, there was a price, and markup to cover costs and give someone a profit motive for passing it on to the next owner."

12. Things cost so little to pass on in a digital environment that we no longer need to give them a price, or a markup. Online -- except on auction sites like eBay which mimic markets in the atomic world -- we've all become dealers without deals, sellers without prices, resellers who don't mark up. We curate, and the internet is very like an art gallery. It changes all the time, for a start, with new "exhibitions" changing its look, its decoration, its layout. And if I think of my experience in art galleries or museums, what mattered to me was Use Value. That I could see works of art, use them. What didn't matter to me was who owned them. That would only matter if the owner withdrew the works from public view, putting them in a vault to accumulate value before being sold. As long as they were circulating in public exhibitions, ownership was pretty irrelevant. Just like it is online.

13. In the 80s and 90s record labels discovered they could make a killing by re-releasing back catalogue (amortized old material with all its production costs already recouped) in the new CD format, for ten times its old price. The public bought the CDs, but were aware they were way too expensive, and took their revenge when music became free on the internet. Now we all re-release amortized old material -- on the internet. We've all become record labels. But when we do it on our blogs, we don't charge anything. It's beautiful -- we have the re-release schedule, but not the prices. Instead of money profit (property, exchange) we do it for "attention profit". And for love.

14. But really, really, the whole concept of property was flawed from the start. Take a pop song. Take its most important constitutive elements. A 4/4 beat, for instance. Who really owns that 4/4 beat? Nobody. Everybody. It's the common property of humanity. A public asset. Nobody would have the nerve to say they invented it, or needed royalties every time someone else used it. That person would be the biggest bugbear of Flow World. And, you know, go through the whole song and it's all made up of stuff like that. Who invented harmony? Who needs to get paid for the minor third? An E chord? The word "love"?

15. Some people say we're living in a time of unprecedented greed, a time when even plant genes are said to belong to somebody. But we're also living in a time when some kinds of property are -- refreshingly -- in huge crisis, eroding and becoming rapidly irrelevant. In the wallet-free Flow World of the internet, new forms of "payment" (a tip of the hat, an acknowledgment of the source of a link, a useful comment) are emerging, new ideas about contingent or temporary or contextual or micro-property. Something's only mine for a while, or mine in the context of my blog, or mine to use (and that's all that matters). But the best form of payment is no payment, and the best form of property -- the emerging form of digital property -- is no property.

16. The images on this page were all shot the same day in Berlin, a city that really likes the idea of recycling, the idea of squatting, the idea of not-for-profit, the idea of repurposing and recontextualizing trash, the idea of thrift, and the idea of flow for its own sake. The city loves this free flow thing so much, it's almost digital.

47CommentReply

bricology
bricology
bricology
Sun, Apr. 1st, 2007 04:44 am (UTC)

"This isn't just crafty, thrifty architecture, it strikes me as a realistic description of what artists or journalists do too. We use the material to hand, give it a twist of our own. That twist might just be 10%, but it's enough for us to call it our own. This is why I'm big on the folk tradition but not big on copyright law. The person who 'owns' something is usually just the thief with the best lawyers."

That notion may reflect the zeitgeist, but I disagree with it 90%. As someone who used to be an architect and is now an artist, I've seen firsthand how much more mileage one can get out of a clever and/or transgressive appropriation (from Duchamp to Koons) than from something far more original in its conception and execution. The sole exception seems to be with artists and architects who are given some notoriety for seemingly being throwbacks (Odd Nerdrum, et al).

I believe that our society is going through a creative drought right now, and it heavily over-values conceptual cleverness. After all, it's far easier for an artist or architect to pimp an idea, far easier for the media to present it as a vid-bite, and far easier for a lazy-minded and largely ignorant consumer base to hail it, consume it, and move on to the next shiny gadget.


ReplyThread
akabe
akabe
alin huma
Sun, Apr. 1st, 2007 05:05 am (UTC)
drought

add to this the inevitavble (molecular) sameness this all leads to. if the last 50 or so years have been about the 'death' of everything what we see now has surely got to be the decomposition, compost-ization of the corpses.


ReplyThread Parent Expand

















fishwithissues
fishwithissues
jordan fish
Sun, Apr. 1st, 2007 06:49 am (UTC)

10% of me agrees. the layout looks good in momus land, but, yup, it's blowin' up my friends page a bit. I don't really care. its cool that everyones digital copy gets to look different and the eljay stream is too endless to get hung up on some img src gripes.


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Sun, Apr. 1st, 2007 09:06 am (UTC)

" There's no such thing, though, as a website that's been "shopsoiled" by its users. Websites gain value if they're used. "

Who gives a crap? The internet's as boring as a phone or a steam-iron.


ReplyThread

(Anonymous)
Sun, Apr. 1st, 2007 10:39 am (UTC)

But some people blog 'I just farted' and have fifty people comment on their Rabelaisian charm, others get the 'attention profit' of shit. The successful ones still talk sex or strong opinions re: the usual subjects. If proximity to others is what you want, you'd better be self-charmed ad infinity or want to be a journalist, otherwise you're a gonner.


ReplyThread
cheapsurrealist
cheapsurrealist
Dave Nold
Sun, Apr. 1st, 2007 03:04 pm (UTC)

fart jokes are more popular than jesus christ

¢


ReplyThread Parent
electricwitch
electricwitch
For anything, oh! she´ll bust her elastic
Sun, Apr. 1st, 2007 11:38 am (UTC)

Today I want to push some ideas past your eyeballs.

My dear! How very sadistic. Will you make pain the price for what you give us ?


ReplyThread
cap_scaleman
cap_scaleman
cap_scaleman
Sun, Apr. 1st, 2007 02:51 pm (UTC)

How many out there are really culture junkies these days? Some stay within a kind of barrier like world with a couple of neverchanging influences which makes their "suggestions" to culture quite... Mediocre. When will people take real advantage of this time when geographical barriers are gone-kapoof and it is really easy to find new and fun things on youtube or a musicblog or art blog?


ReplyThread
cheapsurrealist
cheapsurrealist
Dave Nold
Sun, Apr. 1st, 2007 03:13 pm (UTC)

When I was a young man back in the 1970's we became facsinated with the xerox machine. Now we could get "thousands of images to thousands of people thousands of times"

copyright prohibited ¢


ReplyThread
cheapsurrealist
cheapsurrealist
Dave Nold
Sun, Apr. 1st, 2007 03:23 pm (UTC)

puppet show


ReplyThread
rinusvanalebeek
rinusvanalebeek
rinusvanalebeek
Sun, Apr. 1st, 2007 04:14 pm (UTC)
The Era of the Exclamation Mark

a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

this was a great invention,
Take for example the combination of l and a

la
it is a city,
it is half a song (Hot Love by T.Rex)
it is al spelled backwards,
it is the announcement of something female in spanish, french and italian culture
it is no in Morocco, but they use a different alphabet.

But in a time of materialized onomatopoems, it is the enthousiasm that counts.
One could wonder about this enthusiasm. It is so full of feelings of joy and liberation.
Is it that life is split into two reservoirs? The internet as the storage place for opinions and other stress bearing items; and the outside world as a place to celebrate the liberation of moral/religious/psychologizing context?

I don't know. I once had a publisher who stated that enthusiasm was the one and sole premise to publish a book. I was rather pissed with the editor. And that was how we all got pissed at each other.

(La la la lalala la, la la la lalala la, la la la lalala la, la la la lalala la )

Fact is that in order to sell something that no one needs, a climate of enthusiasm is the best you can have.

(La la la lalala la, la la la lalala la, la la la, lalala la, la la la lalala la)


ReplyThread
zzberlin
zzberlin
hh
Sun, Apr. 1st, 2007 04:14 pm (UTC)

I'm waiting for the day when everyone makes art as a hobby and no one can make money from art any more, unless they're willing to pimp their art out to corporate interests

It's just too easy for anyone to make art these days, why should some people get paid? There are too many people who make beautiful things but don't want money, we just won't be willing to pay for beautiful things any more

I wonder, if I'm right, which I'm probably not, what will happen to those whose entire investment portfolio comprises rare works of art? I suppose they will be okay, because their pieces, no longer valued because they are art, will be valuable as antiques, just like books


ReplyThread
zzberlin
zzberlin
hh
Sun, Apr. 1st, 2007 04:17 pm (UTC)
Artists in Recovery

I'm a drunk and go to twelve-step meetings. I discovered Artists in Recovery, and felt right at home, though I'm not an artist, because one of the main premises of the group is that "you grew up in an environment that was hostile to your creativity." But another of their premises is "you can and should make money from your art."

whut?! I have trouble with that one. Not every artist is a whore


ReplyThread Parent Expand

freesurfboards
freesurfboards
freesurfboards
Sun, Apr. 1st, 2007 04:28 pm (UTC)

this is a good read - i wanted to add a couple of things.
"buy to sit" happens on the internet, people buy domain names when someone hears rumors of a new product from a major company.

And in (12), we become "sellers without prices" is an awesome concept, but how do you feel that it's supported by advertising from major companies? Basically we couldn't make money from advertising without a major source of money coming from somewhere. This model needs to have companies making money the traditional way.


ReplyThread
eptified
eptified
H. Duck
Sun, Apr. 1st, 2007 05:13 pm (UTC)

I find myself shocked to report that this is a broad theoretical manifesto of yours that I can actually get behind. It strikes me as an extremely useful way of looking at the internet so long as it remains an infinitely expandable frontier. If providers are allowed to prioritize access we may see a suburbanization of the web, with the digital equivalent of Tower Records everywhere you look..


ReplyThread
niddrie_edge
niddrie_edge
raymond
Sun, Apr. 1st, 2007 05:56 pm (UTC)

Is this what John Lennon meant when he said "Possession isn't 9/10ths of the law, it's 9/10ths of the problem"?

As a gleaner I find I like this post.
As they say in the land of torrents, "Bookmarked till I get this ratio sorted".


ReplyThread
bricology
bricology
bricology
Sun, Apr. 1st, 2007 06:01 pm (UTC)

"This '10% twist on existing material' thing applies particularly to digital culture on the internet, where curation becomes more important than origination."

Curation is only as good as the curator's filters, and I have yet to see much evidence of really important filters. You have among the better filter sets I've seen on the internet, but still, ClickOpera's curation isn't as important as the original sources; sorry.

Curation is to the 2000s what DJing and sampling were to the '90s: the practice of selecting of other people's actual work, most often by those who cannot produce work themselves. (Note: this does not apply to your production of music, which you do very well indeed.) But curating is too often a tactic for opportunists to get creative mojo by association. Art, music and original web content do quite well without curators; curation is worthless without the sources; I merely favor cutting out the middleman, or at least not elevating his status beyond what it deserves.

Having said that, some of my friends have curated, and I've been curated by others, but I try not to hold that against them, or myself.


ReplyThread
imomus
imomus
imomus
Sun, Apr. 1st, 2007 06:48 pm (UTC)

I think trying to maintain a status difference -- or an activity difference -- between artists and curators is increasingly difficult. Think of a curator like Hans Ulrich Obrist, or an artist like Jeremy Deller. Which is artist, which is curator? They're both both. Which is doing "actual work"? Both are.


ReplyThread Parent Expand






akabe
akabe
alin huma
Sun, Apr. 1st, 2007 07:49 pm (UTC)

michelangelo supposedly went way beyond hiroshi fujiwara and disclaimed even the 10% by saying that the form he sculpted was already inside the rock he appropriated.


ReplyThread
imomus
imomus
imomus
Sun, Apr. 1st, 2007 08:25 pm (UTC)

Ha! And lots of writers and songwriters say "The characters took on a life of their own" or "It seemed to write itself". And it does! You can get a whole song in your sleep! It's happened to me!


ReplyThread Parent Expand