More free culture in curricula

Aphid sent me another question that didn’t actually make it into the final exam:

In his book Free Culture, Larry Lessig coins the phrase “Walt Disney creativity” and defines it like this: “a form of expression and genius that builds upon the culture around us and makes it something different.” Lessig employs the phrase to describe – not only Walt Disney’s works – but also other copy-based works such as the Japanese manga phenomenon of doujinshi.

Consider Michael Mandiberg’s art piece entitled After Sherrie Levine (discussed by Rachel Greene and available online www.aftersherrielevine.com). Read the Mandiberg’s explanation of the piece and then examine the images and the “one act plays.” All of these might be exact copies of previously printed photos or previously published interviews. Note that Jeanne Siegel is a very famous art critic and Sherrie Levine and Walker Evans are very famous artists.

To produce this piece, did Mandiberg exercise a kind of “Walt Disney creativity” similar to what Disney himself did when he made Steamboat Willie in 1928? Or, is Mandiberg using a technique of the artistic avant-garde like the Gysin’s cut-up method or Duchamp’s readymades? What are the crucial differences (if any) between the methods of “Walt Disney creativity” and the methods employed by Mandiberg? Argue your opinion using examples and texts from the syllabus of this course. Reference at least three texts or artworks and give at least three reasons to support your opinion.

Aphid says, “i ta’d this course last year and this stuff wasn’t really in the curriculum. I guess we’re winning :-)”

Why aren’t there any classes at Swarthmore like this? One answer is that Ken Gergen is retiring, and other professors like Ali Erkan and Ed Kako didn’t get tenure. We really need to talk to professors more, there have to be some professors at this school aside from Tim Burke who are interested in free culture.

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