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'Found' and 'after' - a short history of data reuse in the arts
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'Found' and 'after' - a short history of data reuse in the arts


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A presentation prepared as emergency backup for RDMF10 (, while we were struggling …

A presentation prepared as emergency backup for RDMF10 (, while we were struggling to secure a replacement keynote speaker. It was fun to prepare, though, so here it is, minus the multimedia bits such as the sound files on the 'sampling' slide.

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  • Marcel Duchamp coined the term ready-made in 1915 to describe a common object that had been selected and not materially altered in any way. Duchamp assembled Bicycle Wheel in 1913 by attaching a common front wheel and fork to the seat of a common stool. This was not long after his Nude Descending a Staircase was attracting the attention of critics at the International Exhibition of Modern Art. In 1917, Fountain, a urinal signed with the pseudonym "R. Mutt", and generally attributed to Duchamp, confounded the art world. In the same year, Duchamp indicated in a letter to his sister, Suzanne Duchamp, that a female friend was centrally involved in the conception of this work. As he writes: "One of my female friends who had adopted the pseudonym Richard Mutt sent me a porcelain urinal as a sculpture."[5] Irene Gammel argues that the piece is more in line with the scatological aesthetics of Duchamp's friend, the Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, than Duchamp's.[6]Research by Rhonda Roland Shearer indicates that Duchamp may have fabricated his found objects. Exhaustive research of mundane items like snow shovels and bottle racks in use at the time failed to reveal identical matches. The urinal, upon close inspection, is non-functional. However, there are accounts of Walter Arensberg and Joseph Stella being with Duchamp when he purchased the original Fountain at J. L. Mott Iron Works.[7]
  • Verve song based on an orchestral version of a song, bearing very little resemblance to it, and which was in turn based on a traditional gospel song. The band even cleared the sample with the copyright holder, but after a legal challenge they were forced to change the songwriting credit to Jagger/Richards/Ashcroft and 100% of the royalties went to the Rolling Stones. A licensing/legal/creative nightmare.
  • Transcript

    • 1.  ‘Found’ and ‘After’ A short history of data re-use in the Arts Martin Donnelly Digital Curation Centre University of Edinburgh Research Data Management Forum #10 University of Oxford, 4th September 2013 If the work is stylistically a copy after another artist's work, that artist should also be mentioned (e.g., Thomas Cole after Asher B. Durand).
    • 2. Contents  Argument / overview  Intertextuality  Exemplars  Text  Visual  Music
    • 3. Argument / overview  There’s nothing new about data re-use in the Arts; in fact it’s an integral part of the culture, and always has been  However, it’s often more complicated than data re-use in other areas (such as the Sciences)  For starters, people tend not to think of their sources or influences as ‘data’  Also, the value and referencing systems are quite different  And research / production methods are not always rigorously methodical  This presentation offers a number of examples of data re-use in the Arts, with commentary tying each to common data concepts
    • 4. Intertextuality  Term coined by Julia Kristeva in 1986  “a text’s dependence on prior words, concepts, connotations, codes, convention s, unconscious practices, and texts. Every text is an intertext that borrows, knowingly or not, from the immense archive of previous culture” - Adolphe Haberer. “Intertextuality in Theory and Practice.” Literatura 49.5 (2007)  "the networks are many and interact, without any one of them being able to surpass the rest; this text is a galaxy of signifiers, not a structure of signifieds; it has no beginning; it is reversible; we gain access to it by several entrances, none of which can be authoritatively declared to be the main one” - Roland Barthes. S/Z. Trans. Richard Miller. New York: Noonday (1974)  It’s not a huge conceptual leap from here to Linked Open Data…
    • 5. Exemplars I: text Tom Phillips, A Humument (1970, 1986, 1998, 2004, 2012…)
    • 6. William Shakespeare  With a few exceptions, Shakespeare did not invent the plots of his plays. Sometimes he used old stories (Hamlet, Pericles). Sometimes he worked from the stories of comparatively recent Italian writers, such as Giovanni Boccaccio—using both well-known stories (Romeo and Juliet, Much Ado About Nothing) and little-known ones (Othello). He used the popular prose fictions of his contemporaries in As You Like It and The Winter’s Tale.  In writing his historical plays, he drew largely from Sir Thomas North’s translation of Plutarch’s Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans for the Roman plays and the chronicles of Edward Hall and Holinshed for the plays based upon English history. Some plays deal with rather remote and legendary history (King Lear, Cymbeline, Macbeth).  Earlier dramatists had occasionally used the same material (there were, for example, the earlier plays called The Famous Victories of Henry the Fifth and King Leir). But, because many plays of Shakespeare’s time have been lost, it is impossible to be sure of the relation between an earlier, lost play and Shakespeare’s surviving one: in the case of Hamlet it has been plausibly argued that an “old play,” known to have existed, was merely an early version of Shakespeare’s own.  Encyclopaedia Britannica, Shakespeare/232445/Shakespeares-sources
    • 7. T.S. Eliot T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land (1922)
    • 8. Alasdair Gray
    • 9. Variations on a theme This Is Just To Say I have eaten the plums that were in the icebox and which you were probably saving for breakfast Forgive me they were delicious so sweet and so cold William Carlos Williams Variations on a Theme by William Carlos Williams 1 I chopped down the house that you had been saving to live in next summer. I am sorry, but it was morning, and I had nothing to do and its wooden beams were so inviting. 2 We laughed at the hollyhocks together and then I sprayed them with lye. Forgive me. I simply do not know what I am doing. 3 I gave away the money that you had been saving to live on for the next ten years. The man who asked for it was shabby and the firm March wind on the porch was so juicy and cold. 4 Last evening we went dancing and I broke your leg. Forgive me. I was clumsy and I wanted you here in the wards, where I am the doctor! Kenneth Koch Jist ti Let Yi No (from the American of Carlos Williams) ahv drank thi speshlz that wurrin thi frij n thit yiwurr probbli hodn back furthi pahrti awright they wur great thaht stroang thaht cawld Tom Leonard There is a whole page of versions of this poem at
    • 10. ‘Found’ poems Edwin Morgan, Collected Poems (1996) Manchester: Carcanet
    • 11. Exemplars II: visual Jordan Parsons, Rhizome 1 (2012)
    • 12. A Humument / Tree of Codes  Treated books, book sculptures… Tom Phillips, A Humument (1970, 1986, 1998, 2004, 2012…) – based on W.H. Mallock’s A Human Document (1892) Jonathan Safran Foer, Tree of Codes (2010) – based on Bruno Schulz’s The Street of Crocodiles (1934)
    • 13. Found / readymade  Marcel Duchamp, Fountain (1917) and L.H.O.O.Q. (1919)
    • 14. Intermedia / sculpture Tom Deininger, Self-Portrait (2007?)
    • 15. Collage Hannah Höch, Cut with the Kitchen Knife through the Beer-Belly of the Weimar Republic (1919)
    • 16. Cartoons  Martin Rowson, after Donald McGill…
    • 17. Exemplars III: music Sylvano Bussotti, from 5 Piano Pieces for David Tudor (1959), reproduced (with a misspelling) in Deleuze and Guattari’s Mille plateaux (1980)
    • 18. ‘Found’ sounds  e.g. John Cage’s Imaginary Landscapes  Imaginary Landscape No. 4 for 24 performers at 12 radios (1951)  Imaginary Landscape No. 5 for magnetic tape recording of any 42 phonograph records (1952)  “It is thus possible to make a musical composition the continuity of which is free of individual taste and memory (psychology) and also of the literature and ‘traditions’ of the art. The sounds enter the time-space centered within themselves, unimpeded by service to any abstraction, their 360 degrees of circumference free for an infinite play of interpenetration....” (John Cage, Silence: Lectures and Writings, 1961)
    • 19. Hip hop  DJ Kool Herc developed the style that was the blueprint for hip hop music. Herc used the record to focus on a short, heavily percussive, part in it: the "break". Since this part of the record was the one the dancers liked best, Herc isolated, changed to the other, and later, prolonged it. As one record reached the end of the break, he cued the other record back to the beginning of the break, thereby extending a relatively small part of a record into a "five-minute loop of fury".[9]  This innovation had its roots in what he called "The Merry-Go-Round"—a switching from break to break done at the height of the party. Herc told The New York Times that he first introduced the Merry-Go-Round into his sets in 1972.[10] The earliest known Merry-Go-Round involved playing James Brown's "Give It Up or Turnit A Loose" (with its refrain, "Now clap your hands! Stomp your feet!"), then switching from its break into the break from "Bongo Rock" by The Incredible Bongo Band, and from "Bongo Rock"'s break into that of "The Mexican" by the English rock band Babe Ruth.[11]  Source:
    • 20. Sampling  The Verve, “Bitter Sweet Symphony” (1997) (Ashcroft…)  The Andrew Oldham Orchestra, “The Last Time” (1966) (Jagger/Richards)  The Rolling Stones, “The Last Time” (1965) (Jagger/Richards)  The Staple Singers, “This May Be The Last Time” (1955) (trad.)
    • 21. Open Source music?  The Shamen, Progeny (1991)  “WE’RE SICK OF REMIXING THIS… SO HERE ARE THE BITS: GO DO IT YOURSELF!”
    • 22. Questions for discussion  How helpful are the preceding examples in thinking about Arts research data in the HE sector?  Where does creative research begin and end?  What problems does practice-driven research introduce?  How can we differentiate between funded research and unfunded personal expression?  What are the financial/ ownership issues accompanying creative research?  To what extent is non-digital material a problem?  Which other disciplines share these issues?  Is there merit in trying to pin these questions down?
    • 23. Contact  Martin Donnelly  Digital Curation Centre  University of Edinburgh  Email:  Twitter: @mkdDCC