Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Wasted Days and Copyrights

Here's a piece of ancient history about ancient history. Four score and seven years ago I was asked to contribute to a copyright-themed show at the Black Lab Gallery in Seattle. I'm sure I was contacted because of my piece in the infamous Illegal Art show (the last-remaining online remnants of which are here), sponsored by the dearly-departed Stay Free magazine. It seemed I was destined to lifelong association with the "information wants to be free" crowd.

But while I'm deeply interested in copyright, public domain and fair-use issues, I'm not a copyright abolitionist. As such, my contributions to these copyright shows was generally more subtle in message than "Starbucks sucks," and needed some explaining.

And as they say, if you have to explain the joke...
Lincoln the Railsplitter
These illustrations appeared under the heading "AOL-Time-Warner Presents the Life of Abraham Lincoln." (Remember the brief period when AOL was part of Time-Warner? We were all so young then.) I was thinking about corporate sponsorship of public school materials, including text books, and considering how the promotion of a company's media properties might override their responsibility to present accurate information to the schoolkids. (This is a real issue: math books that are all about counting M&M's and so on.) Hence, Abraham Lincoln is here portrayed by Batman, star of the summer blockbuster The Dark Knight Jangles Your Nerves or some such CGI extravaganza.
Lincoln Frees the Slaves
This was back in the days when there still remained a distinction between corporate media culture and the real, actual world. By this time I'm sure there are few historical reenactments in which Batman does not appear. And look, I'm not saying that's good or bad, Batman being all kick-ass cool and everything. It's just that, well...historical accuracy and all that. I'll agree that Spielberg Lincoln movie perked up whenever Honest Abe slipped into his cape and cowl to battle the Joker at Gettysburg. Or am I getting my Oscar contenders mixed up?
Lincoln is Assassinated
Obviously, these illos were created when the development of my digital art stylings was still in its infancy. Come to think of it, the process really hasn't developed much since those dark days. In fact, I still think of myself as the John Wilkes Booth of the MS Paint spray can.

So, watch out!

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