Hello everyone! How you doing?
I see deviantart decided to update some features since the last time I've been here! After three years waiting we can change our nicknames at last.? Too bad I already used "RayanaWolfer" on a second account I created. I'm still thinking of what name will I pick. I want something easy for you to track.
Thoughts about Fanarts and rights of appropriation
So, so some of you remember this poll I started on February? Do you think Fanarts are genuine art?
I never answered most of your comments because I didn't want to torture you with me repeating the same answers over and over, my thoughts have been published and given to the first people who comented on the poll. But of course, this question is still alive and always whispering inside my head.
When I think of it, I can't help but recalling the opinions of some academics who don't even take the manga / anime genre as legitimate art. Perhaps because of the monumental industrial manga culture we see in Japan, incomparable to any other we know in the world. Perhaps because of the visual configuration of recent moe and kawaii culture, that makes manga characters look all the same from the perspective of most people... I dunno. I think we can't let prejudice overtake our minds because, c'mon, noone in his right mind would think of japanese manga as a single and unique genre. This is an area with huge branches and artistic possibilities. We see more and more scholars treating japanese animation and manga with the same legitimacy as any other expression of art
This reminds me when I started studying photography. Some people in my family (let's say my grandma) have the same problems academics used to have the first time they were challenged to see photography as an expression of "art". Their minds go "How can we think of a mere copy of reality as art? Who's the artist? The sunlight?" Of course, this is a falacy. Photography is far from being a mere copy of reality and these days we have far too much essays and artists who constantly challenge the limits of the camera and create images only human hands - artistic minds - could provide.
Cinema experienced the same problems before it even started. Not even the Lumière brothers believed they were creating a potential form of art when they invented the cinematograph. They believed their creation was nothing but a mere scientific curiosity, a kind of window which allowed people to see other parts of the world in motion, like the Egyptian Pyramids, people riding elephants, things otherwhise you could only see with your eyes if you had the money to travel to those countries. But even the brothers believed one day people would be fed up with moving images, when it ceased to be a novelty. And you know what? They were right. But then Méliès came, he started playing with the illusion caused by the sequence of frames and started bringing inanimate objects to life, such as chairs and microphones that moved and had personalities and teased humans as forms of humor. And so this evolved, today those moving pictures are part of our lives. It can either be used to make the next advertisement of your favourite yogurt or the next artistic hollywoodian masterpiece that will bring you to tears.
Maybe this is the reason I have been increasingly convinced that an expression of art often emerges unexpectedly and it usually gives loads of headaches to the academic establishment. I can't help but take it as a good sign. The culture of the copy is not recent, it began decades ago, and it was triggered by the evolution of technology.
"But what does this have to do with fanarts?" you ask. Today, we have another form of technology around, which is the Internet you are using right now. Not only internet, but websites like DA, scanners, photoshop, tablets, think of all kinds of media you use to create your artworks. Increasingly developed technology, making the process of creation much easier. See what I mean?
From there to start copying, prolong and extend the object of our motivations and pleasures is a small step. And then the slow but steady process of appropriation of entertainment culture begins. People are not passive and they are not mere receptors, not like companies think and want us to be. People are also creative and, above all, people like to re-create in their minds everything they watch, read, touch, feel and listen to. The sad thing is, today, monetary interests tend to want to stifle that natural human impulse. In the past, humans could draw flowers without worrying about copyrights. Today, the objects of our desires are no longer nature but also human-made, which leads us to more complicated discussions...
Osamu Tezuka's Mickey Mouse
Two days ago, I came across a very interesting article about the famous author Osamu Tezuka. I suppose some of you don't know him, but Osamu Tezuka is a name that any self-proclaimed "otaku" should know. The day of his birthday, November 3rd, is now considered a national holiday in Japan: the Day of Manga, Art and Culture. He was not only a notable mangaka, but also an animator and producer; he worked in the old Toei Douga (today, Toei Animation, they created Dragon Ball, Digimon, Sailor Moon, and so on) and later founded his own studio, Mushi Production, it grew up as Toei's rival.
I suppose those who heard of him know how Osamu had great respect for Walt Disney's works. Walt was perhaps one of his main inspirations. At this point, I would like to share with you the article I mentioned above: Osamu Tezuka & The Rectification of Mickey
Please read it and you'll get what I'm trying to come to. This article is extremely eloquent in what the culture of copying concerns. The writer begins by talking about akahon culture Osamu deeply despised for ruining the trace of his original works. He even created a book called «Manga College» to talk about it.. and guess what, the original cover of this book he made has his own version of Mickey Mouse half-interacting with Osamu's own character, Professor Manga.
The article claims Osamu is far from being the only artist doing this. Even manga that had nothing to do with Walt, Mickey Mouse simply appears as a symbol of a new genre, it recalls humor and fun, an object of admiration among japanese Comic artists, amateur of not.
The interesting thing comes when Osamu uses Mickey Mouse itself to show the difference between the Akahon copy culture and the original author's artwork. This implies Osamu considered seeing a broken Mickey Mouse with wrong lines and proportions almost equivalent has to insult his own art. Yet, Mickey never belonged to him and he clearly knows so. It's not that he's trying to steal any kind of authorship, it's more like he loved Walt Disney's work so much he felt insulted by seeing a wrong representation of the most popular mouse in the world.
I think this feeling is familiar to most fanartists, don't you think? Because that's just what fans do. How many of you have seen hot fandom arguments against poorly-drawn characters? Again, the history repeats itself.
This automatically forces me to deal with legal issues and copyrights. If you read the article above you'll find Osamu's «Manga College» artcover isn't published anymore, simply because it has Mickey, whose rights belong to Walt Disney Company.
So, suppose I'm a fanartist. A very angry fanartist. Suppose someone reposted my fanart on another site without my permission. Someone copied and traced one of my digimon fanarts. Someone used photoshop and made an avatar with one of my fan-creations. Does it really make sense I organize a witch hunt against such people? Morally, am I not the 1st person who should be judged? Wasn't it me the first person to break the aura of the original work, when I started to create a fanart without the consentment of the original author? What moral rights do I have to judge other people?
But then, back to the question: are fanarts actually forms of art? Another more important question is: what is art, anyway?
The problem is the algorithm of art has changed drastically since the nineteenth century. With the advent of photography, vanguards realized art isn't just about beautiful and well-made things copied from nature. It isn't just about techniques of representation. This is the concept of art Renaissance people valued. Today, for modern and post-modern artists, this concept of art is largely outdated.
Today, Art is simply to create. It is the supreme act of creating something new. And this is precisely the greatest weakness of fanarts: it's hard to create fanarts with something new, something that distinguishes the fanwork from its original basis. But where begins and ends the border of what is "copied" and what is "new"?
I know one thing, all of this makes me think twice before I go around calling people names and forcing them to give me credit when they post my fanarts on tumblr and others. (lol) But I think this can not be discussed without thinking of what internet is. (I dared to talk about this on my tumblr: [link]
. I'm not sure what you will think of me now, but hey, this is my opinion ).
Anyway, I may never be able to find a solid answer for that question. One more thing I know is that fanarts exist because original authors are tolerant to us. Because some artists know when they publish something that becomes popular, a part of their works eventually begins to belong to the community. It's basic share of knowledge, and knowledge is the basis for the exercise of good citizenship, it's all about human rights. Perhaps this is the true paradox of the current establishment.
What is the upshot of all this?
I dunno. You tell me... I just felt like talking.
(any typos, plz forgive me...)