amen, forever and ever

The phenomenon of ‘borrowing’ ideas is common to all creative fields.

We take inspiration from all our various experiences, and recombine them to create something new.

However, the extent to which others perceive our creation as something ‘new’ depends on their own individual experiences.

Because the creative process is inherently recombinant, it’s been suggested that there’s no such thing as a new idea.

However, we react to perceived similarities in different ways, depending on the content and context.

Designs like the one below can be appealing, because they modify a clearly recognisable influence:


The borrowing is evident – it becomes homage to the original.

However, in a different context, this ‘borrowing’ can provoke a very different response.

When the campaign below launched, it provoked outrage, because some observers felt it ‘ripped off’ the work of Kozyndan:


[image by Kozyndan, ‘borrowed’ from here]

So where do we draw the line between subtle homage and plagiarism?

The clip below may add perspective.

It’s a fascinating exploration of the evolution of the most famous 6 seconds in electronic music, but at the same time, it highlights different attitudes to the concept of ownership and copyright:

The real issue is giving credit where it’s due.

No-one will think any less of your creation if you highlight your inspiration.

Indeed, alerting your audiences to other content that they may enjoy might even increase the respect you earn.

And if you need to pay for the influence, then you need to pay.

But if you copy someone else’s work without credit, you’re just stealing.

And that’s not going to win anyone’s respect.

“Keep calm…” image from the wonderful people at Howies
Sony Bravia image featured here
Kozyndan image from this blog post
Ironically, the inspiration for this post came from here. When I first watched the video, I was annoyed, because it seemed so similar to the Amen video above (which Iain Tait featured a few years ago). However, on further reflection, the subtle irony of this new ‘remix’ then became evident – the new work is just another example of the recombinant culture it documents
Finally, respect as always to Faris for giving ‘recombinant’ a place in my vocabulary

1 Response to “amen, forever and ever”

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