INTRO level of authorship to their work.



Authorship is generally a very modern
problem; it has a sense of importance to it, which is the reason it became such
a big obsession during the 20th century. 
M.Rock says “the question of how designers become authors is a difficult
one… exactly who qualifies and what authored design might look like” authorship
and what creates it is a tough concept to pinpoint because it is subjective to
many people. M. Foucault stated that the concept of the ‘author’ is socially
established. He drew attention to the fact that a culture where a conversation
would be passed around without stating the author is a culture in which it did
not matter who was speaking it only mattered about the conversation, which in
this case would be art. However, R. Barthes went further by announcing the
‘death of the author’. Barthes believes that the author is not really the
author, but is somewhat the ‘scripture’ that is there to plainly piece together
pre-existing texts that they have become aware of. Barthes argues that
everything has meaning, which is derived from earlier cultures.

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In relation to a graphic designer,
ownership and authority are granted to them at the expense of a viewer thus
meaning that designers were heading more toward a textual position where it was
easier for them to state some level of authorship to their work. It is not
always the case that the name attached to the piece of work is the sole
designer of that piece; the most design is created in a collaborative setting.

A clear example of this would be the client-designer relationship or the
creation of the work in a design studio. However, the name attached to the
piece of work, for example, Andy Warhol is often there to direct other creative
people to work in the style that he sets out for them. This is where to
question of authorship can be seen as blurred. 


What makes the work of a designer really
theirs? In the 21st century, it is questioned whether any design can be truly
original, as some part of a design, even if it is small, it has probably been
based on something pre-existing, most likely without the designer realising.

Aware of this how is a designer to know when to claim authorship over their
work if it is always being questioned about the true originality of where their
ideas and designs came from. Some of the most recent upcoming and famous
designers are basing their designs and art on reproducing existing art. The
main issue with this, however, is when does this remaking of art turn into
forgery and where is the line drawn? This can be seen as appropriation in art.


Appropriation is not a method that has just
come around; it has been a permitted statement for over a century. Authorship
and appropriation are two aspects that have continually been related to each
other.  MoMA defined appropriation as the
‘international borrowing, copying and alteration of pre-existing images and
objects’. The 1960’s was when appropriation artists plainly designed copies of
work by other artists with very small amounts of manipulation or modification.

Appropriation became a more well-known and common strategy in the 1980’s when
it was mentioned in relation to artists such as Roy Lichtenstein and Andy
Warhol. This was the period where a lot of iconic pieces of art were created as
these artists appropriated images from pop culture and commercial art, which
was prominent in the general publics eyes thus giving them more popularity. The
work of these appropriation artists can be seen to back up Barthes’ initial
idea of the ‘death of the author’ due to the fact that the artists are
extracting pieces of previous work, if not the majority of it, which gives the
impression that the original artist is not needed.


It is very rare that appropriation art is
about disrespecting or taking the authorship of another designer. It is also
not to be seen as an indication of laziness. Elaine Sturtevant could be
regarded to be the earliest applier of appropriation art, her first and
foremost focus was to use the exact techniques that the artists she was
appropriating from had used. It has been said that in one case, Warhol lent his
screens to Sturtevant so that she could reproduce her copies of his work on
silkscreens. Most artists who appropriate use this technique on the grounds of
their interest for the previous artists’ work, or how existing pieces of work
or images can be manipulated or used to create new and exciting work. However
this is not the case for Sturtevant, she took appropriation art to a new,
drastic measure where she questioned the concept of authorship. To do so she
paints an accurate copy of an artist’s work then goes on to declare ownership,
whilst fully admitting to everyone that she knows it is an exact copy. In the
60’s she said she allowed herself one ‘mistake’ so that she could differentiate
between her piece and the original piece. This sort of appropriation relates
back to what W.K. Wimsatt, Jr., and Monroe C. Beardsley both wrote about in
‘The Intentional Fallacy’ where they say that art buries its creator in order to
speak its own meaning to the reader or creator. The appropriation that
Sturtevant does relates to this because it is asking what is qualified to be
treated as art is made by others and not herself, however, her work is an exact
replica so why not treat it the same and bury the creator.


Sherrie Levine is another appropriation
artists from the late 1970’s, who was included in a group of conceptual artists
that were known as the ‘Pictures generation’. She used photography to examine
visual representation through the use of appropriation techniques. Instead of
exploring new concepts and ideas for a photograph, Levine decided to
re-photograph reproductions of images by photographers such as Edward Weston
and Walker Evans. Levine’s appropriation of Evans’ work became a prominent
feature of postmodernism, it was not appreciated by all but was recognised by
many. Her photographs were almost identical to the originals, which is why
there was such controversy about them. In none of her photographs was there any
attempt to misguide the viewer into thinking it was all Levine, the name of the
original artist is often acknowledged within the title of the work which is
very interesting.


The initial image of what we know an artist
or designer to be is someone who created a piece of work. Now when we look at
an appropriation artist or designer we start to question their authorship due
to the fact that aspects of their work are taken from previously existing
artwork. One difference between an appropriation artist and the original artist
is the meaning behind the work. As the reader of a piece of work you ask
questions to do with what the artists meaning behind it would be and that is
the intention of most artists. However Barthes says in ‘The Death of the
Author’ that if the reader were to view the work through the eyes of the
creator they would not benefit from this piece of work as when you associate
the creator with that work then you are then trying to guess what the creator
meant and not just looking at the piece of work. By including other aspects of
peoples work in their work, appropriation artists, they withhold the right to
have their own meaning attach to their work.


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