13 January 2011

Thoughts on borrowing and creativity

Here’s an interesting passage on borrowing and creativity from an interview with the American artist Joy Garnett to be published in Cultural Politics:
[V]isual art functions according to the principles of open source, and it always has been open source – art can’t be made otherwise. In other words, borrowing and direct referencing – various forms of ‘copying’ – are the basis of creativity. You would think we might understand that by now, that our understanding of art history would take us well beyond the cliché of artist as lone inspired genius conduit. In truth, all creativity is collaboration, whether one is conscious of it or not. What we call ‘influence’ is nothing if not quotation and allusion. Our culture is generated and driven collectively, and the whole point is to dip in and take parts and change them, to make them ‘new’. To make art is to copy on some profound level, and to copy is of course to communicate: to act as receiver, transformer and transmitter.
The words jumped out at me as I was editing the article because I have often thought the same about writing fantasy, and even more so about doing theology!

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