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Authorlessness

On the night of July 6th we had a small presentation and discussion about "authorlessness" and the pros and cons of creating authorless works in different fields.

A brief historical survey of authorless works was presented and then we examined the value of these works compared with works in which authorship was more important than the works.

Afterwards we had a stimulating discussion about how authorship can in some cases be a barrier to participation in projects in which all creators are concerned with asserting their contribution to the project and therefore the project suffers.

A project called "Authorless Factory" was proposed at the end of the meeting. Perhaps also it could be called "unAuthorship".


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Authorlessness

  1. 1. Authorlessness In his now seminal essay, “The Death of the Author,” Roland Barthes wrote, “To give a text an Author is to impose a limit on that text, to furnish it with a final signified, to close the writing.”
  2. 2. Text: ● Human (spoken) language: 250,000 years ● Text: 5,000 years ● Text is the convergence of many spoken threads: Texere means to “to weave”. ● All early texts derived from myriad oral threads spanning thousands of years, therefore authorship is a paradox.
  3. 3. Stories ● We still have the stories, not the authors: – The Epic of Gilgamesh – Hindu Sutras – Homer Works with multiple authors: • The Bible: http://main.aol.com/2011/06/29/bible-algorithm_n_886956.html
  4. 4. Middle Ages/Ren. ● Authorship becomes a factor as commons are reduced to commodities. ● Studios historically produced artists (artisans), now Artists produce studios; guilds. ● Capital liberates art from “patronage” now Artists can sell “directly” to customers.
  5. 5. The Arnolfini Wedding Portrait by Jan Van Eyck, oil on panel, 1434 Illuminated Ottoman Manuscript 16th Century
  6. 6. Titian 1488 – 1576 As art becomes an exchangeable commodity, the artist becomes more important than the work in determining value, much like a bank issuing currency.
  7. 7. Others? Picasso created over 6,000 paintings, drawings, and sculptures. Today, a Picasso costs millions of pounds. Once, when the French Minister of Culture was visiting Picasso, the artist accidentally spilled some paint on the Minister's trousers. Picasso apologized and wanted to pay for them to be cleaned, but the Minister said, 'Non! Please, Monsieur Picasso, just sign my trousers!' Can you think of any other artists whose name became synonymous with value?
  8. 8. Rebelling against authorship The pseudonym first appeared in Bologna, Italy, in mid-1994, when a number of cultural activists began using it for staging a series of urban and media pranks and to experiment with new forms of authorship and identity. From Bologna the multiple-use name spread to other European cities, such as Rome and London, as well as countries such as Germany, Spain, and Slovenia. Sporadic appearances of Luther Blissett have been also noted in Canada, the United States, and Brazil.
  9. 9. Anonymity ● Anonymity is traditionally associated with powerlessness. ● Today:
  10. 10. Authorlessness ● What are potential benefits from working in an authorless atmosphere? ● What can be the downside? ● What role does anonymity play in authorship?
  11. 11. Group Work ● How do you think a renunciation of authorship could effect the unMonastery? ● unMonks? ● Co-creation? ● Authorless factory?

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