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Topic: Ot- the value of art, of signed copies, appliance in music, piracy

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  1. #1

    Ot- the value of art, of signed copies, appliance in music, piracy

    Hello! Get ready for a really weird thread! Ok?

    I'm not really fammiliar with a lot of art (painting I mean), and I don't consider myself knowledgable to that area. Still over the past few months I happened to run across a few art galleries in the uk! Some amazing stuff, most of them somewhat cheap (around £500 let's say), and a few which were around £12,000 (double the prices to get $!)

    Now, the main difference between the two was that the cheap ones were signed copies (of... 200, or 100, or even 20), while the expensive ones were... originals. I found that rather interesting and... a bit of cheating really.

    For me art, by default, has the uniquenes embedded on it. Even if you photograph a painting, the art remains with the painting and not the photograph. If you get the artist to create a number of copies are you not bypassing this very idea?

    I imagine that this is done for commercial reasons, purely. A painting worth £10,000 is difficult to get sold, but 20 paintings worth £500 seem quite easier. At least in a utopian world who cares about art, but let's not get into that.

    Several of these signed copies, had the same (or very simmilar technique): They got printed on a canvas (inject? Something else? There are printers who do that and I know people who have such printers) and then they added the signature. So... big deal! Some of them, went a more hybrid way and painted on top of the printed canvas to, still, create a unique copy, even if very simmilar to the other... 99 (for example). In the past this has also been done (Dali for example), by various methods, which also defined the technique however and once the prototype was destroyed there would be no more copies...

    All the above seem to be borrowing 'values' from music I find. A painting by default holds its value exactly because it remains in a building/house/museum and only those people are able to taste the full glory. On the opposite music is being expressed as much as possible and vinyl/tapes/CDs/DVDs are making it possible for everyone to get the absolutely same feeling (to an extend, ok...). Even scores are almost freely distributed (if you bypass the bastards publishers...) and you can redo the art (music piece) yourself.

    So, time for questions...

    1. How do you feel with the idea of signed copies?

    2. If art is borrowing ideas from music, why not have music get ideas from art then?

    My replies:

    1. I find that it is a bit cheating, a bit back stabbing the essense of art, although I see the point in this!

    2. I think that this is been done before: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_for_Supermarkets . Jean Michel Jarre created this record to play on a gallery, created a single copy, destroyed the prototypes and sold the one copy (vinyl at that time).

    What is most interesting is that JMJ himself, right after selling the album, he went on an AM radio station and played the whole record, starting with the words "pirate me". Now this is quite a unique way of things, since AM stations have awful quality and the copies from that radio station do exist! On torrents! For free! With JMJ blessing! But quality remains awful (I have the album).

    My other idea is that music has, by definition, the very same function as art: Concerts!

    When you go to a concert you're effectively experiencing something unique! Something that only the people attending the concert will experience. And this experience, no matter the technology cannot be captured. Even a DVD of that concert is nothing compaired to the real thing. So this, by default is providing the uniqueness in music.
    But how would one go about creating digital (or analogue) copies which use that uniqueness? Thus giving a different (higher) value to a single piece of music? Bypassing publishers, sponsors, etc, directly to the audience?
    ____________________
    Thank you for reading this long thread, I hope it made a bit of sense, and hope this will be a fruitful discussion!

    Nikolas
    Last edited by nikolas; 06-29-2008 at 06:07 AM. Reason: edited the thread title

  2. #2

    Re: Ot- the value of art, of signed copies, appliance in music, piracy

    There's a scene in Philip K. Dick's novel The Man in the High Castle in which a man shows a woman two cigarette lighters (actually, I can't remember the specifics of the scene, but I think it was lighters). One lighter was quite old and had belonged to some famous guy, another lighter was simply a well-made fake. The woman could not tell the difference between the two. So, was there a difference? Is the difference worth anything if it cannot be seen?

    (The further question really is: is the difference created simply by perception when we really have know way of knowing an object's true origins? Philip K. Dick loved to question the nature of reality, but that probably gets too philosophical for the purposes of this thread. )

    I think we humans have a way of projecting an "aura" on things. A book that once belonged to Einstein sitting behind glass in a museum... we sense an aura around it because Einstein was so famous, we feel a link, when the book itself may be nothing special. Same with celebrities... people flock to see the Pope, he has an aura of specialness around him... people surround celebrities trying to get their autograph or a picture...

    But it all comes down to human psychology really, the aura is not something tangible, it's something we create for ourselves.

    I think these auras of specialness definitely apply to art as well, especially to paintings and sculptures which are so physical and tangible. So, on the one hand, I can see how it seems like "cheating" for an "original" to cost so much more, but on the other hand, I can understand people's desires for things to have auras that help decide their worth. For better or for worse, it's part of human psychology.

    For music, I think it's much much harder for the work we do to hold such an aura because, as you said, it's not tangible and is copied many times. However, I think the composer, like the artist, then becomes the holder of the aura. People will buy a CD not just for the music (which they may never have heard before) but for the name of the artist on the label. People will go to a concert to see that person live, not just to hear the music. And, of course, composer autographs can hold such auras.

    For composers who are not yet famous, and do not yet have an aura, will not get it just from their music, so they may seek pirating (although if you want people to pirate your music, than I wouldn't say it's really "pirating" ). As familiarity with their name grows, so will their aura and potential to make money giving a concert or something.

    Interesting topic; hopefully I somewhat understood what you were saying... I may have just really confused myself by responding...

    For paintings and sculptures, we can give the "originals" auras, but for music the only tangible thing we could give auras to I suppose would be the original musical manuscripts, but those don't really exist as they once did... every other sort of aura would be having to do with the artist I think.
    Sean Patrick Hannifin
    My MP3s | My Melody Generator | my album
    "serious music" ... as if the rest of us are just kidding

  3. #3

    Smile Re: Ot- the value of art, of signed copies, appliance in music, piracy

    The value and worth of art of any kind is exactly what you put on it and what you will happily pay for it, no more no less.

    If its worth £10 000 to you to have the original, if its not then thats it, buy the print. Some art is only intended to be a single copy, like a painting whilst others are prints and made and sold as such, they are cheaper because they're prints and they are copies.

    Do you want something, what would you pay if you could afford it, thats what its worth. Would you pay £40,000,000 for a Monet or £4 for a half decent print of the same ? if you paid the higher figure but nobody else would its worth it to you but you wont get your money back.

    I want better music making equipment, but a Steinway at £65000 is out of my price range (this week anyway) and considering how badly I play definitely not worth the money to me. My piano cost £1000 thirty years ago that WAS worth the money.

    Beware of thinking the next bit of equipment or software will improve what you do, in my experience it won't, but theres always hope.
    Derek
    Things may come and things may go but the art school dance goes on forever
    NOW WITH Cubase 5, JABB,GPO, Fender Strat, Ibanez RG, Yamaha Fretless Bass, Framus Archtop, The Trumpet and Mr T Sax, together with GREEN SEALING WAX


  4. #4

    Re: Ot- the value of art, of signed copies, appliance in music, piracy

    Niko, I think what you were seeing as "signed copies" were in actuality lithographs.

    This is a process whereby the artist creates a master template, from which he prints a limited number of "prints". In many cases, the material used to create this template is one that only can survive a limited number of pressings. Which is why you see the numbering in them as "***/3000" meaning it's the *** printing out of a pressing of 3000.

    A friend was lucky enough to find a Chagal at a garage sale... it was a "test" print of a limited pressing. it had no number on it, which lowered its value.

    Don't think of them as "photocopies"... they are not THAT sort of "copy". These are actually inked, pressed, and printed BY the artist.

    As for the artwork you are seeing with the considerably larger price tags, those are possibly water colours (if they seem to look like the same medium as the lithos). They are in fact unique, one-of-a-kind pieces. Which is why their value is higher.

  5. #5

    Re: Ot- the value of art, of signed copies, appliance in music, piracy

    Michel,

    I was missing that word "lithographies", but no, it wasn't what I saw. What I saw, was the 'next step'. Printing in canvas, with pro printers and then signing the copy, or maybe adding a few strokes here and there!

    I can't reply in depth but thank you for replying all, and I'll come back later on with further thoughts...

  6. #6

    Re: Ot- the value of art, of signed copies, appliance in music, piracy

    Multiple copies of artworks has been going on forever. Wood blocks, etchings, lithography, silkscreening, etc.

    When I was younger I would often think it was unfair that a modern artist could paint a picture in a few hours (if that) and receive thousands of dollars, whereas a classical composer might spend many months composing a piece and be lucky to break even after the performance. Now I realize that, as far as injustices in the world go, this is a pretty trivial one.

    Nikolas - Are you thinking of purchasing some of these 'printed on canvas' paintings? If so, I would urge you to do some serious internet research before parting with your money.
    "An artist is someone who produces things that people don't need to have, but that he - for some reason - thinks it would be a good idea to give them."

    - Andy Warhol

  7. #7

    Re: Ot- the value of art, of signed copies, appliance in music, piracy

    klassikal: No, not at all!

    At the moment, I'm moving (literally at the moment) to Greece to a new life, a new house, a new everything. Pics to follow on a new thread when the time comes! So huge expenses to come, as well as the uncertainty of going to a new place (even if it's your homeland), with various issues (some of you may remember the PhD issue).

    So: No money!

    ________________

    I think that Sean, got exactly what I was going for! Not that anything is out of topic in this bizzare, by definition topic, and it's hard to explain... :-/

    I do think (without being sure) that copying (signed copies), must be a 19th-20th century thing (or at least started). I doubt classical, or even impressionists artist had the ideas of signed copies. Not sure though, so feel free to correct me.

    What is, vastly interesting to me, is to carry that idea/value to music, which by default works in a completely different way!

    Klassikal, a comission for a full orchestra, may very well cost $60,000 (in the uk), and along with royalties, maybe a CD, sales, etc, the prices goes up and forever. I imagine that all artists might be hugely pissed at us composers to be getting royalties every year! hahaha!

    So, music and art work completely different! But JMJ (to begin with and I'm sure others), did borrow the idea of the unique copy (in fact Musique pour supermarche was done for a gallery, if I know correctly).

    Knowing that copies are worth less than the original, it's something to consider about music, no? A concert is worth tons more, by default almost (and pricing), than a simple CD, or DVD. What if someone was able to create, or embedde, the uniqueness of the concert, or the idea of the single copy in a music piece (recording)? While still keeping intact the primary function of music, to be heard?

    Imagine, with some technological way, or any other way, a piece of music which bellongs to a single person. The person who's bought it. And anything else (pirated copies, maybe? ) is worth less.

    Taking out the marketing bit (I'm not JMJ to sell a single record for 13,000 euros or whatever the price was), would that be possible from a philosophical point of view? Would that be unfair or cheating?

    _____________

    Sean:

    You are right, the aura is hugely important in such parts! This is probably why autographs are also worth a lot (Last week I was asked for the very first time in my life an autograph! I was thrilled! ME??!?!?! A composer!?!??!)

    And composers do get their own 'trinkets' with their aura on: manuscripts (I know a person who is collecting such things), the original copy of a recording (the masters), etc.

    But the above preclude the possibility of sharing the music to others! Exactly because the value of music has been declined to the value of a CD, or DVD, or the score!

    Not sure where I'm heading anymore, but I find it very interesting on a personal level! Thank you for participating!

  8. #8

    Re: Ot- the value of art, of signed copies, appliance in music, piracy

    Quote Originally Posted by nikolas View Post
    Knowing that copies are worth less than the original, it's something to consider about music, no? A concert is worth tons more, by default almost (and pricing), than a simple CD, or DVD. What if someone was able to create, or embedde, the uniqueness of the concert, or the idea of the single copy in a music piece (recording)? While still keeping intact the primary function of music, to be heard?
    The thing is... music is a temporal art, experienced through an interval of time, unlike almost any other art (the only other temporal art I can think of at the moment is a play). So any recording of it is automatically a "copy" ... because a music concert or a play is temporal, the "original" can only exist once and then it is gone forever, whereas Mona Lisa's canvas is a physical thing.

    (In one sense a movie is also a temporal art, but there is no "original" for a movie.)

    So the "original" concert or play performance may have an aura around it prior to performance, it disappears forever afterwards.

    In a sense, I think you could also say an historic event is also temporal and can also have an aura, like the signing of the Declaration of Independence, or something, and, like an original concert, once the original is done, it's gone.

    At first it seemed to me that the only real way to get the "original" to exist outside of time like a painting would be to invent time travel. But I suppose if one could create a system of recording and playback that is so realistic that it is indistinguishable from actually being there, then it's like the difference between an original painting and a fake when you can't tell the difference... you can't sense the aura of the real original, so it is the same...

    Hmmmm... this subject makes it easy to confuse myself...
    Sean Patrick Hannifin
    My MP3s | My Melody Generator | my album
    "serious music" ... as if the rest of us are just kidding

  9. #9

    Re: Ot- the value of art, of signed copies, appliance in music, piracy

    Hi Nikolas,

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but you seem to be asking what the "hanging art equivalent" of music would be in monetary terms. More specifically, if one could convert the highly-valued, real-time output of, say, mature Picasso into music, what would that conversion amount to.

    I've thought about this subject as well. Though music and painting are both "arts", they appear to have radically different dollar values on the "after market". Why is this?

    Well, obviously, paintings are tangible. Whether a single master or a limited number of pressings exist, depending on the medium, the picture has value to art collectors, based almost entirely on the artist's skill and reputation. And in times past, simply viewing a painting meant visiting a museum or being on good terms with a wealthy collector.

    Music is almost intangible, excepting recordings and scores. And for most of history, it was solely a "recreative" art form, meaning that no definitive version of a given work existed (unlike a painting) and had to be re-created every time a person or group wished to "enjoy" a given piece of music. Of course, recording has changed all this, bringing all musics to a much wider audience.

    The propagation of the visual arts, film, tv, video, and now the word wide web is slowly narrowing the accessibility differences between painting and music, eventually to the point where many of the world's greatest art works will someday be available in high-resolution, full-sized graphic files, for either viewing or printing out. So in this regard, both media are reaching much wider audiences than ever imagined by the artists in either medium.

    Yet, the question persists. Why is an original Picasso worth a fortune but any given recording of Beethoven's 5th (which in my mind is every bit as worthy, perhaps more so) is practically valueless in dollars? Doesn't seem fair, does it?

    Well, that's the fallacy in seeing things solely in terms of currency instead of actual human worth. A tangible painting is valued highly simply because it can be, whereas ephemeral musical performance essentially cannot.

    The closest music seems to come to art in value are old autographed scores of master composers like Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, etc., most of which were long ago were sent off to museums. These manuscripts are highly prized to a point, much like many very old writings or even first edition book printings, but not anywhere near the level of the most famous paintings.

    So the question is: how does one generate "painter's money" as a composer? Well, even most painters have had a very hard time of it, van Gogh being a useful example. He died penniless, yet today his paintings capture astronomical prices. So one must be careful of what's called "selection bias", i.e., picking out the most obvious successes as the basis of comparison without consideration of particular circumstances and all the while conveniently ignoring the outright failures.

    The contemporary, financially successful painter seems about as prevalent as the contemporary, financially successful composer. Each has to find his way in the time and place he lives, plus having a bit of good fortune along the way is always helpful.

    None of us are ever likely to see our computer-printed manuscripts become extraordinarily valuable in our lifetimes, but as touched on above, developing a career and some judicious self-promotion can go a long way to better paying opportunities, a la commissions and other appointments.

    In this regard, all artists are at best always struggling for the next commission, regardless of the medium. Painters however, can develop a strong after market for their works, should they live so long, while composers analogously may potentially enjoy continuing though modest royalty revenue from publications and recordings. Their worlds in the here-and-now, financially speaking, are really not all that different.

    It's when looking back over the last several hundred (thousand?) years that the treatment of painters' and composers' respective works seems so out of whack, but again, really only in terms of money. All of humanity has been enriched by past artists' endeavors, regardless of the value that certain collectors are now willing to place on certain tangibles.

  10. #10

    Re: Ot- the value of art, of signed copies, appliance in music, piracy

    I think I'll also go mad with this thread little by little. Only to try and quote will resolve in some kind of confusion I'm sure... So much to say... :-/


    Quote Originally Posted by SeanHannifin View Post
    The thing is... music is a temporal art, experienced through an interval of time, unlike almost any other art (the only other temporal art I can think of at the moment is a play). So any recording of it is automatically a "copy" ... because a music concert or a play is temporal, the "original" can only exist once and then it is gone forever, whereas Mona Lisa's canvas is a physical thing.

    (In one sense a movie is also a temporal art, but there is no "original" for a movie.)
    Actually, I'd say that only visual art (painting, sculpture) is non time related. Theater, cinema, ballet, poetry (which was intended to be read out loud and not in books, simmilarly to the connection that scores have with music performance), and music all are time related and connected. Photography (Which I do, personally consider an art) is not time related, although the new technologies have made it possible to capture... a few hours of the same object, etc... Same with comics (which I also conisder art, the 9th art (!)), are related to time, roughly, only because of the kinematography which is used to provide the time relation in each strip... (see? so easy to get confused... brrr).

    The above are not facts, not by a million, and it's my personal take, just to seperate visual art from the rest...

    So the "original" concert or play performance may have an aura around it prior to performance, it disappears forever afterwards.

    In a sense, I think you could also say an historic event is also temporal and can also have an aura, like the signing of the Declaration of Independence, or something, and, like an original concert, once the original is done, it's gone.
    Agreed! So, by default, as I said in my first post, music and the concert hall idiom, are providing the uniqueness that a single painting does! DVDs are extremely poor copies...

    At first it seemed to me that the only real way to get the "original" to exist outside of time like a painting would be to invent time travel. But I suppose if one could create a system of recording and playback that is so realistic that it is indistinguishable from actually being there, then it's like the difference between an original painting and a fake when you can't tell the difference... you can't sense the aura of the real original, so it is the same...
    Heh...

    Believe me, I'm working on it!

    This thread is not about this, but I might as well share it. I'm working on composing, rendering (samples), and coding (software) a project which will do exactly that: Each time you click play you get a different performance (out of trillions at least... actually 43^12 at least possible performances), in a different concert hall.

    Problem is that the concert is a social event, which cannot be done with your computer, alone, or your CD player. So this is loosing out. Same difference of going to the movies or getting a DVD home.

    Hmmmm... this subject makes it easy to confuse myself...
    Me too! And imagine I came up with this idea!

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