Yesterday Matt Thomas tweeted a mashup of the first line from The Old Man and the Sea and the last line of The Great Gatsby. Then he tweeted one with the first line of Moby-Dick and the last line of Gravity’s Rainbow. I thought this mashup needed to become a genre, so I gave it a hashtag: #firstlinelastline
When an out-of-work droid finds himself far from his natural habitat of Camden, thrown deep into a galaxy far far away, it does nothing to dampen his quest for cake, tea and the finest wines available to humanity…
I wrote a little something about fair use for the New York Times last year. Murky waters:
Of course, one man’s fair use is another’s infringement, and unfortunately, the burden of proof in a fair use case is on the defendant, who, often lacking the money to fight in court, has no choice but to cease and desist. Many artists have suffered this fate, and so I continue making the blackouts with fingers crossed for a litigation-free future.
The Vermeer mashup represents one of the internet’s many mysteries, and highlights some of the problems current and future researchers face when aiming to determine points of origin for creative works expressed on the internet and uploaded as an image file.
The earliest reference to this piece I could find was March 5 2012, posted at the Clumsy Odd Stubborn Tumblr. This post does not identify a source, nor the artist responsible. Later postings at other sites identified the artist as Mitchell Grafton, though with no link the artist’s site or original post source. The image achieved widespread exposure when it was posted by pioneer blogger Jason Kottke on October 18 2012. Kottke clarifies that he has been unable establish an “airtight” source or attribution for this image.
I think if somebody wanted to borrow imagery I was using I would be flattered. I don’t think imagery should be owned, including my own. If it’s part of our world, it’s like owning words — it’s stuff to use.
Around 8:53, he explains the principle of what I like to call “transformation is flattery” in chapter two of Steal Like An Artist:
If you’re going to copy, figure out a way to make it better. Figure out a way to incorporate your personality in that particular style that you saw a DJ perform. In that way you’re always trying to keep the art progressing and you’re helping the art grow.
You don’t want to just be a copycat, you don’t want to just be someone who’s replicating what they’ve seen already. You want to understand what a person is doing, learn it, then make it better. That’s what people like Grandmaster Flash, Mix Master Ice, Cash Money all did from that one scratch that Grand Wizzard Theodore did.