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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/32025

Title: Art and Politics of Appropriation
Authors: Zeilinger, Martin
Advisor: Cazdyn, Eric
Department: Comparative Literature
Keywords: appropriation
sampling
collage
found footage
Issue Date: 17-Jan-2012
Abstract: This thesis works towards a theory of creative appropriation as critical praxis. Defining ‘appropriation’ as the re-use of already-authored cultural matter, I investigate how the ubiquity of aesthetically and commercially motivated appropriative practices has impacted concepts of creativity, originality, authorship and ownership. Throughout this thesis, appropriation is understood as bridging the artistic, political, economic, and scientific realms. As such, it strongly affects cultural and socio-political landscapes, and has become an ideal vehicle for effectively criticizing and, perhaps, radically changing dominant aesthetic, legal and ethical discourses regarding the (re)production, ownership and circulation of knowledge, artifacts, skills, resources, and cultural matter in general. Critical appropriation is thus posited as a political strategy that can draw together the different causes motivating appropriative processes across the globe, and organize them for the benefit of a multitude which values concepts of reusing, sharing and collectivity over concepts of the individually authored and the privately owned. My arguments regarding this critical potentiality are based on concrete practices emanating from several media (textual – visual – sonic – digital). The corpus includes Berlin Dadaist collage, ‘found footage’ filmmaking, audio sampling, and digital media art. It is critically contextualized in the fields of philosophy, law, and aesthetics, and paired with relevant examples from extra-aesthetic arenas (economics, industrial production and science). Following a trajectory from the analog to the digital, my thesis traces the emergence and tactical employment of critical appropriative practices in the context of different historical, philosophical, technological and economic circumstances. Focussing on conceptual and practical shifts from the analog to the digital furthermore enables me to draw connections between analytic perspectives founded in dialectic materialism and contemporary theories foregrounding issues of immaterial labor. The important qualitative changes that practices and perceptions of appropriation have undergone are argue to significantly amplify the critical potential of all appropriative practices. Ultimately, my comparative analyses thus establish appropriation as an ideal site for effectively challenging – both in terms of form and content – the ingrained, restrictive notions of original genius and naturalized authorship-qua-ownership on which present cultures and technologies of global capitalism are so heavily based.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/32025
Appears in Collections:Doctoral

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