by carl wilson

Depleted and Delighted: CopyCamp Day 1

Just got back (after post-drinx) from day 1 of CopyCamp, the two-day unconference on art and intellectual property taking place this weekend in Toronto. It was more difficult than I expected to provide live updates from the event, partially because there was so much going on to pay attention to at any given moment and partially because Margaux and I were busy fretting about the afternoon session we hosted, in which we interviewed participants for her Teenager Hamlet 2006 video project, asking them among other things whether Hamlet belongs to Shakespeare, or to Denmark, or to Margaux, or maybe to YouTube. However, I was able to attend an excellent session by Steve Kado of Blocks on the topic, "Are Professionals Necessary?" (Especially in the arts, but also in, say, architecture. Or medicine.) That is, does there have to be such a thing as people who make a living making culture, or is the culture we all make on our own time from sheer passion actually a preferrable alternative? I can't really summarize the fascinating but meandering conversation that resulted, but please feel free to answer in the comments....

In addition I caught parts of a session by Geoff Tansey on the tangled web of international intellectual-property treaties and regulation and globalization, all of which was enough to suck the heart right out of you, and met the noble heroes from Appropriation Art, among others. I was also a bit startstruck to meet Johanna Householder, ex- of the Clichettes - one of the classic acts of Torontopia Mark 1 - but I think I concealed it well. The "speedgeek" exercise in which we heard short project summaries from 14 different people was the punk-rock of conferencing, mainlining info on Open Source, net labels, arts unions, beatmatching, aboriginal traditional-knowledge law, the prehistory of copyright and much more in under five minutes per topic. I'll try to provide more detail in updates throughout the day tomorrow, when with luck among others Mark Hosler from Negativland will make an appearance.

I realized today that copyright/appropriation/etc. issues are pretty much my geekiest major subject of interest, aside from a couple of TV shows. I'm not particularly into comics, or games, or fantasy-anything, and my way of being interested in music, literature or movies is not particularly trivia oriented. (Okay, with maybe a bit of a poetry variance.) But I can talk about the minutiae of moral rights, fair use, creative commons, licensing models, the status of the artist, remix culture and the like pretty much forever. Hell, I even loved the ultra-geeky stickers. So even though today things did not get as heated, conflicts did not get aired, as much as I might have liked (for one thing unfortunately few private-business types signed up for the event, so the real bogeymen remained at a distance), I still felt as though i were visiting some strange alternate country, offshore from every nation, in which culture was suddenly not frozen not fluid, not bureaucratic but buccaneering. We all visit that reality on the web, of course, but to do it in body, with eyes on other human beings, was such a refreshment that it was as if I had grown gills and was doing aquatic cartwheels through the windows of a little coral castle on the floor of the ocean. Till tomorrow, please do read more on CopyCamp in this eye weekly feature I foolishly neglected to link yesterday, and follow developments on the CopyCamp wiki.

| Posted by zoilus on Friday, September 29 at 8:38 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (2)



I would have to both agree and disagree with Steve. As an animation industry "professional" for more than thirty years, I witnessed the narrowing of the term professional from facilitator to gatekeeper.

Knowledge in a field seems to demand closing down new ideas that don't fit established models. When I recognized this in my own behaviour, I embraced amateurism and began playing music every day. This is an area where I have acquired zero education so the ability to play totally unencumbered restoked my creative passion.

Now, my "professional" work is less limited thanks to my new outlook. I certainly don't think professionalism is the villain here though. It is a cross-cultural desire to oversimplify the world that stems from so-called common sense solutions.

We still need our professionals. (I wouldn't want to live in the Watts towers, for example). But I continue to fight the reductionism that comes from too much bottom-line managed creativity. That is part of an overall cycle that in my world seems to be open to change once again.

Posted by Half on September 30, 2006 4:59 PM



I would have to disagree: I found Steve Kado's discussion to be incoherent and unpleasant. It drifted too far into Bill Freeman's desire to argue for his right to make a living and never once touched on the importance of becoming active within society, seizing agency etc. through amateurism. This being the main reason. Also, the subject of: Is our society so moribund that we do not look to eachother, but instead to bought professionals? Alternatively, the coverse question: are our social networks so closed, targeted and specific that even exploiting them to our fullest we could not account for a wide enough swath of interests and amateurs that we could not meet our human needs? Also, peak oil was never discussed. A pity.

Posted by Steve Kado on September 30, 2006 1:39 PM




Zoilus by Carl Wilson