Constructions of Media Authorship: Investigating Aesthetic Practices from Early Modernity to the Digital Age 9783110679632, 9783110655070

The author is dead, long live the author! This paradox has shaped discussions on authorship since at least the 1960s, wh

327 22 176MB

English Pages 274 Year 2020

Report DMCA / Copyright


Polecaj historie

Constructions of Media Authorship: Investigating Aesthetic Practices from Early Modernity to the Digital Age
 9783110679632, 9783110655070

Table of contents :
Constructions of Media Authorship: Investigating Aesthetic Practices from Early Modernity to the Digital Age – An Introduction
Assigning Authorship to Artistic Practices
Naming and Not-Naming: Authorial Gestures in Contemporary Art
Bauhaus – A Trademark without Author? Remarks on Authorship in Design
Authorship in the Contemporary Production of Metal Sculptures: Art Theory, Technology, Law and the Organization of Work
The Artist, the Author and Authenticity
Is Copyright Law the Zombie of Authorship?
Avant-Gardes Practices and the Erosion of Authorship
Have We Ever Been Modern? Reflections on Some Myths of Literary Production
Autopoietic Processes within the Avant-Gardes: Fragmenting Authorship
Gendered Discourses on Authorship in Film and Video
Collaborative Authorship – Or How to Overcome the “Nightmare of Participation”
Dispersed Authorship in Contemporary Media
The Camera-stylo of Postfeminist Auteurism: Sofia Coppola’s “Cinema of Relief”
Auteurism and Anonymity in Television: On the Domestication and Dispersion of Television Authorship
Hacks as Means of Meaning-making
Claiming Authorship? Machinima Production and the Streaming Practices of Gamers
Authors, Fans, Pirates: On Fan Practices and Authorship
Psychic Residues or: Maths, Wires, Code
Images: Credits, Copyrights and Sources

Citation preview

Constructions of Media Authorship

Constructions of Media Authorship Investigating Aesthetic Practices from Early Modernity to the Digital Age Edited by Christiane Heibach, Angela Krewani and Irene Schütze

ISBN 978-3-11-065507-0 e-ISBN (PDF) 978-3-11-067963-2 e-ISBN (EPUB) 978-3-11-067969-4 Library of Congress Control Number: 2020948239 Bibliographic information published by the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek The Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the Deutsche Nationalbibliografie; detailed bibliographic data are available on the Internet at

© 2021 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston Cover image: Montage: “Medieval papyrus with blots and scribbles” (paseven / iStock / Getty Images Plus) and “Concept of artificial intelligence or hackers, shape of human face combined with binary code” (Jackie Niam/iStock/Getty Images Plus) Typesetting: Integra Software Services Pvt. Ltd. Printing and Binding: CPI books GmbH, Leck

Contents Christiane Heibach, Angela Krewani, Irene Schütze Constructions of Media Authorship: Investigating Aesthetic Practices from Early Modernity to the Digital Age – An Introduction 1

Assigning Authorship to Artistic Practices Irene Schütze Naming and Not-Naming: Authorial Gestures in Contemporary Art Julia Meer Bauhaus – A Trademark without Author? Remarks on Authorship in Design 35 Barbara Stoltz Authorship in the Contemporary Production of Metal Sculptures: Art Theory, Technology, Law and the Organization of Work 49 Hans Dieter Huber The Artist, the Author and Authenticity


Grischka Petri Is Copyright Law the Zombie of Authorship?


Avant-Gardes Practices and the Erosion of Authorship Christiane Heibach Have We Ever Been Modern? Reflections on Some Myths of Literary Production 105 Anke Finger Autopoietic Processes within the Avant-Gardes: Fragmenting Authorship 121 Angela Krewani Gendered Discourses on Authorship in Film and Video





Thari Jungen Collaborative Authorship – Or How to Overcome the “Nightmare of Participation” 145

Dispersed Authorship in Contemporary Media Silke Roesler-Keilholz The Camera-stylo of Postfeminist Auteurism: Sofia Coppola’s “Cinema of Relief” 167 Herbert Schwaab Auteurism and Anonymity in Television: On the Domestication and Dispersion of Television Authorship 183 Annika Richterich Hacks as Means of Meaning-making


Karin Wenz Claiming Authorship? Machinima Production and the Streaming Practices of Gamers 215 Vera Cuntz-Leng Authors, Fans, Pirates: On Fan Practices and Authorship Johannes Bruder Psychic Residues or: Maths, Wires, Code


Images: Credits, Copyrights and Sources


Contributors Index




Christiane Heibach, Angela Krewani, Irene Schütze

Constructions of Media Authorship: Investigating Aesthetic Practices from Early Modernity to the Digital Age – An Introduction Ever since Michel Foucault famously proclaimed the death of the author (Foucault 1977 [1969]), the humanities have been aware that authorship is constructed discursively. Nevertheless, in the spirit of the Romantic aesthetics of genius, the idea of the creative individual author still lives on (Jannidis et al. 1999; Burke 2008; Donovan et al. 2008; Gray and Johnson 2013, 48–68; Schaffrick and Willand 2017). It shapes both practical social action (in public discourse, the economy and institutions, i.a.) as well as scholarly and theoretical approaches to studying art. Considering this apparent contradiction, this publication turns both to historical and to current artistic practices within various media and fields of communication in an attempt to grasp them theoretically. Despite the perennial gesture of announcing and ennobling the individual author, from early modern times onwards – and this is still true today – work processes in art have often indeed been collaborative. Diverse aesthetic strategies can be identified throughout history in, but also apart from the dualism of individual versus collective authorship, materialized in different media. Each after its own fashion, all the strategies seen here question the traditional triad of a stable and unchangeable work of art created by an individual author/artist and received by an anonymous public. A short look back at the history of literary and artistic production reveals the contours of these strategies. While non-European literary traditions can be traced back to a variety of oral and scriptural traditions (Schwermann and Steineck 2014) and pre-modern European traditions possess differing concepts of the individual (Pizzone 2014), our present understanding of literary authorship is still inherently connected to concepts and modes that were developed in the fifteenth century with the invention of the printing press. Back then, however, the birth of the author was experienced as the birth of a new function and a new social system, and not as the birth of a creative individual. The first function of authorship was authoritative in a twofold sense. On the one hand, naming the author of a text guaranteed that a local (parochial or secular) authority was able to prosecute those who published revolutionary pamphlets or other disrespectful, agitating texts. On the other hand, being able to articulate and disseminate one’s own political


Christiane Heibach, Angela Krewani, Irene Schütze

stance and opinion suddenly extended the notion of authorship beyond that of an established authority. The author became an important stimulus for the (economic and cultural) success of the printing press. Now, potentially everyone had access to publishing technologies and their products. The book rather quickly – within a single century – became the main medium of knowledge transfer, and thus shaped what was accepted as knowledge (Giesecke 1991; McLuhan 1964). In Europe, it was not decided until much later that the book would become the leading medium for poetry (which, since the invention of the printing press, had been situated between orality and literacy), in the second part of the eighteenth century. The decision to choose the book as main aesthetic medium for poetry and its different genres was fundamentally due to a desire to define the arts as an autonomous field, which could then dismiss any external non-aesthetic influence. This movement constituted what Michel Foucault later called the “author function” (Foucault 1977 [1969], 124–131): the individual author-genius became the leading paradigm for all the arts – despite the obvious existence of author collectives and artist workshops. The literary system has since built a complex institutional structure around the figure of the author-genius. The system’s inspiration did not come from aesthetics alone: the autonomous author needed a product, or course, to introduce into the existing structures of the market, enabling her/him to earn her/his living (Bosse 2014 [1981]; Schmidt 1989). Her/his authority therefore had to be protected, which led to the formulation of the first copyright law (the first of its kind in the German-speaking world was established in Prussia in 1837) – a legal genre that has been sustaining the individual author to this day. However, authorship was not created merely by aesthetic theory and the economic system; the realm of academic literary studies developed also in close relation to the autonomous art system. The first theory of literary interpretation in Germany, Friedrich Schleiermacher’s hermeneutics (Schleiermacher 1998 [1838]), would not have been possible without the idea of the individual author. Yet, when he distinguishes the grammatical from the psychological interpretation, Schleiermacher is already very aware of the fact that authors are part of a culturally preformed language system within which their writing takes place. During the second half of the twentieth century, this idea of the language system inspired poststructuralist thinkers such as Julia Kristeva to view intertextuality as the literary structure par excellence, and texts as reaching far beyond the creative power of their individual author (Kristeva 1984). Interestingly, literary practice itself began to play with possible “author functions” once the individual author had been established as a dominant concept. The writing practices of the Romantics around 1800 not only promote and practice collective creativity but also play with different roles of the literary system, when

Constructions of Media Authorship: Investigating Aesthetic Practices


they, for example, create a fictional editor to verify the truth of the story told. Such strategies seem to work against the standardization of the literary system and can be called “counter-media aesthetics,” aesthetics that try to transcend the material and structural borders of its media. Counter-media strategies become a prominent practice in the European and US-American avant-garde movements of the early twentieth century: the “-isms” of the 1910s and 1920s, for example, contradict the idea of the individual author-genius by emphasizing writing practices that question the category of intentionality (e.g., by introducing aleatory strategies or nonsense lyrics). In addition, they explicitly transcend the materiality of the book by revitalizing verbal poetry forms, which then experience a boom in the last decades of the century, be it in their performative manifestation as poetry slams or in new genres like the audio book. Ultimately, digital media appear in the second half of the twentieth century and open new ways to write and display literature. Technical networks – especially the internet – provide an infrastructure for impossibly large collectives that are open for cooperation between groups beyond those whose members know each other personally. These network structures suit project-oriented communities, allowing them to form open creative collectives that only exist for a certain time and a certain purpose. Software also seems to be capable of taking over some of the avant-garde writing strategies – the machine thus takes on a new “author function” (see Cramer 2011, Gendolla et al. 2007). Although literary theory began questioning the notion of the individual author in the 1960s, it never succeeded in dismissing this concept. Poststructuralism concentrated on canonical authors to prove their theses of self-referential language as well as ever-evolving meaning, and their critique, of course, was aimed at printed literature. Serious alternatives to the individual author potentially only exist in the digital media, which allow, for example, open author collectives and automatic text generators, and where networked communication is also becoming a new aesthetic strategy. However, the experiments dominating the discussion about digital literature in the 1990s seem to have failed; net.literature, which developed the new writing strategies mentioned above, has all but disappeared. What will be next? As yet, we do not know. However, we do know and discuss in this book the question of how new radical forms of literary production relate to new forms of mediality, with a focus on hybrid inter-art productions. Literature itself has been very resistant to revolutions and reformations, possibly because the medium of the book – and with it the literary system – has proven to be very powerful. Nevertheless, we have to question the future of literature in the age of networks and multi-mediality, because history and the present have been and still are demonstrating the multiplicity of processes that structure literary production despite the persistence of the individual author. We have to keep this


Christiane Heibach, Angela Krewani, Irene Schütze

in mind in order to observe and discover practices that may constitute tomorrow’s literary aesthetics. We may already be witnessing some of these new approaches when looking at other forms of art. The concept of the single author-genius is even more persistent in the field of fine arts than in the media convergences mentioned above. This fact is paradoxical, as collaborative working has been a common practice in Western art since medieval times. Already then, and subsequently in early modern European art, artists managed thriving workshops with many members. However, the conception of the “divine creator” also arose in the early modern age – the “divinissimo artifice” as Giorgio Vasari called it in regard to Leonardo da Vinci in his Vite of 1568 (Vasari 1879, 41). This construct was closely associated with the notion of disegno: the mental, “inner” images of the unique, individual creator that were to be captured in drawings. The individual creator, relying on her or his inner images, was to deliver the idea for the artwork and, correspondingly, give instructions for the concept, realization and handling of her/his artwork particularly in terms of drawings to the workshop members. The strong impact of the Renaissance and Baroque theories of disegno may have reinforced the idea of the individual author-genius in fine arts during the centuries to follow and, in an attenuated sense, even today. The institution of the individual author as a unique creator was further strengthened during the nineteenth century, when artists tried to obtain their autonomy from royal and ecclesiastical contracts. Works of art were no longer primarily being commissioned but created independently. Working practices began to differ as well. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, the individual work of the single artist and his or her “single-handedness” was gaining importance, as was the case, for instance, in art movements such as impressionism, expressionism or the various stages of neo-expressionism. Furthermore, many art movements and artistic positions were becoming highly reliant on concepts and abstract ideas during the twentieth century: The underlying idea and conception were becoming more decisive than the materialized artwork, as was prototypically the case in the conceptual art movement of the 1960s, and is still the case in trends of conceptual art of today. Once again, the individual author is celebrated – not as the enigmatic and quasi-divine genius of past epochs in the history of art and culture but rather as an outstanding person with unique ideas. At the end of the twentieth century, new genres were being developed that often required the collaboration of many individuals, while only one took credit for being the author. For instance, this is often the case with installation artworks composed with the assistance of various media implements and digital tools, which required the support of various specialists, craftsmen and helping hands (Coles 2012). The twentieth century also generated many art forms, that were used by various movements to question the conception of individual authorship, such

Constructions of Media Authorship: Investigating Aesthetic Practices


as with the genres of happening and art intervention. These art genres transformed the “passive” viewer or recipient into an active participant. At the same time, the work of art as a clearly defined, materialized object was being decomposed; in its stead, the process of “making” – that is conceiving, communicating, understanding during the course of interaction between the artist and the participants – was now regarded as a “piece of art.” Still other forms of art – such as appropriation art, where already existing artworks such as paintings, sculptures or performances were copied or taken as models for alterative emulation – were questioning the idea of genuine authorship (Gover 2018). However, in spite of all these attempts to deconstruct individual, genuine authorship, the art system of today still requires the individual author to be the outstanding creator. This contradiction could be explained by economic reasons, such as that galleries are striving to obtain maximum profit by concentrating on and promoting glamorous individual authorship. However, it may also be explained by the traditional significance still attributed to works of fine art – in stark contrast to artifacts in other media, such as film and television, which are considered less valuable in terms of lasting and enshrined cultural relevance. A work of fine art may not have considerable material value or a remarkable “labor” value in terms of work hours, as it may not have taken a long period of time or intense toil to produce it. Yet it may be regarded as being precious by virtue of the “cultural force” of its meaning. Its creator or author is considered to be specifically gifted or talented or to have a special message to deliver to humanity. The discourses of authorship in individual media channels vary and do not develop simultaneously. For instance, while authorship was being questioned in literary theory, it was strongly reinstated in film by the French auteur theory (Caughie 2001, 9–16). The individual – usually male – film author figured as a culturally ennobled stronghold against industrialized Hollywood production. Although the medium of film relies heavily on collaborative productions, such collaborations were negated by the concept of individual authorship, which, at the same time, pitchforked film into the realm of “high art.” Conversely, television – technologically and practically similar to film production – never experienced the ennobling of the auteur. Especially in Germany, generations of television authors went unrecognized, as it turns out, to the advantage of many literary authors who wrote for television “undercover” for commercial reasons. Only recently, in the age of streaming, has “quality TV” reached similar heights to film. By sidestepping television, the author was re-instituted in streaming platforms such as HBO. As mentioned before, media convergences shifted according to their respective, distinct notions of authorship, bringing about a reconceptualization of authorial practices and values. On one hand, the concept of the author was being


Christiane Heibach, Angela Krewani, Irene Schütze

undermined by digital technologies and collective and participative practices; on the other, the author was re-installed for commercial reasons, as can be observed in the television streaming platforms. To recap, in present times, communicative artistic work is quite often hybrid and diversified, appearing in a variety of configurations and manifesting themselves through “ephemeral” procedural performances as well as through material and immaterial products. They are generated through the arrangement of a complex division of labor in which the labor is not merely distributed through interpersonal action but, in addition, across interactions between human beings and their tools. Specifically, at present, authorship is usually no longer enacted and performed within the framework of a single distinct and clearly defined medium; rather, it emerges nearly always in multimedia or transmedia contexts, for example, harnessing mash ups or utilizing social and mobile media. Given the complexity of postmodern media, any mono-media theory of authorship appears inadequate. As demonstrated by the essays collected in this volume, approaches to conceiving and describing authorship that are traditionally deduced from the simple reading of the paradigm of the book author as authority do not account for complex networking and cooperation in authorial practices. The tensions created by participatory art, multimedia works, hacking, gaming, or animal creations call for theories that can depict levels of high complexity. Present theoretical concepts need to encompass the dynamic processes of exchange and transformation between media, authors and technologies. New theories must therefore question the authorial and anthropocentric perspectives on creativity and aesthetic production. Accordingly, a number of concepts have been developed recently that serve as starting points for current considerations on contemporary art production and art reception. The approaches include actor-network theory, which conceptualizes the interaction between technical and human participants (Latour 2007), as well as the concept of “media ecology” to analyze the interplay of different media; the latter was reactivated in the debate on mobile and social media (Hoffmann and Öttl 2017). In addition, the dynamic interdependence of technical and media dimensions can be scrutinized through the concept of assemblage: offering an alternative heuristics, this concept focuses on the intersection of various socio-technical systems as conditions for artistic practices. The advantage is that assemblage links the complexities of agents (systems, technologies, users, bodies, etc., and their relationships with each other) with the complexities of concepts, practices, traditions of art and culture. This publication analyzes concrete working procedures historically and systematically in different media and fields of communication, thereby capturing diverse forms of contemporary authorship. Although the figure of the author-genius still dominates discourses within the field of fine arts and the art market today,

Constructions of Media Authorship: Investigating Aesthetic Practices


artistic practices are marked by open collaborative processes and deconstructions of authorial discourses. And looking at historical processes of authorship we find an array of techniques that clearly undermine the position of the author in control. Against this background, this volume seeks to trace the concept of authorship at various historical moments, which are reflected in the book’s structure: Authorship is reviewed as an assigning system, as a structure within avant-garde practices that is prone to deconstruction, and as an invisible concept governing contemporary media. The exploration of these fields demonstrates the multifariousness of authorial concepts and the dynamics they bring about in respective media processes. The first section, “Assigning Authorships to artistic practices” begins with Irene Schütze’s exploration of processes of naming. Schütze observes a strong self-awareness in the construction of authorship in contemporary fine arts. She shows how artists are currently deconstructing the traditional Western concept of the singular-genuine author by pointing to non-human authorship or the collective practices of some non-Western cultures. At the same time, artists are installing new “functional settings” that empower them to make strong authorial statements beyond established modes. Naming or omitting the name of the artist are strategies that come into play in this process. The next two essays in this section raise questions of authorship in artistic areas without strong authorial traditions: design and metal art. Julia Meer analyses authorial processes within Bauhaus design, which traditionally followed the general discourses of the white male genius in art. Contrary to common art historical approaches, she traces the practical design process that manifestly undermines the concept of the genius designer. However, as also in the artmarket, the traditional concept of authorship casts a shadow over the Bauhaus and has survived as a commercial factor. Barbara Stoltz offers a different insight into the traditional art of casting bronze sculptures since the Renaissance. By opening up such a historical perspective, she demonstrates that contemporary procedures of metalwork do not differ conceptually from their historical predecessors. During the twentieth century as well as the Renaissance, metal workers – being at the center of the process – were regarded as craftsmen; even the famous international Fonderia d’Arte di Massimo del Chiaro referred to them as such. Stoltz concludes her deliberations by hinting at the structural gap within metalwork that reserves authorship only for the “ideator” of the artwork, who, however, requires craftsmanship to give shape to the artwork. Subsequently, the section traces alternatives within the discourse, beginning with Hans Dieter Huber’s detailed insights into historical workshop practices. According to his research, the idea of the artist-genius was definitely undermined by collective works in the famous Renaissance workshops, on one hand, while being institutionalized by the granting of


Christiane Heibach, Angela Krewani, Irene Schütze

copyrights to the master, on the other. Furthermore, he elaborates on style as being a guarantor of authorial rights. Grischka Petri then points to an alarming discrepancy between concepts of authorship in art and in copyright law. While all art and media forms have been modifying and renegotiating the concept for centuries, copyright law remains firmly attached to the idea of human authorship, protecting the author against media developments, algorithms and non-human participation in creative practices. Christiane Heibach’s reflections on myths about literary production opens the section “Avant-Gardes Practices and the Erosion of Authorship.” Her article examines aesthetic theory in literature (which was established by the “creators” of literature, that is, by authors) according to the explicit and implicit premises concerning conditions of literary production. Starting with a discussion about artistic autonomy in Europe during the 1800s, Heibach demonstrates that aesthetic theory has always reflected the role of the author in discursive formations that combine artistic practice and theory as well as academic discussion. Additionally, a media-theoretical view on both these discursive formations and artistic practices helps us detect the myths that accompany our notions of authorship until today. Anke Finger follows up with an exploration of what she labels the “auto-poetic” processes of the avant-gardes. Rather than concentrating exclusively on Marcel Duchamp’s famous Fountain (1917) as an example of non-artistic authorship, she begins her considerations with Elsa von FreytagLoringhoven’s homage to Marcel Duchamp – another piece of plumbing turned into “art” through its display in a gallery. Starting with these two examples, Finger introduces questions central to authorship by looking into the structural powers determining authorship. These questions shift the focus of her analysis towards considerations of framing and of para-texts in art. Framing strategies undermine authorial concepts, producing an ecological network of communications. Unlike literature and the fine arts, both of which rely on long-standing and stable concepts of authorship, film, television and online-television still have to establish their own discourses of authorship, as auteur theory and more contemporary concepts demonstrate. Moreover, considerations of how media technologies relate to one another play an important role in shaping the concept of authorship prevalent in each medium, as the image of Astruc’s camera-stylo clearly displays, while adopting the imagery of literary authorship to film. Angela Krewani’s essay questions this translation of filmic authorship and counters it by pointing to a discursive tradition that revolves around technology and light as the defining factors of film authorship. This allows Krewani to conclude, with regard to gender, that technology offers female filmmakers greater scope for creativity than traditional concepts of authorship do. Thari Jungen focuses on contemporary artistic creation within the tradition of the

Constructions of Media Authorship: Investigating Aesthetic Practices


early avant-garde. She traces how forms of collaborative artistic production foster new forms of participatory citizenship and political action. Her considerations show how the deconstructive intent of earlier avant-garde movements is also manifest in contemporary forms of the avant-garde. Thari Jungen’s text paves the way for the third section of the volume, “Dispersed Authorship in Contemporary Media.” Here we find a variety of strategies dealing with authorship, strategies that sometimes allow the collective to stand in for traditional concepts of individual authorship or allow for gendered alternative perspectives to emerge. Silke Roesler-Keilholz follows this line of argumentation in her discussion of Sophia Coppola’s feminist filmmaking. Starting with the argument that auteur theory privileges male authorship and a literary model of the camera-stylo, Roesler-Keilholz discusses notions of postfeminist filmmaking. In her view, postfeminist authorship varies from the traditional male model in its attitude towards narration and filmic structure as highly intertextual. The notion of filmic authorship as a structural moment – integrating objects and converging with neighbouring media – is also proposed by Herbert Schwaab in his discussion of the television author. Schwaab offers a broad historical perspective overview of this almost hidden figure. Unlike film, which tried to establish at least an auteur, television frequently disallowed a recognition of the author. Referring to Dennis Potter’s postmodern play with media differences in authorship, Schwaab discusses alternative concepts of authorship as a structural moment of televisual narration. The shift towards the structural moment of authorship hinted at in the essays on film and television is foregrounded in this third section on dispersed authorship. In the following two essays, authorship moves into digital media practices. Annika Richterich explores how hacks function as a tool of meaning-making. Her essay describes hacking as a constructive practice that combines technological with communicative interventions. While hacking is commonly associated with illegal, destructive activities, many hackers tried to challenge this view: They see their practices as a form of intellectual, creative and potentially political engagement. Authorship as a creative practice is established in Karin Wenz’s discussion of machinima production and gamers’ streaming practices. Wenz takes a critical stance towards Harold Jenkins’ euphoric embrace of user empowerment and documents the extent to which user activities are exploited by the entertainment industry. Vera Cuntz-Leng addresses the discursive formations and the artistic practices of authorship by discussing new developments in collective literary culture that have emerged in the realm of popular culture in the twenty-first century, such labeled as “hip-hop culture,” “convergence culture,” “remix” or “piracy,” to name just a few. The common ground of all these practices are the networked media of communication that enable fan-communities


Christiane Heibach, Angela Krewani, Irene Schütze

to expand narratives and characters. Paradoxically, such practices often reinforce traditional notions of authorship by triggering a pushback from authors of the original works, and leading to self-deprecation among fan fiction authors, and the rejection of “successful” fan fiction authors who enter the market with their remixed creations. Compared to the practices in fan fiction, these new forms do not undermine authorship but rather express similar claims. Johannes Bruder dives into the sonic technosphere and the human-machine combinations of creative practices. His essay is a fieldwork-driven attempt to grasp the selfunderstanding of electronic music artists and their connection to their respective digital tools. The articles in this book are based on a conference of the same title that took place at the Philipps-University of Marburg in Germany in May 2016. For this publication, the conference lectures were revised and complemented by further articles. The conference itself was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), the Ursula Kuhlmann Fonds and the city of Marburg. We would like to thank the sponsoring institutions for their financial support. Further thanks go to the Johannes Gutenberg-University of Mainz, to the Philipps-University of Marburg and to Regensburg University, which supported the publication of the texts. Furthermore, we are deeply indebted to Jacob Watson, for his engaged revision of the essays and his illuminating suggestions. We also thank Ann-Marie Letourneur, Benita Schmitz, Bianca Schweighofer and Victoria Serova for the accurate and diligent corrections.

References Bosse, Heinrich. Autorschaft ist Werkherrschaft. Über die Entstehung des Urheberrechts aus dem Geist der Goethezeit. Paderborn: Fink, [1981] 2014. Burke, Seán. The Death and Return of the Author: Criticism and Subjectivity in Barthes, Foucault and Derrida. Edinburgh: University Press, 2008. Caughie, John, ed. Theories of Authorship. A Reader. London and New York: Routledge, 2001. Coles, Alex, ed. The Transdisciplinary Studio. Berlin et al.: Sternberg Press, 2012. Cramer, Florian. Exe.cut[up]able statements. Poetische Kalküle und Phantasmen des selbstausführenden Texts. Munich: Fink, 2011. Donovan, Stephen, Danuta Zadworna-Fjellestad, and Rolf Lundén, eds. Authority Matters: Rethinking the Theory and Practice of Authorship. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2008. Foucault, Michel. “What is an Author?” Language, Counter-Memory, Practice. Selected Essays and Interviews. Ed. Donald F. Bouchard, translated by Donald F. Bouchard and Sherry Simon. Ithaca: CUP, [1969] 1977. 113–138. Gendolla, Peter, and Jörgen Schäfer, eds. The Aesthetics of Net Literature. Writing, Reading and Playing in Programmable Media. Bielefeld: transcript, 2007. Giesecke, Michael. Der Buchdruck in der Frühen Neuzeit. Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp, 1991.

Constructions of Media Authorship: Investigating Aesthetic Practices


Gover, Karen E. Art and Authority: Moral Rights and Meaning in Contemporary Visual Art. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018. Gray, Jonathan, and Derek Johnson, eds. A Companion to Media Authorship. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, 2013. Hoffmann, Christina, and Johanna Öttl, eds. Digitalität und literarische Netz-Werke. Vienna: Turia + Kant, 2017. Jannidis, Fotis, Gerhard Lauer, Matias Martinez, and Simone Winko, eds. Rückkehr des Autors: zur Erneuerung eines umstrittenen Begriffs. Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1999. Kristeva, Julia. Revolution in Poetic Language. Translated by Margaret Waller, with an introduction by Leon S. Roudiez. New York: Columbia University Press, 1984. Latour, Bruno. Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2007. McLuhan, Marshall. Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964. Pizzone, Aglae. The Author in Middle Byzantine Literature: Modes, Functions, and Identities. Boston and Berlin: De Gruyter, 2014. Schaffrick, Matthias, and Marcus Willand, ed. Theorien und Praktiken der Autorschaft. Berlin and Boston: De Gruyter, 2017. Schleiermacher, Friedrich. Hermeneutics and Criticism: and Other Writings. Ed. Andrew Bowie. Cambridge: University Press, 1998. Schmidt, Siegfried J. Die Selbstorganisation des Sozialsystems Literatur im 18. Jahrhundert. Suhrkamp: Frankfurt/Main, 1989. Schwermann, Christian, and Raji C. Steineck, eds. That Wonderful Composite Called Author: Authorship in East Asian Literatures from the Beginnings to the Seventeenth Century. Leiden: Brill, 2014. Vasari, Giorgio. Le vite de' più eccellenti pittori, scultori, e architettori, Vol. 3. Edition: Le opere di Giorgio Vasari. Ed. Gaetano Milanesi. Vol. 4. Florence: Sansoni, [1568] 1879.

Assigning Authorship to Artistic Practices

Irene Schütze

Naming and Not-Naming: Authorial Gestures in Contemporary Art In the past, diverse attempts have been made to overcome the concept of the single, genuine author in artistic practice, the writing of art history and art theory. Art historians have tried to understand collaborative processes (Bambach 1999; Kester 2011; Mader 2012; Coles 2012; Bacharach et al. 2016) or have analyzed how the creation of artworks is affected by organizational agencies that follow ends beyond individual concerns. To provide an example of the latter, art historians focusing on collective style have defined authorship as something that goes beyond singular mastery. One of the first to have considered collective style on a theoretical level was Heinrich Wölfflin. He was fascinated by the observation that similar forms of representation appeared at certain times that are not specific to an individual author.1 He also mused about how these collectively shared forms of representation had changed gradually. Wölfflin explained the collective modifications with changing cultural concepts of how to perceive the world. In 1915, when he had first published his renowned Principles of Art History, he classified his approach as an “art history without names” (Wölfflin 2015, 72).

Artistic practices beyond singular (human) authorship Looking at artistic practices, movements such as happening, fluxus, action art, new genre public art, and relational art have transformed individual authorship into collective activities (Bishop 2012, 77–128; Stierli and Widrich 2016). Artistic participation and audience collaboration merged with social life, and the material artwork often vanished. For instance, in the 1990s, Rirkrit Tiravanija had become known internationally by cooking Thai soups and serving them in galleries (Grassi 2007, 4–22). The interaction between the gallery visitors while enjoying the meals was declared an artwork in its own right. To Nicolas Bourriaud, the interventions of Tiravanija were a compelling example for his definition of relational

1 Wölfflin initiated his studies in collective style in 1888 with his book Renaissance und Barock: eine Untersuchung über Wesen und Entstehung des Barockstils in Italien, for an English edition see: Wölfflin 1964.


Irene Schütze

art: an artform that questions the role of the artist as a lonesome and self-referred worker, that dematerializes the artwork, and that, instead, strives to establish aesthetic relations between human beings, who would otherwise not communicate (Bourriaud 2010, 70, 81, 83). Additionally, in more recent years, several artists have been influenced by actor-network theory, by theories transcending human activity (like transhumanism, post-humanism, animal studies etc.), or by other theories and approaches that have tried to overcome an anthropocentric view on the world. For instance, artists such as Roxy Paine, Pierre Huyghe or Thomas Feuerstein set out to demonstrate how artistic processes can be initiated that are self-sustaining and which are accordingly accomplished by such entities as machines, animals or biological material. Roxy Paine invented and constructed diverse machines with digital implements or tools capable of producing artworks without immediate assignment of intervention to the mind or the hand of the artist. His Scumak No. 2 (Auto Sculpture Maker) consists of a laptop with a special software program connected to a machine that is able to build a sculpture with polyethylene (Dohm et al. 2008, 106–111). Though their shapes are not designed by a human being, each piece produced by the machine is a unique sculpture due to the material qualities of the substance used.2 Another example for self-sustaining artwork is Pierre Huyghe’s installation for documenta 13, which he called Untilled (dOCUMENTA (13) 2012, 262–263). Huyghe located his work at the edge of the Karlsaue-park, where gardeners usually store their tools and material. According to the legend plate, the installation was set up by “alive entities and inanimate things, made and not made.”3 Various plants, seeds, soil, vine, ants, bacteria, trees, bees, dogs, a remake of a modern sculpture, leftover artworks of previous documenta-exhibitions, a human guard and visitors were coexisting or interacting within this installation. The “alive entities” transformed the area by simply growing or living. In addition, Thomas Feuerstein, amongst others, invented an installation entitled Psychoprosa (Ermacora 2015, 11–16) (Fig. 1). Made from numerous tubes, tanks, filters, generators and boilers, and extending over several rooms, the installation synthesized a slimy substance and a new molecule produced by the fungi and algae in the generated compound. Feuerstein called this new, purportedly psychedelic molecule “psilamine” (Ermacora 2015, 11).

2 The machine as well as the sculptures produced by it, are displayed in exhibitions. The status of “artwork” is therefore attributed to all of them. By exhibiting his machine as “artwork,” Paine assigns his authorship as starting point for the digitally generated, non-human artistic activities. 3 See image of the plate: (4 December 2019).

Naming and Not-Naming: Authorial Gestures in Contemporary Art


Fig. 1: Thomas Feuerstein, Psychoprosa, installation view Frankfurter Kunstverein, 2015. Photo: Norbert Miguletz.

Although the artist initiated the biochemical process by establishing pertinent technical devices, the creation of slime and “psilamine” was accomplished not by the artist and the collaborating scientists but by specific biochemical reactions of the involved molecules. Feuerstein states in an interview with the art historian Sabeth Buchmann: “The best works are those that come into being without authorship; that result from processes.” (Ermacora 2015, 22)

Celebrating the individual author within the art system However, while artists try to question authorship as a process executed by a somehow gifted or talented human individual, the art system is simultaneously highly reliant on the singular personal author with his or her individual biography (Thornton 2014; Graw 2010, 95–118 and 157–168).4 Academic education, lists of exhibitions and texts, gallery activities, and acquisitions by museums

4 Similar observations can be made regarding literary authorship, see Christiane Heibach’s contribution in this volume.


Irene Schütze

have to be released in order to be invited to more exhibitions, to let critics and art historians write further texts, to sell more works to art collectors and to gain chairs at art academies. Even when art is produced in large studios, as it is the case in the technically challenging installations by Ólafur Elíasson (Coles 2012, 167–207; Engberg-Pedersen 2012), or if it is produced by a large team, as is the case in the elaborate film installations of Julian Rosefeldt (Grebbers et al. 2016, 100–102), the identification with a single author is still decisive. And even if there is no identification with an individual author, the name of the artistic group is nevertheless essential. This is, for instance, the case in the Vienna-based Wochenklausur, which carries out social interventions and has differing, project-related members.5 It seems to be a law that authorship in fine arts has to be at least connected with a name, but best of all with an individual and/or talented person.

De- and reconstructing authorship I would now like to take a closer look at the works of two further artists, who set out to question the established model of singular, genuine authorship. Julieta Aranda as well as Hiwa K have reflected on the mechanism of authorship in some of their conceptual artworks. In doing so, they expressed or respectively represented different, conflicting modes of making artifacts – conflicting insofar as the processes of naming an author are disturbed or at least challenged. At the same time, both artists are highly recognized within the art world and therefore have to be themselves regarded as “strong” authors. In the following, I shall attempt to outline this seemingly paradox set-up and define how these forms of authorship – questioning the traditional Western concept on singular, genuine authorship, on one hand, and simultaneously setting up a new powerful and reflective personal authorship, on the other – can be described theoretically. As is well known, by the end of the 1960s, the author seems to have been a dying paradigm in theoretical and accordingly philosophical realms (Barthes 1977). When Michel Foucault raised the simple question: “What is an author?” in his famous lecture at the Collège de France in 1969, authorship appeared to be at least a functional construct of high complexity (Foucault 1977). According to Foucault, one of the main characteristics of the “author function” (Foucault 1977, 124–131) is its shifting, contextual dependency on field, discipline, time period and cultural space. The attribution of authorship also depends on the understanding

5 See statement on methods of Wochenklausur: lang=de. (4 December 2019).

Naming and Not-Naming: Authorial Gestures in Contemporary Art


and outlining of what might be regarded as a work or a spreading discourse or discursive principle that can be related to individual persons. After many years of deconstructing and subsequently resurrecting “authorship” (Jannidis et al. 1999; Burke 2008), Martina Wagner-Egelhaaf described a new thought pattern recently while looking at literary authors (Wagner-Egelhaaf 2014, 29). As she states, nowadays, many writers are highly aware of the constructiveness of authorship and know how to use this circumstance productively. For instance, their effort to create their public image is considered to be part of their work. I would now like to use this general observation on a new productive awareness of the “author function” described by Foucault and transfer it to the field of fine arts.

Crediting potential authorships in new “functional settings” As well as for her artistic career, Julieta Aranda (born 1975 in Mexico City) is above all known as one of the two main editors of the digital publishing platform e-flux.6 Initiated in 1998 by the artist Anton Vidokle as a mailing list for the distribution of exhibition announcements, today, e-flux is a powerful venture with several global services used by leading curators, critics, artists, gallerists and researchers throughout the world in order to distribute and receive news and to debate on art. The platform offers a journal, museum announcements, news for art academies, news on architecture, agendas of commercial galleries, an online archive, platforms for debate, exhibition spaces, and many other services and activities. Since 2003, Julieta Aranda has been the second leading head behind e-flux. Aranda and Vidokle have had a major impact on the theoretical discourse of art by publishing e-flux journal in collaboration with the writer Brian Kuan Wood since 2008. In the process, they established one of the most acknowledged online magazines on contemporary art. Together with Vidokle, Aranda also started several artistic projects designed to distribute and share knowledge within the art world and, at the same time, suspend traditional economic concepts that normally govern and limit such exchanges of knowledge. One of the projects is the e-flux video rental, which toured various exhibition spaces and museums between 2004 and 2010.7 Since

6 See: (4 December 2019). 7 In 2004, when e-flux video rental was established, the video-sharing website YouTube and other similar internet sites like Vdrome, specialized in films of visual artists, didn’t exist yet. It


Irene Schütze

2011, it has been permanently situated at the Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova in Ljubljana.8 Operated like a public library, it enables people to rent video art for a certain time without paying a fee, or to watch video tapes in situ in a specially designed space. Throughout the years of touring around the world, the collection of video tapes had been constantly expanded with donations from various video artists and collectors. Another project with a similar approach, conceptualized in 2009 is Time/Bank (Aranda and Vidokle 2010). This project was mainly carried out as an online platform that allowed people working in the institutional realm of art to contact, to communicate with and to support each other. Registered members had to invest their time and know-how and, in return, received assistance and services from other contributors. The currency of payment was time, not money. Despite the practical usefulness of those two projects, Aranda and Vidokle classify them as artistic projects and therefore as works of art. The e-flux video rental is a work in “three editions” (Bier 2015), one of them is the edition donated to the museum in Ljubljana. Time/Bank was not only present in the databases of the website; it was also exhibited as materialized installation with slips of papers and “bank notes,” designed by other participating artists. In those cases, Time/Bank operated as a meeting point and space for debate in galleries and museums. Likewise, Aranda and Vidokle produced the essay film Notes for a Time/Bank (2012), which they presented simultaneously in exhibitions (Schütze 2016, 3–5, 8). These projects show that Aranda and Vidokle have been pursuing an expanded concept of art. Vidokle once even spoke of making “art without work”: art does not necessarily need labour; it does not need a material work or respectively an ideal work achieved. According to Vidokle, art implies merely “a certain way of living, of being in the world” (Vidokle 2011). Nevertheless, in the above-mentioned cases, the character of “work” is served by declaration as well as by providing installative arrangements that appear materially and can be traditionally exhibited. In 2014, Julieta Aranda organized an exhibition in Argentina which she had titled Tools for Infinite Monkeys (open machine) with nine works focusing on authorship. The exhibition took place at the gallery of the art dealer Ignacio Liprandi. Theoretical starting point for the artworks presented had been the “Infinite Monkey Theorem” – a proposition that can be traced back to antiquity. Ingredients of the theorem have repeatedly appeared in literature and

was rather difficult to watch artistic video tapes. People interested in video art had to attend festivals or to get into personal contact with artists and galleries and ask for copies. 8 See website of the Moderna galerija/Museum of Modern Art, Ljubljana: en/exhibitions/268/evr-e-flux-video-rental/. (4 December 2019).

Naming and Not-Naming: Authorial Gestures in Contemporary Art


philosophy.9 The “Infinite Monkey Theorem” symbolizes a problem of probability calculus by giving it a narrative. On occasion of the exhibition, the gallery released an artist statement explaining the theorem: “an infinite group of immortal monkeys, arranging letters at random for an infinite amount of time will almost surely produce eventually a given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare” (Liprandi 2014, 19). In her statement, Aranda admits that the probability of such a thing happening is extremely small, but not zero. In addition, she mentions an artistic, non-scientific experiment that was performed by English scientists to “verify” the theorem playfully: The scientists equipped six macaques – Elmo, Gum, Heather, Holly, Mistletoe and Rowan – with a computer and a keyboard. After just a few weeks, the computer was fully destroyed by the monkeys. Before the destruction, they were able to type a text of five pages, primarily using the letter “s.” Aranda comments: [T]he output of the monkeys is an infinite text, even though it is only 5 pages long. And I want to believe that this text is non-quantifiable, as it carries all the weight of centuries of imagining monkeys as scribes, collecting history both written and unwritten, library backward and library forward. This non-quantifiable text registers in its illegible repetition all the critical historical narratives, that when properly aligned become readable, and otherwise remain unrecognizable, dormant potentiality. (Liprandi 2014, 19)

To sum it up, Aranda seems to consider the monkeys to be an ancient and powerful symbol for potential authorship: an authorship that may already preexist, may not be attributable, may occur randomly, may go on infinitely and, finally, may or may not be perceived and approved by others. All artworks presented by Aranda in her Argentine exhibition picked up on the central theme of infinite, randomly occurring authorship. One of the artworks gave the exhibition its name: Tools for Infinite Monkeys, executed in 2012. This installation consists of three pieces: 1.) pencils hanging on strings from the ceiling of the gallery; 2.) an old fashioned typewriter manipulated such that only the “s” key worked, positioned on a base; and 3.) a wall installation showing randomly selected letters in which the letter “s” prevails (Liprandi 2014, 7–8 and 14). The letters of the wall installation are made of vinyl and can be arranged in various dimensions. The three pieces of Tools for Infinite Monkeys not only give a literal hint at diverse media that might be used to accomplish works of art, but they also provide an idea of the infinite possibilities of future artistic accomplishments.

9 For example, the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges treats the theorem in his short essay “The total library” from 1939 as an idea proposed by the English biologist Thomas Henry Huxley (Borges 2001, 214–216, here 215). In 1941 Borges took up the idea of infinite and preexisting authorship in his famous short story “The Library of Babel” (Borges 1999, 112–118).


Irene Schütze

Another work in the exhibition was entitled Monkey Protocol Suite, which Aranda had developed in 2008. For its display, a computer, a screen, a keyboard and a connected printer were installed, and printed pages were scattered disorderly across the floor. The explaining note in the exhibition booklet said that the artwork, which could be acquired, consists of a PDF file of five pages and is offered in an edition of 3 (Liprandi 2014, 12). The PDF file contains lines of letters, obviously accidentally set line after line, as supposedly typed by the six monkeys in the previously mentioned experiment. Further on, the booklet informs that any computer and printer may be used to set up the artwork. It also carries the notice that the five pages may be printed endlessly. Here, the idea of infinite authorship is involved again, and, at the same time, the artwork raises the question of who could be regarded as the author: the monkeys as the “original” writers of the text in the artistic-“scientific” experiment, the collector who purchases the artwork and prints a certain number of pages, or Aranda, the artist who raised questions by designing her conceptual artwork. Aranda titled a third artwork of her Argentine exhibition The Human Authorship Requirement (Liprandi 2014, 9) (Fig. 2). With this piece, she responded to a lively public debate in summer 2014 (Stewart 2014).10 The artwork consists of a framed selfie, taken in 2011 by a macaque in Indonesia with a camera, belonging to the British nature photographer David J. Slater, and of two pages of a manual proclaiming US copyright law. The text Aranda cited is a paragraph called “The Human Authorship Requirement.” It indicates that “copyright law only protects ‘the fruits of intellectual labor’ that ‘are founded in the creative powers of the mind’.” (Trade-Mark Cases 2017, 4) Authorship is thereafter defined as an action performed exclusively by human beings and not by animals or other entities. Somehow, the selfie of the monkey, first published in British newspapers by Slater, was uploaded anonymously on Wikimedia-commons as open source material. Slater argued that the image belonged to him since he was the one to set up the camera used by the macaque in the wilderness. He insisted that the photo should be acknowledged as his because he planned the confrontation of the macaques with his camera. With this action, he wanted to forbid any further free distribution of the image on Wikimedia-commons. The editors of the web service disagreed by pointing to the “Human Authorship Requirement.” They concluded that the image – taken by the monkey – belonged to nobody and could therefore be freely distributed.11 10 For further reading on the debate and its related lawsuits, see Grischka Petri’s article in this volume. 11 Since 2014, Slater has led several lawsuits to fight for his right to the image of the macaque – most recently against the animal welfare association PETA, which had declared to be

Naming and Not-Naming: Authorial Gestures in Contemporary Art


Fig. 2: Julieta Aranda, The Human Authorship Requirement, installation view Liprandi Gallery, 2014.

Returning to Aranda’s installation entitled The Human Authorship Requirement from 2014, the image and the text she exhibited had both been taken from the internet. By the manner in which she arranges the material, Aranda apparently refers to different contexts: the legal gratification of authorship and the potentially contrary recognition of authorship in the art world. The text of copyright law is installed like an information plate: It is mounted on two thin foam boards, which are positioned one beneath the other. In contrast, the selfie of the monkey is a highquality inkjet print. Aranda placed it in a wooden frame, treating it exactly as an esteemed and valuable artwork is traditionally presented. The image, floating “authorless” on the internet and formerly being used as press photography, obtains the status of a portrait or – potentially – a self-portrait. Aranda thereby questions the exclusive right of human authorship and underscores the possibility of authorship executed by an animal. From an aesthetic aspect, the materials Aranda uses to accomplish her conceptual artworks are often very simple and apparently of no great economic value. It would be easy to copy her artworks – especially since she uses commonly available

the advocate of the macaques. In April 2018 PETA’s claim was argued in favor of Slater, but the case is still ongoing. See: “Naruto v. Slater” 2018.


Irene Schütze

and freely accessible materials. Her artworks do not seemingly strive for originality in a materialistic way. Furthermore, the artist did not invent new, “genuine” stories in the three artworks I referred to. Aranda picked up two common discourses – one from mathematics and respectively philosophy, the other from a current debate on copyright. In both, the non-human, but human-like monkeys are the protagonists that allow reflections on potential borderlines between concepts of authorship and their demarcations to non-authorship. For that matter, the presented conceptual artworks thematically deal with the “functional principles” of authorship in the fine arts: They question media, possibilities, attributions and values. With regards to content, Aranda shows that art needs gestures of attribution to claim authorship, just as her conceptual, materially “humble” artworks themselves need those gestures to be considered “art.” With respect to other conceptual artworks, however, the authorial position is even fortified. If there is no work in the traditional, materialistic sense, there must be at least an author in order to create a setting – which I, relating to Foucault, would like to enhance with a “functional setting” – that allows for the production or attribution of “art.” Julieta Aranda as well as Anton Vidokle have been criticized in the past: With their e-flux activities, they fundamentally questioned commercial aspects that control the art world and set up alternative “functional settings;” yet, at the same time, they operate successful, profitable enterprises by publishing announcements from museums, art institutions and commercial galleries around the world (Griffin 2012). Due to their strong influence, Aranda and Vidokle have been repeatedly listed among the most important persons in the art world – their powerful reputation endows them with auctoritas.12 In this context, it is interesting that e-flux attempted to obtain the rights from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to distribute the generic top-level domain “.art” pointing at its competence in the field of arts and its will “to return a significant part of the income produced by this service back to the art community in the form of grants and funding for art institutions and projects in places where art funding is insufficient or entirely lacking” (e-flux 2012). This application failed; however, e-flux managed to become the consultant of UK Creative Ideas Limited (UKCI), which is the company that ultimately did win the acceptance and now distributes the addresses (Abrams 2017). E-flux is engaged in the decisions of who should receive addresses ending in “.art;” the domain signals within the internet – and therefore worldwide – who should be regarded as an artist and which institutions belong to the field of art. Taking my analysis of Aranda’s artworks in her exhibition Tools for Infinite Monkeys into account, a

12 See for example: (4 December 2019).

Naming and Not-Naming: Authorial Gestures in Contemporary Art


“functional setting” is activated by e-flux as well, this time performing metaauthorial gestures by naming and therefore acknowledging those who work in the field of art.

Rejecting “functional settings” of the Western art system Another artist strongly questioning the concept of individual, genuine authorship is Hiwa K.13 He was born in Kurdistan-Iraq in 1975 and came to Germany at the age of 25. His artistic projects focus on collective processes, on cultures of daily life and on political events. Hiwa K is, as he says, personally interested in informal, non-institutional ways of transferring knowledge, such as self-learning, story-telling, oral history, learning by doing and learning by teaching.14 In his art interventions, he tries to vitalize these knowledge-transfer strategies in order to involve people and provide mundane spaces of newly-seen everyday experience. Moreover Hiwa K plays the flamenco Guitar – a practice that is very important to him in distancing himself from working routines in the field of fine arts (Szyłak 2017, 87). Over the last decade, Hiwa K has attended many internationally acclaimed group exhibitions and global art shows, for instance, the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015 or documenta 14 in 2017, where he was the first artist appointed by artistic director Adam Szymczyk when he presented his curatorial concept in public (Schwarze 2017, 352). Many solo shows were dedicated to Hiwa K’s work lately, for example, at the KW Institute of Contemporary Art in Berlin in 2017, at the S.M.A.K. in Ghent in 2018, at the New Museum in New York in 2018, at the Kunsthalle Mannheim in 2019. At the 56th Venice Biennale, Hiwa K presented The Bell Project (Enwezor 2015, 390–391, 581; Downey and Khalaf 2015; Downey 2017, 209–216) (Fig. 3). The development of this project reaches back to 2007, when Hiwa K tried to find out more about explosive mines, which endanger his home country Kurdistan-Iraq. At that time, he met the Kurdish self-made man and forger Nazhad from Sulaymaniyah. Nazhad recycled left-over weapons, munitions, tanks, airplanes and other means of transportation from the war between Iran and Iraq (1980–1988) and the two Gulf wars (1991, 2003) very successfully. Hiwa K was fascinated by how Nazhad

13 For the following see Downey 2017 and the artist’s website: (4 December 2019). 14 See: (4 December 2019).


Irene Schütze

Fig. 3: Hiwa K, The Bell Project, installation view La Biennale di Venezia, 2015.

had gained profound knowledge about metals during his lifetime without ever having attended specialized schooling. For his Venice project, Hiwa K collaborated with him. He asked Nazhad to produce high-grade tin and copper in order to cast a bronze bell in a traditional Italian foundry at Crema, specializing in casting church bells for many centuries. The finished bell does not carry Christian motifs but is instead decorated with traditional motifs from ancient Kurdish artworks. The artworks that provided the motifs belong to the collection of the museum of Mosul, which is also located in the autonomous region of Kurdistan in Northern Iraq and had been looted by warriors of ISIS at the time the bell was designed. Hiwa K commented on the casting process in Crema: “On the day of casting, a bishop was invited, and he recited phrases from the Bible as the molten metal was poured into the mold. From that moment, it was named as a bell rather than an artwork or a sculpture” (Downey 2017, 212). Many challenges had to be overcome during Hiwa K’s project: It was difficult to export the raw material from Kurdistan in times of political crisis and fear of cultural exploitation by warriors, and it was difficult to convince the Italian foundry of the harmlessness and purity of the raw material that could have been contaminated by radioactivity, as the Italian craftsmen feared. The very expensive realization of The Bell Project was only possible at all because it was commissioned by Okwui Enwezor, the artistic director of the 56th Venice

Naming and Not-Naming: Authorial Gestures in Contemporary Art


Biennale.15 While Western church bells are often melted to obtain metal for weapons during wartime, Hiwa K inverted this known process. He transformed materials and cultural goods from a region endangered by war into new cultural forms. The piece made from bronze could be classified as sculpture in the context of art, but it is also a functioning bell tuned to B-flat. At the biennale, it was exhibited in the central exhibition of the Arsenal, hanging on a solid wooden structure. A dual screen documentary video played nearby, showing people from the Middle East and the West engaged in its creative process. The Bell Project was furthermore accompanied by lectures and activities for students of Venice University. According to Hiwa K, the project in its entirety must be regarded as a collective artwork: his initial research on explosive mines; the acquaintance with Nazhad and his biographical narrations; the act of designing the bell; its difficult realization, including the communicative processes and the stories connected with the participating people from Northern Iraq and Italy; and last but not least the educational activities during its exhibition at the Biennale (Downey and Khalaf 2015). In conclusion, The Bell Project cannot be attributed to an individual author but rather to many people with their stories and skills. Likewise, the bronze bell with the external resemblance of a sculpture cannot be solely considered as the work of art but much more as one solid piece in an otherwise processual and ephemeral artwork. Even in his early works, Hiwa K set out to redefine authorship and deconstruct the prevailing concepts of genuine authorship ascribed to specific talented persons. For his diploma from the academy of fine arts in Mainz, he presented an art intervention which he called Inappropriation (Downey 2017, 79–81).16 In September 2009, he organized a video conference with professors and art experts from abroad, which included the conceptual artist Simon Starling from the Frankfurt Städelschule, the art historian Aneta Szyłak from Wyspa Institute of Art at Gdańsk, Bart de Baere from the Antwerp Museum of Contemporary Art, and copyright expert Gerhard Pfennig, who also teaches at Mainz. An anonymous friend, working as a painter, was also participating. Two professors from the academy of fine arts in Mainz, Peter Lieser and Vladimir Spacek, were present in order to administer Hiwa K’s final exam. Usually, exams take place in the studios, where students present their artworks, such as

15 Within the last two decades various temporary exhibition platforms have been created throughout the world: newly founded biennales, triennials and other cyclic types of exhibitions. Curators commission artworks that otherwise couldn’t be realized: Whether they would be too expensive to be financed by a single person or whether they are unsaleable like most performative forms of art, that cannot easily be integrated into a traditional, steady art collection. 16 Also see: (4 December 2019).


Irene Schütze

paintings, sculptures, installations, films or performances, and give explanations. Instead, Hiwa K chose a corridor as a space that is not connected with concepts of creating art according to solemn academic traditions. Nor did he present a materialized artwork or a conventional performance: Instead, he revealed to the waiting audience that the paintings in his portfolio – with which he had initially applied for admittance to the academy – did not belong to him but had been borrowed from his anonymous friend. These unexpected and, of course, “inappropriate” news of “appropriation” initiated a fruitful debate on authorship and concepts of art. The anonymous friend explained that, in the past, he and Hiwa had developed a similar painting style. At one point, Hiwa himself had given the friend paintings, because Hiwa was considering a career of studying music. The debate showed that it was no longer possible to determine whether Hiwa K or his friend had painted the controversial pictures. At the end of the exam, Jim White, a facility manager at the art academy, played a song by Johnny Cash that Hiwa K had previously taught him. Although he did not expect it from the – back then quite traditional – academy, Hiwa K passed the exam with the best possible grade. Remembering the intervention, he writes: This work is about sharing and embedding in each other, the absence of the individual and the weakness of the concept of author in such collective societies like Iraq. As Foucault would put it, “the author is ‘functional principle,’ which limits the totality of the imagination within the confining ‘mind-set’ of a particular age.” Both the anonymous person and me are talking about our 18 years long friendship, the experience of working together, and influencing each other in the way that he can no longer realize the differences between his own works of the times and my real works from the past. In a way, it is a conversation about the signature and territory.17

Hiwa K points directly to Foucault’s theorem of authorship as a “functional principle” in reflecting on concepts of authorship in his artwork. With his intervention, he shows how Western art academies are one of the crucial “functional settings,” as I mentioned earlier, to construct authorship in fine arts. The art intervention reveals that being admitted into art school is an initiation rite normally demanding the construction of singular, genuine authorship. The latter is a traditional concept, reaching back to Renaissance authors such as Vasari, who, with his Vite de’ più eccellenti pittori, scultori et architettori, spread the idea of individual excellency and who belonged to the founders of the first European art academy in Florence (Blum 2011, 144–164, 183).18 According to Hiwa K’s statement above, Middle Eastern concepts, in contrast, defocus the

17 (4 December 2019). 18 For Renaissance concepts see Barbara Stoltz’ article in this volume.

Naming and Not-Naming: Authorial Gestures in Contemporary Art


individual author and presume communal practices. For example, the literary scholar Lale Behzadi studied concepts of authorship in premodern Arab texts and described, amongst other, a widespread concept of “polyphony.” She realized “double or multiple hermeneutic layers, multiply hidden authors, and authors in disguise” (Behzadi 2015, 16), a thought pattern that seems to be similar to those that might have influenced Hiwa K, growing up in Kurdistan-Iraq. Hiwa K also approaches issues of other cultural practices that are not directly traceable to a singular individual, because they are absorbed into the community. An early project, initiated in Mainz in 2005 and still ongoing in diverse institutional contexts, is called Cooking with Mama (Downey and Khalaf 2015; Downey 2017, 21–24). During his studies at the academy of fine arts, when Skype was still a new technical device, Hiwa K, after a long period of absence, renewed his contact with his mother. He had not seen her for four years, since he had left his home country as a young refugee fleeing from acts of war. The first communications via Skype were, of course, very emotional. Hiwa K asked his mother whether she could explain to him and to the other students how to cook traditional recipes from Kurdistan and Northern Iraq. The students followed the cooking instructions by Hiwa K’s mother, while she supervised them eagerly (Fig. 4). She was virtually close to them, was part of them, but in mundane, existential reality, she was living under very different circumstances than the people cooking, sharing, and enjoying the food. Through the virtual presence of his mother, cultural spheres were intermingled. Work had been divided and articulated, and the results of the working process were consumed together. Once the initial meal was over, arrangements for new encounters could be made, as was the case in different venues in the past and maybe in future.19 Hiwa K pointed out the fact that his recipes reach back many hundreds of years (Downey 2015, 22). At the same time, he had to “translate” them, not only literally, into other languages and customs: Middle Eastern concepts of taste had to be “translated” into central European or other languages of taste, while the recipes had to be modified according to the ingredients available where the cooking performance took place. Scholars in cultural studies reflected on the way cooking transports and modifies cultural codes, often reaching far back far into antiquity, being passed verbally from one generation to another (Mintz and Du Bois 2002; Schütze 2013, 52–53; Parveen 2016). In Hiwa K’s cooking performances, these transmission paths are brought to life. Cooking with Mama

19 This project was for example also performed at the Wyspa Institute in Gdańsk in 2007, at the United Nations Plaza in Berlin in 2007, at Goldsmiths, London in 2008, at Summer Drafts in Bolzano in 2009 – just to name a few occasions (see detailed list in Downey 2017, 235).


Irene Schütze

Fig. 4: Hiwa K, Cooking with Mama, art intervention, Mainz, 2006.

displays a form of authorship that consists of a chain of many unnamed, foremost female authors. One could describe this form of authorship as a long route of many dense and jointly connected fibers, in which the lower fibers are no longer recognizable because they are too thin and strongly interwoven. Only the upper sections might be individually traceable, like Hiwa K’s mother Nasrin can be named as one author amongst many other anteceding authors of “her” recipes. Although Hiwa K reveals intimate insights into memories of his childhood and youth in artistic projects such as Cooking with Mama and in many of his statements (e.g. Downey 2017, 3–4, 39–40), his official identity remains unclear. Hiwa K’s public appearance is affected by the concealing of his surname. With the anonymous abbreviation “K” he refers to the time of his escape from Iraq and his emigration to Europe – a time of life-threatening insecurities and the search for a new identity. In this context, Krist Gruijthuijsen and Heike Catherina Mertens have indicated the metaphorical proximity to the protagonists called “K.” in Franz Kafka’s texts The Trial and The Castle (Gruijthuijsen and Mertens 2017, 5). Hiwa K reports that he found diary entries from the year 1991, in which he actually refers to Kafka’s character “Josef K.” from The Trial, to whom he felt close due to a similar miserable fate.20

20 According to an Email of Hiwa K that he wrote to me on September 24, 2018.

Naming and Not-Naming: Authorial Gestures in Contemporary Art


However, this does not explain the true story behind the abbreviation, which, according to the artist, should – at least for now – remain untold. The fact that the surname remains hidden could also be interpreted as programmatic in terms of Hiwa K’s artistic approach: In many of his interventions and projects, the author “K” steps back into the polyphonic choir of anonymous authors. “K” is one of many – he “resisted the form of authority that comes with authorship and its relation to specific roles and prescriptive histories,” as explained by Anthony Downey (Downey 2017a, 38). Meanwhile, though, the anonymous abbreviation “Hiwa K” has turned into an individual, strong trademark within the Western art system. In this context, it is noteworthy that the now highly noted artist eludes the art system by not serving the demand on the art market. In an interview in 2018 with Gabriella Angeleti he explained: My work takes a lot of time to research, and there’s typically just one work per year. I’m doing around six solo shows this year, so I’m trying not to do any new works unless there’s a context for it. The art world always wants you to make new works, but I don’t think it’s necessary in this age of overproduction. We need to learn to slow down. As soon as they try to make a star out of you, you have to stay a moon – or even just a half moon. (Angeleti 2018)

Here, Hiwa K once again shows awareness of the “functional settings” that form authorship in fine arts. He suggests other patterns and forms of behavior and consciously breaks expectations in authorship, authority and artistic output.

Conclusion I have analyzed the ways in which Aranda and Hiwa K subtly formulate their critique of the traditional Western concept of individual, genuine authorship and how they deconstruct canonical thought patterns. Their conceptual artworks are stretching the ideas associated with authorship and, while doing so, are blurring the borderlines between well-established concepts of authorship and forms of nonauthorship. Julieta Aranda’s philosophical artworks show infinite possibilities of authorship, while the artist herself is building alternative “functional settings” by using implements of the internet to acknowledge authorship by means of authorial gestures beyond established market structures. Hiwa K shows that authorship is tied to cultural concepts and that it can be fulfilled in other “functional settings” and therefore in different and more modest modes than those usually employed by Western participants of the art system. The art system, of course, has responded to attempts like those of Aranda or Hiwa K. Ever since, it has been open for alterations and new ideas. Therefore, Julieta Aranda, even though she


Irene Schütze

has been criticizing crucial mechanism of the art system and of the acknowledgement of authorship, is herself a renowned protagonist in the same system. The art system lends authority to those who are convincing the community, even if they reject the very authority, as is the case with Hiwa K.

References Abrams, Loney. “Is e-flux the Gatekeeper of the Virtual Art World? Founder Anton Vidokle on His (Benevolent) Plans for the .Art Domain.” interviews_features/qa/is-e-flux-the-gatekeeper-of-the-virtual-art-world-founder-antonvidokle-on-his-benevolent-plans-54622. Artspace (25 February 2017) (4 December 2019). Angeleti, Gabriella. “Hiwa K: on the road, from Iraq to Germany. The Iraqi-Kurdish artist examines migration and contemporary politics in his solo show at the New Museum.” The Art Newspaper (4 May 2018) (4 December 2019). Aranda, Julieta, and Anton Vidokle: “What is a Time/Bank?” announcements/36461/time-bank/. e-flux (15 September 2010) (4 December 2019). Bacharach, Sondra, Siv B. Fjærestad, and Jeremy Neil Booth, eds. Collaborative Art in the Twenty-first Century. New York and London: Routledge, 2016. Bambach, Carmen C. Drawing and Painting in the Italian Renaissance Workshop; Theory and Practice, 1300–1600. Cambridge et al.: Cambridge University Press, 1999. Barthes, Roland. “The Death of the Author.” Image – Music – Text. Essays selected and transl. by Stephen Heath. London: Fontana Press, [1967] 1977. 142–148. Behzadi, Lale. “Introduction: The Concept of Polyphony, and the Author’s Voice.” Concepts of Authorship in Pre-Modern Arabic Texts. Ed. Lale Behzadi and Jaako Hämeen-Anttila. Bamberg: University of Bamberg Press, 2015. 9–22. Bier, Arielle. “Collaboration. An Interview with Julieta Aranda (e-flux).” http://www. Berlin Art Link (31 August 2015) (4 December 2019). Bishop, Claire. Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship. London: Verso, 2012. Blum, Gerd. Giorgio Vasari: Der Erfinder der Renaissance, eine Biografie. Munich: Beck, 2011. Borges, Jorge Luis. Collected Fictions. Translated by Andrew Hurley. New York et al.: Penguin Books, 1999. Borges, Jorge Luis. The Total Library. Non Fiction 1922–1986. Ed. Eliot Weinberger, translated by Esther Allan and Suzanne Jill Levine. London et al.: Penguin Books, 2001. Bourriaud, Nicolas. Relational Aesthetics. Translated by Simon Pleasance and Fronza Woods with participation of Mathieu Copeland. Paris: les presses du réel, 2010. Burke, Seán. The Death and Return of the Author: Criticism and Subjectivity in Barthes, Foucault and Derrida. Edinburgh: University Press, 2008. Coles, Alex, ed. The Transdisciplinary Studio. Berlin et al.: Sternberg Press, 2012. dOCUMENTA (13). Das Begleitbuch/The Guidebook. Exhibition Catalogue Documenta and Museum Fridericianum Veranstaltungs-GmbH. Kassel. Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz, 2012.

Naming and Not-Naming: Authorial Gestures in Contemporary Art


“Documenta 13: Pierre Huyghe.” Contemporary Art Daily (4 June 2012) (4 December 2019). Dohm, Katharina, Heinz Stahlhut, Max Hollein, and Guido Magnaguagno, eds. Kunstmaschinen Maschinenkunst/Art Machines Machine Art. Exhibition Catalogue Schirn-Kunsthalle Frankfurt; Museum Tinguely, Basel. Heidelberg: Kehrer, 2008. Downey, Anthony, and Amal Khalaf. “Performative Resonances. Hiwa K in conversation with Anthony Downey and Amal Khalaf.” Ibraaz. Contemporary Visual Culture in North Africa and the Middle East (30 July 2015) (4 December 2019). Downey, Anthony, ed. Don’t Shrink Me to the Size of a Bullet: The Works of Hiwa K. Exhibition Catalogue KW Institute of Contemporary Art. Berlin. London: Koenig Books, 2017. Downey, Anthony. “Unbearable States: Hiwa K and the Performance of Everyday Life.” Don’t Shrink Me to the Size of a Bullet: The Works of Hiwa K. Exhibition Catalogue KW Institute of Contemporary Art. Ed. Anthony Downey. Berlin. London: Koenig Books, 2017a. 29–38. e-flux. “The Art domain. e-flux applies to develop the new .art internet domain.” e-flux (20 June 2012) (4 December 2019). e-flux. (4 December 2019). Engberg-Pedersen, Anna, ed. Studio Olafur Eliasson: An Encyclopedia. Cologne: Taschen, 2012. Enwezor, Okwui, ed. All the World’s Futures. Exhibition Catalogue 56th international art exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia. Vol. 1. Venice: Marsilio, 2015. Ermacora, Beate, ed. Thomas Feuerstein – Psychoprosa. Exhibition Catalogue Galerie im Taxispalais, Innsbruck, Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt/Main, Kunstverein Heilbronn. Cologne: Snoeck, 2015. Foucault, Michel. “What is an Author?” Language, Counter-Memory, Practice. Selected Essays and Interviews. Ed. Donald F. Bouchard, translated by Donald F. Bouchard and Sherry Simon. Ithaca: CUP, [1969] 1977. 113–138. Gebbers, Anna-Catharina, Udo Kittelmann, Justin Paton, Anneke Jaspers, Reinhard Spieler, and Sarah Tutton, eds. Julian Rosefeldt: Manifesto. Exhibition Catalogue Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Melbourne; Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; Sprengel Museum Hannover. London: Koenig Books, 2016. Grassi, Francesca, ed. A Retrospective: Tomorrow is Another Fine Day. Rirkrit Tiravanija. Zurich et al.: JRP, 2007. Graw, Isabelle. High Price: Art Between the Market and Celebrity Culture. Translated by Nicholas Grindell. Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2010. Griffin, Tim. “Notes on an Art Domain.” Texte zur Kunst, Streit/Conflict 87 (September 2012). 140. Gruijthuijsen, Krist, and Heike Catherina Mertens. “Forword.” Don’t Shrink Me to the Size of a Bullet: The Works of Hiwa K. Exhibition Catalogue KW Institute of Contemporary Art, Berlin. Ed. Anthony Downey. London: Koenig Books, 2017. 5–6. Hiwa K. (4 December 2019). Jannidis, Fotis, Gerhard Lauer, Matias Martinez, and Simone Winko, eds. Rückkehr des Autors: zur Erneuerung eines umstrittenen Begriffs. Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1999. Kester, Grant H. The One and the Many: Contemporary Collaborative Art in a Global Context. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2011. Liprandi, Ignacio, ed. Julieta Aranda, Tools for Infinite Monkeys (Open Machine). https:// Exhibition Booklet. Buenos Aires, 2014. (4 December 2019).


Irene Schütze

Mader, Rachel, ed. Kollektive Autorschaft in der Kunst: Alternatives Handeln und Denkmodell. Bern et al.: Lang, 2012. Mintz, Sisney W., and Christine M. Du Bois. “The Anthropology of Food and Eating.” Annual Review of Anthropology 31 (2002). 99–119. Moderna galerija / Museum of Modern Art, Ljubljana. “e-flux video rental. Donation.” http:// (4 December 2019). “Naruto v. Slater.” 2018 (4 December 2019). Parveen, Razia. “Food to remember: culinary practice and diasporic identity.” Oral History 44.1 (Spring 2016). 47–56. Schütze, Irene. “Kochen als Kunst im Kino. Eat Drink Man Woman (1994) / Regie: Ang Lee.” Kulinarisches Kino. Interdisziplinäre Perspektiven auf Essen und Trinken im Film. Ed. Daniel Kofahl, Gerrit Fröhlich, and Lars Alberth. Bielefeld: transcript Verlag, 2013. 42–59. Schütze, Irene. “Zur Abwesenheit ‘großer’ Utopien: Subjektiv-pragmatische Utopie-Entwürfe in der zeitgenössischen Kunst.” 8138/schuetze.pdf. 3 (2016) (4 December 2019). Schwarze, Dirk. “Ab und zu lüftet die Documenta 14 den Vorhang.” Kunstforum International 244 (2017). 352. Stewart, Louise. “Wikimedia Says When a Monkey Takes a Selfie, No One Owns It.” https:// -265961. Newsweek (August 2014) (4 December 2019). Stierli, Martino, and Mechthild Widrich, eds. Participation in Art and Architecture: Spaces of Interaction and Occupation. London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 2016. Szyłak, Aneta. “Tactics of Arrival/Means of Knowing.” Don’t Shrink Me to the Size of a Bullet: The Works of Hiwa K. Ed. Anthony Downey. Exhibition Catalogue KW Institute of Contemporary Art, Berlin. London: Koenig Books, 2017. 83–87. Thornton, Sarah. Thirty-three artists in three acts. London: Granta, 2014. “Trade-Mark Cases, 100 U.S. 82, 94 (1879).” ch300-copyrightable-authorship.pdf. (2017) (4 December 2019). Vidokle, Anton. “Art without Work.” e-flux Journal 29 (November 2011) (4 December 2019). Wagner-Egelhaaf, Martina. “Autorschaft und Skandal. Eine Verhältnisbestimmung.” Skandalautoren: Zu repräsentativen Mustern literarischer Provokation und Aufsehen erregender Autorinszenierungen. Ed. Andrea Bartl and Martin Kraus, vol. 1. Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2014. 27–46. Wochenklausur. “Methode.” (4 December 2019). Wölfflin, Heinrich. Principles of Art History: The Problem of the Development of Style in Early Modern Art. One Hundredth Anniversary Edition. Ed. Evonne Levy and Tristan Weddigen, translated by Jonathan Blower. J. Paul Getty Museum Publications, 2015. Wölfflin, Heinrich. Renaissance and Baroque. Translated by Kathrin Simon, with an introduction by Peter Murray. London: Collins, 1964. Wölfflin, Heinrich. Renaissance und Barock: Eine Untersuchung über Wesen und Entstehung des Barockstils in Italien. Munich: Ackermann, 1888.

Julia Meer

Bauhaus – A Trademark without Author? Remarks on Authorship in Design The idea of individual authorship plays an important role in design, both past and present. The history of design is written along the names of distinguished personalities who are presented as ingenious masterminds, among them Peter Behrens, Walter Gropius, Mies van der Rohe, Buckminster Fuller and Dieter Rams. The creation of and focus on heroic personalities – mostly male and white – continues today. More recent exhibitions, publications, and media coverage are still dominated by star designers such as Philippe Starck and Konstantin Gricic. Accordingly, most design objects are stylized to be “iconic works” originating from the genius mind of a single designer: the Barcelona Chair is the result of Mies van der Rohe’s courage to think laterally, the LC3 sofa only exists because of Le Corbusier’s clairvoyance and the Braun SK4 radio owes its creation to Dieter Rams’ intransigency. But are these really the men who single-handedly made these objects what they constitute and what they are today? Is there indeed a single author to whom we can pay our respects? This chapter shall examine the role of authorship in design by first describing an exemplary design process in order to question the common understanding of “authorship” in design. This is followed by historical and contemporary examples that illustrate different models of authorship in design as well as the strategies behind their construction and deconstruction. Finally, reasons for the ongoing “cult of individual authorship” are discussed by comparing design practice and the marketing of design products.

Questioning individual authorship The definitions of design vary.1 Most of them concur that the emergence of the “design” profession was linked to the separation of Entwurf (draft) and production. 1 Some definitions are centered around the purpose of design (communication), others focus on the existence of a client (as opposed to fine arts. A weak if not false distinction, since artworks were and are often commissioned), or define design as mass produced artifacts (but some designers create unique objects) (see Walker 1989; Schneider 2005; Fallan 2010; Selle 1994).


Julia Meer

Unlike craftsmen or artists, designers are, in most cases, not the manufacturers or producers of the final artifact.2 Despite the division of labor, the notion that there is one main author – the creative designer, the one who has the idea – has remained ubiquitous to this day. Yet, this image is far from reality. Neither ideas nor designs have ever been created by a single person. Design objects result from the knowledge and activity of many actors, both human and non-human (see Yaneva 2015, 273–288; Storni et al. 2015, 3–4, 149–151). Even the creation of a logotype – a fairly simple design task – involves a great number of actors; thus, it is difficult to draw a distinct line between authorship and non-authorship. The initial wish to create a logotype is usually developed within a company, whose owners (actors) are aware of their competitors (more actors). If this company has a professionally designed logotype (yet another actor) made, the competing companies will probably feel it necessary to commission a logotype as well (“competition” could be regarded as an actor-like structure). After discussing this necessity and the financial options (“money” plus more actor-like structures) with even more people, the company will seek a designer (actor) or more likely an agency (many actors) to create the desired logotype. Usually, they will initially review agency websites (actors plus the internet as an actor likestructure) to decide – mostly based on intuition and taste (shaped by many experiences and actors) – whether they like their “style” and whether the agency seems capable of accomplishing the task. The chosen design agency – most likely a Senior Art Director – then asks their commissioners for a briefing event during which together they define the values of the company and describe the specific qualities of their product. They probably will also attempt to identify the target audience (more actors) the design should reach and which media (even more actors) are necessary. By deciding what information they want to pass on to the Senior Art Director, the company already acquires a share in the authorship of the logotype to-be. Once the Senior Art Director has received the information, she/he passes it on to the designer(s). In the process, they usually shape the information in such a manner as to make it more inspiring or prevent misunderstandings, thereby obtaining a share in the authorship as well. Equipped with this information, which has been manipulated at least twice, designers begin to develop ideas; they scribble and sketch a number of logotypes. Those first designs do not come out of the blue. Ideas are not transmitted by a divine force – as the

2 This notion is currently challenged by the developments resulting from digitization, 3Dprinting etc.

Bauhaus – A Trademark without Author? Remarks on Authorship in Design


German word Einfall (a composite of “in” and “fall,” as if the idea drops from the sky into one’s head) and some concepts of creativity suggest (see Ernst and Kurz 1981 [1934]) – but are substantially generated and formed by a sequence of concerted measures, e.g. the information given during the briefing, the research that follows, the knowledge of the designers about target groups and their preferential taste, options offered by soft- and hardware, and the styles and concepts that float around in- and outside of the design community. Designers browse, look around and are inspired or repelled by what they see and experience. Designers react to their environment, and their ideas are time- and environment-specific. Ideas are less revolutionary than one commonly expects, especially because their evaluation is closely based on predisposed, established standards. Design works are usually created with the aim to reach a (more or less) broad audience – a design should neither be too modern nor too unexpected.3 Design needs to be understood to serve its purpose. It needs to work with clichés or, more neutrally, commonly known visual knowledge. Within the first steps of the design process, designers decide which designs fit better than others and develop those further. They are bound by the expectations and standards of their surrounding culture. Consequently, designers never create on their own, even if they work on their own. In fact, teamwork is a much more common practice. As a matter of course, ideas from different designers and other team members are merged within the design process or, at least, are constantly influenced by the discussion and critique within the team. Especially at this early stage, it is hard to tell who the author of a particular design is. When does an actor become an author? Do the non-human actors have a share in authorship as well? The meandering line between actor and author becomes even more indistinct throughout the next stages of the design process. With the first presentation of the designs to the client, the clients’ share in authorship increases. The client formulates critique points and requests, and thereby influences the design. It is he who chooses one option over the others and thereby decides which design becomes visible to the public. Along the process of production, the blurring, sharing and segmentation of authorship continue. Throughout the printing process, the design is affected by the printer, the printing machine, the paper and the printing ink. The choice of paper alone, for example, heavily influences the impression of the design. A business card or magazine is perceived 3 The American designer Raymond Loewy coined the term MAYA principle, meaning Most Advanced Yet Acceptable (see Loewy 1951). Loewy designed the Coca Cola bottle, Greyhound’s Scenicruiser and several vehicles, electrical kitchen equipment, as well as Lucky Strike’s and Shell’s logotype.


Julia Meer

quite differently if it is glossy and bright white or uncoated and ivory. The designers probably do choose the paper, but are influenced by availability, price, printing behavior, and ecological considerations. Also, the necessity to adapt to different media has a significant influence on the design. The need to have a logotype that also works as a small icon on the screen of a smartphone, for example, changed the way logotypes are designed today.

Historicizing individual authorship Even though this exemplary case of logotype development is a rather plain design task, and several “co-authors” were omitted, it clearly shows that there is no single author in design. Authorship is always divided and shared. Nonetheless, both the current communication and the history of design are dominated by the idea of individual authorship. One might think there are historic reasons for such an attribution. But, has there ever been single-person authorship in design? This can only be denied. In the past, professionals like lithographers and printers played an even more important role than today. This fact is illustrated by Lieselotte Müller’s blue and yellow design for a lottery ticket, dated 1927 (Fig. 1). She provided the sketch, but the initial design was heavily transformed during the process of typesetting and printing.4 The printer adhered to the colors blue and yellow as shown in the sketch but decided on a more balanced use of the two. The placement of text elements and font size was modified as well as the format of the lot. It was usually the printers who ultimately realized the designs, who took care of final proportions, size and often the choice of type. They were – and still are – far from being mere executors. They, and the machines, materials and procedures involved, were co-authors.5 Yet, an immediate hierarchy is still perpetuated today. Creativity is valued over craftsmanship. This hierarchy chiefly nurtures the illusion of individual authorship. The superiority of creativity could be interpreted as a remnant or relict of one of the origins of design: art. Especially since many of the first “designers” were trained as artists and called themselves poster artists. In fact, the posters they designed oftentimes looked like paintings – rich in detail and with references to classic art historical motifs (see Iskin 2014; Doering 1998). At least in

4 Similar variations can be observed in metal art. See Barbara Stoltz’ article in this volume. 5 The influence of layout and printing techniques becomes especially evident in the documentary Graphic Means by Briar Levit, 2017.

Bauhaus – A Trademark without Author? Remarks on Authorship in Design


Fig. 1: Liselotte Müller, sketch and printed design for a lottery, 1927.

the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century, when those first designers emerged, authorship had been highly important in the arts (see Köhne 2014). In their book Legend, Myth, and Magic in the Image of the Artist – A Historical Experiment, Ernst Kris and Otto Kurz trace narrative patterns in artists’ biographies, for example the motif of the autodidact (creativity cannot be taught, neither can genius), the serendipitous discovery of talent, and the untamable urge to create (see Ernst and Kurz 1981 [1934]). Such motifs can already be found abundantly in Giorgio Vasari’s Vite of 1550, and they still influence the


Julia Meer

way artist’s biographies are written today. They affect the “habitus” and selfpresentation of artists as well as designers. Many of the first designers preserved the habitus of artists and not only demanded but deliberately stressed their individual authorship. Early poster artists such as Jules Chéret and Alphonse Mucha, for example, signed their work.

Challenging individual authorship Despite the ongoing cult of the creative genius and the idea of individual authorship, there have been several attempts to overcome this concept in itself. One of the best-known is Bauhaus. Bauhaus was a German art school, founded in 1919 and closed in 1933. The name “Bauhaus” refers to the gothic Bauhütte (site hut), a place characterized by collective work. In the Bauhütte, buildings were created in a community, not by a single genius master. Following that ideal, Bauhaus intended artists from several disciplines, craftsmen and architects to work together in order to create a Gesamtkunstwerk (total artwork) (see Gropius 2009 [1923], 280–288). The Bauhäusler6 did not always achieve these ideals; nonetheless, the work that had been accomplished at Bauhaus provides examples that illustrate different strategies of constructing authorship in design and to discuss how authorship can be overcome.7 One of these examples is the so-called Bauhaus lamp (Fig. 2 right). It was created in a process that can be described as collective. By the time László Moholy-Nagy became master of the metal workshop in 1923, light and electricity had played an important role in his own artistic work. He had been spreading his enthusiasm among students and asked them to create an object that symbolized “electricity.” One of the results had been a series of lamps (Fig. 2 center). These were crafted by Carl Jacob Jucker, a student in the metal workshop, and shown at the Bauhaus Exhibition in 1923 (see Winkler 2009). His designs resemble the design for a floor lamp (Fig. 2 left) by his fellow student Gyula Pap, with whom he had discussed his ideas. Both Pap’s and Jucker’s designs are variations of circles turning into tubular shapes.

6 The term Bauhäusler was a self-designation of Bauhaus students and masters, underlining the claim of being a community. 7 The following passages stem from the results of a research project on the transformation of the art school Bauhaus into a brand, which was conducted in cooperation with Philipp Oswalt at the Cluster of Excellence Bild Wissen Gestaltung at Humboldt University Berlin.

Bauhaus – A Trademark without Author? Remarks on Authorship in Design


Fig. 2: Gyula Pap’s 1923 design for a floor lamp (left), a selection of lamps designed by Carl Jacob Juckers in 1923 (center) and Wilhelm Wagenfeld’s 1924 lamp design (right). Drawing by Holger Meer.

But it was not just Jucker and Pap who had been drawn to geometric shapes. At the time, the work in the metal workshop had been dominated by the search for the maschinengerechte Formgebung, meaning forms that can easily be mass produced by machines. The Bauhäusler believed that machines could produce geometric more easily than complex forms, which is why most objects had begun to look more geometric and were reduced to shapes. However, these machine-made-looking objects still had to be handcrafted. In 1924, Moholy-Nagy was asked by the director of Bauhaus, Walter Gropius, to have students design objects that could be mass produced. The main goal of this initiative had been to live up to Bauhaus’ new proclamation of seeking to unite art and industry: “Kunst und Technik – Eine neue Einheit.” Beyond this, Gropius had also been hoping for contracts with companies in order to become independent of state funding (Manske 2000, 24–37). Moholy


Julia Meer

himself was not at all familiar with industrial production. Neither was his student Wilhelm Wagenfeld, whom he also asked to design a lamp. And so, Wagenfeld “designed” his “own” lamp. Or, more precisely, Wagenfeld finished a lamp design: Wagenfeld had basically used Jucker’s lamp and replaced the paper- with a glass-shade (Fig. 2). This reuse and adaption of already existing concepts did not seem to bother anyone. Quite to the contrary, the idea of collective work, the ideal of the Bauhütte, was realized. According to their proclamation and working method, Wagenfeld and others had claimed that Bauhaus products should no longer be identified with the name of the individual designers – but only with the name Bauhaus. Most of the teaching staff – basically all the masters, who had been trained as artists – were opposed to the idea. They wanted to be credited as authors: as individual authors (Neurauter 2013, 179). It would have been highly gratifying if Bauhaus had indeed formed a new generation of collaborative designers who challenged the concept of individual authorship, an authorship that would be closer to the reality of the design process. History would have had it that Wagenfeld had been a real game-changer. However, the story of the Bauhaus lamp took an odd turn: In 1980, Tecnolumen – a company based in Bremen – had produced a re-edition of the Bauhaus lamp. Included with the first edition of two hundred lamps had been a small brochure containing not only the serial number of the limited-edition-lamp and the signature of Wilhelm Wagenfeld but also Wagenfeld’s story of the creation of the lamp. In the brochure, Wagenfeld reports that, after having been asked to design a lamp, he had worked on that task for days, scribbled and scribbled, numerous sketches were produced, but none was “the one.” Suddenly, in the middle of the night, he had a vision of the lamp: in his dreams. He woke up and wanted to draw it, but the image was gone. He tried vigorously – but only when he had become so weak and exhausted that he could no longer control his hand, the lamp had suddenly appeared on the paper. With this story, he perpetuated the myth of the great idea and the genius and obsessive artist, as can be found in Vasari’s Vite and many other biographies of artists (Ernst and Kurz 1981 [1934]). Wagenfeld’s ambitions to change the concept of authorship had vanished.

Transferring authorship The example of the Bauhaus lamp shows that there had already been discussions about collective work and the question of authorship as early as the beginning of the twentieth century. Emerging designers proclaimed that the cult

Bauhaus – A Trademark without Author? Remarks on Authorship in Design


of the creative genius should be overcome, that the individual should step back and disappear selflessly in the collective process (see Neurauter 2013, 179). In this deconstruction, however, only the concept of individual authorship was challenged, not the concept of authorship in general. Authorship had been transferred from the individual author to the Bauhaus label. There were Bauhaus products, Bauhaus books, Bauhaus parties, and many more constructs that bore the label of the community. Although authorship was no longer connected with a single person, it still existed. It had simply been transferred to the brand “Bauhaus” – which had led to another quite common method of constructing authorship in design: branding. Brands are used to mark products; they refer to the producer and thereby create accountability. Brands also usually guarantee a certain quality. They gained importance when trading and selling practices changed and products were offered pre-wrapped and packaged to the consumer, who therefore had fewer options to test the quality of a product. One could no longer touch or taste things. In addition, due to the fact that products were increasingly sold in warehouses and bigger shops with fewer personnel, consumers had to decide themselves instead of consulting an expert. Shopping became more anonymous and, since sales personnel usually did not own the shops, accountability had become even more questionable (see Gries 2003, 11). Brands helped to overcome the resulting insecurity. They provided a product origin and guaranteed a certain standard of quality. They compensated for the missing “authorship” of the single individual. But how is a brand created? Similar to the example of the creation of a logotype, a company usually defines what it wants to communicate and then develops a corresponding communication strategy and a corporate design (see Wheeler 2014; Baumgarth 2014; Holt and Cameron 2010). The specifics of the branding process are then planned, usually involving a set of guidelines in order to guarantee consistency. The aim of a branding process is to communicate a defined message; the brand is created with a specific purpose, and its effects are constantly controlled; and the authors behind the brand are held accountable. Not so at Bauhaus. Hence, Bauhaus provides another example of a challenge of the concept of authorship.

Sharing authorship In 1923, the first director of Bauhaus, Walter Gropius, explicitly stated that he did not want to create a style (Gropius 1987 [1923], 83–92). He wanted to keep


Julia Meer

Bauhaus flexible and diverse. Consequently, the early Bauhaus included a variety of styles and no fixed corporate design. Yet, despite Gropius’s aspirations to create a style-free and ever-changing Bauhaus, there is indeed something called Bauhaus style. After leaving Bauhaus sorely disappointed in 1929, Ernst Kállai, former editor (Schriftleiter) of the magazine bauhaus, described it in 1930 as follows: Houses with lots of glass and shining metal: Bauhaus style. The same is true of home hygiene without home atmosphere: Bauhaus style. Tubular steel armchair frames: Bauhaus style. Lamps with nickel-coated body and a disk of opaque glass as lampshade: Bauhaus style. Wallpaper patterned in cubes: Bauhaus style. No painting on the wall: Bauhaus style. Incomprehensible painting on the wall: Bauhaus style. Printing with sans-serif letters and bold rules: Bauhaus style. EVERYTHING EMPHASIZED IN BIG CAPITALS: BAUHAUS STYLE. (Kállai 1969 [1930], 161)

When it comes to graphic design, Bauhaus style means rectangular shapes, circles, diagonals, black-white-and-red, or red-yellow-and-blue, sans-serif fonts, bold fonts, geometric fonts. These elements can be found in some of the designs of the historic Bauhaus, for example; the Bauhaus publications and the letterheads used in Dessau. But what had happened to all the other aesthetics present at Bauhaus? The expressionistic paintings for example? The variety of shapes and the broad visual vocabulary had been narrowed down to a few significant elements. As early as 1923, Paul Westheim had commented with a sigh: “One day at Bauhaus and you are fed up with squares for the rest of your life.” (Westheim 1969 [1923], 161) Not long after, there was Bauhaus underwear, Bauhaus furniture and many other products (Kállai 1969 [1930], 161). These, however, were not designed at Bauhaus; they just contained a considerable number of squares and circles. Bauhaus became synonymous with plain geometric shapes – not by Bauhaus, but by its consumers. It was the consumers who had created the Bauhaus style and sometime later even a logotype: the combination of a yellow triangle, a red square and a blue circle. This combination was never used as a logotype at Bauhaus (there were other “official logotypes”8), but their elements can be found in many works that originate from the historic Bauhaus: the cradle by Peter Kehler, metal works by Marianne Brandt, the Triadic Ballet by Oskar Schlemmer, toys by Alma Siedhoff-Buscher, film sequences and costumes as well as hundreds of paintings, drawing, sculptures and design pieces. Therefore, the triangle, square and circle combination represents Bauhaus much better that the official logotypes.

8 Established in 1919, the Sternenmännchen by student Karl Peter Röhl was replaced with a head in profile designed by the master Oskar Schlemmer in 1922.

Bauhaus – A Trademark without Author? Remarks on Authorship in Design


The establishment of the triangle, square and circle as a logotype can be described as a long-term, mostly uncontrolled, participatory process. Numerous actors with differing degrees of influence had been involved. Due to its exposure, the poster for the first large-scale international traveling Bauhaus-exhibition, for example, can be described as a rather powerful actor to promote this combination.9 The triangle, square and circle had been its main motifs and were posted ubiquitously in the 1960s. Since then, it has been frequently reproduced in publications on Bauhaus. The catalogue that accompanied the exhibition also had triangle, square and circle on its cover (50 Jahre Bauhaus / 50 Years Bauhaus 1968/9). Ever since then and increasingly so today, the triangle, square and circle are used as (or as part of) the title images of Bauhaus publications. It is also frequently used by the Bauhaus Archive. In 1989 the Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau decided to include the triangle, square and circle in their logo. In 2009, when Bauhaus celebrated its ninetieth anniversary, the triangle, square and circle were used excessively. Today, it even decorates merchandise products such as t-shirts, cups, magnets and bags. It can be found in snow globes or hanging from mobiles, and there are even triangular saltshakers. The triangle, square and circle were everywhere and their combination became the logo of Bauhaus over the years. Not as the result of a strategy, but because designers and others took up a characteristic part of the visual Bauhaus vocabulary. Neither the logo nor the brand Bauhaus was created by Bauhaus, but by designers, journalists and media agents, historians, museums and other actors. In short, they were shaped by consumers. Therefore, Bauhaus can be considered a “participatory” or “co-produced” brand – a brand without an author.

Using authorship The Bauhaus lamp and the establishment of the triangle, square, and circle represent a vast number of attempts to deconstruct and overcome the myth of individual authorship. Designers stepped back to stand behind the work or the name of a team. They allowed and were increasingly confronted with participation. Web 2.0 and the democratization of design tools and software such as 3D printers, layout, image and film editing programs continued to enable even more people to create, design, collage, remix and participate. Technological

9 The exhibition 50 years of Bauhaus was first shown at Württembergischer Kunstverein in Stuttgart in 1968 and in the following years travelled to museums in Europe, US, Canada, South America and Asia, reaching more than 800.000 visitors.


Julia Meer

changes challenge the idea of individual authorship and accelerate changes in the self-perception of designers. Today, most designers do not claim to be creative geniuses but problem-solvers and team-players.10 Authorship in design practices has diminished in importance. However, looking at publications on design, at exhibitions and the labels in design shops, the cult of the idea and the creative genius seems unbroken. The fact that Wagenfeld’s dramatized story of the “conception of the lamp” was used to sell its re-edition supports the argument that the concept of individual authorship is exploited to increase the value of design. In the case of auction objects, for example, anonymous design objects never reach the price range of items labelled with well-known names. Names attract attention and help increase both sales and visitor numbers. Individual authorship is a tool for publishers and museums as well as for designers when it comes to self-marketing. Because individual authorship makes for great stories, stories of creative, genius-like personalities that have the ability to change the world, stories that are inspiring and memorable. Who wouldn’t buy them?

References 50 Jahre Bauhaus / 50 Years Bauhaus. Exhibition catalogues, Stuttgart 1968, London 1968, Toronto 1969 et al. Baumgarth, Carsten. Markenpolitik – Markentheorien, Markenwirkungen, Markenführung, Markencontrolling, Markenkontexte. Wiesbaden: Springer Gabler, 2014. Doering, Birgit. Die Avantgarde und das Plakat – Künstlerplakate vom Historismus bis zum Bauhaus. Hamburg: Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, 1998. Fallan, Kjetil. Design History: Understanding Theory and Method. Oxford and New York: Berg Publishers, 2010. Gries, Rainer. Produkte als Medien. Kulturgeschichte der Produktkommunikation. Leipzig: Leipziger Universitätsverlag, 2003. Gropius, Walter. “Idee und Aufbau des Staatlichen Bauhauses.” Reprinted in Walter Gropius. Ausgewählte Schriften. Vol. 3. Berlin: Verlag für Bauwesen, [1923] 1987. 83–92. Gropius, Walter. “Idee und Entwicklung des Staatlichen Bauhauses zu Weimar.” Amtsblatt des Thüringischen Ministeriums für Volksbildung 1 (24 January 1923). Reprinted in: Das Staatliche Bauhaus in Weimar, Dokumente zur Geschichte des Instituts 1919–1926. Ed. Volker Wahl. Cologne: Böhlau, [1923] 2009. 280–288. Holt, Douglas, and Cameron Douglas. Cultural Strategy – Using Innovative Ideologies to Build Breakthrough Brands. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

10 There are exceptions such as Marc Newson and other designers who oftentimes sell unique pieces or limited editions through galleries such as the Gagosian Gallery. Authorship in graphic design was prominently discussed by Michael Rock (1996).

Bauhaus – A Trademark without Author? Remarks on Authorship in Design


Iskin, Ruth E. The Poster: Art, Advertising, Design, and Collecting, 1860s–1900s. Hanover, N.H.: Dartmouth College Press, 2014. Kállai, Ernst. “Zehn Jahre Bauhaus.” Die Weltbühne 21 (January). Reprinted and translated in: Hans M. Wingler. Bauhaus: Weimar Dessau Berlin. Chicago and Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, [1930] 1969. Köhne, Julia Barbara. Geniekult in Geisteswissenschaften und Literaturen um 1900 und seine filmischen Adaptionen. Vienna et al.: Böhlau, 2014. Kris, Ernst, and Otto Kurz. Legend, Myth, and Magic in the Image of the Artist – A Historical Experiment. New Haven: Yale University Press, [1934] 1981. Loewy, Raymond. Never Leave Well Enough Alone. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1951. Manske, Beate. “Ein Entwurf schreibt Geschichte: Die Bauhaus-Leuchte von Wilhelm Wagenfeld.” Wilhelm Wagenfeld 1900–1990. Ed. Beate Manske. Ostfildern Ruit: Hatje Cantz, 2000. 24–37. Neurauter, Sebastian. Das Bauhaus und die Verwertungsrechte: Eine Untersuchung zur Praxis der Rechteverwertung am Bauhaus 1919–1933. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2013. Rock, Michael. “The designer as author.” Eye 20 (Spring, 1996) (31 March 2020). Schneider, Beat. Design – Eine Einführung: Entwurf im sozialen, kulturellen und wirtschaftlichen Kontext. Basel: Birkhäuser, 2005. Selle, Gert. Geschichte des Design in Deutschland. Frankfurt/Main: Campus, 1994. Storni, Cristiano, Thomas Binder, Per Linde, and Dagny Stuedahl. „Designing things together: intersections of co-design and actor–network theory.” CoDesign 11 (3–4, 2015). 149–151. Walker, John. Design History and the History of Design. London: Pluto Press, 1989. Westheim, Paul. “Zur Quadratur des Bauhauses.” Das Kunstblatt 10. Vol. 7. Reprinted and translated in Hans M. Wingler. Bauhaus: Weimar Dessau Berlin, Chicago. Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, [1923] 1969. 319f. Wheeler, Alina. Designing Brand Identity. Hoboken: Wiley, 2014. Winkler, Klaus-Jürgen. Bauhaus-Alben. Bauhausausstellung 1923, Haus am Horn, Architektur, Bühne, Druckerei. Vol. 4. Weimar: Verlag der Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, 2009. Yaneva, Albena. “Making the Social Hold: Towards an Actor-Network Theory of Design, Design and Culture.” Design and Culture, The Journal of the Design Studies Forum 1 (3, 2015). 273–288.

Barbara Stoltz

Authorship in the Contemporary Production of Metal Sculptures: Art Theory, Technology, Law and the Organization of Work As one of the major issues in art history, authorship pertains to art production itself and to the discussions within art criticism and art theory, particularly since the beginnings of Renaissance art literature. Beyond individualization of “the author” in premodern art and his or her abnegation from modern art, authorship can be understood as above all identifying a person or persons who created a work of art and, at the same time, giving credit to the creation process itself.1 Furthermore, in the strict sense of auctoritas, authorship means the claim of the control over the production of an art object or the already completed artwork. Concepts of authorship in the contemporary production of metal sculptures are derived from the bronze sculpture traditions of Renaissance art, on one hand, and the diverging postmodern and contemporary itineraries of realization of a “product,” on the other. Metal art is created mainly by professional art foundries or industrial metal factories that work primarily for the industry but also, as a market sector, for artists. The techniques of these factories as well as the type of metals differ, because they are developed for a specific work of art. Often, these objects are made with different types of casting, but also by means of specific industrial processes, such as assemblages or welding.2 Contemporary art foundries are commercial companies; their main productions are cast metal sculptures, in most cases based on the historical tradition of bronze casting, specifically the 1 This is, for example, the case in the art of printmaking: The person who delivered the design is named on the print alongside the person who cuts the printing plate and sometimes also the person who was responsible for the printing. See further discussion on behalf of authorship in printmaking in the text below. Regarding the issue of authorship concerning the aspects of “originality,” “copy” and “falsification,” but also concerning the aspects of “creation” and “strategies of authorship within the arts,” see the vast amount of literature for premodern art: Münch 2014; Pullins 2017. For modern and contemporary art: Tietenberg 2013; Eechoud 2014. 2 By now, technical details and processes about postmodern and contemporary metal sculpture have not been summarized and discussed extensively. For an introduction to metal sculpture and new techniques from modern to contemporary art see, for example, Daval 1996. One of the best-known industrial companies producing metal artworks is Arnold AG (Thüringen, Hessen, Germany), which is going to be discussed in the text below.


Barbara Stoltz

“lost wax” cast.3 Therefore, three aspects shall be discussed in this chapter regarding authorship within contemporary metal art: the traditional concepts of authorship since the Renaissance concerning especially bronze art, the significance of authorship based on technical principles in metal art production and, ultimately, organization of art production within contemporary metal art companies.

“Hand” and “mind”: Authorship concepts and bronze casting during the Renaissance In practice since the Renaissance, the production of a bronze sculpture takes several steps. The process entails a preparatory phase of designing – done with several drawings and three-dimensional small-scale models – and the actual production phase of the artwork: the realization of the metal sculpture. Production begins with the preparation of a full-size model in wax, the creation of the proper form and body of the future sculpture, which is normally mounted on a so-called casting core.4 The resulting form of wax is then covered in a cast shell of plaster. Once melted away, the wax subsequently leaves a hollow space between the core and the shell, which is then filled with liquid bronze.5 The aspect specific to metal casting is that the wax form, which the artist physically prepared and handled, is ultimately destroyed during the melting process. The metal sculpture only receives its shape during the second process, as the actual form of the sculpture is derived from the concave and convex indentation of the liquid bronze between the walls of the core and of the cover plaster, i.e. the space left by the wax. These technical principles already determine some aspects, or rather steps of authorship within the artistic production of a metal sculpture: intellectual (design); physical and direct (the handwork on the wax and the finishing work on the already casted object); and finally indirect (the cast) (see also: Stoltz 2015). Why are these different kinds of involvements in the creation of an art object significant for the questions on authorship? In considering Renaissance definitions of authorship, there are two main aspects: manual and physical authenticity and intellectual origin. Giorgio Vasari formulates these two aspects

3 See for example the art foundry Schmäcke, which produced for Jörg Immendorf, Markus Lüpertz and A. R. Penck. (See This article deals especially with the art foundries in Pietrasanta, Italy. 4 Except for very small figures, the metal cast is always a hollow cast. 5 From the large amount of literature about the technique of bronze cast see for introduction Radke 2007, 157–176; Lein 2004, 16–34.

Authorship in the Contemporary Production of Metal Sculptures


in his texts about the meaning of drawing – disegno. In the Vite of 1568, Vasari (1966–1997, vol 1, 111) explains that a drawing is primarily the visible expression of a thought, concept or inner image. But Vasari looks upon disegno not only as a direct expression of artistic intellect but also as physical evidence of the ability of the artist’s hand. About Giotto’s drawings, Vasari (1976, vol 1, 94) writes: “those who come after may be able to see drawings [disegno] by the very hand of Giotto” (my emphasis). Vasari is the chief example of Renaissance art theory that gives prevalence to the intellectual origin of the design, but he also emphasizes the indispensability of the manual ability to express and realize it.6 The intellectual origin – the thought or inner image – and the evidence of the artist’s hand – in the form and in the material of an art object – are competing and dialoguing aspects within Renaissance art theory.7 These two aspects are pendants responsible for the excellence of an artwork. At the same time, they represent two separated qualities of the artwork; they continue to compete and converse throughout modern, postmodern and contemporary art production – they even seem to appear as two diverse spheres.8 However, there are two other decisive aspects that have prevailed since Renaissance art: plurality and indirectness of authorship. For example, the separation of intellectual and manual realization had already been very distinct in Renaissance printmaking and here especially in commercial, reproductive prints. Signing these art productions with invenit and fecit indicated the implicitness that an art object could be realized by more than one person. Printmaking had therefore already represented the awareness of plural “authorship,” emphasized also by the denomination of the printer with exhudit, which means “printed.”9 6 On Vasari’s disegno theory see for example Vasari 2006, 19–20. On the relation between “mind and hand” in Vasari’s disegno theory see Stoltz 2012, 12–14. Another prominent example is Michelangelo who gives emphasis to the physical evidence in the material of the artist’s hand, which shapes the form that the artist had first imagined. Michelangelo formulated this in a sonnet: “Non ha l’ottimo artista alcun concetto/ c’un marmo solo in sé non circonscriva/col suo superchio, e solo a quello arriva/ la man che ubbidisce all’intelletto,” Rime, 151, v. 1–4; See Buonaroti 1960, 82. 7 See on this topic regarding the broader context of pre-modern art theory Gründler 2014. 8 See the discussion regarding the signature in modern and postmodern art by Tietenberg 2013, 27–31. 9 Invenit (invented) indicates the person who delivered the design for the printmaker or who made the painting, from which the printed image comes from (now and again invenit had been substituted by pinxit); fecit indicates the printmaker, the cutter of the image on the plate, exhudit the person who printed the images from the plate. See for introduction to principles of printmaking: Stijnman 2012. In the art literature of the early modern times the actual word “author” was not used in order to indicate a person who did or designed an art object. One of the very few and early


Barbara Stoltz

On top of plurality, Renaissance art theory also deals with the aspect of indirectness, especially regarding the bronze cast. Here, the texts by Benvenuto Cellini about his cast of Perseus and Medusa are quite significant. Cellini writes about this cast on several occasions, in his autobiography and in his treatise on sculpture and goldsmith’s art, which was published in an abridged version in 1568.10 In all these texts, Cellini emphasizes the inevitable importance of the workshop and also the plurality or separation of responsibilities within the realization of a bronze cast: The artist must have full knowledge of his own art – designing, modelling and forming the sculpture – the cast is done by professional cast workers. Nevertheless, Cellini stresses the necessity that the artist must also have full knowledge about the casting and the entire production of the bronze sculpture; or even, the artist had to be able to – as Cellini demonstrates with his Perseus – react with intelligent solutions when something goes wrong during the cast: Offtimes we figure that casters call in the help of ordnance founders to aid us, but the most terrible misfortunes not infrequently occur owing to their insufficient experience and want of care, and all our labour is lost. Just such a thing very nearly happened to me when I was casting my Perseus, for, calling to aid some of those fellows, I found them so absolutely devoid of sense that in their stupidity they all swore my mold was spoilt, and that there was no means of righting it [. . .].11

Cellini subsequently writes how he succeeded in obtaining a perfect cast of Perseus even when the cast workers had been about to destroy it, defining heroic readiness – prontezza – as both a physical but above all a mental capacity.12 The other remarkable point in Cellini’s texts is the description of removing the shell after the cast, where Cellini emphasizes the appearance of the figure

examples is Baglione who uses this word to indicate the artist Matthäus Greuter, who made a design for a print. See Baglione 1642, 399. 10 For the unpublished version of Due Trattati: Milanesi 1857. See also Stoltz 2015, 6–8. 11 “[. . .] il valente scultore i tali casi (se bene debbe prezzare i consigli di ciascuno) non perciò ha da essere ignaro di tal’arte, si che egli bisogni che si rimetta in tutto nelle mani di detti Artiglieri, ma sapere secondo l’occasione con prudenza risolvere, antivedere, e riparare à ogni difficultà che possa intervenire in materia di Getto. [. . .] il che è occorso di conoscere à me per l’esperienza nel gettare che io feci del mio Perseo venendovi una delle dette difficultà, dove ricercando questi tali di consiglio gli trovai [. . .] scarsi [. . .], & mi dissero la mia forma esser guasta & senza rimedio [. . .].” Cellini, Due Trattati, 51v (47v sic). English text from Ashbee 1898, 122. 12 Cellini, Due Trattati, 51v (47v sic). It is known that originally, in the early Renaissance, some artists, like Ghiberti, were able to do the casting by themselves and had proper workshops with casting collaborators, while other artists, like Cellini, engaged cast workers – workers who usually came from foundries that had casted weapons etc. See Lein 2004, 142–146.

Authorship in the Contemporary Production of Metal Sculptures


of Perseus with the head of Medusa not only as a perfect cast, thanks to his initiative to place cast air-vents in correct positions, but moreover as the birth of a figure.13 (Fig. 1) Here, the concept of authorship takes on an additional aspect: Cellini implied that casting is a process which is only indirectly performed by artists, elevating it to an almost non-human act. The act of casting is removed from the hands of the artist, and, in the end, it is fortune or divine providence that decides whether or not the bronze becomes a figure. Cellini’s description renders evidence of an understanding of work realization in its various aspects, as direct,

Fig. 1: Benvenuto Cellini, Perseus, 1545–54, cast-bronze, 320 cm (hight), Loggia dei Lanzi, Florence.

13 Cellini wrote in his autobiography: “[. . .] Lasciato che io ebbi dua giorni freddare la mia gittata opera, cominciai a scroprirla pian piano; et trovai, la prima cosa, la testa della Medusa, che era venuta benissimo per virtù degli sfiatatoi, [. . .].” Cellini, La Vita, II, LXXVIII, Bellotto 1996, 675. “[. . .] After I had let my statue cool for two whole days, I began to uncover by slow degrees. The first thing I found was that the head of Medusa had come out most admirably, thanks to the air-vents; [. . .].” Translation from Cellini 1949, 368.


Barbara Stoltz

indirect, mental and physical. Cellini furthermore indicates that he, as an artist, had to have full control over all these work phases, even or especially over the process where he had not been able to intervene, where his engagement was indirect: the actual act of casting. Authorship means here above all: keeping control.

Art foundries The question of authorship changed remarkably within modern and postmodern theory of art and of art critique: above all, Walter Benjamin’s criticism on the “lost aura” of reproductive arts or Michel Foucault’s Qu’est-ce qu’un auteur? should be mentioned also due to enormous developments in the arts and their materials (see Walter Benjamin 1968 [1935]; Foucault 1977 [1969]). Nevertheless, the concept of the strong relation between “hand” and “mind,” especially with respect to metal arts, is still significant for reasons of how metal art is produced nowadays. Mere art foundries have only existed since the eighteenth century. In modern and postmodern times, art foundries have become autonomous companies where the artist can realize his or her “own” work.14 Websites or catalogues reveal the self-conception of those companies. They usually demonstrate that the companies are remarkably self-conscious of their “artistic” skills in producing art for “someone else.”15 The foundries indicate that they provide “full service” to artists. Furthermore, they strictly determine all production phases and even the times of the artist’s possible presence or absence: moments at which artists, as customers of their own work, are invited to intervene in the production of their sculptures, but also moments reserved for the manual work and supervision of the foundry workers, with artists being mere spectators.16 In fact, the only thing an artist has to “supply” is a model. This can be just a photograph or a drawing that will then be translated into a three-dimensional model.17

14 Despite research by Elisabeth Lebon, there are few explicit studies on art foundries. See Lebon 2003 and 2009. 15 Especially the art foundries in Pietrasanta (Italy) are the focus here. See Nardini and Serafini 2008. See also the internet pages from Pietrasanta’s foundries, f. e.: Mariani Fonderia Artistica, (worked f. e. for Igor Mitoraj;; or Fonderia Artistica Versiliese,, (worked f. e. for Fernando Botero). 16 See Fonderia Del Chiaro, (23 March 2020). 17 The foundries cooperate with design studios that prepare models from artists’ drawings using software. See for example: Modello. (23 March 2020).

Authorship in the Contemporary Production of Metal Sculptures


The most important challenge of the art foundry workshop is the enlargement of the model, which can be accomplished by the artist himself/herself or with the help of a foundry collaborator. The full-scale model is covered with plaster to create the negative stamps which, once filled with wax, recompose the figure in wax on the casting core.18 The making of negative stamps and the re-composition of the wax model is entirely the responsibility of the foundry workers.19 After the workers see that the translation procedure has succeeded, it is passed on to the artist, who can elaborate the wax form and make changes or, in concrete terms, put his or her hands on the work.20 Once the wax form is finished, the foundry workers complete the task: preparation for the cast, the cast itself, the finishing afterwards, cleaning the cast, repairs, assembling, supplying of patina.21 Starting in the twentieth century, metal casting has been changed technically, with improvements in various steps of the procedure as well as changes to the cast material itself, which can be bronze, aluminum, nickel silver or white bronze. Nevertheless, the itinerary of casting still consists of the same general steps as those during the Renaissance period. The only procedure distinguishing an art foundry from industrial foundries is the conventional use of lost wax casting. Even though the casting procedure is supported by machines, it is still closely controlled by men. Therefore, foundry workers generally consider themselves to be craftsmen.22 (Fig. 2) A very striking example of self-demonstration of an art foundry with the concept of “craftsmanship” is the internationally renowned Fonderia d’Arte di Massimo Del Chiaro. This company advertises itself – in its catalogue and on its website – as being operated by craftsmen. The term “artigiani” is rigorously set in contrast to “artist.”23 While artists strive for personal and individual aims,

18 This procedure was also very usual in the Renaissance but in contemporary foundry production it is the inevitable conventional procedure, not only because the sculptures very often have enormous dimensions, but also because this is the way to get a precise copy of the desired figure in wax. See http://www. Ingrandimento. (23 March 2020). 19 (23 March 2020). 20 (23 March 2020). 21, and the description in the following pages (23 March 2020). 22 The innovations only serve to improve on the traditional casting techniques or to allow the realisation of enormous dimensions, which require the intervention of armatures. See: http:// goria_ing.php? nomecategoria=Fusione. (10 October 2017). 23 This art foundry was founded in 1980 by Massimo Del Chiaro, who had been working in art foundries and developing new techniques since 1949. His company has made sculptures for an enormous number of artists, some of whom are extremely prominent, such as Ferdinand Botero, Igor Mitoraj, and Marc Quinn. See Serafini 2009.


Barbara Stoltz

Fig. 2: Fonderia Del Chiaro, Pietrasanta, casting.

craftsmen should only support them in order to accomplish their creations: (“He [the craftsman] does not create, he makes.”)24 On the other hand, the

24 “He is not an artist [. . .], but he is a craftsman. He does not create, he makes. The artist lives for his own self-glorification, for himself. Del Chiaro, instead, works with endless humility, he cancels himself out, he disappears. He shows you the work made in bronze, the finished work, [. . .] how much research, manual skill, how much ability there has to be [in order] to be able to translate into metal the artist’s idea; to be able to overcome technical obstacles which at first sight seem to be impossible to resolve; and how much satisfaction [derives] from sharing yet another ‘prey of art’ with his sons and with his extended family of mould makers, wax workers, bronze casters, and workers who refine and give the patina to the bronzes in his workshop./ Thus, a hunter of forms. A hunter of volumes in space, a leader in more and more daring challenging gravity, geometry, material.” Cited from Serafini 2009, 17. Undoubtedly, this book is not so much an art historical text with scientific observations, as it quite uncritically uses the topoi of narrative, and anecdotal biographical presentation in

Authorship in the Contemporary Production of Metal Sculptures


craftsman is thus a “hunter of forms. A hunter of volumes in space, a protagonist in more and more daring challenges of gravity, geometry, material.”25 This self-presentation shifts between focusing on the person of the founder, Massimo Del Chiaro, with his individual ability and knowledge, and the potential of the entire company as a space where artists can create, develop and work on their sculptures; at the same time a space, which is an essential institution to realize a work of art in bronze. Thus, beside the advertising aims, the question of the definition of the role of the artist and that of the foundry and its workers makes this self-presentation remarkable. The artist is the mental and individual author of the work; the foundry workers are physical and impersonal makers of the work, although they have full control over the artist’s idea taking shape. In this way, they are understood as “protagonists.” Here, authorship is not only split between mental and physical authorship. Here, it seems that the artist “loses” his former role of controller.

Legal aspects and conflicts in bronze casting The aspect of control emerges in many legal conflicts pertaining to art objects, especially concerning cases of posthumous casts. Posthumous casts are sold on the art market and are part of many collections, for example the bronze works by Alberto Giacometti, Hans Arp or Henry Moore.26 From a legal point of view, these posthumous casts cannot be considered “originals.” For example, Gerhard Pfennig explains in reference to German law, the termini “work of art” and “origin” could be understood as being synonyms. According to Pfennig (2009, 18), a “work of art” means a personal und mental creation that includes its actual realization by the personal collaboration of the artist. Pfennig also stresses that it is important for a work of art to be “original,” considering the differentiation from other works of art, but also that the work of art has an actual origin. At the same time, it has to be “autonomous” in the sense that the entire process behind this work of art depends only on its origin. However, in his explanations, Pfennig focuses on the aspect that the idea itself is not sufficient. The artist/author maintains copyrights only when the idea is actually realized, in the factual work of art,

order to be a platform for self-presentation of the company and to underline the quality of its work and its history. 25 See above, note 24. 26 See various contributions to this topic in Berger 2009.


Barbara Stoltz

or when it is fixed in any type of media, on paper, CD-ROM, film, etc.27 The realization of a work of art can be carried out even without the manual engagement of the artist him- or herself; it may be performed by another person. The supervision by the artist, however, is crucial. This does not necessarily concern the physical supervision of the realization of the artwork; rather, what counts is the compliance and indication of how to execute the work as expressed within the project.28 Even when this work of art is accomplished in several exemplars, the artist must authorize, i.e. supervise, the production for its outcomes to be his or her artwork, and that’s what an “original” implies (Pfennig 2009, 18). Thus, supervision and therefore realization of “original” artwork must happen during the artist’s lifetime. The striking concept in this understanding of art law is the relation between “mind” and “hand” already expressed in Renaissance art theory: The “idea” is the most important part of the work of art, but it must also be executed (for Renaissance theory of art, with an excellence optimal or equal to the “idea”). For contemporary art and the legal standpoint today, however, it is not the relation between “mind” and “hand” that is crucial but rather the actual presence of the artist – albeit less his or her physical, direct or indirect supervision or collaboration during the realization of the artwork than the fact of his or her being alive at the time of production. Authorship, therefore, is control, and excising control means presence – actual life presence.29

Steel art and industrial companies, further aspects of authorship As stated at the beginning, work organization, but above all the material and techniques of its artistic use can determine or specify facets of authorship. Therefore, these particular aspects described until now within contemporary bronze art can also change in other metal media, such as steel. The use of steel

27 This last aspect is of course very important for conceptual art, see on this topic: Schütze 2020. 28 As example Pfennig names Christo’s The Gates (Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Central Park, New York City, 1979–2005); see Pfennig 2009, 18. 29 As Pfennig also explains, the artist can declare, in a testament or in a posthumous right statement, if and how a work can be re-produced again. This is nothing else than an extending of control or presence of the artist, but from legal and practical point of view quite problematic; see the discussion by Pfennig 2009, 19–20.

Authorship in the Contemporary Production of Metal Sculptures


in fine arts is a phenomenon that has emerged especially in late modern and postmodern times. The intriguing point about using steel or making steel sculptures and installations is the fact that the artistic techniques and ways of forming it, and finally conventions of artistic use of steel, had to be developed in the first place. Therefore, in this case, artists were not only the ideatori of their work and its “makers” or supervisors, but they were also the authors of the artistic techniques for using the new material. In 1966, Donald Lippincott with his business partner Roxanne Everett founded a metal working factory, known today as Lippincott Sculpture Fabrication and Conservation, where artists could realize large-scale sculptures and, assisted by steel fabricators or boat builders, were able to create their own specific methods for using steel or other metals.30 Lippincott’s and Everett’s import here was in providing the facilities for new creative processes: Roxanne was responsible for the problems of costing and financing large sculpture projects, Donald supplied the “vocabulary” of industrial fabrication, which was to be reinterpreted by the artists. Compared to bronze art, where the techniques and artistic processes have been more or less fixed for centuries, here, the ideation of an art object concerns the ideation of new specific techniques and work processes, which might even be developed only for one specific art object.31 (Fig. 3) The central aim of the Lippincott Company, providing facilities and assembling a technical crew, is therefore to provide a work environment that allows for the close collaboration required between sculpture-building artist and fabricator (Lippincott 2010, 11–21). Hereby, authorship aspects concern not only the contribution of several persons to the realization of an artwork but, above all, a dialogue between the artist and the steel specialist. The Lippincott Company was created with the main endeavor of producing metal sculptures on a large scale. Obviously, there are many other companies in the sector of metal fabrication that normally work for architectural projects or the furniture industry but are also at the service of artists, and therefore reinterpret the use of their tools. Here, too, like with the Lippincott enterprise, the artist can develop and bring his work to fruition in close collaboration with the companies’ workers. The involvement of metal work companies began in the 1960s with artists such as Richard Serra. In his youth, Serra was a fabrication worker himself. He chose steel and other metals as his media and, above all, the metal companies

30; Some of the artists who made their sculptures at Lippincott are Jonathan Borofsky, Ellsworth Kelly, Robert Murray, Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, Keith Haring and Roy Lichtenstein. See Lippincott 2010. 31 See for example the description of the development and realization of Claes Oldenburg’s and Coosje van Bruggen’s Batcolumn, 1977 (Steel, aluminum, painted with polyurethane enamel, 29.5 m high, today still installed in West Madison Street, Chicago) by Lippincott 2010, 198–203.


Barbara Stoltz

Fig. 3: Lippincott sculpture and fabrication, realisation of Claes van Oldenburg’s Clothespin, 1974, now in Philadelphia, City Hall.

as the place to create his works. He focused on the iconologies of metal, but also on the modern iconologies of the industrial era, testing several steel companies in Germany (Ruhrgebiet, Saarland/Dillingen) in the search for optimal quality of his works (see Rübel 2010, 111–135). Nowadays, several steel companies specialize in art production, for example, Arnold AG in Germany.32 Arnold AG represents itself in a similar way that the Italian art foundries above do: It provides artists with the opportunity to execute artworks by supplying the design; everything else is produced by the company. Here, of course, contrary to art foundries, the technique to realize the work of art has to be developed: Arnold AG, which has been producing for many years for Jeff Koons, (Fig. 4) promotes the fabrication of the artist’s “idea” by way of close, “step-by-step” collaboration with the artist, emphasizing “engineering know-how” and “technical creativity” and declaring itself the artist’s “brush” to realize the most impossible “ideas.”33 32 Beside Arnold AG, another company, specialized in metal art sculptures is Pickhan Engineering (Siegen, Germany) (20 March 2020) 33 The text of the website stated: “We will work closely with you to realize your sculpture stepby-step using our engineering know-how and our wealth of technical creativity. Whether it’s a

Authorship in the Contemporary Production of Metal Sculptures


Fig. 4: Jeff Koons, Tulips, 2004, sculptures made out of steel, placed in front of NordLB in Hannover, Germany, until 2012.

Aside from the commercializing use of topoi, the most intriguing aspect in the representation of the company is that the artist is regarded and presented as a customer. The predominant relation of the premodern art market was the relationship between the artist, on the one side, and the customer, on the other, who could decide not only the themes but also the manner of realization of an art object. In the contemporary art market, it is primarily the artist who becomes a customer of the realization of his own work (see also Graw 2008). If the artist is the customer, he or she is therefore the author in the strict sense of authority, which means being owner and controller of the work to be executed. Nevertheless, while Arnold AG emphasizes the full attribution of the authorship to the artist (guaranteeing his or her status), it still assumes full responsibility in the realization of an artwork with “technical creativity” (as a quality guarantee): The director of Arnold AG confirmed in an interview that, due to the close relationship

feasibility study you’re after or the craftsmanship required to realize your ideas, we always work according to the principle: ‘You are the artist, we are the brush.’ However off-the-wall an idea might be: there’s no such thing as an impossible wish. Realizing unusual assignments is our passion. Mirror-polished so that you can see your reflection, with or without coating, sculptures made out of stainless steel, corten steel, bronze or aluminum – Arnold Art will take on any challenge and tackle it with perfect craftsmanship and personal dedication.” See: (10 October 2017), see ibidem the actual text (25 August 2020).


Barbara Stoltz

between Jeff Koons and the company, he can always be confident of the artist’s satisfaction with the finished work, even before Koons actually sees it.34 Thus, two aspects of an artwork’s “creator” are decisive in this collaboration: the relative, yet strong autonomy of the “makers” of the work of art but, above all, the omnipresent power to accept this work as a work by its “ideator.”

Resume Thinking of art production in general, it naturally begins with ideation, which can be conceived by one person or several persons and can be developed further by or with the collaboration of other persons. The point is that this impulse for the realization of a work of art can already be regarded as authorship. However, contrary to other arts, where the idea – due to the perspective of the law – can only be fixed in some kind of media,35 authorship in metal art is usually not fulfilled until the work of art is executed. Today, the production of the artwork can be performed by “anybody.” More important is the fact that the ideator, or the first person to develop the idea for the work of art, has the power to choose persons and institutions to execute the work, or to execute the work himself/herself. During the realization phase, the control can be direct, physical or indirect, but the most important aspect is the actual life presence of the artist/ideator. It is essential that the artist can decide to keep, change or destroy the completed art object. This is the crucial moment when actual authorship is fulfilled and authority exerted. Today, evidence of authorship in terms of the artist as the ideator might be quite clear. Indeed, recent papers on contemporary art production typically still focus the figure of the ideator and refer less to diverging systems of collaborations within the execution of artworks, from the design companies to specialized art factories. In these studies, the ideator/artist is situated, above all, in relation to the production of art and market, concerning his or her social role (see also Hellmold et al., esp. 79–84). This paper also presented the perspective of the makers of contemporary art: The foundries or the steel companies are inevitable institutions to generate artwork made of metal, even when they define themselves as – an almost passive – medium or instrument (“brush”). They execute “authorship;” or rather, they make it possible that the authorship of an artist can be fulfilled.

34 See the interview on Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Jäger 2012. 35 See above the mentioned aspect about conceptual art, in note 27.

Authorship in the Contemporary Production of Metal Sculptures


For this reason, the dependence of the artist on the makers is apparent. Consequently, beyond the evidence of the artist’s authorship in terms of a metal sculpture project – in the context of him or her being the origin of the work of art and having full authority to dispose of the work of art – the crucial question arises of how the realization can actually be defined, involving single persons and single working phases. Are they co-authors, or mere makers? This question cannot be answered definitively, as broader research is required regarding technical skills, technical processes and further specific knowledge of the entire itinerary of the realization of artworks from designing passages to the final execution.36 Nevertheless, from the overview of the diverging ways of metal production, it emerges that especially the question of resolving technical problems, using or seeking out techniques for a specific art object, involves not only the stages of the realization but the actual process of ideation. Therefore, the actual realization of the contemporary metal sculpture is a process of authoring and reciprocal dependencies between the ideator and the makers.

References Arnold AG. (20 March 2020). Baglione, Giovanni. Le Vite de’ Pittori, Scultori et Architetti. Dal Pontificato di Gregorio XIII del 1572. In fino a’ tempi di Papa Urbano Ottavo nel 1642. Rom, 1642. Benjamin, Walter. “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” Illuminations. Ed. Hannah Arendt. London: Fontana, [1935] 1968. 214–218. Berger, Ursel, Klaus Gallwitz, and Gottlieb Leinz, eds. Posthume Güsse. Bilanz und Perspektiven. Berlin and Munich: Deutscher Kunstverlag, 2009. Buonaroti, Michelangelo. Rime. Ed. Enzo Noè Girardi. Bari: Laterza, 1960. Cellini, Benvenuto. Due Trattati. Uno intorno alle otto principali arti dell’oreficeria, l’altro in materia dell’arte della scultura, dove si veggono infiniti segreti nel lavorar le figure di marmo, & nel gettarle di bronzo. Firenze 1568. Cellini, Benvenuto. I Trattati dell’oreficeria e della scultura di Benvenuto Cellini (Codice Marciano, Biblioteca Marciana, Venice). Ed. Carlo Milanesi. Firenze: Le Monier, 1857. Cellini, Benvenuto. The Treatises of Benvenuto Cellini on Goldsmithing and Sculpture. Translated by Charles Ashbee. London: Arnold, 1898.

36 Compared to premodern bronze art, only few sources, writings and documentations are available on the production of metal art, metal companies or metal art workshops such as Lippincott. It would be also very instructive to analyze how artists of metalworks see their own involvement – an aspect that has not been discussed yet. These important issues are going to be looked at in a further research project by the author of this chapter.


Barbara Stoltz

Cellini, Benvenuto. The Life of Benvenuto Cellini. Written by Himself. Translated by John Addington Symonds. London: Phaidon, 1949. Cellini, Benvenuto. Benvenuto Cellini. La Vita. Ed. Lorenzo Bellotto. Parma: Ugo Guanda Editore, 1996. Daval, Jean Luc. “Monumentality and new techniques.” Sculpture. The Adventure of Modern Sculpture in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Ed. Antoinette Le Normad-Romain, Anne Pingeot, Reinhold Hohl, Jean-Luc Daval, Barbara Rose, and Friedrich Meschede. Cologne et al.: Taschen, 1996. 196–223. Eechoud, Mireille van. The Work of Authorship. Amsterdam: Amsterdam Univ. Press, 2014. Fonderia Artistica Versiliese. (20 March 2020). Fonderia Del Chiaro. (20 March 2020). Foucault, Michel. “What is an Author?” Language, Counter-Memory, Practice: Selected Essays and Interviews. Ed. Donald F. Bouchard. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell UP, [1969] 1977. 113–138. Graw, Isabell. Der große Preis. Kunst zwischen Markt und Celebrity-Kultur. Cologne: Dumont, 2008. Gründler, Hana. “Gloriarsi della mano e dell’ingegno. Hand, Geist und pädagogischer Eros bei Vasari und Bellori.” Begrifflichkeit, Konzepte, Definitionen. Schreiben über Kunst und ihre Medien in Giovan Pietro Belloris “Viten” und der Kunstliteratur der Frühen Neuzeit. Ed. Elisabeth Oy-Marra, Marieke von Bernstoff, and Henry Keazor. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2014. 77–103. Hellmold, Martin, Sabine Kampmann, Ralph Lindner, and Katharina Sykora, eds. Was ist ein Künstler? Das Subjekt der modernen Kunst. Munich: Fink, 2003. Jäger, Mona. “Der Unternehmer hinter dem Künstler Koons“. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, -koons-11792248.html. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (19 June 2012) (20 March 2020). Kunstgießerei Schmäcke. (20 March 2020). Lebon, Elisabeth. “Die Rolle des Bildhauers bei der Herstellung von Bronzegüssen in Frankreich vom 17. bis zum 20. Jahrhundert.” Posthume Güsse. Bilanz und Perspektiven. Ed. Ursel Berger, Klaus Gallwitz, and Gottlieb Leinz. Berlin and Munich: Deutscher Kunstverlag, 2009. 58–66. Lebon, Elisabeth. Dictionaire des fondeurs de bronze d’art. France 1890–1950. Perth: Marjon, 2003. Lein, Edgar. Ars Aeraria. Die Kunst des Bronzegießens und die Bedeutung von Bronze in der florentinischen Renaissance. Mayence: Philipp von Zabern, 2004. Lippincott, Jonathan D. Large Scale. Fabricating Sculpture in the 1960s and 1970s. New York: Princeton Architectual Press, 2010. Lippincott, Alfred, and Donald. Sculpture Fabrication and Conservation. http://www. (20 March 2020). Mariani Fonderia Artistica. (20 March 2020). Münch, Birgit Ulrike, ed. Fälschung, Plagiat. Kopie. Künstlerische Praktiken in der Vormoderne. Petersberg: Imhof, 2014. Nardini, Giovanni, and Antonella Serafini. Fuoco d’arte. Fonderie artistiche a Pietrasanta. Pietrasanta: Monte Altissimo, 2008. Pfennig, Gerhard. “Urheber und Verwertungsrechte.” Posthume Güsse. Bilanz und Perspektiven. Ed. Ursel Berger, Klaus Gallwitz, and Gottlieb Leinz. Berlin and Munich: Deutscher Kunstverlag, 2009. 18–23. Pickhan Engineering. (20 March 2020).

Authorship in the Contemporary Production of Metal Sculptures


Pullins, David. “The individual’s triumph. The eighteenth-century consolidation of authorship and art historiography.” Journal of Art Historiography 16 (June 2017). 1–26 (20 March 2020). Radke, Gary M., ed. The Gates of Paradise. Lorenzo Ghiberti’s Renaissance Masterpiece. New Haven et al.: Yale University Press et al., 2007. Rübel, Dietmar. “Fabriken als Erkenntnisorte. Richard Serra und der Gang in die Produktion.” Topos Atelier. Werkstatt und Wissensform. Ed. Michael Diers and Monika Wagner. Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2010. 111–135. Schütze, Irene. “Immaterialisierungen. Anmerkungen zur Diskursgeschichte konzeptueller Kunst – von Giorgio Vasari über Charles Le Brun und Yves Klein zu gegenwärtigen Positionen.” Grundlegende Konzepte der Renaissance in der Kunst der Moderne, Postmoderne und Gegenwart. Widerlegung, Wiederaufnahme, long durée. Ed. Barbara Stoltz. Frankfurt/Main: Lang, 2020. Serafini, Antonella, ed. Massimo Del Chiaro. L’arte del bronzo. Lucca: Edizioni Monte Altissimo, 2009. Stijnman Ad. Engraving and Etching, 1400–2000. A History of the Development of Manual Intaglio Printmaking Processes. London: Archetype Publ., 2012. Stoltz, Barbara. “Der Bronzeguss in der zeitgenössischen Kunst: Tradition einer Herausforderung“. 1 (2015). 1–20 (20 March 2020). Stoltz, Barbara. “Disegno versus Disegno stampato. Printmaking theory in Vasari’s Vite (1550–1568) in the context of the theory of disegno and the Libro de’ Disegni.” http:// Journal of Art Historiography 7 (2012). 1–20 (20 March 2020). Tietenberg, Annette. “Die Signatur als Authentifizierungsstrategie in der Kunst und im Autorendesign.” Authentizität und Wiederholung. Ed. Uta Daur and Wolfgang Brückle. Bielefeld: transcript, 2013. Vasari, Giorgio. Giorgio Vasari. Einführung in die Künste der Architektur, Bildhauerei und Malerei. Ed. Matteo Burioni. Berlin: Klaus Wagenbach, 2006. Vasari, Giorgio. Giorgio Vasari. Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors and Architects. Translated by Gaston Du C. De Vere. New York: AMS Press, 1976. Vasari, Giorgio. Le vite de’ più eccellenti pittori, scultori e architettori nelle redazioni del 1550 e 1568. Ed. Rosanna Bettarini and Paola Barocchi. Firenze: Sansoni, 1966–97. Wyss, Beat. “Handwerk und Autorschaft. Das originäre Individuum.” Handwerk-Denkschule der Evolution. Ed. Thomas Raff. Munich: Bayerischer Kunstgewerbeverein, 2016. 79–84.

Hans Dieter Huber

The Artist, the Author and Authenticity 1 This text deals with the emergence of the visual artist as an author and the changes in his economic, legal and social status that occurred due to the securing of privileges – as a predecessor to copyright – and the beginning of a collaborative and collective form of authorship in the artist’s workshop that led to an unmistakable visual style, which served the artist’s individual visibility. In practice, however, the replacement of the artists’ guild system did not take place until the end of the sixteenth century, when the Carracci brothers founded the Accademia degli Incamminati, where they intentionally developed a new artistic education system that went beyond the long-standing career system of apprentices, journeymen, and master craftsmen. In his famous book from 1435, simply entitled De Pictura (About Painting), Leon Battista Alberti transformed the social function of the painter from artisan to artist, and likewise he redefined the artist to be a scientist. He argued that a shift needed to take place in the context of authorship – from the centuries-old educational system of craftsmen with apprentices, journeymen and masters, which had been practiced within strict guild rules, to the concept of the artist. The artist, then, was no blind practitioner like the craftsman; rather he resembled a scientist and theorist. The artist’s training would be better placed at a university than a workshop. Alberti tried to prove that painting was not a craft (techne), but an art (ars) on the same level as the seven liberal sciences (Alberti 1972 [1435]). He argued that art was a language consisting of elements and possessing its own grammar, one that could be learned through study and application (Baxandall 1971). Painting was thus not like a handicraft, which had to be learned in a seven-year apprenticeship followed by several years as a journeyman in order for the craftsman to be allowed to open up a master workshop. Rather, it was a free art (ars liberalis), which should belong to the other humanistic sciences. At that time, the scientific education at the universities in the septem artes liberales, the seven liberal arts, had been divided between what was referred to as the trivium (lat. “three-way”), the three language subjects grammar, dialectic and rhetoric, and the quadrivium (lat. “four-way”), the mathematical subjects arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy. In his book, Alberti pointed out that the visual arts contained both grammar and rhetoric and, beyond that, were based on the rules of arithmetic and geometry. Therefore, he argued, the visual arts


Hans Dieter Huber

belonged to the seven liberal arts and not the medieval guild system of the craftsmen. It took a long time for that early theoretical insight to evolve into a new system of artist education, however. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the old craft system of apprenticeship, journeyman and master still prevailed. Only at the end of the sixteenth century did this system begin to erode. Around 1580 in Bologna, the brothers Annibale and Agostino Carracci were the first artists to set this education reform into action. The Carracci brothers translated the old artist training into a modern, contemporary studio practice. This meant, among other things, shared drawing lessons in front of originals and plaster casts, training in art theory and practical skills as a group of students with equal standing. Thus, the hierarchical system gave way to students training with each other, building their skill sets in new ways that allowed them to take responsibility for what they had learned and could master. Later this could lead to the development of individualistic styles as a means of differentiation. What was once the style of the master became the invention of the artist trained in this new fashion.

2 A second important debate on the issue of authorship concerns the dispute over reprints and copies at the beginning of the sixteenth century. In this period of graphic reproduction, the question of the attribution of authorship arose. Printers would sometimes blatantly copy other engravers’ works including their signature, the most famous example of which is Albrecht Dürer. He is seen historically as the first to be able to enforce copyright protection for his engravings, woodcuts and book illustrations. But as we shall see, his travails in protecting his good name resulted in an early form of distributed authorship, which was also tied up with an artist’s or a printer’s role as a craftsman. In the second edition of his artists’ biographies from 1565, Giorgio Vasari reports on a copyright dispute between Albrecht Dürer and the Italian engraver Marcantonio Raimondi (Fig. 1). Many researchers consider this episode apocryphal and therefore often disregard it. The story does contain numerous factual errors, but it nevertheless touches upon some of the central tensions and disputes of that time.1

1 Vasari mistakes Albrecht Dürer (a German from Nuremberg) to be a Flemish artist from Antwerp. He also seems not to know exactly which of Dürer’s graphic cycles had been copied by Marcantonio Raimondi. As we know today, it was The Life of Mary and The Small Passion. One must add that Vasari, in telling this story, had to rely on reports from third parties. By the

The Artist, the Author and Authenticity


Fig. 1: Plate of Marcantonio from Le vite de’ piv eccellenti pittori, scvltori, e architettori (Florence: Appresso i Giunti, 1568) by Giorgio Vasari.

The story begins with Marcantonio Raimondi’s move to Venice. At the Piazza San Marco, he saw engravings and woodcuts by Albrecht Dürer for sale. Vasari (2015) writes “[Marcantonio Raimondi] was so amazed at the manner and method of Albrecht’s work that he spent almost all the money that he had brought from Bologna to buy those sheets.” He subsequently began copying the graphics and the woodcuts of The Life of Mary in the medium of engraving, where he also included the signature of Albrecht Dürer, the famous AD: [. . .] and they proved to be so similar in manner, that, no one knowing that they had been executed by Marc’ Antonio [sic!], they were ascribed to Albrecht, and were bought and sold as works by his hand. News of this was sent in writing to Albrecht, who was in

time of Vasari’s account, Dürer had already died in 1528 and Marcantonio Raimondi soon after, in 1534. The protagonists of the story had passed some 30 years prior.


Hans Dieter Huber

Flanders, together with one of the counterfeit Passions executed by Marc’ Antonio; at which he flew into such a rage that he left Flanders and went to Venice, where he appeared before the Signoria and laid a complaint against Marc’ Antonio. But he could obtain no other satisfaction but this, that Marc’ Antonio should no longer use the name or the above-mentioned signature of Albrecht on his works. (Vasari 2015)

According to Vasari, Dürer had failed to prohibit the unauthorized copy and sale of his woodcuts. He had merely obtained the right that his monogram be removed. Marcantonio Raimondi copied 17 sheets of The Life of Mary, including The Glorification of Mary (Fig. 2). Interestingly, however, this copper engraving contains not only the signature of Albrecht Dürer but also the monogram MAF (Marc Anton fecit) on the depicted candelabrum standing on the bed at the top left, and two characters of the publisher, the signature yhs, in the quatrefoil on the cabinet located in the middle ground, plus the two triangles with

Fig. 2: Marcantonio Raimondi, The Glorification of Mary.

The Artist, the Author and Authenticity


the letters ND FS (Niccolò et Domenico Fratelli Sandro) on the shield at the bottom left (Vogt 2008, 82). The monograms play a central role for the identification of authorship. They were a guarantee for the customer that what he was purchasing would have indeed been by Albrecht Dürer. The three different monograms refer to a form of distributed authorship, such as those later found in reproductive graphics: first, the inventor of the subject (invenit), then the engraver or etcher (fecit) and, finally, the publisher or editor (excudit). While apocryphal, this story is illustrative, and the engravings that bear these different marks reveal the difficulties surrounding authenticity and authorship attribution at the time of emerging graphic reproduction crafts. The story of Vasari, however, is not just a tall tale. Albrecht Dürer had indeed been in Venice from autumn 1505 until spring 1506. And he complains at length about the fact that his works were being copied, in a letter to his friend and patron Willibald Pirckheimer on February 7, 1506 from Venice: Among them, I believe, are the most unfaithful, mendacious and thievish villains, of all the people that exist on earth. [. . .] Here are also many enemies who copy my works in churches and obtain it from wherever they want. In addition, they criticize it and say it is not antique enough, therefore it is not good.2 (Dürer 1956, 45)

Hence, Dürer therefore ceaselessly strove to protect his work against illegal copies and reprints. The city of Nuremberg had lent him support in various council decrees. A council edict exists, dated January 3, 1512, that prohibits an unknown person from offering reprints of the engravings and woodcuts of Albrecht Dürer for sale in front of the city hall. Upon infringement, the seller is threatened with the confiscation of his goods and prompted to remove the monogram AD from all reprints. This story is quite similar in content to Vasari’s ‘tale’. The difference lies in the fact that here we have an actual incident that is verifiable by a historical document: The stranger who offers graphics in front of the town hall, including some that carry Albrecht Dürer’s signature, which are imitated fraudulently, should take it upon himself to remove all of these characters and not offer them here, or, if he refuses, to confiscate all these pictures as counterfeits and hand them over to the Council.3 (Dürer 1956, 241)

Dürer knew about the imperial privileges that his friend, the humanist, Conrad Celtis, had received from Emperor Maximilian I. He now also tried to obtain

2 Translation by the author. 3 Translation by the author.


Hans Dieter Huber

such similar privileges to protect not only his texts and books but also his printed graphics. In a colophon to the print edition of The Life of Mary in 1511, he published a Latin warning very similar in wording to the letter to Willibald Pirckheimer from 1506: Woe to you, fraudsters and thieves of foreign labor and ideas, let you not come to lay your brazen hands on these works! Because let you say that this privilege is issued by the Glorious Emperor of The Holy Roman Empire, Maximilian, that no aftercuts of these images may be printed and sold within the territory of the Empire. Should you act in disregard or criminal greed, rest assured that you must expect the strictest punishment after the confiscation of your possessions.4 (Vogt 2008, 85, footnote 368)

On the title page of his Four Books On Measurement, Dürer writes in 1525 that he had received an imperial privilege: “With imperial grace and finally incorporated liberty, so that every man knows how to guard himself against damages.”5 (Schoch et al. 2004, 171) However, this privilege seems not to have yet been submitted by the time of publication, as Dürer announces on the last page that the privilege shall appear in the “next book on Proportion” (ibid., 471).6 It was presented to his widow Agnes Dürer only after his death. It has been preserved, as a document signed by the hand of Count Montfort, the Imperial Regent of Emperor Charles V from August 14, 1528. This imperial privilege states that nobody may reprint the books by Albrecht Dürer or sell them under his name for an entire decade. Nevertheless, there are obviously still illegitimate reprints and translations. On October 2, 1532, for instance, the city of Nuremberg wrote to the city of Strasbourg in a plea for administrative help: that some selfish persons had been translating parts of Dürer’s books into Latin and reprinting them for sale in France despite this privilege. In order to ward off damages, the city of Nuremberg asked the city of Strasbourg to issue an order that printed books by Dürer should not be offered or sold in Strasbourg or other places in the Holy Roman Empire (Dürer 1956, 239). The imperial privileges and liberties emphasized the position of the artist as a protected author and legally strengthened his position as an author. However, the assertiveness of these privileges were not as effective as modern-day copyright laws, as is evident in the number of illegal copies made in Italy or France despite the imperial prohibitions.

4 Translation by the author. 5 Translation by the author. 6 Translation by the author.

The Artist, the Author and Authenticity


3 Style is an important category for the attribution of authorship and authenticity. It is a medium for increasing social visibility. During the Renaissance, it had become a strategic instrument of market positioning when artistic competition arose from free market forces that developed after the Reformation. Innovation and originality were the results of this increased competition in the art market at the beginning of the sixteenth century. Style had begun to take on the function of handwriting or signature, the basis on which the artist was clearly identifiable. Style had to be original, unusual and eccentric. Any artist aiming for a lasting position in the art market needed to develop an independent and unmistakable signature. Moreover, it should have been complex enough for it to be hard to copy or forge. At the same time, the function of style in art as a signature of authorship was also being formulated theoretically. Baldassare Castiglione, a good friend of Raphael (Fig. 3), developed a theory of style in his book Il Cortegiano in 1524. The Italian term for a distinctive signature and increased social visibility of the

Fig. 3: Raphael, Portrait of Baldassare Castiglione, around 1516.


Hans Dieter Huber

artist is maniera. This term encompasses much more of what we commonly understand under the term “style.” Maniera is a lifestyle that cannot be expressed in a painting alone, but rather it shows itself in the entire aesthetic preferences and attitudes of an artist. With a distinctive, typical style, an artist can stand out from his competitors. He will become visible as an author in the art system. The expert and connoisseur are able to identify the author of an artwork by his style. Style is the crucial element within the elaboration of a distinctive identity of the author within a social discourse on art, which is a discourse of connoisseurship, expertise and knowledge. Artists invent difficult figures or hidden issues, which are in turn identifiable and interpretable only for the initiated connoisseur. These hidden, semantic subtexts allow the collectors to start a knowledgeable conversation with their friends about a painting they own and identify themselves as experts in the matter. During this period, emperors, kings and princes in Europe began collecting art in a big way and sent their experts on shopping sprees to Italy. In the generation after Titian, Veronese and Tintoretto, an artist glut had been generated by the system, which in turn caused prices to fall. The artists, then, could only maintain their living standards through inflationary mass production. The unmistakable had become interchangeable and arbitrary. At the same time, radical shifts in the question of authorship and production of art had developed. Due to increased economic pressure from the art market, collective mass production had been created, which supplied the market in all price segments. Each and every work created in this system of mass production might have appeared to be unique, but the artists were actually following schematic production using individual modules. Detecting this could only be done with knowledge of their production. This field also included the production and distribution of engravings and etchings by well-known and famous star artists. New media, such as engraving, woodcut or etching were employed to spread motifs, themes and inventions of the superstars nationally and internationally. Raphael had been one of the first artists to attain worldwide fame due to the dissemination of engravings of his paintings and drawings. The originator’s publicity is decidedly multiplied by the new reproduction media, indeed generated by it almost solely. The private stanze of Pope Julius II, displayed in the Vatican, could only be seen in situ by a few people at that time, but reproductions could be seen anywhere. While artists like Albrecht Dürer or Michelangelo Buonarroti seem to have worked largely without a workshop, Raphael had created a completely new

The Artist, the Author and Authenticity


system of collaborative or collective authorship. In principle, Raphael was merely the manager of a large workshop in which the commissions were executed according to his instructions, sketches and cartoons by his journeymen assistants. Raphael had been an incredible manager, who succeeded in assembling a top team of painters in Rome. He gave them a surprising amount of creative freedom in the execution of the work. He won many commissions with his big name, developed the templates for the frescoes in small-format sketches and original sized cartoons, which, after 1514, were then almost entirely painted by his team. The most famous among them is Giulio Romano who, with his huge art collection comprising 20 shiploads and 40 packed workhorses of art objects and ancient sculptures, joined the services of the Duke of Mantua after Raphael’s death. Romano brought the expertise of Raphael’s workshop, its model of collaborative and collective authorship in particular, from Rome to Mantua, where the young artists of the region observed his work very attentively and curiously. The Venetian painter Paolo Veronese, having spent his youth 50 km away in Verona and having collaborated with other young artists in a team as a young man, probably adopted this kind of collective and collaborative work from Giulio Romano.

4 In catalogues raisonnés – compilations of all the known works of an artist, mostly a result of scholarship in the second half of the twentieth century – traditional art history differentiated mainly between single-handed works and workshop production. However, this distinction is highly ideological and problematic. Catalogues raisonnés suggest two classes of art: those works considered to be made single-handedly by the master himself represented the first class and therefore the best quality. The second class of works was then formed by the so-called workshop production. They were of a lesser quality and therefore yielded a much lower price on the art market. The distinction between single-handed authenticity and a workshop product is therefore primarily a distinction that allows auction houses to set prices differently. What misjudgements the desire for an authentic work by the master can produce, is shown in an essay by Annalisa Perissa Torrini on the restoration of Paolo Veronese’s paintings from the church of San Giacomo alla Giudecca in Venice (Perissa Torrini 1988). In 1806, the church had been demolished by Napoleonic decree and the paintings stored in the Gallerie dell’Accademia between 1818 and 1821, where they are still located


Hans Dieter Huber

today. In 1988, the sopraintendenza restored the ceiling paintings in Venice. The author writes in her essay: The intervention by Paolo in the central ceiling painting with the Assumption must be recognized in light of recent cleaning; it reveals itself to a large extent as to be from by his own hand. [. . .] Veronese therefore painted the central canvas and left the side panels to his employees.7 (Perissa Torrini 1988, 188)

Careful research in the State Archives of Venice would have warned Perissa Torrini against this judgment. There are namely two documents related to the payment of these ceiling paintings signed not by Paolo himself but by his oldest son Gabriele (Fig. 4). The dates of the payments exclude any attribution of authenticity to Paolo Veronese. The ceiling paintings were in fact first executed two and a half years after his death (!). Even with the utmost sympathy, one cannot make an attribution of posthumous “authenticity” to these paintings (see also Huber 2005, 117–120).

Fig. 4: Gabriele Caliari, Payment for San Giacomo alla Giudecca, Venice from September 15 1590.

7 Translation by the author.

The Artist, the Author and Authenticity


The second class of images in the catalogues raisonnés is usually referred to as the workshop production and represents the lower quality of the oeuvre. Examining the specific operations of an artist’s workshop in the second half of the sixteenth century more precisely, it reveals that these art-historical distinctions from the second half of the twentieth century cannot be maintained in any case. Only in very few cases did Paolo Veronese apply his hand to a painting. He received the commissions, signed the contracts, and then initially designed with small pen sketches how the panel should be painted in a very broad and sketchy manner. Often, he did no more than that. He would discuss these first, still very vague sketches with his younger brother Benedetto Caliari, who would then commission elaborately detailed drawings of the individual characters or let the workshop members adapt costume studies from live models. One small pen sketch (Fig. 5) thus even gave rise to at least six different paintings on the subject of the Holy Family with Saint John the Baptist, Saint Catherine and Saint Ann in various formulations – so much for maximum economic output of collaborative authorship.8 Subsequently, Paolo Veronese himself drew the outlines of the figures on the primed canvas with a thin, brown brush and marked the color with which these outlines had to be filled. It was a kind of “painting by numbers” method for “idiots.” Then, the apprentices began with the preparation of the painting. Only when the work had been almost finished did the boss come along for the personal, final touch. And even then, he primarily focused on the faces of the main characters, made a few important corrections and showed his extraordinary skill in the refined fabrics of the garments with their chromatic heightening. One can also illustrate the mass production of the Veronese workshop statistically. Paolo Veronese worked as an artist for about 40 years between 1548 and 1588. According to the catalogue raisonné of Terisio Pignatti, there are 343 “autographs,” 421 attributed works and 668 lost works, which are mentioned in the

8 The six paintings which resulted from the Rotterdam sketch are reproduced in Huber 2005, figs. 220–225. They are: 1. Paolo Veronese: Madonna with St. Elizabeth, St. John the Baptist and St. Catherine, San Diego, Timken Art Gallery (Pignatti/Pedrocco 1995, cat. no. A 65); 2. a lost original, engraved in copper in 1670 by Giacomo Barri as an invention of Paolo Veronese (Cocke 1984, p.140, fig. 26); 3. Paolo Veronese: Mystic Marriage of St. Catherine, Montpellier, Musée Fabre (Pignatti/Pedrocco 1995, A 54); 4. Paolo Veronese: Mystic Marriage of St. Catherine, Hampton Court, Royal Collections (Pignatti/Pedrocco 1995, A 30); 5. a seventeenth-century copy after a lost original by Paolo Veronese: Mystic Marriage of St. Catherine, Milano, Brera; 6. Paolo Veronese: Holy Family with John the Baptist, Saint Elizabeth and Saint Catherine, St. Petersburg, Hermitage (Fomiciova 1979, p.131, fig. 1).


Hans Dieter Huber

Fig. 5: Paolo Veronese, Study for a Mystic Marriage of St. Catherine, Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen.

The Artist, the Author and Authenticity


sources, resulting in a total of 1432 paintings in the course of 40 years. If we divide this number by the individual years and weeks, one painting must have been leaving the workshop almost every week for more than 40 years. Moreover, the paintings by Paolo Veronese were often not the smallest of formats. This estimated number of approximately one painting per week does not include the extensive decorative paintings at country villas on the Terraferma, Venice’s territorial countryside on the mainland. The Veronese workshop probably decorated at least 20 different villas. Often, immense spaces had to be covered. They frequently included several rooms, such as in the Villa Maser. None of this could have been achieved without an efficient and wellorganized workshop numbering at least 10–15 employees. The workshop assistants had all been trained in the style of the master. First, they had to make black-and-white drawings of the finished paintings, called ricordi. These relatively large-scale drawings served as a kind of documentation of the delivered paintings. So, the workshop retained a “memory” of the paintings in one’s own archive, possibly to be used again at a later date for another painting. They had been executed entirely with a thin hair brush on blue paper with gray ink and subsequently highlighted in white. Then, the apprentices and journeymen had to try to imitate all the techniques in the style of the master as accurately as possible: in quick pen sketches, chalk drawings, in the chiaroscuro technique, in the priming of a canvas, the application of flat underpaintings and the setting of colored heightening and chromatic shadows. Those who deviated too much from the style of the master by drawing or painting excessively in their own style had to leave the workshop. In Venice, Paolo Veronese provided mainly first-class work because he had been aware that one could easily compare the quality his works in the city. However, the farther a painting had been delivered abroad, the more it deteriorated in quality and the larger became the signature – the later was intended to prevent questions about the autography and authenticity of the work. The workshop of Paolo Veronese had been one of the first artist workshops with a collective and efficient economic production method. At least three to five different people would work on the same painting. As one of the first artists in the history of art to do so, Paolo Veronese had succeeded in collectively producing a “unique” style and in distributing it on the market as authentic work by the master’s own hand. The paintings had been results of a corporate design in which “the hand” had been institutionalized and delegated to many different co-workers. Peter Paul Rubens adopted this procedure from Veronese a century later, and differentiated and further perfected it.


Hans Dieter Huber

5 We have seen that the artist as an author is first introduced through a discursive shift from the craft to the liberal sciences. His social, political and economic status is further reinforced by the granting of privileges, the so-called predecessor of copyright, in the direction of authenticity, originality and inimitable authorship. By 1525 at the latest, the artist’s “handwriting” developed into an unmistakable style, which, however, was purposefully and collectively constructed by a large number of journeymen and apprentices. Raphael, Giulio Romano and Paolo Veronese are the leading innovators here. The economic situation of Mannerism leads to the development of a production system that insists on the contradiction or tension between the artist as having a recognizable, authentic style, brand name or corporate identity, and the almost medieval, handcrafted production structure in the workshop. To be an author in the visual arts in the sixteenth century not only meant having to develop a unique style in one’s painting, which is clearly visible and recognizable to the outside. It also meant enjoying legal and economic protection, which forbade others from using work, diligence, effort and invention for their own benefit. The concept of an “original” artwork only arises in the context of counterfeiting and illegitimate imitation. Only when “thieving villains” customize illegal copies and earn money from them do privileges engage in the field of image production to protect the author’s work and, more importantly, its invention. Privileges are the historical forerunner of the copyright. Furthermore, original and fake are two sides of the same distinction. They are born within the same second. Without forgery, there is no original, and without an original, there can be no counterfeit. At the same time, teams of staff are trained to collectively construct a distinctive “original.” They are trained to imitate the master’s style perfectly both in drawing as well as in painting, so it is difficult to distinguish a workshop’s artwork from a work by the hand of the master himself. This is precisely the objective. Each picture should look unique and individual. It should look like an authentic original by the master’s hand, although in reality it was a collective mass-production of modular units.

References Alberti, Leon Battista. On Painting and On Sculpture. The Latin Texts of De Pictura and De Statua. Ed. Cecil Grayson. London: Phaidon, 1972. Baxandall, Michael. Giotto and the Orators. Humanist observers of painting in Italy and the discovery of pictorial composition, 1350–1450. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971.

The Artist, the Author and Authenticity


Cocke, Richard. Veronese’s Drawings. A Catalogue Raisonnee. London: Sotheby, 1984. Dürer, Albrecht. Schriftlicher Nachlass. Bd. 1. Ed. Hans Rupprich. Berlin: Deutscher Verein für Kunstwissenschaft, 1956. Fomiciova, Tamara. “Opere di allievi del Veronese nella collezione dell’Ermitage, nuove attribuzioni.” Arte Veneta XXXIII (1979). 131–136. Huber, Hans Dieter. Paolo Veronese. Kunst als soziales System. Munich: Wilhelm Fink, 2005. Perissa Torrini, Annalisa. “‘L’Assunta’ e il ‘fregio’ da San Giacomo della Giudecca.” Quaderni della Sopraintendenza ai Beni artistici e storici di Venezia 15 (1988). 185–193. Pignatti, Terisio, and Filippo Pedrocco. Veronese. Milan: Electa, 1995. Schoch, Rainer, Matthias Mende, and Anna Scherbaum. Albrecht Dürer. Das druckgraphische Werk. Bd. III: Buchillustrationen. Munich et al.: Prestel, 2004. Vasari, Giorgio. Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors and Architects. Translated by Gaston du C. De Vere. London: Macmillan and Co. & The Medici Society, 1912–14, online edition: University of Adelaide, 2015. lives/part3.42.html. (15 October 2019). Vogt, Christine. Das druckgraphische Bild nach Vorlagen Albrecht Dürers (1471–1528). Zum Phänomen der grafischen Kopie (Reproduktion) zu Lebzeiten Dürers nördlich der Alpen. Munich and Berlin: Deutscher Kunstverlag, 2008.

Grischka Petri

Is Copyright Law the Zombie of Authorship? The title of this paper makes several implicit suppositions, which shall be explained. In preparation for the subsequent tour d’horizon, a few introductory remarks on copyright law may be useful. Copyright laws protect a creator’s rights to his or her original works of art. Historically, modern copyright began with the concepts of authorship and work in the first half of the eighteenth century (Jaszi 1991, 471–475).1 While every national law has different phrasing, the basic common features remain the same today. The concepts of the author and the work, or an “ideational object” to use the more generic term proposed by Alexandra George (2012, 152, 164), are pivotal to copyright law. In the definition of 17 US Code § 102 (a), “Copyright protection subsists [. . .] in original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression.” Similarly, the UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 defines copyright as a property right that subsists, among others, in “original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works” (Section 1 (1) (a)). “The author of a work is the first owner of any copyright in it [. . .]” (Section 11 (1)). The situation in France is comparable.2 Here, Article L111-1 of the Code de la propriété intellectuelle gives the author of a “work of the mind” (“œuvre d’esprit”) exclusive incorporeal property right (“un droit de propriété incorporelle exclusif”). The German Urheberrechtsgesetz (UrhG) “protects the author in his intellectual and personal relationships to the work and with respect to the use of the work.” (§ 11 UrhG: “Das Urheberrecht schützt den Urheber in seinen geistigen und persönlichen Beziehungen zum Werk und in der Nutzung des Werkes.”) The list could easily be extended. These few examples demonstrate two fundamental entities of copyright law: author and work. The relation between these two is protected by copyright laws in view of a third essential entity: the public, who may want to use the author’s works. Copyright is a relational right, as Lior Zemer (2007, 46) explained: “It is not a right between a person and an object, but a right between people with respect to objects.” (See also Ploman and Hamilton 2007, 1). Copyright governs the conditions of this use and thus balances the positions of authors, works and the

1 In particular in the context of literature (as opposed to the visual arts), the origins of authorship and the work as legal concepts have been extensively examined by Bosse 1981, Rose 1993 and Woodmansee 1994, just to name a few authors. The bibliography on the topic is vast. 2 On concepts of authorship in French and British copyright law see Teilmann-Lock 2009, 68–73.


Grischka Petri

audience. All three serve as agents in the juridical field of art.3 Artists have contemplated the elimination of all three. Hence, killing the author, destroying the object and eliminating the audience are the artistic strategies which this paper shall contemplate. However, copyright law is resilient to artistic blasts. Peter Jaszi’s (1994, 38) observation that “Romantic ‘authorship’ is alive and well in late twentieth-century American legal culture” (see also Birnbaum 2003, 64–71) is still true for the twenty-first century and beyond US jurisdiction. While “the author may be dead for the purposes of literary analysis, the creator of intellectual property laws plays a different role”4 (George 2012, 169). Authorship, the work and the audience as legal categories ceaselessly reinstate themselves as aesthetic categories – not unlike a zombie. A zombie is, in the definition of the Oxford English Dictionary, in today’s most common sense, a reanimated corpse. It is incapable of rational thought and emotion, and at least the latter characteristic is possibly just as true for the law. Furthermore, the existence of a zombie requires a corpse which, in this constellation, would be the concept of authorship. Often proclaimed, I shall first summarize the meaning of “death of the author” for copyright, then look into artistic practices of alternatively killing the object, and finally discuss the role of the audience in the relationship between an author and her/his work.

Killing the author The “death of the author” no longer needs a detailed explanation in the context of media theory. Roland Barthes and Michel Foucault gave the author a firstclass execution at the end of the 1960s in their essays on authorship. In La mort de l’auteur, Roland Barthes (1968) asks for a reconsideration of the roles of writer and reader when analyzing texts.5 The radicalism of Barthes’ title turned the underlying thought into a postmodernist punch line. Michel Foucault replied to Barthes in his lecture of 1969, formulating the question, What is an author? He proposed that the author had already disappeared from the history of literature and that scholarship and criticism did not have to kill it (Foucault 1969,

3 The terminology of the field has most prominently been established by Pierre Bourdieu; see in particular for the juridical field Bourdieu 1986. 4 See also Bently (1994, 977), who speaks of the “immunity of copyright law’s notion of authorship to the radical destabilisation of the same notion in the literary field.” 5 The essay was first published in an English translation for the magazine Aspen in 1967.

Is Copyright Law the Zombie of Authorship?


73–104).6 Both positions shall not be explored further here, although they have resonated in copyright doctrine.7 Instead, I would like to point out several artistic strategies of supposedly disposing of the author in the creative process: the forger, the ready-made, appropriation, the collective and the animal, and ask how these strategies affect the legal concept of copyright.

The art forger The art forger is a first case in point. As an example we shall take Han van Meegeren, the Dutch painter who had famously faked a series of Vermeer paintings, one of which he had sold to Hermann Göring (Fig. 1). The forger typically hides his own name and authorship. Copyright law was not an issue here, as the work of Vermeer is in the public domain. Everyone is free to copy an existing Vermeer. In contrast, van Meegeren created original paintings in a style that was perceived as Vermeer’s at the time, and misled collectors and art experts about his authorship.8 Fraud is the legal offence at stake, hinting at the close relationship between authorship and our demand for authenticity in all matters of art. The case is different for artists still under copyright protection, such as Pablo Picasso or Salvador Dalí, both of which have been the target of fake prints, including fake signatures. Besides being a forgery used for fraudulent intentions, such fakes can also constitute an unlicensed copy of the original print. The German Konrad Kujau serves to illustrate such a case. He became famous for selling his made-up diaries of Adolf Hitler to the German weekly news magazine, Stern, in 1983.9 After he was released from prison, he painted copies of famous paintings and sold these as fakes which, technically, they were not, since he never misled his customers about his authorship (Huttenlauch 2010, 26; Schack 2017b, para. 49). Interestingly, he sometimes added the signature of the original artist when it was missing in the original painting. Notwithstanding the transparency of his actions preventing him from committing another fraud, his output was problematic under

6 An English translation is Foucault 1998, 205–222. 7 Jaszi (1991, 466) aims at a deconstruction of authorship as a legal concept, “precisely because the centrality of that concept is an uncritically accepted notion.” See also the review article, Bently 1994, 973–986. 8 Literature on Han van Meegeren’s fake Vermeers is abundant. Dutch legal sources and documents have been published; Huussen 2009; Huussen 2010. For a critical analysis of the case, see van den Brandhof 1979. The standard account in English is still Raymond 1967; for a more recent biography of van Meegeren see Kreuger 2007. 9 For accounts of this scandal in English see Harris 1986, and Hamilton 1991.


Grischka Petri

Fig. 1: Han van Meegeren, The Footwashing, 1935–1943, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam.

German copyright law as the Dalí he had copied was (and still is) protected by copyright law, which does not expire until 70 years after an artist’s death. Neither Dalí nor his estate had ever licensed Kujau’s copies. Whereas Kujau had tried to stay hidden as the real author of the Hitler diaries, he remained the public author of these copies of paintings. He illustrates an old legal rule of thumb: The forger presents his own work as somebody else’s, while the plagiarist presents somebody else’s work as his own. The most recent of the more prominent art forgers, Wolfgang Beltracchi, underwent a similar development. His paintings were in the style of other artists, such as Heinrich Campendonk, Max Ernst and André Derain.10 However, neither forger killed authorship as such; they merely abrogated their own individual

10 On the Beltracchi case see Koldehoff and Timm 2012.

Is Copyright Law the Zombie of Authorship?


authorship. Quite the opposite, they celebrate the authors they are faking and live off their cultural capital. In this way, they reinstate authorship as a concept. The intellectual move becomes evident when looking at Manfred Esser’s photographic portrait of Beltracchi, in which he echoes Albrecht Dürer’s famous self-portrait from 1500. Hairstyle and furry clothes render the reference unmistakably. In conclusion, forgers do not destroy authorship, they merely camouflage it. Sometimes, copyright law takes notice of this undertaking, sometimes not.

Ready-mades A more artistic strategy to question the artistic and legal role of the author is the ready-made.11 Its concept is credited to young Marcel Duchamp who, in 1914, had bought a bottle rack at the Bazar de l’Hôtel de Ville, a department store in Paris, and declared it a work of art. His sister Suzanne threw it out when Duchamp moved to New York shortly after, which means that the original is lost. Later, Duchamp recreated the work in different ready-made variants and in an edition of replicas (Schwarz 2000, no. 306). Perhaps the most famous of the ready-mades is Fountain, the urinal turned upside down and thereby into a work of art in 1917 (Schwarz 2000, no. 345).12 Duchamp anonymously – or rather under the pseudonym “R. Mutt” – had a friend, most likely Louise Norton, submit a urinal for the exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists to be staged at the Grand Central Palace in New York.13 It was rejected by the committee, even though the rules stated that all works would be accepted from artists who paid the fee. Fountain, as the urinal was called, was displayed and photographed at Alfred Stieglitz’s studio.14 (Fig. 2) Again, the original had been lost. The ready-mades undermine the role of the author as creative agent, since they are objects explicitly not created by the person assuming their paternity. Duchamp had neither assembled the bottle rack nor manufactured the urinal. In a subsequent talk called The Creative Act in 1957, roughly ten years before Barthes and Foucault published their essays and papers,15 Duchamp (1957, 29)

11 Cf. the entry “readymade” in Girst 2014. 12 The most complete discussion of this work is still Camfield 1989. 13 See Bailey 2019, also for a discussion of the recent hypothesis that Elsa von FreytagLoringhoven originally submitted the urinal to the exhibition. 14 The photograph survives as an illustration to Louise Norton, “‘Buddha of the Bathroom’,” The Blind Man 2 (1917). 15 Interestingly, both a recording of Duchamp’s talk and Barthes’ essay were published together in the artistic multimedia magazine Aspen in 1967. They share a common moment in


Grischka Petri

Fig. 2: Alfred Stieglitz: Fountain by R. Mutt, photograph from the magazine The Blind Man 2, 1917.

underlined the role of the spectator, the audience: “All in all, the creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualification, and thus adds his contribution to the creative act.” The ready-made gives the spectator the decision whether she/he wants to look at it as a work of art or as a commonplace bottle rack. Copyright law has been skeptical to accept ready-mades as works of art. German copyright has been hesitant to acknowledge any copyright protection for ready-mades, claiming that they lack individuality and originality (see Schack 2017a, para. 183, 2017b, para. 16). This interpretation takes Duchamp too seriously, but can serve as a case of dismissing authorship for this class of works. On the other hand, this legal opinion also clings to the traditional concept of authorship. Other jurisdictions – and scholars (see Kummer 1968, 103–105) – have been more

material and media history. Ten issues of Aspen were published between 1965 and 1971, each copy a box containing printed material, sound recordings on vinyl, reels of Super 8 film, and others.

Is Copyright Law the Zombie of Authorship?


liberal and modern in their views. They accept the authorship for ready-mades based on artistic context and the artistic connection of the object with an artistic guarantor.16 In this way, copyright law remains mostly ignorant of alternative artistic conceptions of authorship. What is more important, Duchamp himself reinstated the author in the late 1960s, when he collaborated with the Milan art dealer Arturo Schwarz on a series of replicas of his famous ready-mades from fifty years earlier, which, with the exception of a few, had all disappeared or been destroyed. These recreations were crafted in traditional techniques (Naumann 1999, 240, illustrations of the models 245; Tricoire 2006; Walravens 2007, 17). Fountain had thus been drawn from scratch, modeled in clay like a Renaissance sculpture and produced in a small series. These are sculptures in the traditional sense, only mimicking the revolutionary ready-made. They have an author and are thus protected by copyright. While Duchamp had presented the ready-mades of the 1910s as part of a mission to eliminate artistic authorship, the replicas made in the 1960s can only allude to the earlier radical gesture. Ultimately reaffirming the status of both authorship and work, they have become an intellectual disappointment compared to the “original” ready-mades, which themselves have disappeared.

Appropriation A third way of trying to undermine the role of the artist as author is the appropriation of another artist’s work. Protagonists in this field, perhaps unsurprisingly, appropriated Duchamp’s ready-mades, or rather his recreations. It is difficult to tell what might constitute the legal loophole for these works. They are neither fakes, since they do not hide their technical authorship in the sense of an authorproducer, nor do they break a copyright in a bottle rack that does not exist. Prominent examples of this strategy include works by Sherrie Levine and Mike Bidlo (Blunck 2012, 116–125). The case is more complex for Elaine Sturtevant, who not only appropriated ready-mades like Duchamp’s Fountain, but also Andy Warhol’s famously printed Marylins. While her works, at first appearance, look like extremely well-made copies, it is perhaps more precise to label them as licensed originals, since Sturtevant used Warhol’s original screens to print them. Furthermore, Sturtevant did not sneak into Warhol’s factory to steal the screens for printing; Warhol gave them to her. This can be interpreted as granting a

16 Lucasfilm Ltd. v. Ainsworth [2009] FSR (2) 103, 154 [121]; see also Bently and Sherman 2018, 78; Stokes 2012, 165.


Grischka Petri

license. Indeed, when asked how he made his silkscreened work, Warhol notoriously answered, “I don’t know. Ask Elaine” (see Lee 2016, 19–20). Besides allowing Sturtevant to appropriate his screens, Warhol also destabilized notions of originality and authorship by claiming that his assistants were the authors of his paintings (see Wilson 2002, 375–385). The appropriation cases of Jeff Koons reveal a different approach to appropriation and its legal framework. In 1987 or early 1988 Koons bought a postcard of a photograph of a couple with puppies at a museum in San Francisco and used it as a model for his sculpture String of Puppies, exhibited in 1988 at The Banality Show at Sonnabend Gallery, New York. Koons changed details such as the daisies, the colors and the medium when he translated the photograph into a sculpture, but this did not convince the District Court for the Southern District of New York when he was sued by Art Rodgers for copyright infringement. Rogers had shot the photograph in 1980 and published it as a postcard in 1984. The district court ruled that this kind of appropriation was not transformative enough to constitute as an original work of art; rather, it had to be seen as a copy of Rogers’ photograph.17 The decision was upheld by the court of appeals.18 In the end, the parties settled the dispute confidentially out of court (Inde 1998, 38). In its categories of authorship, the case is more closely related to the reinstatement of the author by the forger. In a similar way, the appropriation artist is making use of second-hand authorship. This practice questions the concept more than a fake does, but, before the law, Koons argued that his work did not infringe Rogers’ copyright. He maintained that his own sculpture was not a copy of Rogers’ photograph, or in other words that he was the author.19 Again, it cannot be concluded that the author has really disappeared in this concept of appropriation. Ostensibly more radically, Richard Prince had also repeatedly challenged the concept of authorship since his first photographic appropriations of Marlboro advertising photographs in the late 1980s. After picking up a copy of Patrick Cariou’s book on Rastafarians in Jamaica, Yes Rasta!, which had been published in 2000, Prince re-used Cariou’s photographs in a series of more than 40 works called Canal Zone, which were first shown in a hotel on the Caribbean island of SaintBarthélemy in 2007, and a year later at the Gagosian Gallery in New York. Cariou took Prince before the District Court for the Southern District of New York, which ruled in 2011 that Prince’s works did not fulfill the requirements of fair use

17 751 F.Supp. 474 (S.D.N.Y. 1990). The case has been critically evaluated by a number of authors; see Ames 1993, 1473–1526; French 1993, 175–204; Vilis 1998, chap. 1; McLean 1993, 373–421. 18 960 F.2d 301 (2nd Cir. 1992). 19 751 F.Supp. 474 (S.D.N.Y. 1990).

Is Copyright Law the Zombie of Authorship?


because they were not transformative.20 On the contrary, the Court of Appeals found that 25 of Prince’s works were transformative and that the district court would have to decide anew on further 5 works based on the standard set by the court of appeals.21 In a more recent interview, Prince admitted that he considers legal battles as part of his work (Swanson 2016, 62). This attitude made him test the limits of copyright even further in 2015, when he exhibited a series of inkjet prints under the series title of New Portraits in New York, London and Tokyo. For this series, Prince had supposedly commented photographs on Instagram, made a screenshot, edited the comment section and finally printed the result on canvas. Thereafter, he deleted his comments online. The more likely scenario is that Prince might have used a Photoshop mockup of an Instagram post to produce his digital images. His series consisted of 36 appropriated Instagram portraits, selling for $90.000 each.22 In the public and legal debate on the case, it has been widely ignored that Richard Prince probably failed to comply with Instagram’s terms and conditions: While Instagram is allowed to use any content uploaded by its users even outside of its platform,23 that user content may not be copied and modified by other users such as Richard Prince outside the platform.24 Instead, copyright lawyers debated whether or not Prince’s practice constitutes a copyright infringement. Prince has also been sued by Donald Graham, a photographer whose work he re-used.25 However, the image taken by Graham of a smoking Rastafarian had been uploaded not by its creator but by a third person under the user name of ‘Rastajay92’, who perhaps would be the more appropriate target of the court action (see Hick 2017, 163–164). Finally, one could also argue that, by adding

20 784 F.Supp. 2d 337 (S.D.N.Y. 2011). 21 714 F.3d 694 (2nd Cir. 2013). 22 The show was announced on the gallery’s website, richard-prince–september-19-2014. (23 March 2020). 23 “you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive [. . .] worldwide, limited license to use, modify, delete from, add to, publicly perform, publicly display, reproduce and translate such Content, including [. . .] distributing part or all of the Site in any media formats through any media channels”. 24 “Instagram hereby grants you a limited [. . .] license to reproduce and display the Instagram Content [. . .] solely for your personal use in connection with viewing the Site and using the Instagram Services.” Instagram’s terms and conditions as effective on 19 January 2013 can be consulted at (23 March 2020). 25 Donald Graham v. Richard Prince, case no. 1:15-CV-10160, filed at the Southern District Court of New York. The case is still pending as of January 2020.


Grischka Petri

his personal comment, Richard Prince transformed the original work enough to act as its new author. The title of the show, New Portraits, makes perfect sense under this perspective. Again, what seemingly looks like a good effort to deconstruct authorship does little more than reassigning it to another person. In the end, appropriation art does not categorically challenge authorship but rather aims to transfer authorship between authors, dissolving the individualities of the creators.

The collective A different effort to diminish the role of the individual author is the collective. In fact, the older literature on copyright law dating from the nineteenth century has had its problems even with the studio practice of artists such as Rubens, Cranach or Michelangelo, who had employed large teams of assistants or collaborated with colleagues (Laporterie 1898, 36–37).26 More recently, it has been pointed out that Jeff Koons’ extreme division of labor in his production may have contributed to the outcome of Rogers v. Koons (Jaszi 1994, 44). The problem, however, is not new – Rubens’ contemporaries already raised the question whether it was acceptable to assign authorship exclusively to the master, who oversaw a large workshop of painters working for him. Otto Sperling was a young German student of medicine who visited the celebrated artist’s studio in 1621. He observed how “many young painters” were sitting in a large room, all working on different canvases that had been prepared with a chalk drawing by the master, who would go over his assistants’ works in a final round of corrections and perfections: “And so it was said that it was all Rubens’ work, whereby the man accrued many riches and has been bestowed with ample gifts and jewels by Kings and Princes.” (Brieger and Johnsson 1920, 30–31). For example, Nature Adorning the Three Graces (c.1615, Glasgow, Kelvingrove Museum) was jointly painted by Peter Paul Rubens and Jan Breughel the Elder (Fig. 3). Breughel painted the ornaments and landscape, while Rubens did the rest, in particular the three graces that are responsible for the title of the work. Such a division of labor is no longer a problem for copyright law, which has developed the concepts of joint authorship and works made for hire (Strong 2014, 48–69). The facts may be complicated in every single case (who did what?) but the underlying legal concepts provide a functional framework. As a consequence, the

26 But see even more recently Kirchmaier 2010 on Rubens and Schack 2012 on performances and video art.

Is Copyright Law the Zombie of Authorship?


Fig. 3: Peter Paul Rubens and Jan Breughel the Elder: Nature Adorning the Three Graces, around 1615, oil on wood, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow.

collective, if its contributors are identifiable at all, does not eliminate authorship but, instead, multiplies it, sometimes with surprising results; for example, when the conceptual mastermind of a work of art might be described as a non-author, because the staff realizing the work enjoys a generous space for self-expression.27 Benjamin Kaplan’s (1967, 117) speculative remark that collaborative artistic practices “may diffuse and diminish emotions of original discovery and exclusive ownership” has not come true.

27 Bently and Biron (2014, 246–247) discussing the work of Sol LeWitt.


Grischka Petri

The case is different if the individual contributors are not or no longer known. Works of art from non-Western cultures are collected and bought not because of their authorship, as masterpieces of Western art are. However, in these cases, the author is ignored to blur the object’s provenance. This way of eliminating authorship is successful from a market perspective, but it comes at the cost of other problems, which will have to be discussed at a future occasion. The ramifications of this topic are too complex to be analyzed here.

The animal Finally, we have to consider another class on non-authors in the list of un-authored works, namely the animal. In German copyright law it was unquestioned that animals cannot claim copyright for any works they may have created. The classic example is the monkey painting “Impressionist” paintings (Dix 2008, 18–19). The constellation received renewed interest when, in 2011, the British photographer David Slater traveled to Indonesia to photograph crested macaques (Macaca nigra), a monkey species native to the island of Sulawesi (formerly Celebes). During the expedition, his equipment was temporarily appropriated by the macaques. Experimenting with the camera, which was mounted on a tripod, they managed to shoot some impressive self-portraits. When some of the photographs were uploaded on Wikimedia Commons, Slater claimed copyright for them. The Wikipedia Foundation did not take the image files down, arguing that they were in the public domain – as products of animals, nobody could claim copyright for them. On 21 August 2014, the United States Copyright Office ruled that “only works created by a human can be copyrighted under United States law, which excludes photographs and artwork created by animals or by machines without human intervention” and that the office “will not register works produced by nature, animals, or plants.” The office specifically highlights “a photograph taken by a monkey” and “a mural painted by an elephant” as examples of works that cannot be copyrighted.28 In September 2015, a suit was brought before the US District Court of the Northern District of California by the animals’ rights organization, PETA, against Slater to secure copyright for the monkey. The case was dismissed in January 2016.29 PETA appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in July 2016. The parties filed a joint motion to dismiss the appeal

28 Compendium of US Copyright Office Practices, § 313.2, United States Copyright Office, 22 December 2014, 22. 29 Case 3:15-cv-04324-WHO.

Is Copyright Law the Zombie of Authorship?


and vacate the judgment in September 2017, agreeing that Slater pledged to donate parts of his revenue from the photographs to organizations that support the Indonesian monkeys. This motion was denied in April 2018, basically because the court saw it as a final effort by PETA to prevent a negative verdict. Indeed, the Court of Appeals finally affirmed the first decision and dismissed the case.30 Legally, authorship as such was never questioned, and even from the perspective of the animals’ rights activists it was not to be deconstructed but simply in the wrong hands, or paws. Effectively the author remains while copyright is under dispute. In conclusion, artistic and political efforts to dismiss authorship as an aesthetic and social category have ultimately collapsed. The author is a persistent and noticeably fundamental agent in the understanding of aesthetic production, while forgeries, ready-mades, appropriation, the collective and animals question the standard notion of artistic authorship, yet none succeed in deconstructing it beyond a specific level. This observation concludes the first part of the essay.

Dematerialization: Destroying the object The following second and much shorter part looks at the other end of the special constellation that forms the basis for all copyright law, namely the relationship between a work of art and its creator. A copyright without either part is inconceivable. However, artists have tried not only to question the role of the author in artistic creation but also the role of the object. If the object disappears, will copyright law perhaps become useless? Is this a by-effect of dematerialization? Many of these practices were part of an important exhibition under the curatorship of French philosopher Jean-François Lyotard and Thierry Chaput at the Centre Pompidou in Paris in 1985 (Les Immatériaux. Album et inventaire. Catalogue 1985). One example from that exhibition is Yves Klein’s Zone de Sensibilité Picturale Immatérielle (Zone of Immaterial Pictorial Sensibility).31 Starting in 1959, Klein had sold empty space, the Immaterial Zone, to prominent collectors, acknowledging the purchase by receipts looking like checks. The only convertible payment for these empty zones was gold. The entire transaction was to have been completed by the burning of the check. At the same occasion, Klein had promised to

30 Naruto v. Slater, No. 16-15469 (9th Cir. 2018). 31 It was featured in the catalogue under “Infra-Mince.” no. 2.


Grischka Petri

throw the gold into the Seine.32 At the end of the artistic process, “nothing has been reified” (de Duve and Krauss 1989, 89). However, only three of the eight buyers had agreed to this ritual (Stich 1994, 153–156). The total destruction of the object that served as evidence of the entire process would have had annihilated the investment. Regardless of its materiality, the relationship between Klein and his buyers remains contractual (Cras 2010, 44). In terms of copyright, however, there exist documentary photographs of some of the events that can be regarded as partial reproductions of the event itself but also constitute works in their own right. If a photographer took the photographs for Yves Klein and the contract involves the transfer of reproduction rights to the client, as is the usual case, Klein held the copyright of these pictures and could use them for his own commercial interests. Indeed, photographs of the event are still administered through the artist’s estate, the Succession Yves Klein in Paris. Another effort to dissolve the art object involved some of the performances of Robert Barry. In March 1969, he released a liter of Krypton into the atmosphere of Beverly Hills. Barry embarked on a series of related actions over the following days, releasing xenon in the mountains, argon on the beach and helium in the desert (Lippard 1973, 95; Noyez 2010, 8–9). Again, the object of art is dematerialized, as Barry described it in an interview in May 1969: “And, of course, this is something which no one can see” (Norvell and Alberro 2001, 90). Authorship, however, remains intact, and the work is resurrected in the shape of documentary photographs, which serve as substitutes for the work that was lost in space. Although conceived as proof of the work’s invisibility, the photographs themselves turn into autonomous, copyrightable objects of art. In the interview Barry admitted that this was “a problem [. . .]. You see, I sort of allow photographs, because they sort of prove the point that there was nothing to photograph” (Norvell and Alberro 2001, 91). The role of copyright between de-materialization and re-materialization is brilliantly demonstrated by the dispute between Donald Judd and Count Panza di Biumo, which never made it to the courts however. Judd had sold some of his art concepts to the Italian collector Giuseppe Panza di Biumo. It seemed like the perfect means of de-materialization: to sell an idea for a work of art, as a kind of construction manual instead of an object. But the collector had decided to follow the instructions and indeed ordered the cubes to be assembled by a local workshop. Judd published a series of four angry articles in 1990 in the short-lived German art magazine Kunst intern, in which he accused Panza of

32 See the “Règles rituelles de la cession des zones de sensibilité picturale immatérielle” as set up by Yves Klein (2003, 278).

Is Copyright Law the Zombie of Authorship?


breach of contract and forgery.33 Before the conflict could be settled, however, Judd died in 1994. The case shows that even an idea for an object incorporates the potential of materialization. A copyright lawyer could have alerted Judd – as the facts stand, he had given his collector a license to assemble the work, similar to Andy Warhol’s license for Elaine Sturtevant.34 To conclude a potentially much longer list of examples, a recent French case can serve to accentuate the impossibility of an entirely dematerialized work of art before copyright. In 1990, the German-born and Paris-based artist Jakob Gautel had placed the word “Paradis” above the door of the toilets of the dormitory of the Hôpital of Ville Evrard in Neuilly-sur-Seine. Several years later, the French photographer Bettina Rheims used the space for her own series of photographs, which were inspired by biblical iconography. A triptych showing a young Eve, the Virgin Mary and an old Eve was part of the series. The two photographs depicting Eve were shot in front of the golden letters reading “Paradis” that Gautel had installed in situ.35 In this widely debated case, the question was asked whether it was sufficient to place a word in an unusual place to qualify it as a work of art. Did this not come too close to protecting an idea without an original form? In 2008, in its final decision, the Cour de Cassation ruled that it did not, and that the work consisted of more than just applying the word “Paradis” above a door, namely “that the artist’s conceptual approach, which consists of placing a word in a specific place, thus changing its usual meaning, constitutes an original material creation.”36 Contemporary jurisdiction seems to acknowledge (1) that contemporary artworks operate with a reduced materiality and ideas in context and (2) that there still remains a material expression. In other words, the object cannot be destroyed – a residual of materiality always remains.

33 Donald Judd, “Una Stanza Per Panza” was published as a series of four supplements to Kunst intern in May, July, September, and November 1990. 34 In 2019 The Panza Collection Initiative at the Guggenheim Museum ( conservation/the-panza-collection-initiative) organized a two-day conference, “The Panza Collection Initiative Symposium,” to debate the artistic and legal status of works from the Panza Collection. Recordings of the presentations delivered at the symposium can be consulted on YouTube: (23 March 2020). 35 The photographs were published in Bramly and Rheims 1998, facing p. 30. 36 Cour de Cassation, 1ère ch. civ, 13 November 2008, case n° 1108, published online at www. (23 March 2020). An English translation of the decision can be found in International review of intellectual property and competition law 40 (2009): 485–486. For a legal summary of the case and its decisions see Cabay 2013, 63–68.


Grischka Petri

Eliminating the audience If copyright law suggests that we seem to be stuck with both the author and the work, it should not be overlooked that artists have also played with the idea of eliminating the audience. Indeed, this would constitute the third option of destroying the interplay that is the basis of copyright. It is a weak spoiler to mention that there is no successful project to report even for this approach. If the effort had ever been successful, we would not even know about it. However, conceptual artists have made the alienation of the audience a subject of their works. One example is Robert Barry’s Closed Gallery, a 1969 piece consisting of three invitations to gallery shows in Amsterdam, Turin, and Los Angeles printed on simple white cards. They informed the recipients that the gallery would be closed and the audience thus excluded during the exhibition (Lippard 1973, 133). Similarly, in 1968, French artist Daniel Buren had closed the Milan Apollinaire Gallery by plastering the entrance with his signature stripes (O’Doherty 1996, 231). While the inside of the exhibition spaces had remained invisible to the audience, the audience was not eliminated but at most transferred to a location that was defined as a place of isolation and exclusion by an interface of closure. However, bending the relationship with the audience does not mean abandoning it entirely.

Conclusion: copyright does not create Contrary to the first emotion, copyright law does not seem to interfere greatly with artists’ concepts to eliminate its fundamental agents but remains rather disinterested. This separation of the law and social practices of art is a different matter of concern (see Bently and Biron 2014, 237). For the purposes of this essay, the answer is clear: Copyright law does not create art. Instead, it evaluates authors and their works, always implicitly supposing the presence of an audience. The meaning, content and context of an intellectual-property creator’s work remain irrelevant to the operation of the law.37 Copyright art does not resurrect authors and objects where there are none. It is the artists who have not yet gone far enough in their deconstructive efforts. There is no corpse of the conceptually dead artist. The artifact has neither disappeared nor can we

37 George 2012, 172.

Is Copyright Law the Zombie of Authorship?


step outside our position as observers. Michel Foucault knew this.38 He concluded his thoughts on the nature of the author in the following words: It would be pure romanticism, however, to imagine a culture in which the fictive would operate in an absolutely free state, in which fiction would be placed at the disposal of everyone and develop without passing through something like a necessary or constraining figure. (Foucault 1998, 222)

Indeed, he would have been a very good copyright lawyer.

References Ames, E. Kenly. “Beyond Rogers v. Koons: A fair use standard for appropriation.” Columbia Law Review 93.6 (1993). 1473–1526. Bailey, Bradley. “Duchamp’s ‘Fountain’: the Baroness theory debunked.” The Burlington Magazine 161 (2019). 805–810. Barthes, Roland. “La mort de l’auteur.” Manteia 5 (1968). 1–10. Bently, Lionel. “Copyright and the Death of the Author in Literature and Law.” The Modern Law Review 57.6 (1994). 973–986. Bently, Lionel, and Brad Sherman. Intellectual Property Law. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018. Bently, Lionel, and Laura Biron. “Discontinuities between legal conceptions of authorship and social practices: What, if anything, is to be done?” The Work of Authorship. Ed. Mireille van Eechoud. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2014. 237–276. Birnbaum, Antonia. “La mort de l’auteur. Le retour aimable de l’auteur.” Copyright: Copywrong. Actes du colloque Le Mans, Nantes, Saint-Nazaire, février 2000. Nantes: Éditions MeMo, 2003. 64–71. Blunck, Lars. “Lauter Originale. Ein Gespräch im Musée Imaginaire d’Art Moderne über die (Un)Wiederholbarkeit des Readymades.” Déjà-vu? Die Kunst der Wiederholung von Dürer bis YouTube. Bielefeld: Kerber, 2012. 116–125. Bosse, Heinrich. Autorschaft ist Werkherrschaft: Über die Entstehung des Urheberrechts aus dem Geist der Goethezeit. Paderborn: Schöningh, 1981. Bourdieu, Pierre. “The Force of Law: Toward a Sociology of the Juridical Field.” Hastings Law Journal (1986). 805–815. Bramly, Serge, and Bettina Rheims. I.N.R.I. Paris: Albin Michel, 1998. Brieger, Walter G., and John W. S. Johnsson, eds. Otto Sperlings Studienjahre. Copenhagen: Henrik Koppels Verlag, 1920. Cabay, Julien. “‘Ce sont les regardeurs qui font les tableaux’. La forme d’une œuvre d’art conceptuel en droit d’auteur.” Les aspects juridiques de l’art contemporain. Eds. Andrée Puttemans and Bert Demarsin. Bruxelles: Éditions Larcier, 2013. 9–82.

38 See also Saunders 1992, 231: “Foucault [. . .] does not pursue Barthes’ aim of debunking the ‘author’ as an ideological error [. . .].”


Grischka Petri

Camfield, William A. Marcel Duchamp: Fountain. Houston: Houston Fine Art Press, 1989. Cras, Sophie. “From the value of the artwork to the market price: Yves Klein as seen through an economic analysis.” Marges 11 (2010). 29–44. de Duve, Thierry, and Rosalind Krauss. “Yves Klein, or The Dead Dealer.” October 49 (1989). 72–90. Dix, Bruno. Das Recht der Bildenden Kunst. Der Ratgeber für Künstler zum Urheberrecht. Cologne: Atelier-Verlag, 2008. Duchamp, Marcel. “The Creative Act.” Art News 56 (1957). 28–29. Foucault, Michel. “Qu’est-ce qu’un auteur?” Bulletin de la Société Française de Philosophie 63.3 (1969). 73–104. Foucault, Michel. “What Is an Author?” Aesthetics, Method, and Epistemology. Ed. James D. Faubion. New York: The New Press, 1998. 205–222. French, Robert A. “Copyright: Rogers v. Koons: Artistic Appropriation and the Fair Use Defense.” Oklahoma Law Review 46 (1993). 175–204. George, Alexandra. Constructing Intellectual Property. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012. Girst, Thomas. The Duchamp Dictionary. London: Thames & Hudson, 2014. Godley, John Raymond (Lord Kilbracken). Van Meegeren: A Case History. London: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1967. Hamilton, Charles. The Hitler Diaries: Fakes that Fooled the World. Lexington, Ky: The University Press of Kentucky, 1991. Harris, Robert. Selling Hitler. London: Faber & Faber, 1986. Hick, Darren Hudson. Artistic License: The Philosophical Problems of Copyright and Appropriation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017. Huttenlauch, Anna Blume. Appropriation Art – Kunst an den Grenzen des Urheberrechts. Baden-Baden: Nomos, 2010. Huussen Jr, Arend Hendrik. Henricus (Han) Antonius van Meegeren (1889–1945). Documenten betreffende zijn leven en strafproces. Zoetermeer: Huussen, 2009. Huussen Jr, Arend Hendrik. Henricus (Han) Antonius van Meegeren (1889–1945). Documenten, supplement. Zoetermeer: Huussen, 2010. Inde, Vilis R. Art in the Courtroom. Westport: Praeger, 1998. Jaszi, Peter. “Toward a Theory of Copyright: The Metamorphoses of ‘Authorship’.” Duke Law Journal (1991). 455–502. Jaszi, Peter. “On the Author Effect: Contemporary Copyright and Collective Creativity.” The Construction of Authorship: Textual Appropriation in law and Literature. Eds. Martha Woodmansee and Peter Jaszi. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1994. 29–56. Kaplan, Benjamin. An Unhurried View of Copyright. New York and London: Columbia University Press, 1967. Kirchmaier, Robert. “Bemerkungen zur Rubens-Werkstatt aus urheberrechtlicher Sicht.” Kunst und Recht 6 (2010). 175–179. Klein, Yves. Le dépassement de la problématique de l’art et autres écrits. Paris: École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, 2003. Koldehoff, Stefan, and Tobias Timm. Falsche Bilder. Echtes Geld. Der Fälschungscoup des Jahrhunderts – und wer alles daran verdiente. Berlin: Galiani, 2012. Kreuger, Frederik H. A New Vermeer: Life and Work of Han van Meegeren. Rijswijk: Quantes, 2007.

Is Copyright Law the Zombie of Authorship?


Kummer, Max. Das urheberrechtlich schützbare Werk. Bern: Stämpfli, 1968. Laporterie, Robert. Du délit en matière d’art. Paris: Librairie Arthur Rousseau, 1898. Lee, Patricia. Sturtevant. Warhol Marilyn. London: 2016. Les Immatériaux. Album et inventaire catalogue. Paris: Centre Georges Pompidou, 1985. Lippard, Luzy R. Six Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object from 1966 to 1972. New York: Praeger, 1973. McLean, Willajeanne F. “All’s Not Fair in Art and War: A Look at the Fair Use Defense After Rogers v. Koons.” Brooklyn Law Review 59 (1993). 373–421. Naumann, Francis M. Marcel Duchamp. The Art of Making Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. Gent: Ludion Press, 1999. Norton, Louise. “‘Buddha of the Bathroom’.” The Blind Man 2 (1917). 4–6. Norvell, Patricia, Alexander Alberro, and Patricia Norvell, eds. Recording Conceptual Art. Early Interviews with Barry, Huebler, Kaltenbach, LeWitt, Morris, Oppenheim, Siegelaub, Smithson, Weiner. Berkeley et al.: University of California Press, 2001. Noyez, Elise. “Walking with a Ghost: Phenomenological Explorations of Space in the Works of Robert Barry.” University of Toronto Art Journal 3 (2010). 1–11. O’Doherty, Brian. “The Gallery as a Gesture.” Thinking about Exhibitions. Ed. Reesa Greenberg, Bruce W. Ferguson, and Sandy Nairne. London and New York: Routledge, 1996. 227–240. Ploman, Edward Wilhelm, and L. Clark Hamilton. Copyright. Intellectual Property in the Information Age. London et al.: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1980. Rose, Mark. Authors and Owners: The Invention of Copyright. Cambridge, Mass. and London: Harvard University Press, 1993. Saunders, David. Authorship and Copyright. London and New York: Routledge, 1992. Schack, Haimo. “Miturheber, Gehilfen und Bearbeiter in der bildenden Kunst, Aktions- und Videokunst.” Kunst & Recht 2012 / Art & Law 2012. Referate zur gleichnamigen Veranstaltung der Juristischen Fakultät der Universität Basel vom 15. Juni 2012. Ed. Peter Mosimann and Beat Schönberger. Bern: Stämpfli, 2012. 123–144. Schack, Haimo. Kunst und Recht. Bildende Kunst, Architektur, Design und Fotografie im deutschen und internationalen Recht. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2017a. Schack, Haimo. Urheber- und Urhebervertragsrecht. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2017b. Schwarz, Arturo. The Complete Works of Marcel Duchamp. New York: Delano Greenidge, 2000. Stich, Sidra. Yves Klein. Munich: Cantz, 1994. Stokes, Simon. Art and Copyright. Oxford: Hart, 2012. Strong, William S. The Copyright Book. A Practical Guide. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2014. Swanson, Carl. “Richard Prince always wanted to be the coolest artist in the world.” New York Magazine (2016). 54–62. Teilmann-Lock, Stina. British and French Copyright: A Historical Study of Aesthetic Implications. Copenhagen: Djøf Publishing, 2009. Tricoire, Agnès. “Le droit pénal au secours du ready-made: n’est pas Duchamp qui veut.” Recueil Dalloz 26 (2006). 1827–1832. van den Brandhof, Marijke. Een vroege Vermeer uit 1937 – Achtergronden van leven en werken van de schilder/vervalser Han van Meegeren. Utrecht: Het Spektrum, 1979. Walravens, Nadia. “Le ready-made Fountain, œuvre de l’esprit?” Revue Lamy Droit de l’Immatériel 27 (2007). 13–17.


Grischka Petri

Wilson, Andrew. “‘This is Not by Me.’ Andy Warhol and the Question of Authorship,” Dear Images: Art, Copyright and Culture. Ed. Daniel McClean and Karsten Schubert. London: Ridinghouse, 2002. 375–385. Woodmansee, Martha. The Author, Art, and the Market: Rereading the History of Aesthetics. New York: Columbia University Press, 1994. Zemer, Lior. The Idea of Authorship in Copyright. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007.

Avant-Gardes Practices and the Erosion of Authorship

Christiane Heibach

Have We Ever Been Modern? Reflections on Some Myths of Literary Production The association of authorship with the printed book has become a matter of course, which, at least in aesthetic theory and practice, was only called into question as late as the twentieth century. During the 1960s, Michel Foucault and Roland Barthes published their famous essays aiming to define the author as a changeable literary function, while avant-garde movements simultaneously experimented with new forms of writing which transcended the materiality of the book. Inspired and irritated by these doubts on the authority of authorship, the humanities then began to pose new questions about the history of aesthetic writing, bolstered by new media practices that arose with the advent of the computer, and, much later, with the world wide web. The following contribution tries to trace some patterns in aesthetic theory1 and practice since 1800 which constitute the “standard” notion of authorship in Western modern media culture – and which, as standards, had not been questioned until new media practices of writing appeared. The relations in question are those between the author as an individual and/or collective, his/her creativity, and the media she/he uses. My starting thesis is that there are certain standards in these relations which form what I would like to call “modern authorship,” and which are based on several antagonistic dualisms, such as the autonomy of the arts vs. the forces of economy, individual genius vs. collective production, or creativity as an artistic arcanum vs. creativity as a trainable soft skill. This dualistic structure that is an inherent part of the modern literary system’s understanding of authorship connects with Bruno Latour’s analysis in We have never been modern (1993) where he shows how discursive formations can create myths. He demonstrates this for the natural sciences which, according to him, define their own modernity along the strict separation of nature and culture. With a closer look at the reality of experimental laboratory practices, Latour proves this selfunderstanding of the natural sciences to be a mystification (Latour 1993). I start from the assumption that – similar to his approach – we have to question the

1 Concerning aesthetic theory, emphasis is placed on the German discussion because it has been so influential for the notion of literary authorship. Of course, we have to consider that Germany was rather late with this discussion compared e.g. to France and England, where the development of literary forms and its aesthetic discussion started earlier during the seventeenth century.


Christiane Heibach

self-definition(s) of modern authorship by taking a closer look at the discourses that form our impression of literary production and relate them to existing writing practices.

Authorship, media, and creativity around 1800 The German historian Reinhard Kosellek called the period around 1800 the Sattelzeit (saddle or bridge period). With this neologism, he hinted at the manifold transitions that took place in all parts of European society before and after the French Revolution (i.e. between 1750 and 1850, Kosellek 1972, XV). One of these areas with notable changes happening was the field of the arts. For the first time in Germany, Alexander Baumgarten formulated a genuine aesthetic theory in his Aesthetica from 1750 (Baumgarten 1973 [1750]). Thinkers and artists from Gotthold Ephraim Lessing to Johann Gottfried Herder, from Friedrich Schiller and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe to the brothers Schlegel, to Novalis and Friedrich Schleiermacher (just to name some of them) worked on an aesthetic program, motivated by liberating the arts from any external purposes: The arts and artists should become autonomous from any “services,” e.g representing the power of sovereigns (like in the baroque) or supporting moral education (during the Enlightenment). As a complex cultural process this “liberation” took place on the level of discourse as well as on the level of concrete social procedures, for example, by the establishment of copyright law in Prussia in 1837 (Bosse 2014 [1981]). The process of autonomization changed aesthetic theory as well as the living conditions of the artists and led to a seemingly paradoxical situation: The more the artists liberated themselves from feudal structures, the more they came to depend on the economic system. Propagating freedom in artistic production forced them to deliver goods which could not completely ignore the needs of the market (Schmidt 1989, 307–313). But what at first sight might appear as a constraint was probably “natural” considering the fact that, after the invention of the printing press, the book market (as one of the first “mass production” markets) had developed according to classical capitalist principles (e.g., one of supply and demand).2 But in combination with the desired independence from feudal patronage at 1800, this was still a rather new situation for literary

2 Isabelle Graw argues for the fine arts that the interrelation between art market and art production has not led to constraints for artistic creativity – on the contrary, she maintains that arts and economic conditions have always “co-evoluted” (see Graw 2010: 157–158). My thanks go to Irene Schütze for this reference.

Have We Ever Been Modern? Reflections on Some Myths of Literary Production


authors and therefore has deep impact for the definition of the arts – probably much deeper than the artists themselves actually realized. To create a sellable product implies having to think about the aesthetic strategies and the media in which these could be materialized and fed into the economic system. I will only briefly try to elaborate on this with reference to two main motifs of the aesthetic discussion in literature: the choice for the book as the main literary medium and the mystification of the author-genius as creative avant la lettre.3

Choosing the book as the main literary medium Literary studies tend to forget that the symbiosis between poetry and the printed book is quite young compared to the history of poetry which originally existed as oral aesthetic expressions of the language. Until the eighteenth century, poetry was more closely related to the spoken word than to written or printed works. Looking at Gotthold Ephraim Lessing’s famous discussion on the differences between poetry, on the one hand, and painting and sculpture, on the other, in his essay Laokoon oder über die Grenzen der Mahlerey und Poesie (1766),4 one can observe that he refers to poetry as on oral phenomenon in the first place when he differentiates poetry from painting: Poetry is “an articulated row of sounds in time” (“artikulierte Töne in der Zeit”), while the latter is formed by “figures and colours in space” (“Figuren und Farben in dem Raume”) (Lessing 1974 [1766], 91). His contemporary Johann Gottfried Herder elaborates on a sensual aesthetic, where eye, ear and hand each represent a sensory modality that is responsible for the perception of one artform. He connects (i) painting with visual, (ii) music with acoustic, and (iii) sculpture with 3 The German word “Kreativität” is a translation of the English term “creativity” and emerges not earlier than in the 1950s where it is mainly used in the context of psychology and pedagogy. There the term is closely related to the discussion on the measurement of intelligence (see Heibach 2013, 186–187). In his profound study on the invention of creativity (Die Erfindung der Kreativität) the German Sociologist Andreas Reckwitz emphasizes the interconnection between the artistic realm and the idea of being innovative (schöpferisch), which forms the “dispositive of creativity” (Kreativitätsdispositiv, Reckwitz 2012, 20). This approach makes it possible to talk of creativity avant la lettre and to identify it as one major characteristic of “genius.” Thus, creativity avant la lettre becomes closely related to innovation and artistic production, or – to put it the other way round – artistic production becomes inherently bound to innovation which might also be reconnected to the fact that the autonomous artists now have to create their specific “unique selling proposition” to succeed in the literary market. 4 The title of the English translation from 1836 is Laocoon, or: The Limits of Poetry and Painting (translated by William Ross).


Christiane Heibach

tactile perception and demands for each of these arts their own aesthetic sense which is not interchangeable (Herder 1993 [1769], 307). In this very structured and linear order, poetry is missing because it is evaluated as the only synaesthetic art evoking sensory modalities in the inner organ of the Einbildungskraft, the imagination (Herder (1993 [1769], 408). Both aspects of poetry – the synaesthetic manifestation of all the other arts and the art that is created in the inner sense of imagination – establish their exceptional position among the arts, a position which will later be explicitly formulated in early Romantic aesthetic theory. The synaesthetic character of poetry (and we still don’t speak of literature as a book-bound phenomenon) is underlined by Herder’s theory of the historical evolution of language from the oral articulation to the printed letter, in which poetry is still in its dual position of being both (inwardly) oral and visual at the same time (Herder 1985 [1770–1772]). Nevertheless (or maybe because of this prominent position of poetry), it is in the classical age, with Goethe and Schiller, that the printed book begins to be established as the main literary medium. This can be observed especially in the discussion on the value of multimedia artforms like theatre and opera: Both are criticized because of their ephemeral status and multisensory overload, which – as stated for example by Goethe and Schiller in their essay Über epische und dramatische Dichtung (On Epic and Dramatic Poetry, Goethe 1998 [1791], 445–456) – distracts the audience from the deeper meaning of the poetic word. What is formulated as a skeptical critique concerning the function of mimic performance that occupies the outer senses instead of enhancing the power of the imagination becomes even more pointed with the Romantics. For them the inner sense of the imagination is the only valid one. This means that a) the artist’s inner world is the source of all artistic production, and b) that those media which are the most abstract are favored from the aesthetic point of view. These premises are substantially important for the individual author-genius who is inherently defined by the arcanum of inner productivity or by creativity, to use the more modern term.

The artist as innovative creator The artist can create imaginative worlds in his or her own right, without external stimulation (“solitication”), as Novalis writes (1999 [1798], 363–364). Her/his creativity is therefore not limited by the laws and constraints of the outer world. In consequence, artistic abilities are innate, and it is only the genius who is able to “incorporate his thoughts with the exactest similarity or truth, with the highest

Have We Ever Been Modern? Reflections on Some Myths of Literary Production


clarity and vividness,”5 as the author of the General Theory of the Fine Arts, (1771–1774) Johann Georg Sulzer, puts it. Romantic aesthetic theory has no explicit notion of media – in contrast to Johann Gottfried Herder, for example, who names media for all sensory modalities (light for the eye, air for the ear) and who has a deep understanding of the material differences between the arts and between oral and printed poetry. Nevertheless, the poets of early Romanticism explicitly choose their main literary medium: it is the book, which allows the highest degree of imaginative power, and it is the genre of the novel, the Roman, that best expresses this imaginative intensity. “The novel is a life – as a book,”6 according to Novalis. When, in 1802, Wilhelm August Schlegel states that most artworks can only be experienced at the place where they are displayed and that “only poetry is available for everyone everywhere and at all times,”7 he means, of course, the printed book, which liberates the distribution and reception of poetry from the restrictions of time and space. The early nineteenth century thus establishes what then arises as the main paradigm for literature and the arts until today: the correlation between the individual author-genius, creativity as an arcanic inner process of the imagination, and the media that best serve the function of a market-compatible product. It is only then that the book becomes the primary poetic medium. Interestingly enough, the basis for individual authorship as standard mode of aesthetic production is communication and an intense intellectual and emotional exchange practiced by the early Romantic thinkers: The famous Romantic salons act as germ cells for networks that sometimes lead to aesthetic and theoretical cooperations. There are important Romantic texts for which the authors cannot be identified because they are the result of collective production processes, like the canonical text Das älteste Systemprogramm des Idealismus of 1797 (The Oldest Systematic Program of German Idealism), which is supposed to be a collaboration between Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Friedrich Hölderlin and Friedrich Schelling, or the famous Athenäumsfragmente (also written in 1797), which are a result of discussions between Friedrich and August Wilhelm Schlegel, Friedrich Schleiermacher and Novalis (but is mostly ascribed to Friedrich Schlegel).8 The oscillation

5 “[. . .] seine Gedanken [. . .] in der genauesten Aehnlichkeit oder Wahrheit, und größten Klarheit und Lebhaftigkeit vor[zu]stellen.” (Sulzer 1994 [1791], 709–710). 6 “Der Roman ist ein Leben – als Buch” (Novalis 1999 [1798], 388, original emphasis). 7 “[. . .] die Poesie aber ist für jedermann aller Orten, und zu allen Zeiten leicht zugänglich, und daher die gefälligste Gefährtin des Lebens [. . .],” (Schlegel 1989 [1802], 477–478). 8 It is remarkable and shows the power of the concept of individual authorship that even literary research has until now mainly concentrated on the identification of the “original” author, although it seems to be more plausible to accept these texts as a result of collaboration.


Christiane Heibach

between the emphasis of the individual genius and collective creativity also shows the ambivalence of Romantic aesthetic theory, which obviously developed multiple concepts of authorship. In both cases poetry is – to refer to Novalis once again – the medium that binds the individual to the world as a whole (this is what is meant by sympoesie / “sympoetry,” Schlegel 1967 [1797], 185); or in other words, it guarantees a common ground of understanding for everyone involved. In this sense, the concept of the natural born individual artist does not exclude communication and cooperation, but it is nevertheless an aesthetics of an elite that is propagated by Novalis and his friends, and it is on the level of communication between a group of likeminded and like-gifted artists where co-activity and sympoetry unfold, while genuine artistic productivity remains an individual phenomenon (Heibach 2010, 56). To cut a quite long and complex story short, in the aesthetic discourse of the time, there is an implicit functional differentiation between the theory of artistic production bound to the individual genius, to the inner creative processes of the imagination and its incorporation into the most abstract media possible, and artistic practice, which seems to have been closely linked to nineteenth-century market conditions: Artists needed to produce distributable and sellable products to earn their living. Additionally, the Romantic art production industry seems to have been fully aware of the fact that even a genius is not completely self-sustaining – but receives inspiration from different sources, be it a group of like-minded friends or a discussion with disputants. Thus, the concentration of authorship on the notion of individual genius, which still dominates contemporary aesthetic thinking, is obviously a quite severe reduction of a far more complicated process. This can be observed in the aesthetic theory of a man who has become paradigmatic for individual authorship: Richard Wagner and his concept of the Gesamtkunstwerk, the Total Artwork.

Authorship and (inter)mediality: From the Total Artwork to the twentieth-century avant-garde movements Nearly 50 years after the development of early Romantic aesthetic theory, Richard Wagner introduces his concept of the “artwork of the future” (Das Kunstwerk der Zukunft) in 1849–1850. This artwork – the “real drama,” which is presented to the public as a multimedia performance – is the result of a collective process. For the first time – although it did not last for long – someone dreams of real social

Have We Ever Been Modern? Reflections on Some Myths of Literary Production


coactivity within the realm of the autonomous arts. Moreover, Wagner binds this coactivity to the physical presence of all participants – the presence of performing and experiencing this artwork of the future. He writes this manifesto avant la lettre under the impression of the revolutionary movements affecting Europe in 1848–1849 and in which he participates actively.9 The concept of the Gesamtkunstwerk he develops in this article is inherently bound to the idea of a creativity of the people (“Volk”) who will create the artwork of the future. This artwork is not separated from life, since within the frame of a collective creativity, life becomes art and art becomes life (see Wagner 2000 [1849–1850], 148). Wagner imagines a confraternity (“Genossenschaft”) of artists who become creators of a new democratic state. Yet, the status of the artist is not quite well defined – it remains unclear if he envisions a Joseph Beuys-style, pop version of “everyone an artist” or if he has in mind a Romantic association of elitist creators. In his later work of 1850–1851, Opera and Drama, he elaborates on a more specific role model when he re-establishes the idea of an individual artist who is tasked with conveying the general patterns of human existence by using what a people has produced through its collective creativity: the plots of the mythological (oral) narratives that form an important part of national identities. Collective creativity is newly defined not as a result of the communication between a limited group of geniuses but rather as a social, collective activity that mirrors the existential conditions of a people as a community of oral tradition and communication, not as citizens of a state. Therefore, the “people” is defined in terms of the social practice of creating myths as Volkserzählungen – in a double sense: as narratives of the people and narratives for the people. This common basis for communication has to be considered and transformed by the artist as the one who is able to intensify, verdichten (literally “to thicken, to densify”), these myths by versifying them in the musical drama. According to Wagner, he (or she) has to condense the multiple mythological plots such that the audience is able to “immediately” understand the message – “immediately” means without an intellectual effort.10 In terms of Romantic media theory (which only exists implicitly, as mentioned above), Wagner refuses the sellable character of the book by favoring the multimedia procedural and ephemeral performative artwork. Looking at his theater practice,

9 At that time Wagner holds a position as musical director at the court opera house in Dresden, where he becomes acquainted with the anarchist Mikail Bakunin. This friendship draws him into revolutionary activities and finally leads to his expatriation. For the following 12 years he has to live in exile in Switzerland before he is amnestied. 10 For a more in-depth explication on the aesthetic implications of this process see Heibach 2010, 161–194.


Christiane Heibach

however, it becomes obvious that he tries to establish the performative musical drama as a product labeled in his name. He practices nothing less than “branding” when he establishes the “Bayreuther Festspiele” for the first time in 1876. In many ways Wagner becomes the protagonist for the multiplicity of authorships: He invents a new form of individual artistic branding in binding his name to such a complex event like the Festspiele, but, at the same time, he cultivates the collectivity of the performative artwork. Furthermore, his aesthetic theory is based on the conviction that the collective creativity of a people exists, that it manifests itself in mythological narratives and which then are transformed and condensed by the individual artistgenius. This combination of individual and collective artistic creativity is remarkable and fundamentally changes the notion of the artistic “product,” which now also can be an ephemeral and procedural phenomenon. The avant-garde movements of the twentieth century, both in the 1910/20s and in the 1960s, more or less explicitly build on this shift towards performative forms of art and radicalize it. In contrast to Wagner’s intention to strengthen the author as a brand, on the one hand, and to extend the notion of creativity (still avant la lettre) to include individual and cooperative processes, on the other, the avant-gardes emphasize co-creative collectives which only exist at the moment of performance. The avant-gardes broaden the notion of performance significantly and push the correlation between individual and collective authorship into a new direction. They de-mystify the creative process by introducing contingency, e.g., represented in Tristan Tzara’s famous To Make a Dadaist poem,11 and in radical procedurality as artistic strategies. In contrast to Wagner, they aim not to perfect existing artforms but instead to transcend limits of traditional art by creating nonsense (intermedia) performances, declaring everyday objects as art (like the famous pissoir Marcel Duchamp presented at the exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists in 1917 with a remarkable career as an artwork called Fountain and signed by “R. Mutt”), and so on. Increasingly, the level of creativity is coupled with the level of provocation in regards to the traditional (bourgeois) notion of art. From a theoretical point of view these experiments extend the limits of the traditional artistic media to intermedia experiments and allow for a new form of collectivity which neglects authorship as an artistic principle in general.

11 See also Anke Finger’s contribution on the artistic practices of the early avant-gardes in this volume.

Have We Ever Been Modern? Reflections on Some Myths of Literary Production


This development in the fine arts is rather similar to the aforementioned literary strategies to demystify the author-genius – by not only introducing contingency into the writing process but also emphasizing the meaning of the subconscious (in Surrealism), and by developing diverse performative strategies that rediscovered the acoustic dimension of literature. Sound and bruitist poetry, which aestheticized the basic sounds of language and noise, simultaneous poems which were recited in a sort of choir but refused any semantic content, etc. – from a media-aesthetic point of view, both, fine arts and literature embrace intermedia constellations, defining their media on the spot and declaring everything – like the pissoir – an aesthetic medium. Thus, intermediality and collectivity become closely related and still are – in all kinds of performative artforms which have been developed since then.12 This is even more obvious in the 1960s, where experimental performances in music and theatre reach into public spaces and challenge high culture. They often rely on the integration of the audience and again torpedo the traditional notion of authorship. At the same time, they reveal the persistence of the individual author-genius: the collective performances and happenings, e.g., by Wolf Vostell, John Cage or the Living Theatre, by Yoko Ono and later during the 1970s by Marina Abramovic, are driven by a dialectics of openness and control, as such events have to manage a tightrope walk between freedom of behavior and structural order to display a (political and/or aesthetic) message. The conclusion is thus ambivalent: The openness of participatory art remains coupled with control mechanisms calling for order to achieve the goal of communicating social and political critique. All these experiments seem to subvert the mechanisms of the art market because they neglect the fundamental criteria of ascribable authorship and a stable reproducible “product” which is materialized in a stable artistic medium. But, obviously, the market mechanisms managed to “swallow” the avant-garde’s subversive gestures and integrated them into their “branding” process by relating them to identifiable personalities (the ready made/objet trouvé – Marcel Duchamp; the happening – Wolf Vostell, Alan Kaprow, Yoko Ono and others; the provocative political performance – the Living Theatre, the Wiener Gruppe, etc.). The same happens with the writing techniques mentioned above – William Borroughs or Bryan Gysin stand for the cut-up technique as successors of Tzara’s dadaistic poem, the French group Oulipo with (among others) Georges Perec and Raymond

12 These forms reach from theater performances involving the audience to collective happenings and interventional art in public spaces.


Christiane Heibach

Quéneau is identified with the creation of aleatoric texts.13 This “branding” proves to be a bilateral process: The artforms are branded because they are connected to artists/authors and their names, and – vice versa – these authors are identified with the strategies they “invented.” It is not the somehow innovative and unique artwork anymore which guarantees success but rather the creation of unusual strategies within the artistic realm. Here appears another paradox which is related to the market’s strength: The more the avant-gardes struggle to foil the traditional notions of art, the more they are bound to the borders of the artistic realm, because only within can their attempts develop any blasting power. Consequently, they remain dependent on traditional criteria of the art system and ascribable authorship. Even people like the street artist Banksy, who has managed to keep his anonymity, seems to fall under this “law”: When he lately shocked the art market with a picture that shreddered itself after it was sold in an auction for 1.2 million euros (dpa 2018), he obviously needed the context of the art market to perform this provocative act of self-destruction. More significant still, if we consider that this coup would not have been realized without help from the responsible auction house,14 then a new level of irony has been reached in the relation between subversive artistic strategies and the art economy. If a critique of the art market needs help from the art market, then the market has finally succeeded in capitalizing all kinds of subversion into its own concept and survival.

Market conformity as overarching mechanism? Creativity as an example The shifts in the notion of authorship are inherently correlated with a change in the understanding of artistic creativity. At the same time that the notion of creativity gets extended towards the artistic avant-garde – from the 1950s onwards – creativity becomes subject to scientific psychological research, strongly tied to the, in

13 Oulipo was among the first who also experimented with computer generated texts, which brings a new aspect into the discussion on authorship (Cramer 2011, Heibach 2003): Can an algorithm be creative and be treated like a human author of a text? This discussion still goes on facing the current development of social bots – and it has gained explosiveness which increasingly affects social life and politics. 14 These doubts concern the fact that Banksy’s “Girl with a balloon” was presented as the last work of art, so that the dramaturgy of the self-destruction was perfect, and that the shredder mechanism, which was hidden in the frame, wasn’t detected by the experts.

Have We Ever Been Modern? Reflections on Some Myths of Literary Production


parts very dubious, research on intelligence (Gould 1981). Psychologically, creativity is seen at the time as an ability of “normal gifted” people and one that can be trained (although different grades of creativity are supposed). To better evaluate this, tests for creativity are developed that are closely related to tests that measure grades of intelligence, but they set different criteria: Whereas IQ is measured through questions that demand logical thinking and fulfill standard expectations concerning cognitive abilities, creativity is correlated with the level of surprising solutions which foil standardized behavior.15 This psychological appropriation detaches creativity from the world of art – ever since, creativity has gained value as an asset which can be trained and therefore acquired by (nearly) everyone.16 Within the realm of the arts, this means that it loses its power to characterize the author-genius who had already been de-mystified by introducing contingency into artistic processes, accompanied by psychoanalysis corroding the notion of intentionality. This might also be a reason why it now becomes easier to accept processes as an inherent part of artistic productivity, sometimes even instead of valuing products – be they processes of verbal and non-verbal interaction, or processes where specific conditions are chosen within which the artistic phenomena “happen” (and is not intentionally created anymore).

Networks and the market This tendency away from products towards processes seems to be emphasized by the advent of digitally networked media. Since the 1960s digital networks existed, but visions of networked societies appear in the eighties with the first artistic experiments using predecessor technologies of the world wide web (WWW). It signals a new inspiration for concepts of collective creativity in the arts. Projects like La plissure du texte, initiated by Roy Ascott for the exhibition Les Immatériaux in 1985 (one of the first exhibitions on computer-based networks and their communication practices, curated by the French philosopher

15 Such tests are introduced by Jacob W. Getzels und Philip W. Jackson in their book Creativity and Intelligence, which appeared in 1962. The pedagogue Hartmut von Hentig illustrates the difference with the following example: in the IQ test, the question of how to use a brick requires the answer “To build a house,” while a test of creativity would reward an answer such as “to warm it up in a fire and use it for warming the bed” (Hentig 2000, 17). 16 It would require further research to find out how much the “democratization” of creativity as a characteristic of the average subject influenced the avant-garde movements.


Christiane Heibach

François Lyotard), refers to writing strategies like the cadavre exquis of the Surrealists as well as to the co-creativity of the Romantics (because it involved a limited and selected group). Roy Ascott brings people from all continents together to collectively write a fairy tale by using the French Telnet system, a popular precursor of the WWW allowing French households to send texts via screen from one address to the next. The participants each play a specific role (e.g., the witch, the sorcerer, the princess) and tell the story from their point of view. La plissure du texte is one of the first collective writing experiments. Later, when the WWW becomes established in 1993, the notion of collectivity carries over to everyone who wants to participate in artistic projects – the domains and net.literature are born (see Heibach 2003, Hartling 2009, Gendolla et al. 2007). Their initiatives of collective writing projects willingly attack the still valid laws of the art market: having a sellable product, be it a work or an artist who labels a process with his/her name. But, for the time being – 27 years after the first collective writing experiments in the WWW –, one has to concede that and net.literature are now historical phenomena. Indeed, multimodal communication via social media platforms seems to have fulfilled the desire for collectivity and have even caused a sort of re-birth of individuality, strengthened by the mechanisms of self-presentation. Social media show what the Romantic thinkers only suspected: that collectivity and individuality seem to presuppose each other. In online fan communities, for example, people are devoted to creatively inventing or expanding on existing stories (books, movies, TV series, etc.) because they want their heros to “experience” further (or different) adventures in different constellations.17 The concept of collective creativity still has another dimension, which is quite ambivalent: Coupled with the increasing cultural influence of digital networks, sociology has developed the concept of the networked society which is inherently global because working processes are organized beyond national borders and driven by forces that do not correspond to former power relations between the suppressed working class and the leading power of the bourgeoisie. The theoretical reflections on the consequences of the networked society have one thing in common: They closely relate collectivity to new forms of creativity. Pierre Lévy discusses “collective intelligence” (Lévy 1997), Howard Rheingold speaks of “smart mobs” (Rheingold 2009), and concepts like the “swarm intelligence” are popularized. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri conceive of the ‘multitude’ as a counterpart to the power of global operating companies (Hardt and Negri 2004). All of these concepts propagate the idea of a networked creativity of individuals who cooperate on a project-related basis and therefore form temporally limited communities

17 See the contribution of Vera Cuntz-Leng in this volume.

Have We Ever Been Modern? Reflections on Some Myths of Literary Production


that dissolve when the project is finished. Vilém Flusser anticipated such thinking when he related his idea of a “projective” existence to the new technical possibilities of a networked and immaterial communication (Flusser 1998). The projective existence frees itself from the restraints of the “subject” (literally: the subiectus as the subordinated) and is based on an anti-hierarchical, deeply ethical concept of dialogue. But looking closer at Flusser’s concept of projective existence, it becomes evident that it is a result of deep existential despair18 and thus an (indirect) expression of helplessness. Flusser himself was deeply moved by the impulse to draw hope from technical developments, but this hope is based on the awareness of the atrocities of the twentieth century.19 Despair and helplessness can also be observed as implicit basic movement in the concepts of a creative networked collectivity: Upon closer inspection, those communities in fact mirror the capitalist categories of efficiency and goal-oriented work rather than the freedom of selfdetermination. It remains an open question as to whether the so-described (and idealized) digital bohème is not indeed a desired effect of capitalism rather than a counterpart to it. Constructions like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk platform rely exactly on these criteria and in effect reveal the downside of isolated, home-based work that is badly paid and driven by price-dumping processes.

Have we ever been modern? With this whirlwind look at the history of authorship as an aesthetic concept, I hope to have demonstrated at least two main issues: 1. The concept of authorship and artistic production in general is never autonomous in the sense that it is defined as a purely aesthetic idea. The market has always formed an inherent part of modern literature and the artistic system. It therefore seems to be more productive to focus on their interrelations than to model literature/art vs. the economy as antagonistic counterparts.

18 Which in Flusser’s case has biographical roots: being of Jewish origin and born in Prague, he left Czechoslovakia before World War II; his family stayed and was murdered by the Nazis. Flusser settled in Brazil, but later returned to Europe and lived mainly in France. His existential self- understanding was bound to this migrant biography and a deeply rooted feeling of homelessness. 19 Most Flusser researchers are more optimistic in their interpretation, see for example Ströhl 2009, 258; Guldin et al. 2009, 71. In contrast, Elizabeth Neswald sees Vilém Flusser as apocalyptic thinker, yet searching for redemption in the resolving power of the digital networks (Neswald 1998, many thanks to Anke Finger for this reference).



Christiane Heibach

Authorship and its characteristic processes (e.g. creativity, cooperation, individuality) are deeply related to media technologies. In fact, I argue that media technologies are the hinge or threshold where aesthetic and economic principles intersect. The success of the book as a desired good in Romanticism created the need for the individual author-genius and formed the basis for an ongoing dialectic between individual and collective creativity. The avantgarde’s desire to transcend the traditional borders between media by creating new multi- and intermedia constellations underlies the paradoxy of subversion and establishment: Their attempts to transcend the border between life and art by demystifying authorship eventually integrate into the market, where their strategies (not their products) are linked to certain names and thus get branded. The democratization of creativity as a trainable soft skill that anyone can master is an effect to be correlated with these artistic subversions. With the rise of computer- and network-based communication and production, the shift of creative processes from the arts to the economy seems to have been fulfilled; furthermore, its mechanisms show that capitalistic principles have obviously become so flexible and malleable that they are able to capitalize any subversive attempt. Writing a history of literature and art along the notions of authorship and revealing these implicit and explicit myths might take the element of surprise away from this diagnosis – but again, maybe this is a myth of capitalism and has to be deconstructed from the angle of economic forces? It seems that we have just begun to question ourselves and our categories. Such categories shape our perspective(s) on aesthetic and economic practices, and the main task for the future will be to keep up the questioning.

References Baumgarten, Alexander. “Aesthetica.“ Ästhetik als Philosophie der sinnlichen Erkenntnis. Eine Interpretation der "Aesthetica" A. G. Baumgartens mit teilweiser Wiedergabe des lateinischen Textes und deutscher Übersetzung. Ed. Hans Rudolf Schweizer. Basel: Schwabe, [1769] 1973. Bosse, Heinrich. Autorschaft ist Werkherrschaft. Über die Entstehung des Urheberrechts aus dem Geist der Goethezeit. Paderborn: Fink, [1981] 2014. Cramer, Florian. Exe.cut[up]able statements. Poetische Kalküle und Phantasmen des selbstausführenden Texts. Munich: Fink, 2011. Flusser, Vilém. Vom Subjekt zum Projekt: Menschwerdung. Frankfurt/Main: Fischer, [1991] 1998.

Have We Ever Been Modern? Reflections on Some Myths of Literary Production


dpa 2018: “Banksy narrt den Kunstmarkt mit Shredderbild.“ newsticker/dpa_nt/infoline_nt/boulevard_nt/article181790886/Banksy-narrt-denKunstmarkt-mit-Schredder-Bild.html. Die Welt (7 October 2018) (31 March 2020). Getzels, Jacob W., and Philip W. Jackson. Creativity and Intelligence. Explorations with Gifted Students. London: Wiley, 1962. Gendolla, Peter, and Jörgen Schäfer, eds. The Aesthetics of Net Literature. Writing, Reading and Playing in Programmable Media. Bielefeld: transcript, 2007. Goethe, Johann Wolfgang, and Friedrich Schiller. “Über epische und dramatische Dichtung.“ Johann Wolfgang Goethe. Sämtliche Werke. Briefe, Tagebücher und Gespräche. Abt. I, vol. 18: Ästhetische Schriften 1771–1806. Ed. Friedemar Apel and Hendrik Birus. Frankfurt/Main: Insel, [1791] 1998. 445–456. Gould, Stephen. The Mismeasure of Men. New York: Norton, 1981. Graw, Isabell. High Price. Art Between the Market and Celebrity Culture. Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2010. Guldin, Rainer, Anke Finger, and Gustavo Bernardo. Vilém Flusser. Paderborn: Fink, 2009. Hardt, Michael, and Antonio Negri. Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire. New York: Penguin, 2004. Heibach, Christiane. Literatur im elektronischen Raum. Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp, 2003. Heibach, Christiane. Multimediale Aufführungskunst. Medienästhetische Studien zur Entstehung einer neuen Kunstform. Munich: Fink, 2010. Hartling, Florian. Der digitale Autor. Autorschaft im Zeitalter des Internets. Bielefeld: transcript, 2009. Heibach, Christiane. “Kreativität – Thesen zu einem mythischen Begriff.“ Long Lost Friends. Zu den Wechselbeziehungen zwischen Design-, Medien- und Wissenschaftsforschung. Ed. Claudia Mareis and Christof Windgätter. Zurich and Berlin: diaphanes, 2013. 183–205. Hentig, Hartmut von. Kreativität. Hohe Erwartungen an einen schwachen Begriff. Weinheim and Basel: Beltz, 2000. Herder, Johann Gottfried. “Viertes Wäldchen über Riedels Theorie der schönen Künste.“ Herder, Johann Gottfried. Werke in zehn Bänden, vol. 2: Schriften zur Ästhetik und Literatur 1767–1781. Ed. Gunter E. Grimm. Frankfurt/Main: Deutscher Klassiker Verlag 1993, [1769] 1993. 247–442. Herder, Johann Gottfried. „Über den Ursprung der Sprache.“ Herder, Johann Gottfried. Werke in zehn Bänden, vol. 1: Frühe Schriften 1764–1772. Ed. Ulrich Gaier. Frankfurt/Main: Deutscher Klassiker Verlag, [1770–1772] 1985. 695–810. Higgins, Dick. “Intermedia.“ Leonardo 34.1 ([1965] 2001). 49–54. Koselleck, Reinhart. „Einleitung.“ Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe, vol. 1. Ed. Otto Brunner, Werner Conze, and Reinhart Koselleck. Stuttgart: Klett Cotta, 1972. XIII–XXVII. Latour, Bruno. We Have Never Been Modern. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1993. Lessing, Gotthold Ephraim. “Laokoon oder Über die Grenzen der Malerei und Poesie.“ Gotthold Ephraim Lessing. Werke in drei Bänden, vol. 2: Kritische Schriften. Philosophische Schriften. Munich: Hanser, [1766] 1974. 7–166. Lévy, Pierre. Collective Intelligence. Mankind’s Emerging World in Cyberspace. New York: Plenum Trade, 1997. Neswald, Elizabeth. Medien-Theologie. Das Werk Vilém Flussers. Cologne et al.: Böhlau, 1998.


Christiane Heibach

Novalis. “Vorarbeiten zu verschiedenen Fragmentsammlungen.“ Novalis. Werke, Tagebücher und Briefe Friedrich von Hardenbergs, vol. 2. Ed. Joachim Mähl and Richard Samuel. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, [1798] 1999. 311–424. Reckwitz, Andreas. Die Erfindung der Kreativität. Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp, 2012. Rheingold, Howard. Smart Mobs. The Next Social Revolution. Cambridge, Mass.: Perseus, 2009. Schlegel, Friedrich. “Athenäumsfragmente.“ Schlegel, Friedrich. Kritische Friedrich-SchlegelAusgabe, vol. 2: Charakteristiken und Kritiken I. Ed. Hans Eichner. Munich et al.: Ferdinand Schöningh, [1967] 1797. 165–255. Schlegel, August Wilhelm. Kritische Ausgabe der Vorlesungen (KAV), vol. 1: Vorlesungen über Ästhetik I (1798–1803). Ed. Ernst Behler. Paderborn et al.: Schöningh, 1989. Schmidt, Siegfried J. Die Selbstorganisation des Sozialsystems Literatur im 18. Jahrhundert. Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp, 1989. Ströhl, Andreas. Die Geste Mensch. Vilém Flussers Kulturtheorie als kommunikationsphilosophischer Zukunftsentwurf. z2009/0786/pdf/das.pdf. PhD-thesis Marburg, 2009. (31 March 2020). Sulzer, Johann Georg. Allgemeine Theorie der schönen Künste in einzelnen, nach alphabetischer Ordnung der Kunstwörter aufeinanderfolgenden Artikeln abgehandelt, vol. 1–4. Hildesheim et al.: Olms, [Reprint Leipzig 1792–1799] 1994. Wagner, Richard. “Das Kunstwerk der Zukunft.“ Dichtungen und Schriften, Vol. 6: Reformschriften 1849–1852. Ed. Dieter Borchmeyer. Frankfurt/Main: Insel, [1849] 2000. 9–191.

Anke Finger

Autopoietic Processes within the Avant-Gardes: Fragmenting Authorship Let’s begin with God (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1: Image of God by Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven.

Who created this artwork? Who is the author? Is there more than one? Might it, perhaps, stem from a collaboration between artists, or even a collective endeavor? Could it have aimed to puncture authorship and creation as such? This well-known readymade, dated 1917 and on view in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, was inspired by Marcel Duchamp, as art historians will have it. Famously, it fostered suspicion about authorship in the late 1990s when Francis Naumann uncovered that Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, a notoriously outré New York Dadaist of German origin, is the likely creator of God, not, as was assumed until then, the Duchamp admirer and otherwise non-Dadaist Morton Livingston Schamberg. Freytag-Loringhoven’s biographer, Irene Gammel, describes the piece as “strangely humanized in a twist of cast-iron bowels mounted on a miter box


Anke Finger

and pointing to heaven . . . Indeed, the very idea that God should produce quotidian bodily wastes dismantles the omnipotent deity of Western culture, for his power resides in his abstract bodylessness” (Gammel 2003, 218–219). Amelia Jones, in a more earthbound assessment, called the sculpture “a penis/phallus [. . .] contorted into a pretzel of plumbing (the site, after all, through which passes the detritus of the basest of human functions)” (Jones 1998, 157). For sure, the piece is no more than a found fragment, waste, a plumber’s trap turned upside down, secured on a piece of wood, and photographed by Schamberg, a close friend of Freytag-Loringhoven’s. But, as we all know, in 1917 another found piece of plumbing was also inverted, Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain. Not only are God and Fountain now considered sister pieces, Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven is deemed one of two possible “authors” of Fountain (the other being Louise Norton), given that Duchamp credited one of his female friends with designating the urinal a sculpture and sending it on to him for display. Gammel herself argues decidedly for Freytag-Loringhoven as the creator of Fountain, assembling a mountain of evidence that reaches back all the way to her childhood, even citing the artist’s penchant to consider herself a Duchamp twin spirit (“I am m’ars teutonic”). Nonetheless, Gammel, too, concludes that “in light of the fragmentary materials, crucial authorship questions remain unanswered” (Gammel 2003, 227). But then, who cares? Who determines authorship after all and how? Of these two early twentieth-century artworks, one remains of pivotal importance for turning the viewer into the potential co-creator of artistic processes, while pointing a finger at the market rather than at the process – at least this is how art historians would have it. Fountain has become the icon of conceptual art, of poking fun at what art making and its assessment entails, and the audiences involved are very much implied as co-conspirators. Moreover, it is the work that mattered, not its creator or assembler (or its photographer, in fact, since Alfred Stieglitz, contrary to Morton Schamberg and God, is not remembered for his image of Fountain). For our purposes here, God and its sister piece, Fountain, return us to fundamental questions regarding authorship that may help contribute to the focus on media authorship and media environments that simultaneously accommodate authors, non-authors, co-authors, curators, collaborators, collectors and editors – all producing remixes and mash-ups across the arts and across media. For Duchamp and Freytag-Loringhoven, we may agree, mark the beginnings of this kind of production: they may or may not have created the actual sculptures associated with their names – this discussion or detective and archival work remains part of the “aura” around these two pieces. What these artists and the works associated with them did create was a set of convergences that not only required but also relied on an increasingly complex media ecology around 1917: letters between them and their affiliates, photography of the items under

Autopoietic Processes within the Avant-Gardes: Fragmenting Authorship


discussion, a literary journal, un-found objects (the original urinal got tossed, all that remains of the actual plumbing fixture is the photograph), wood and a postal system able to deliver heavy items between New York and Philadelphia. To be precise, Fountain was made – not by an artist, but by the public buzz surrounding it, using contemporary media at a male artist’s disposal: an object whose everyday use was diametrically opposed to finding lauded display in a museum, from privy to pedestal; an unusual idea (possibly stolen, appropriated or recycled); a made-up artist name, a pseudonym, alter ego or avatar, scribbled on the porcelain, R. Mutt – seemingly androgynous; and a promotional piece in the form of a letter, following the predictable rejection by the curators of the exhibition. While Duchamp’s letter to his sister mentions a “female friend” sending the urinal, his unsigned letter to the journal The Blind Man masculinizes the supposed author of Fountain: They say any artist paying six dollars may exhibit. Mr. Richard Mutt sent in a fountain. Without discussion this article disappeared and never was exhibited. What were the grounds for refusing Mr. Mutt’s fountain: 1 Some contended it was immoral, vulgar. 2 Others, it was plagiarism, a plain piece of plumbing. Now Mr. Mutt’s fountain is not immoral, that is absurd, no more than a bathtub is immoral. It is a fixture that you see every day in plumbers’ show windows. Whether Mr. Mutt with his own hands made the fountain or not has no importance. He chose it. He took an ordinary article of life, placed it so that its useful significance disappeared under the new title and point of view – created a new thought for that object. (Duchamp 1917, 5; published with a photo of “Fountain” taken by Alfred Stieglitz)

When the volume editors thus invite the contributors to discuss the increasing chasm between “‘real’ medial practices” and the “discursive conception of individual authorship,” we are obliged to return to earlier practices of authorship and performance or, to proffer yet another term to start our discussions, to think of conceptual authorship alongside conceptual art – and, as Charles Green puts it, to ponder as well “camouflage[d] authorship” (Green 2001, 11). For, when issues of ideas (“created a new thought for that object”) and, as an important related issue, copyright enter the picture, so to speak, all bets are off. The best designation or definition of authorship we can come up with is to suggest that conceptual artists act as “authors-in-law” who oversee or steer their ideas, but may not need to or want to execute them themselves. However, according to Bentley and Biron “what matters for copyright is who authors the expression” (2014, 247). At a time of increasingly complex media environments, what exactly does that mean: who authors what kind of expression? What is “expression” anyway? And what does “authoring” mean when everybody can remix, recycle and re-purpose anyone’s expression every day within and across a plethora of


Anke Finger

media? If we jump from Duchamp’s and Freytag-Loringhoven’s early twentiethcentury conceptualism to Sol LeWitt’s “Paragraphs on Conceptual Art” from 1967, the forms and modules of expression become secondary to the ideation and conceptualization of the idea itself: When an artist uses a conceptual form of art, it means that all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes the machine that makes the art. [. . .] It [this kind of art] is usually free from the dependence on the skill of the artist as a craftsman. (Harrison and Wood 2003, 846–847)

The purpose of such art, explicitly, is to engage the viewer “mentally,” not emotionally, in a stab that seeks to diminish personal or emotional expression in art products aiming to transport affective engagement. The classic avant-gardes, including the Dadaists Freytag-Loringhoven and Duchamp, stood at the outset of these conceptual and media-authorship practices as they sought to rupture a Western intellectual understanding of perception, of the self, and of the experience and portrayal of everyday life in the early twentieth century. Such rupturing practices applied, too, to the questioning of traditional, romanticized authorship in the arts and art production: the lone genius, the skilled craftsman, the inspired idea, the God-given talent, the creative spirit, devoid of collaboration or influence or derivative. No plagiarism, no copying, no recycling, no found objects, no bricolage or cut-ups – pure originality and the aura that supposedly accompanies it stood still at the outset of the twentieth century. And the Dadaists, among many other groups, not only scoffed at these long-standing “rules” and parameters; they exploded them and put new processes and skills in their place. Foremost among them was the idea in itself, and a keen sense of everyday life that was far removed from the staid production and perception of art the nineteenth century had cemented in schools and museums. Media authorship, starting with the early twentieth century avant-gardes, becomes a matter of immediate surroundings in each artist’s environment, of multimodal awareness, of a bricolage of life that does not fit anymore in the tight framework of genius or talent, of skills, or, indeed, a viable access to the market. With the beginnings of conceptual art and the works of artists such as FreytagLoringhoven and Duchamp, media authorship, I argue, emerges as fragmented, fragmenting, in process, multiple, and, most of all, as conspiring with contemporary media. As such, if we think of Dada as idea art, for example, and as a practice of authorship sharing or splitting, we also need to question the – market-driven – ascription of a work of art to one author or artist: A Duchamp will yield substantially more in revenue than a Freytag-Loringhoven. So, what would happen if all of a sudden Fountain is deemed not a Duchamp piece? Hugo Ball, for example,

Autopoietic Processes within the Avant-Gardes: Fragmenting Authorship


took the stage in 1916 in Zurich by obscuring the author of “verse without words,” himself, with a bizarre costume resembling a tube-y tech puppet, a performance that famously split the oral from the written work. Hans Richter and many of his contemporary first-abstract-film experimenters played with a variety of celluloid observations that we can read as fragments of the author observing him- or herself, hence documenting a process, eluding a firmly held or self-determined author identity, and collaborating with other artists. I argue, therefore, that, within the traditional avant-garde movements, certain artists’ autopoietic processes serve as forerunners or modern manifestations of exploring and navigating multi-dimensional media spaces while creating iterations of art products, not one single final, definitive, outcome. These processes perforate the seemingly indestructible notion of the omnipotent author-god together with the idea of art as holistic and sacrosanct. It was then and continues to be now an experiment with fragmented authorship that develops into a phenomenological practice of allowing the medium used to collaborate in redefining authorship itself. Unsurprisingly, the concept of authorship thus undergoes novel definitions and combinations, including authorship performance, conceptual authorship, camouflaged authorship, fragmented authorship and parasitic authorship. The latter term is derived from Arndt Niebisch’s 2012 study on Media Parasites in the Early Avant-Garde where he argues that the avant-garde movements purposely fed on the media environment around them to co-author their own contributions to it, in short, to feed back into it while simultaneously altering this environment: “The parasitic abuse of technology is thus not simply a destructive rejection of hegemonic discourses, but a creative intervention that exploits, bends, and shows the limits of established practices. The avant-garde exploitations did not demolish existing forms of communication but irritated media discourses and forced these systems to generate new creative transformations” (Niebisch 2012, 10–11). Such disruptive or colluding authorship, to add yet two more terms, may have been intentional for some or sheer happenstance for others within these movements. Fact is, media authorship itself became a medium all its own, as idea and expression folded into each other, whether for aesthetic, political or merely exploratory purposes. Klaus von Beyme has tracked down some informative numbers that speak to this multiple media and parasitic authorship (von Beyme 2005, 225). Of 225 avantgarde artists examined, 43.1% composed theoretical texts, 32% were available for comments during exhibitions or other events, 15.1% gave interviews, 37% offered their letters and correspondence for publication, and 23.1% also created in other genres, for example, poetry or novels. Importantly, according to von Beyme, “never before in the history of art have artists left this many autobiographies


Anke Finger

and diaries to posterity”1 (von Beyme 2005, 230). These numbers, one should note, only apply to written or spoken genres and media formats. In a multimodal environment that also embraces film, radio, photography, illustration, communication design, installations and much more, how many forms of autopoietic processes would we be able to identify? Conversely, and significantly, such experimentation with media authorship also questions fossilized notions of creativity and collaboration: In our case from 1917, should not Alfred Stieglitz receive creative credit for possessing the wherewithal, the brilliance of the moment, if you will, to take a shot of Fountain before the urinal itself got dumped? Is he not, at the very least, another co-creator, with Duchamp and his female friend, who documented and archived what is now considered one of the most important artworks of the twentieth century? Stieglitz’s paramount photograph embodies Michael Wetzel’s reminder of the etymological origins of “author”: “auctor/auctoritas refers not only to agere (to act, to execute), but also to augere (multiply, foster, enlarge)”2 (Wetzel 2010, 480). Accordingly, and with a nod towards Barthes’s and Foucault’s questioning of the author’s inimitable status, what Wetzel calls the “functional relativization [of the category author immanent to the work] in the entire process of aesthetic meaning making” (Wetzel 2010, 481) enables – if we fast-forward to today – the interactive participant in what Henry Jenkins has designated as Convergence Culture. In his text with the same title, he proposes: I will argue [here] against the idea that convergence should be understood primarily as a technological process bringing together multiple media functions within the same devices. Instead, convergence represents a cultural shift as consumers are encouraged to seek out new information and make connections among dispersed media content. [It] is about the work – and play – spectators perform in the new media system. (Jenkins 2008, 3)

So it’s all about participation as co-authorship, in the parasitic or disrupting sense Niebisch has uncovered within the avant-garde movements? Note that over these last several pages or so we have moved from God to author to coauthor to collaborator to promoter to supporter to consumer to spectator – such that Wetzel’s emphasis on augere truly encompasses forms of authorship that carry the consumer within as well as consumers who view themselves as authors: an autopoiesis of perception, reception, production and promotion, a constant self-recreation of consuming and producing. Arndt Niebisch goes further: “The avant-garde movements [. . .] contributed to the development of their media ecology: they simultaneously used and

1 Translation by the author. 2 Translation by the author.

Autopoietic Processes within the Avant-Gardes: Fragmenting Authorship


abused, criticized and celebrated the emerging forms of communication and technology in the early twentieth century. [. . .] However, they created a position from where they did not simply affirm the status quo, but were able to constantly subvert and intervene into it.” (Niebisch 2012, 3). Two biological terms now occupy us here, autopoeisis and parasitic; one describing nourishment from within, from the self, in order to pro-create and multiply; the other receiving nourishment from another, from a host, undermining the host’s own system of survival or altering same system of survival in distinct ways. The narratives of authorship increasingly happen within this autopoietically and parasitically tapped media ecology, a network of resources and outlets that the avant-gardes sought to manipulate, destabilize, drain, play with, pitch against each other and mock. Or, as John Hartley describes the construction of the self within media-authorship today: “selfhood is an autopoietic outcome of performative actions and interactions . . . . Scattered across digital devices and online networks, users establish a transmedia, public-private ‘could self’ that interacts with the bodily self in unpredictable ways, requiring constant updating and adjustment” (Hartley 2013, 42). Media authorship has begun to fluctuate, to never stand still, to be untargetable and to evade pinpointing and solidification. It has become a convergence process all its own, multiple and ever evolving. I would argue that some avant-garde artists went even further. One classic example is the call for cut-up authorship by Tristan Tzara who, in his To Make a Dadaist Poem from 1920 celebrates not only the process of chance, he also places authorship not at the origin of the process but at the very end. The author, in fact, will be determined by the poem, not the other way around: Take a newspaper. / Take some scissors. / Choose from this paper an article of the length you want to make your poem. / Cut out the article. Next carefully cut out each of the words that makes up this article and put them all in a bag. / Shake gently. / Next take out each cutting one after the other. / Copy conscientiously in the order in which they left the bag. / The poem will resemble you. / And there you are – an infinitely original author of charming sensibility, even though unappreciated by the vulgar herd. (Tzara, 1920)

While tongue in cheek, in the best Dadaist fashion, Tzara points to the very environment and process – or the host – that ratifies an author who has yet to be determined (“the poem will resemble you”) when all “the author” has accomplished is a new constellation of elements already previously assembled in a different arrangement. Nothing is truly new or original – but the author will find her- or himself in the product that has been created by the process of cutting and mixing. Kenneth Goldsmith, appointed in 2013 as the Museum of Modern Art’s first poet laureate in New York City, has taken over some of these tactics in his “Traffic” or “Weather” texts that consist entirely of radio announcements about


Anke Finger

traffic jams or weather issues. In his book Uncreative Writing, he cites digital media as collaborating agents in a process that is part of authoring new material using parasitic methods: There’s been an explosion of writers employing strategies of copying and appropriation over the past few years, with the computer encouraging writers to mimic its workings. When cutting and pasting are integral to the writing process, it would be mad to imagine that writers wouldn’t exploit these functions in extreme ways that weren’t intended by their creators. (Goldsmith 2011, 5)

In another example, Hans Richter’s 1947 Dreams Money Can Buy, parasitic authorship joins collaborative and fragmented authorship to depict the ultimate bio-hacking, namely the authoring of others’ dreams. Joe, the artist-protagonist, secures his own living space after some complex negotiations. He discovers a new and potentially lucrative talent: his eyes become a camera to view the psychology of others, and he turns into a literal dream-machine by monetizing his ability to author the dreams his clients fear to have or are unable to generate on their own. Not only does Richter’s film play with that other dream machine, Hollywood; his collaboration with major artist figures of his time also marks an ironic take on authorship whereby the artists who create their section also star in it, for example, Max Ernst in Desire. Max Ernst, whose self-designated alter ego Loplop enabled the artist to explore other forms of authorship during his lifetime, represented the kind of author multiplying himself in a great variety of media and genres that include painting and sculpture, film, film scripts, autobiographical writing, acting, theoretical essays, interviews and a play. Von Beyme’s statistics and Niebisch’s claim of avant-garde movements poaching contemporary media ecologies, in closing, match up with the observations of another modernist, Walter Benjamin. Although I already invoked the notion of aura, so famously dismantled in Benjamin’s essay on the technical reproducibility of the artwork, I want to refer to his slightly less well-known essay on authorship. For he, too, noted the critical potential of the Dadaists, for example, to poke holes in the bubble of single (think: genius) and single-media (think: product, not idea-oriented) authorship by emphasizing that “the revolutionary strength of Dadaism lay in testing art for its authenticity. You made stilllifes [sic] out of tickets, spools of cotton, cigarette stubs, and mixed them with pictorial elements. You put a frame round the whole thing. And in this way you said to the public: look, your picture frame destroys time; the smallest authentic fragment of everyday life says more than painting” (Benjamin 1998, 94). The key aspect in this process is not the author’s or idea creator’s focus on or concern “with the products alone” but the “means of production” (Benjamin 1998, 98).

Autopoietic Processes within the Avant-Gardes: Fragmenting Authorship


It is the means of production around 1917, then, that returns us to the outset of this discussion of media authorship and the interplay between artwork and author, between market and consumer, and the camouflaged, parasitic behavior of an author-group, a collaboration, a network, that took full advantage of the media ecology of its time. Chances are without such media authorship no one would be aware of either God or Fountain; they would be lost to viewers and coproducers today, had the participating artists not used the channels available to them, utilizing all available media to change the means of conceptualization and production to pave the way for a much more diversified and fluctuating multimodal authorship today.

References Benjamin, Walter. “The Author as Producer.” Understanding Brecht. New York: Verso, 1998. 85–103. Bently, Lionel, and Laura Biron. “Discontinuities between legal conceptions of authorship and social practices. What, if anything, is to be done?” The Work of Authorship. Ed. Mireille van Eechoud. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam Press, 2014. 237–276. Duchamp, Marcel. “The Richard Mutt Case.” The Blind Man 2 (1917). 5–6. Gammel, Irene. Baroness Elsa. Gender, Dada, and Everyday Modernity. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2003. Goldsmith, Kenneth. Uncreative Writing. Managing Language in the Digital Age. New York: Columbia University Press, 2011. Green, Charles. The Third Hand: Collaboration in Art from Conceptualism to Postmodernism. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 2001. Hartley, John. “Authorship and the Narrative of the Self.” A Companion to Media Authorship. Eds. Jonathan Gray, and Derek Johnson. New York: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013. 23–47. Higgs, John. Stranger Than We Can Imagine: Making Sense of the Twentieth Century. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2015. Jenkins, Henry. Convergence Culture. Where Old and New Media Collide. New York: New York University Press, 2008. Jones, Amelia. “‘Women’ In Dada: Elsa, Rose, and Charlie.” Women in Dada. Essays on Sex, Gender, and Identity. Ed. Naomi Sawelson-Gorse. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 1998. 142–173. LeWitt, Sol. “Paragraphs on Conceptual Art.” Art in Theory 1900–2000. An Anthology of Ideas. Ed. Charles Harrison and Paul Wood. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell Publishing, 2003. 846–849. Niebisch, Arndt. Media Parasites in the Early Avant-Garde. On the Abuse of Technology and Communication. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.


Anke Finger

Tzara, Tristan. How to Make a Dadaist Poem. tzara.html. (9 November 2019). Von Beyme, Klaus. Das Zeitalter der Avantgarden. Kunst und Gesellschaft 1905–1955. Munich: C.H. Beck, 2005. Wetzel, Michael. “Autor/Künstler,” Ästhetische Grundbegriffe 1: Absenz bis Darstellung. Ed. Karlheinz Barck et al. Stuttgart: J.B. Metzler, 2010. 480–544.

Angela Krewani

Gendered Discourses on Authorship in Film and Video While authorship in literary media has been an intensively discussed issue, authorship in visual mass media, such as film and television, is more viable and open to construction. The following essay examines concepts of authorship in visual mass media under a dual perspective. First, we must look at the technological media fantasies that appear in the discourses on authorship and, secondly, recognize that these considerations should be connected to questions of gendered authorship. As authorship is a male concept, this chapter aligns aspects of gender with those of technology. It shall focus on the technological fantasies spawned by male and female authors alike and discuss their differences. Interestingly enough, the introduction of gender, as well as its impact on technology, shifts the perspective in the reconsideration of authorship. Far from being a disinterested tool, the artistic approach towards technology opened up a field of aesthetic possibilities for female media authoresses that had previously been denied by the gendered discourses of art and authorship. The concept of the filmic author emerged just two decades before the literary author was attacked by Roland Barthes (1968) and Michel Foucault (1977 [1969]). The invention of the filmic author, aka auteur theory, was a European attempt to recast film production as an individual aesthetic procedure to elevate its stature as an artform. It first appeared in an article by Alexandre Astruc for the Marxist film journal Écran Francais titled The Birth of a New Avant-Garde: Le Caméra-Stylo in 1948 (Notaro 2006, 87). By matching camera and writing apparatus (stylo = pen), Astruc turned film into a literary and thus an artistic genre. Pointedly, this idea was later claimed by Francois Truffaut in the Cahiers du Cinema in order to oppose Hollywood’s industrial film production. The reference to the literary author also permitted the establishment of academic film research and the founding university institutions to carry it out (Notaro 2006, 87). Discourses on film and film genealogies usually revert to the auteur theory in order to construct a history and epistemology of the author in film. This contribution intends to trace a different genealogy of the filmic author by investigating the impact of technology on the artistic processes, an approach that, interestingly enough, turns out to be less gendered. It remains to be discovered whether there is yet another perception of authorship emerging in the Russian film avant-garde of Dziga Vertov. However, contrary to Astruc and Truffaut’s approach to film, he brought the medium’s technology into discussion through the lens of the film camera itself (Vertov 1984).


Angela Krewani

Taking Vertov’s invocation of the camera as the central authoring agency, he constructs a discourse of technical authorships at the same time. This discourse is perfectly visualized in his seminal film Man with a Movie Camera (1929), where he superimposes an eye with a camera lens, thus stating the perceptual advantage of the camera technology. In his writings, Vertov also expands on the agency of the movie camera, and thus establishes a discourse of technology as aesthetic authorship. According to William C. Wees, especially the avant-garde film authors initiated a discourse in which the film technology was aesthetically reformulated as discourse and aesthetic model within the film’s visual surface. This discourse integrates film into avant-garde art by comparing it either to painting or voicing its specific materiality. Since this discourse emerged in the 1920s, it had clearly taken place before the Cahiers du Cinema’s attempt at institutionalizing a filmic author. It should be understood that the avant-garde movement followed a different agenda than the Cahiers in incorporating film into the international art movements. The avantgarde agenda can be observed in Vertov’s writings on film, where he reflected on the camera’s aesthetic impact. For him, it was the camera that generated the film’s creative impact and, at the same time, became the central preceptor: The kino-eye lives and moves in time and space; it gathers and records impressions in a manner entirely different from that of the human eye. The position of our bodies while observing or our perception of a certain number of features of a visual phenomenon in any given instant are by no means obligatory limitations for the camera which, since it is perfected, perceives more and better. [. . .] Kino-eye is understood as ‘that, which the eye doesn’t see,’ as the microscope and telescope of time, as the negative of time, as the possibility of seeing without limits and distances, as the remote control of the movie cameras, as tele-eye as X-ray eye. (Vertov 1984, 15, 41)

Avant-garde film developed manifold technological metaphors and images of authorship, following the intent “to reduce every work to the intimate laws of its own expressive essence or to the given absolutes of its own genre or means” (Poggioli 1971, 201 qtd. in Wees 2003, 48). This description conveys the idea that avant-garde art set out to boil down each artwork to its own natural laws. Taking the artwork’s technology into account, we can easily observe how technology interferes with the somewhat essentialist notion of the ‘expressive essence’ of an artwork. With the avant-garde film, the material and technological qualities of the medium film are highlighted. In the wake of this tradition of avant-garde reflexivity, we meet estimations of film as consisting of movement and light – the role of the author within these

Gendered Discourses on Authorship in Film and Video


constructions is usually not mentioned or resolutely pushed aside. Comparable to Dziga Vertov’s focus on the camera, Germaine Dulac favored “light” as the central means of visual and filmic constructions. Having left issues of authorship aside, she explained in 1927: “Painting can create emotion solely through the power of color, sculpture through ordinary volume, architecture through the play of proportions and lines, music through the combination of sounds” (Dulac 1927, qtd. in Wees 2003, 48). For this reason, she argues, it is imperative for film artists “to divest cinema of all elements not particularly associated, to seek its true essence in the consciousness of movement and of visual rhythms” (ibid.). As early as 1920, the reference to the materiality of cinema was articulated by the filmmaker and film critic Louis Delluc and his concept of photogénie, which raised the perception of objects into art through film. Subsequently, the PolishFrench filmmaker Jean Epstein declared that “with the notion of photogénie was born the idea of cinema art” (Christie 1979, 38). In this concept of art, neither the individual author nor the filmic collective are to be found at the center of the artistic construction. Contrary to an anthropomorphic idea of authorship, Delluc offers a technology (the light) as the starting-point for the construction of visuality and meaning. As we have seen, early avant-garde film brought about rich fantasies for authorizing, i.e. empowering the technology and the content of the “creator” as merely a personalized author. Instead, they introduced aspects of the film’s technology as a topic feature of artistic construction. According to William Wees’ argument, avant-garde filmmakers “found cinema’s basic principles in light, movement, and time” (Wees 2003, 48). Besides this, the metaphorical use of the eye and the matching analogy of the eye as the camera lens provide a thematic line through the discourses and aesthetics of avant-garde film. Starting with Dziga Vertov’s superimposition of human and camera eye in Man with a Movie Camera (1929), the conflation of filmic technology and the human eye is extended and modified throughout the history of avant-garde cinema (Wees 2003, 49f.). Although the camera-eye can be understood as a synecdoche, as the term condenses a complex technology into the image of the human eye, it nevertheless provides a hint toward the technological basis of filmmaking and filmic aesthetics; the eye can be interchanged with the camera and filmic technology, as Georg Wald asserts in the 1950s: Today, every schoolboy knows that the eye functions like a camera [. . .] in both instruments, a lens projects an inverted image of the surroundings upon a light-sensitive surface – the film in the camera and the retina in the eye. In both, the opening of the lens is regulated by an iris. In both, the inside of the chamber is lined with a coating of black material which absorbs stray light that would otherwise be reflected back and forth and obscure the image. (Wald 1950, 2, qtd. in Wees, 50f.)


Angela Krewani

With these examples, I would like to point out the author function of this technological determination that runs through avant-garde film. The idea of the eye as a camera is a technological fantasy, unraveling concepts of authorship in the same way as light and movement, albeit to a lesser extent. This understanding of the aesthetic and technological discourses of avant-garde film confirms technological concepts of authorship and thus stands in sharp contrast to the Cahiers du Cinema’s re-institutionalization of the human filmic author as auteur. Avant-garde film’s proclivity for authorizing technological fantasies is continued in the early video art of the 1960s and 1970s. As early as 1965, the first portable video camera had been implemented by artists and political activists in visual practices. Whereas it functioned as a convenient documentarian tool in political contexts, it was rapidly associated with the happening- and fluxus movement in aesthetic contexts (Krewani 2016, 84–102). Here, once again, the video camera initiated technological implementations of authorship, and the technological aspects are stressed even more directly than in the filmic synecdoche of camera and eye. Contrary to film, video technology was the first technology to offer a simultaneous image-recording and visual presentation in real time. With reference to media history, up to the late 1960s, no media technology had provided simultaneous recording and displaying. The situation changed with the invention of the portable video camera. The Sony Portapak, intended for private use, was introduced to the market in 1967. The video artist Nam June Paik was one of the first to experiment with this new camera. Connected to a monitor, the video camera broke with the traditional gap between recording on film and displaying the developed reels by conveying the image recorded on magnetic strip in real time. This technology could be applied like a mirror; even better since it could also record the moving image. Through its technology, it blended the viewer and the image into a feedback loop: The viewer’s image was taken and projected into a monitor or a video screen – image and viewer coalesced. Thus, the closed-circuit video installations point to the complex relationship between artist (author) and the visualizing technology of camera and television screen. One of the cardinal aesthetic features of the closed-circuit installation lies in the feedback structure between artist (author) and the respective image. Gerald O’Grady explicitly articulates the new feature of the closed-circuit video by pointing to the preponderance of the feedback structure. Video feedback introduced far more complex ramifications. Simply pointing the camera at the image it was generating on its monitor and undertaking a serious examination of the results constituted a rejection of all that had come before. In conventional television, feedback was regarded as one of the most basic and unforgivable technical errors. Now, it came to form the basis of exploration of video image synthesis. Contemplating feedback,

Gendered Discourses on Authorship in Film and Video


creative electronics engineers began to wonder what other visual possibilities could develop from the creative rearrangement of the paths on which the signals travel. (O’Grady 1977, 223)

Compared to the synecdochal analogy of eye and film camera, the feedback technology, by contrast, signified a technological structure. As such, the closed-circuit video installation was based on a model of information distinct from the classical information concept of broadcast media. Its underlying media organization is derived from the cybernetic concepts of “information,” “input,” and “output” (Weaver and Shannon, 1949). Claude Shannon’s theory of information as disembodied message is of foremost importance, because change is brought about in the feedback loops and not in breaks and shifts, as Thomas Kuhn and Michel Foucault argue. Thus, Katherine Hayles remarks that this function differs from both the “Kuhnian model of inconsumable paradigms [and] the Foucauldian model of sharp epistemic breaks” (Hayles 1999, 14). In this regard, it is important to distinguish between film- and video technologies. Whereas film is part of a mimetic media technology that relies on the filmed image conveying the illusion of movement (Crary 1999), video touches upon a cybernetic understanding of media and communication through its electronic output. Derived from the Greek kybernetike (meaning “to steer, to navigate or to govern”), cybernetics developed new, technologically driven concepts of media and communication. As mentioned above, a central concept was feedback, and furthermore homeostasis depicted the reaction of differing systems in the form of feedback loops, circular causality, and instrumental language (Hayles 1999, 14–18). Central to cybernetics was the concept of disembodied information: Information has been separated from content and embodiment, which Katherine Hayles calls “disembodied.”1 She even goes so far as to point to the “erasure of embodiment, so that ‘intelligence’ becomes a property of the formal manipulation of symbols rather than an enaction in the human life-world” (Hayles 1999, xi).2 Understanding the closed-circuit installation against this background, we can detect a new media and communication paradigm at work that has been enacted within this artistic form. Referring to questions of authorship, it offers insights into technological communication structures and serves – comparable to the filmic fantasies – to integrate technological structures into the construction

1 This is an interesting point in comparison to the bodily media fantasies of the film: Whereas the avant-garde film’s discourses exploit images of the body – movement, light, eye – the cybernetic fantasies refer to disembodied technologies (Hayles 1999, 50–83). 2 This idea of the embodiment of communication is highly consequential to the concept of authorship and its contemporary dimensions within contemporary digital communication, which often is governed by programs and algorithms.


Angela Krewani

of artistic meaning. Or, in other words, authorship here is presented as humantechnological interplay; the technology has turned into a decisive part of authoring processes. This is clearly demonstrated in the technology’s artistic applications, for instance in the works of Les Levine, who couples viewers and installation within his closed-circuit installations. Levine’s sculpture Iris (1968) consisted of three video cameras recording the exhibition’s visitors; at the same time, these cameras projected the respective images to six monitors, which were positioned in the same room. The camera images were randomly presented on these monitors. The exhibitions announcement underlined the installation’s interactive elements, as Levine remarks: “Iris” is a gigantic cybernetic eye which sees, sorts out what it has seen, and them projects the image it has digested. [. . .] The artist feels that Iris only really becomes a work of art when it is seen – and sees. Thus the spectator and the object become partners in the creation of a work art. (Les Levine 1968, qtd. in Kacunko 2004, 150f.)

Levine’s following project, Contact: A Cybernetic Sculpture (1968), offers the extension of the aesthetic program. It consisted of 6 cameras and 18 television screens, employing a variety of image proportions. Once again, the images had been chosen randomly (Kacunko 2004, 151). The reference to cybernetics can be understood against the background of the media theory of the late 1960s, but it represents more than just a recommendation of topical theory. The idea of communicating technological systems displays a new form of media culture, modifying human agency within the media systems. Cybernetics privileged a highly complex system of formal interactions over a humanistic consideration of content. Although it underlined anti-humanistic concepts of technology, cybernetics was rapidly appropriated by the US-American cultural and social avant-garde and the grassroots movements (Borck 2008). It definitely furnished the discourses on art and media with cybernetic concepts. Ignoring the proper technological developments, scholars and artists like Marshall McLuhan, Gene Youngblood and Roy Ascott constructed discursive links between technological and social movements. The impact of cybernetics shifted the technological imaginary from the margins of cultural artifacts to their centers with cybernetics as basic leading principles. In his seminal essay “Behaviorist Art and the Cybernetic Vision” (Ascott 1966), Roy Ascott appropriates cybernetic concepts insofar as his idea of contemporary art is governed by communication and the interactive integration of the user into the work of art. A work of art is comprised in such a way as to draw the spectator into active participation on the act of creation, to extend him, via the artifact, the opportunity to become involved in creative behavior on all levels of

Gendered Discourses on Authorship in Film and Video


experience – physical, emotional, and conceptual. A feedback loop is established, so that the evolution of the artwork/experience is governed by the intimate involvement of the spectator. (Ascott 1968, 110–111)

Electronic media such as video and computer are definitely part of the large setting of an artwork, as Ascott also confirms. “The computer may be linked to an artwork, and the artwork may in some sense be a computer. The necessary conditions of behaviorist art are that the spectator is involved” (Ascott 1966, 36). With this argument, he deconstructs the notion of an authoring agency as the artwork’s central force in favor of a dynamic interaction between technology, the spectator’s input and artistic impact. This dynamic, creative network also extends to the medium television, as Gene Youngblood argues, likening it to the central nervous system: “Like the computer, television is a powerful extension of man’s central nervous system. Just as the human nervous system is the analogue of the brain, television in symbiosis with the computer becomes the analogue of the total brain of world man.” (Youngblood 1970, 260) It should also be mentioned that concepts of a cybernetic matrix and interactive processes had been generated long before their technological appropriation with interactive and internet technologies (Pflüger 2004). This speaks to the aesthetic imaginary that builds technological fantasies opposing the monumental concept within authorship of individual human agency. Consequently, the place to experiment with these fantasies had been the medium of video, its closed-circuit installations and the slow shift into computer art. Referring to Les Levine’s installation, Contact: A Cybernetic Sculpture (1968), Youngblood voices the connection between human being and technology, regardless of psychological aspects: “Contact is a system that synthesizes man with technology. In this system, people are the software. It relies entirely on the image and sensibility of the viewer for its life” (Youngblood 1970, 339–340). Following Katherine Hayles, the proliferation of cybernetic concepts was one of the first steps toward the shift from human to the trans-human. Indicators of this change are, according to Hayles, the erasure of embodiment, the privileging of information over content, the distinction between materiality and information (Hayles 1999, 8–18). Comparing these discourses within film and video culture, we can clearly observe that the technological media film, video and computer unfolded a variety of concepts of aesthetic production that pushed the artistic, human author to his margins. In film, this took place in the discourses of avant-garde film – before the auteur concepts instated the author as the intellectual center of filmic production – and, in this regard, served as a form of counter discourse for the conservatism of auteur-cinema. Furthermore, it contributed to a technological imaginary


Angela Krewani

supplanting fantasies of authorship. Video furthers this development by invoking a specific technology and coupling it with a technological school of thought – cybernetics. So far, we have been able observe concepts of authorships being pushed aside in favor of technological fantasies or visions of dynamic networking. In the second part of this essay, I shall apply these concepts to questions of gender and authorship and illustrate the extent to which these technologies and their anti-authoritarian implications are valid also for female authors. In their outstanding publications, Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar demonstrated how far images of female authorship have diverged from those of their male counterparts. The conclusion of their research resulted in the fact that the idea of a creative, singular author in control of his product is a thoroughly male fantasy not shared by female authors. These had adapted various strategies in order to cope with male authors, which lets Gilbert and Gubar conclude: The rise of the female imagination was a central problem for the twentieth century male imagination. Thus, when we focus not only on women’s increasingly successful struggle for autonomy in the years from, say, 1890–1920, but also on their increasingly successful production of literary texts in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, we find ourselves confronting an entirely different modernism. And it is a modernism constructed not only against the grain of Victorian male precursors, not merely in the shadow of a shattered God, but as an integral part of a complex response to female precursors and contemporaries. (Gilbert and Gubar 1989, 147)

In their papers on female authorship, Gilbert and Gubar review concepts of authorship and their problematic relationship with the “official” and acknowledged male versions. Their analysis of female authorship in the nineteenth century demonstrates the inhibitions and weird strategies of female authorship (Gilbert and Gubar 2000).3 Transferring these concepts to gendered authorships in film and video, we come to diverging images and authorships and diverging merging of female authorships with technologies. As has been argued above, the technological images in avant-garde film were applied to both genders. Thus, the avant-garde discourse and new technologies separated detached filmic avant-garde authorship from the constraints of “classical male” authorship and opened up new paths for female filmmakers. This can be observed in the works of Germaine Dulac and Maya Deren, two filmmakers engaged with the technology of film, which they conceived to be authorizing (Wees 2003, 48–51). In avant-garde film, the traditional (male)

3 It is well known that Jane Austen had to hide away her manuscripts. Margaret Atwood’s Novel Lady Oracle (1976) offers a parody play with historical and gendered concepts of authorship, applying these to “trivial” and highbrow art forms.

Gendered Discourses on Authorship in Film and Video


concepts of authorship seem not to have applied to the new medium, which means that discourses of its artfulness had been rare4 and the technological dimensions of film – light, technology, movement – alluring for female authorship. This new freedom, which had not existed in the modernist discourses on literary authorship, drew female writers into the possibilities of film, for example the American Imagiste H.D. (Hilda Doolittle), who explored aspects of “filmic writing.” In cooperation with her friend Hugh McPherson, she edited the film journal Close Up from 1927–1933 in order to explore the aesthetic dimensions of film and experimented with “filmic forms” for her writings (Krewani 1993, 171–203). H.D. seemed to have grasped the advantages of the discursively less burdened medium avantgarde film. Within the discourses of female authorship in film, the gender gap seems to have emerged with the auteur concept and psychoanalysis, which both tended to exclude female authorial activity. Kaja Silverman offers an overview of authorial positions within film; symptomatically, her essay starts with Roland Barthes essay on the Death of the Author and, in the same vein, introduces the film author: Within film studies, however, this very male author still seemed to be at least vaguely alive as late as 1973, when Ed Buscombe had made a qualified argument on behalf of authorial intention, and “he” made a spectacular comeback in the late seventies in the work of Raymond Bellour. (Silverman 1988, 187)

Following this problematic reintroduction of the author into film theory, Silverman concludes that “he” is still haunting “the edges of film theory” (Silverman 1988, 187) and, in the further argument, offers a summary of positions on the film author formulated between 1962 and 1978: She refers to the theories of Andrew Sarris, whose thinking she esteems to be an introduction of the “heroic proportions of the romantic author” (Silverman 1988, 194); then to Peter Wollens’ thinking, “where authorship is grasped less as expression of a personality or ‘elan of the soul’” (Silverman 1988, 195); and to Stephen Heath’s “Comments on the ‘Idea of Authorship,’” which is regarded as “a dramatic change of direction in the auteur debate” (Silverman 1988, 198), since Heath turns completely away from the concept of authoring language or meaning in favor of focusing on “subjectivity and ideology” (ibid.). Silverman finishes her essay with critical remarks on film theory, in which the camera is seen as the central meaning of the filmic discourse. This leads to her conclusion that the “author is conspicuously absent from this account of film-as-discourse. He is barred from any overt access to the site of enunciation, although he makes the occasional return surreptitiously” (Silverman 1988, 201). 4 Rudolf Arnheim’s seminal work of Film as Art (Film als Kunst) appeared in 1932.


Angela Krewani

The highly theoretical and abstract debate is transported into feminist film theory. Especially the patriarchal attitudes of psychoanalysis and its negation of femininity supported the extinction of female authorship in film. The most impressive example is Laura Mulvey’s essay on “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”, which denies female subject positions within film (Mulvey 1975). Although Claire Johnston underlines the importance of female authorship and female images in film (Silverman 1988, 205), the unholy alliance of psychoanalysis and film criticism prevented the emergence of female agency. Oddly enough, this is observed by Kaja Silverman: “Sandy Flitterman has also suggested that feminist theory would do well to rethink authorship within the Hollywood text [. . .] However, one looks in vain to the feminist work published in Camera Obscura for a further elaboration of this point” (Silverman 1988, 206). This observation finds itself confirmed in the German feminist journal Frauen und Film, which also lacks a debate about female authorship and female subjectivity in film.5 Besides the very male auteur debate, international film theory seems to have neglected discourses of filmic and female authorship at the same time, especially in comparison with the avant-garde film, which had tackled these issues in its early years. This absence of will may be due to the monolithic situation in classical Hollywood and the European eagerness to consider film as art. This activity may have turned film theory away from considerations of technology and the materiality of film.6 Contrary to the irregularities of authorship within film, video-technology had been picked up by female artists and documentarists in order to inspect the conditions of technology and female authorship. As mentioned above, early video art and closed-circuit installations were employed to verify the dimensions of technology within processes of authorship. Within these practices, female video art and female performances can be understood as reaction to the neglect of female positions within the discourse. Yoko Ono addressed this issue with her performance Cut Piece (1965), offering herself to the audience as passive bodily object, which can be discarded of its clothes. Following the art historian Erkki Huhtamo, Yoko Ono made visible the idea of the “passive” femininity within the art-performance (Huhtamo 2007, 86).

5 At least for the German context this is somewhat misleading, since at least in experimental and documentary film production we find female voices. 6 Hans-Ulrich Gumbrecht’s and Karl Pfeiffer’s anthology of 1994, Materialities of Communication (original German edition: Materialität der Kommunikation, 1988), is one of the first publications to re-direct the theoretical attention back towards aspects of technology within film.

Gendered Discourses on Authorship in Film and Video


With reference to film, Valie Export’s Tap and Touch Cinema (1968) displays a radical reaction to cinema’s disposition and the male coding of authorship. Drawing on her own body, Valie Export had attached a box in front of her naked breasts while walking the streets and offering herself to the pedestrians’ touch. Artist Peter Weibel accompanied her prompting the by-passers/viewers/participants to touch her breasts. This action can be read as a performative commentary on Laura Mulvey’s famous essay on the lacking female subjectivity in Hollywood fiction film. According to Mulvey, the lack of female subjectivity is due to the fetishistic treatment of the female body (Mulvey 1975). By evoking the cinematic situation, Valie Export – ironically – presents herself as object of desire, contradicting the idea of authorial control of meaning and artistic content. With rhythm 0 (1974), the Serbian artist Marina Abramovic presented herself in a happening, inviting visitors to do to her body whatever they pleased with a variety of instruments. Although these performances seem disconcerting and somewhat “over the top” in their radical approach, they nevertheless tackle more implicit codes of creativity, authorship and femininity. Against the background of film theory’s negation of the female subjectivity and also against an established tradition of neglecting female literary authorship, these performances point to the enforced female intellectual and cultural passivity. Focusing on the artist’s bodies, these actions paradoxically confirm female expulsion from cultural proficiency, as the body seems to be an obstacle to and basis for creativity at the same time. In female texts on authorship, the body was either an obstacle (Virginia Woolf) or had to be transcended (Simone de Beauvoir) (Rinnert 2001, 40–50).7 The impressive and important theories of female writing, formulated by Luce Irigaray, Julia Kristeva and Hélène Cixous, took the female body as a vantage point for their theories (Rinnert 2001, 56–91), forwarding that patriarchal literary and artistic production had negated the female body. Against this theoretical background and the problematic relationship of image subjectivity and female body within film theory, the video and performance media offer a reevaluation and parodistic display of the relationship of body and artistic creation. The Japanese video artist Shigeko Kubota connected art performances with video work: In her Vagina Paintings (1965), she offered performances in painting with a brush attached to her vagina. Contrary to the difficult authorial positions in writing and filming, female video artists pointed to bodily aspects of artistic creations and voiced them within their art. In this context, the new video technology was introduced into the creative process as

7 Concerning the conjunction between female creativity and body also compare (Papenburg and Zarzycka 2013).


Angela Krewani

welcomed factor, which voiced aspects of female authorship. Shigeko Kubota claimed the video camera as a specific tool for female art: I travel alone with my Portapak on my back, as Vietnamese women do with their babies./ I like video because it is heavy./ Portapak and I travelled over Europe, Navajo land, and Japan without male accompany (sic!)/ Portapak tears down my shoulder, backbone and waist./ I feel like a Soviet woman, working on the Siberian Railway. (Kubota qtd. in Meigh-Andrews 2006, 10)

Contrary to film, an international female video art did come into its own, claiming the video camera as artistic means. This fact has Michael Rush reflecting on the new aesthetic qualities of female video work: Performance assumed an important role in video art of women artists who, through the feminist movement, were now demanding a place at the art table long dominated by men, especially the men of “heroic” and macho Abstract Expressionism. As was often the case in art history, women had simply been ignored. By the mid-1960s, however, women had begun fighting against the silence surrounding their life and work. [. . .] The feminist influence upon video and performance was substantial. (Rush 2007, 85)

To conclude this essay, we have seen a variety of authorial positions within the conceptual network of author, gender and technology, whereby avant-garde cinema established a special relationship with cinematic technology. The early avant-garde cinema clearly supported female film makers and their relationship towards technology. With the advent of auteur theory, the impact of technology was pushed into the back in favour of the establishing of the filmic author. In this process, female filmmakers as authors had been disenfranchised by the discourses on authorship. Due to the capabilities of the new medium video, the doors were opened to authorship for female video artists and performers. With the help of technology, female authorship was thus reintroduced into the discourse in terms of the embodied author. Compared to film, video frequently counts as an inferior medium – its proximity to female authority may count as a reason for this.

References Ascott, Roy. “Behaviourist Art and the Cybernetic Vision.” Cybernetica IX 4 (1966). 34–49. Ascot, Roy. “The Cybernetic Stance: My Process and Purpose.” Leonardo 1 (1968). 105–12. Astruc, Alexandre. “The Birth of a New Avant-Garde: Le Caméra-Stylo.” Ecran Francais 144 (1948). 381–384. Barthes, Roland. “The Death of the Author.” Image – Music – Text. Ed. Stephen Heath. London: Fontana, 1968.

Gendered Discourses on Authorship in Film and Video


Borck, Cornelius. “Der Transhumanismus der Kontrollmaschine: Die Expo ‘67 als Vision einer kybernetischen Versöhnung von Mensch und Welt.” Die Transformation des Humanen. Beiträge zur Kulturgeschichte der Kybernetik. Ed. Michael Hagner and Erich Hörl. Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp, 2008. 125–62. Christie, Ian. “French Avant Garde Film in the Twenties.” Film as Film. Ed. Philipp Drummond. London: Arts Council of Great Britain, 1979. 38. Crary, Jonathan. “Modernising Vision.” Vision and Visuality. New York: New Press Printing (2cd. ed.), 1999. 29–50. Dulac, Germaine. “The Aesthetics, The Obstacles. Integral Cinegraphie.” Framework 19 ([1927] 1982). 7, 9. Foucault, Michel. “What is an Author?” Language, Counter-Memory, Practice: Selected Essays and Interviews. Ed. Donald F. Bouchard. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell UP, [1969] 1977. 113–138. Gilbert, Sandra M., and Susan Gubar. The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000. Gilbert, Sandra, and Susan Gubar. No Man’s Land. The Place of the Woman Writer in the Twentieth Century. Vol. 2. Sexchanges. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1989. Gumbrecht, Hans-Ulrich, and Karl Pfeiffer, eds. Materialities of Communication. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1994. Hayles, N. Katherine. How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics. Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press, 1999. Huhtamo, Erkki. “Twin – Touch – Test – Redux: Media Archaeological Approach to Art, Interactivity, and Tactility.” Media Art Histories. Ed. Oliver Grau. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2007. 71–101. Kacunko, Slavko. Closed Circuit Videoinstallationen. Berlin: Logos, 2004. Krewani, Angela. Medienkunst. Theorie, Praxis, Ästhetik. Trier: WVT, 2016. Krewani, Angela. Moderne und Weiblichkeit: Amerikanische Schriftstellerinnen in Paris. Heidelberg: C. Winter, 1993. Meigh-Andrews, Chris. A History of Video Art: The Development of Form and Function. Oxford: Berg, 2006. Mulvey, Laura. “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.” Screen 16. 3 (1975). 6–18. Notaro, Anna. “Technology in Search of an Artist: Questions of Auteurism/Authorship and the Contemporary Cinematic Experience.” The Velvet Light Trap 57 (Spring 2006). 86–97. O’Grady, Gerald. The New Television. A Public Private Art. 289. Ed. Douglas Davis and Allison Simmons. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1977. 222–29. Papenburg, Bettina, and Marta Zarzycka, eds. Carnal Aesthetics: Transgressive Imagery and Feminist Politics. London: I.B. Tauris, 2013. Pflüger, Jörg. “Zur Ideengeschichte der Interaktivität.” Geschichten der Informatik: Visionen, Paradigmen, Leitmotive. Ed. Hans Dieter Hellige. Berlin et al.: Springer, 2004. 367–408. Poggioli, Renato. The Theory of the Avant-Garde. New York: Harper and Row, Icon Editions, 1971. Rinnert, Andrea. Körper, Weiblichkeit, Autorschaft. Eine Inspektion feministischer Literaturtheorien. Königstein/Ts.: Ulrike Helmer Verlag, 2001. Rush, Michael. Video Art: With 475 Illustrations, 372 in Colour. London: Thames, 2007. Silverman, Kaja. The Acoustic Mirror: The Female Voice in Psychoanalysis and Cinema. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988.


Angela Krewani

Vertov, Dziga. Kino-Eye. The Writings of Dziga Vertov. Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London: University of California Press, 1984. Wald, George. “Eye and Camera.” Scientific American Offprints 46 (1950). 2–12. Weaver, Warren, and Claude E. Shannon, The Mathematical Theory of Communication. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1949. Wees, William C. “The Camera-Eye: Dialectis of a Metaphor.” Future Cinema. The Cinematic Imaginary After Film. Ed. Jeffrey Shaw and Peter Weibel. Cambridge, Mass. and London: MIT Press, 2003. 48–55. Youngblood, Gene. Expanded Cinema. New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., 1970.

Thari Jungen

Collaborative Authorship – Or How to Overcome the “Nightmare of Participation” Artistic collectives such as the Institute for Falsification (IFF) or Staub zu Glitzer (“Dust to Glitter”)/B61-12 try to intervene in citizenship politics by negotiating the consequences of social and political settings through the design of new stages of representation. In the last three years, these two newly founded artist groups have been questioning the structures of authorship in various ways.1 Both collectives are trying to overcome the traditional idea of artistic authorship by collaborating with ordinary citizens, who become involved as “citizen-scientists” in artistic research. At the same time, the artists conceal their own identity as group members. They act undercover, defining themselves as equal participants of the collective. By researching different attitudes toward visibility, authorship, in this case, is performed by many unnamed and unknown citizens and noncitizens as collaborators; they are participating in a certain setting, with certain scores, designed by the permanent members of those collectives.2 By defining these collaborative performances as a form of enacting artistic citizenship, I shall point out how this approach has had a huge impact on the question of authorship. In these examples, authorship no longer works as the authority of authenticated expression in these cases but rather as a voice of a pluralist group of anonymous citizens and non-citizens. In September 2017, the theater Volksbühne Berlin – after a long public fight about its new artistic direction – became the site of an occupation. When Frank Castorf left the theater after 25 years of directorship, the loose collective Staub zu Glitzer/B61-12 decided to occupy the theater in protest of the new director Chris Dercon. They declared their intervention to be a “trans-media performance.” In order to negotiate a collaborative artistic directorship for the theater, the collective staged an illegal, performative trans-media intervention and invited

1 For more information on the mentioned collectives please see the English and German internet portfolio of the Institute for Falsification (the author of this chapter is also a member of the collective, known in German as Institut für Falsifikate): (31 March 2020). For the website of the collective Staub zu Glitzer/B61-12, please see (31 March 2020). 2 By non-citizens, I here point to the fact, that there are many people living in a city and enacting as citizens, without having a full status of citizenship (see Köster-Eiserfunke et al. 2014, 117–96).


Thari Jungen

the citizenry to take part in designing and programming the future of the theater. By doing so, they were also addressing the future of the city: they initiated several discussions on the question of how to design a more livable city. Two years earlier in October, the Berlin-based Institute for Falsification opened a temporary branch in the Gallery Selecto Planta-Baja in Los Angeles, California. The IFF uses collaborative authorship as a performative method to emphasize various ideas about heterogeneous citizenry – ideas that are inscribed in a variety of both official and informal artifacts. To question the excluding effects of documents and artifacts, the temporary members of the IFF – here, the citizens and non-citizens of L.A. – went about faking documents in order to investigate the modalities of participation and exclusion created with and through citizenship. By designing new documents and artifacts, the IFF produced several fake artifacts, such as a newly designed passport, another version of a social security card and a wedding scrapbook. In this chapter, I shall show that authorship is a notion these artistic collectives are leveraging in the general struggle to overcome “nightmare of participation,” which alludes to the strong critique of participatory art and its thresholds in the new millennium (Miessen 2010). Miessen’s concept of “nightmare of participation” unpacks a common problem of participatory art; namely, when the participants are brought in merely to serve higher artistic goals, participation becomes exploitation. In response, the German artists Alice Creischer and Andreas Siekmann (1997) have coined the phrase of “participants as subcontractors,” manifesting that participatory art combines the multiple pleasures of art with the interests of economists. As “subcontractors” those who are “volunteering” in delegated performances are taken advantage of, while the artists and the cultural city marketing gurus are outsourcing their production and pocketing the (symbolic) profit. Consequently, the general problem of participatory art is that its participants are not represented as artistic collaborators and that their authorship is therefore not apparent to the public. In reaction to this critique, the collectives IFF and Staub zu Glitzer/B61-12 are trying to represent their participants as real collaborators of their artistic projects. These collectives are thus aware of their responsibility to address the issues of credibility and intellectual authorship. At the same time, they refer to the blurring boundaries of participatory art projects, namely, between the political sphere on one side and the art world on the other. Oscillating between the spheres of politics and art, both artist groups are producing a wide range of performances where different forms of collaborative authorship are required for the creation of the artwork itself. They are building platforms to trigger a critical representation of the social and political scope. Creating occasions for citizens and non-citizens to gather and engage can also be understood as a way to attribute

Collaborative Authorship – Or How to Overcome the “Nightmare of Participation”


authorship to artworks where many voices are heard. By enabling all participants to truly act as authors of an artwork, these collectives are trying to shed light on new ways of assembling as responsible citizens. As authors, the participants are exploring insights into their own understanding of citizenship. I argue that – in contrast to participatory art – artistic citizenship productions lower the threshold for citizens and non-citizens to take part in the productions. In order to demonstrate how these artistic collectives aim to overcome the “nightmare of participation,” I shall offer a theoretical and historical overview of the problematization of participatory art in a first part. In the second part, I define the notion of collaborative authorship as a result of artistic citizenship productions using the example of the IFF and of Staub zu Glitzer/B61-12. Following these theoretical insights, I illustrate how the occupants of the Volksbühne Berlin claimed a new form of artistic citizenship. In the final part, I analyze the strategies of artistic citizenship of the Institute for Falsification.

Artists, citizens: Engage! From participatory art to artistic citizenship Participatory art became popular during the mid-1990s. About ten to fifteen years later, it began to face strong criticism as “artificial hells” (Bishop 2012) or as the “nightmare of participation” (Miessen 2010). The manifold issues of the heated discussions on participatory art included the artists’ responsibility, the exclusivity of the art world and the profit orientation of institutions in general. With respect to the harsh critique of being “social kitsch,” the theoretical discourse on participatory projects has implemented various changes to its practices where artists aim to provide insight into the contradictory nature and the ambiguities of their art projects. Against this background, Walter Benjamin’s critique of political aesthetics, formulated in his essay The Artist as a Producer (1934) is gaining renewed importance. In his text, Benjamin denounced leftist artists as being impostors of proletarian mimicry. In doing so, he criticized the approach of those artists who were merely flirting with the chic of minority engagement in order to improve their artistic reputation. Participatory art, as it has been described by Nicolas Bourriaud in his manifesto-like book entitled Relational Aesthetics (2006), is inspired by a form of basic democracy. In his theory, Bourriaud witnesses a new type of collectivity in the arts between artist(s) and audience members that determines interaction in a social context. His theory of “relational art” incited massive critique, as it relies on a notion of collectivity based on agreement and consensus. He is hereby


Thari Jungen

relating to a famous political notion in artworks where “the cracks in the social bonds” (Bourriaud 2006, 36) should be healed in moments when a new “commonality” emerges, apparent in minor activities created within relational artworks (such as eating together in a museum space, famously staged by Rirkrit Tiravanija).3 In contrast to this quite naïve conception of participatory art, Bourriaud’s critics consider that these so-called moments of new diverse “commonality” have the contrary effect; namely, they represent the exclusive and homogenous art world with its immensely high thresholds (Miessen 2010). Jacques Rancière understands relational aesthetics as a raw form of satisfaction, reacting to the ruptures of modern society and disabling the autonomic status of the arts. Regardless of ongoing attempts to rethink collaborative art, the tension of finding artistic equivalents for political and social positions remains. Frequently, ostensible participatory artworks are blurring the borderlines between arts and activism: They make their appeal as “artivism” – when authorship can neither be assigned as being political or moral activism, nor as art (Rancière 2011, 18). Leaving the ivory tower of l’art pour l’art, Claire Bishop (2012, 283) suggests a paradigm shift in inventing “unpredictable subjects” who are momentarily occupying different spaces, rather than foreseeable fixed spaces whose counter-power depends on the dominant order. In this chapter, I would like to prove that the “nightmare” of exclusive participation can be overcome – as evidence I cite the artistic collectives IFF and Staub zu Glitzer/B61-12. The artistic strategy of these two collectives is attempting to lower the thresholds named above so that a heterogeneous citizenry is enabled to discuss, perform and engage as mature citizens. In my opinion, collaborative authorship should allot agency to mature citizens and non-citizens who are looking for new ways of creating spaces, scores and performances. By following Mary Schmidt Campbell’s and Randy Martin’s ideas (Campbell and Martin 2006), I argue that collaborative authorship is an essential part of artistic citizenship when diverse communities come together to look for new ways to enact, to respond and to live as artistic citizens in order to react to the ruptures of the society as a community. Campbell (2006, 30) convincingly claims that artistic citizenship obtains its importance from the fact that art is always a common property, which is produced in realization of a variety of overlapping and interwoven human values or common goods. Furthermore, participants claiming artistic citizenship see the potential of art not merely something only artificially common among them, or some standalone

3 For more information on the performances of Rirkrit Tiravanija, please see, www.spikeartma (31 March 2020).

Collaborative Authorship – Or How to Overcome the “Nightmare of Participation”


self-sufficient piece but, more as a practice of careful and thoughtful artistic action “that is embedded in and responsive to ever-changing social, cultural and political circumstances.” (Elliot et al. 2016, 7) Problems, therefore, are not strictly addressed politically, legally or socially, as these artists are producing settings wherein citizens and non-citizens are empowered to react, to produce, to criticize or even to refuse the possibility of participation. It is essential, however, to remember that participatory artworks also have to deal with the history, the context and the pitfalls of representing a different aesthetic knowledge that is extracted from the social and political sphere.

Collaborative authorship in artistic citizenship productions In the following, I attempt to define the authorship debates that are present in the collaborative art works of the IFF and the Staub zu Glitzer/B61-12. Located at a swap-meet in East L.A., the IFF organized a setting where everybody was invited to falsify documents and artifacts in order to design new forms of citizenship. As the IFF took on the responsibility for the production of these faked documents, the participating citizens and non-citizens were not named as individual authors. Therefore, authorship within these documents remains invisible – a means of protecting the participants from accusations of forgery. The project questions authorship as a representation of civic ideas, when exploring a different knowledge exposed by fake objects, serving as actants of citizenship.4 Shortly thereafter, our second group – the collective Staub zu Glitzer/B61-12 – occupied the Volksbühne Berlin within what they called a “trans-media theater performance.”5 The national media portrayed a huge group of people sitting in the theater foyer in protest, but what was really going on was an engage attempt to 4 The term actants refers to material theories of Bruno Latour who, in his approach to the actor network theory (ANT), stresses that things and artifacts gain the potential of performing themselves, when different things or artifacts eventually are enabled to act in different ways. One of the central theses of actor network theory therefore is that in a society subjects are not solely enacting. Thus objects, ideas, processes, and any other relevant factors – here renamed as actants – are seen as just as important in creating social situations as humans (see also Latour 1996, 369–382). 5 The collective B61-12 refers to their intervention as a collective, mimetic, trans-media theater performance in their trans-media manifesto by focusing on their performance between fiction and reality as kept suspended.


Thari Jungen

form a collective artistic direction. Performing together under one roof as Staub zu Glitzer/B61-12, no actor stands in the fore. When the members assemble, with an aim to represent their very different existing artistic and political positions, they do so anonymously. Here, the concept of authorship is connected to a form of gathering and engaging as a heterogeneous group of citizens and non-citizens. They are enacting artistic citizenship in a physical place where the question of authorship is entwined with city politics: who is represented in the city(-theater) and who is responsible for bringing forth the array of cultural productions – such as the performances, interventions, concerts, exhibitions and talks – that are happening in the theater? Furthermore, these two artist collectives are taking on the role not only as artistic citizens but also as “uninvited city developers” (Czenki and Schäfer 2014, 98). Problems occur, therefore, when the collectives must deal simultaneously with global issues, the daily challenges and orchestrations of urban politics and aesthetic matters – with the objective of earning kudos for an artistic maneuver with a temporary approach. Thus, they are bringing forward material that addresses our lives together with those around us (Campbell and Martin 2006, 5).6 Mentioned as the participatory turn, the artistic process as a principle of the fine arts has shifted away from the individualistic model of single authorship to a more “socially, horizontal structure” (Finkelpearl 2014, 75) of collaborative authorship. Therefore, authorship can be understood as a process of collecting, redistributing and exhibiting collective knowledge. Thus, the production of knowledge is simultaneously achieved through the artist, the framework of the idea, the setting, the spaces and the non-artists; that is to say, the citizens and non-citizens, whose perceptions, local knowledge, professional expertise or visual ideas are unique and therefore unattainable without their participation (Finkelpearl 2014, 76). In this manner, authorship cannot be fully maintained, either with its connection to the production of artifacts or with any artistic authority or as a collectively achieved unanimity. Although, authorship may take new collaborative forms, it remains a term of reference.

6 Here the discussion on whether art serves for its own sake is inevitably answered when the artists are constituting certain moments of community by way of underlining immanent social development and by not existing solely as surplus to an institution, withdrawing into an academic ivory tower. Instead of playing glass bead games, artistic citizenship aims to provoke an awareness of the potentialities in certain scores of actions, thus they ideally assemble a very different group of citizens and non-citizens in order to represent their manifold ideas, interests and commitments.

Collaborative Authorship – Or How to Overcome the “Nightmare of Participation”


As the idea of authorship is related to diverse concepts of authority (auctoritas), in contemporary interpretation, the discourse around authorship here points to the problem of representation of heterogeneous citizenry and noncitizenry in a pluralistic art scene – largely masked or exoticized either in institutions or the art market. The discourse around authorship is full of ambiguity regarding the markets, the public sphere and its borders of distinction.7The effort in learning, from a naïve approach, was made when activist guiding principles of equality were translated into interventions by an aesthetic regime; in this way, the historical entanglement of participatory art and activism had once again been prompted to critically review the limitations discussed here (Rollig 2000; Rancière 2011). With this insight, the main interest of those artworks lies in creating spaces and an artistic framework where a group of diverse participants is enabled to perceive, to reflect, to act and to make decisions; the notable aim here is to provide an area where the personal voice is encouraged to speak up.

Staub zu Glitzer/B61-12: Claiming collaborative authorship by declaration When the as yet unknown artist group Staub zu Glitzer occupied the Volksbühne Berlin, their first act was to announce their break-up in a press release, which I interpret as a symbolical act to open up the collective for new participants. An actress – given the stage name of Rosalia Rabe-Blum – took on the role of spokesperson, announcing that, from now on, the collective B61-12 would take over – mischievously named after the smallest atomic bomb produced in the US. During her speech, a replica of the said bomb was brought onto the scant stage and was hastily erected in the theater’s foyer. The collective announced their plan of developing a “people’s stage” as well as an “anti-gentrification center” and a “parliament of the homeless” over the next three months. They suggested dividing the house into different units, such as a hotel, a conference segment and a housing sector. Amongst the reserved spaces for performances and artistic presentations, they provided room for discussions, panels, a people’s kitchen and parties. On Saturday night, September 24, the Volksbühne Berlin looked like a nightclub; several hundred people were dancing to techno music inside and outside of the theater’s salons, recovering from lengthy debates that saw more than 300 people

7 The term authorship etymologically is descended from the Latin term augere – connected with the idea of growing and enlarging.


Thari Jungen

gathered to discuss the ongoing performance of the occupation and its further advancement, inextricably linked to the city development: Where do we want to live? What do we want represented in the city? Participatory artworks often have to deal with the accusation of turning passive viewers into a “temporary community of active interlocutors” (Foster 2003, 21) flipping into “arty parties” (ibid.) of a cosmopolitan elite without real consequences, often giving the impression of acts of effectiveness (Raunig 2012). In this case, the collective was also confronted with these accusations. Hurdles, such as these reproaches, are describing substantial parts of the discourse about artistic authorship as a tool of distinction within the Western art world (Bourdieu 1996). Here, citizenship and hedonism entangled once again, not witnessed since the 1990s when the city was full of empty buildings, a city waiting to be re-created. They criticized the disappearance of a habitable city, a viable Berlin with sustainable living and rental conditions. By assembling an expansive citizenry – with its workers, artists and activists –, the collective created a large and well-informed international think tank. This gathering was filled with everyday experts in the creation of new forms and sceneries of the city (but especially of its theater). The collective publicly denounced the art produced in Berlin generally in their performance. Taken together with the character of the sudden, drastic takeover of a new intendancy, they declaimed the move to make art the new “currency” of the city marketing. The discussion about how to organize spaces that provide a framework beyond the concept of a spectacle – understood as a meaningless brouhaha – has not stopped since. The collective clearly states that the political actors of the city marketing have excluded not only the artists but also the citizens when they decided to transform the Volksbühne Berlin into a festival theater to host productions from all over the world and, as a result, are seemingly tailoring it for a global international elite. To speak out, the collective thus uses public urban spaces to develop “policy spheres of negotiation consisting of inventions” (Wildner 2015, 170). By losing the spirit of the post-GDR era, symbolized by the removed sign figuring the word “OST” on the rooftop (Fig. 1), the Volksbühne has lost its symbolic Heimat (home) in the local theater scene. As a symbol of the Postwendezeit (the time after the fall of the Berlin Wall), the Volksbühne bore strong connections to a specific post-GDR history. During the Postwendezeit, many citizens of the former east began to feel a loss of their Heimat in a city that was and still is today undergoing rapid changes in urban development.8 Similarly, the city has

8 The former artistic director Frank Castorf, who was born in the GDR, had many long-term collaborations with directors socialized in West Germany, such as René Pollesch (who was engaged

Collaborative Authorship – Or How to Overcome the “Nightmare of Participation”


Fig. 1: The Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz in September 2017 before the symbol “OST” (East) was removed from the rooftop by Frank Castorf, the former director. Photo: Thari Jungen.

lost an iconic theater that continually problematized this certain Heimat by reflecting its ongoing discourses in response to its history. Concerns about the designated artistic director were publicly formulated by citizens, artists and the press. The new director Chris Dercon was the subject of numerous debates in the German feuilletons for months. It was feared that the Volksbühne would be recast as “a joint for international events” (Eventbude), completely unrelated to the city and its history.9 Critics frequently denounced Dercon’s plans for an intersectional theater with installations, concerts and exhibitions, without acknowledging that the decision to create a new Volksbühne

with the trans-media performance by B61-12), Herbert Fritsch and Christoph Schlingensief. The Volksbühne under the direction of Castorf was therefore concerned with offering space for interested citizens, for a large number of art students of former East Germany, and for socially excluded citizens to make their voices heard. Notably, it did not turn out to be a theater that prescribed to a primarily feminist, antiracist or even postcolonial program; moreover, it appeared that the program sustained a multi-perspective theater. 9 I am referring to an open letter of Claus Peymann, in which he coined the term “Eventbude” (see also (31 March 2020)).


Thari Jungen

with a new orientation was made mostly on a political level. Based on this incorrect accusation, Dercon became a public scapegoat.10 The shift from knowledge-, aesthetic- and beauty-based artworks towards an aesthetic form of socially and politically engaged artworks in public spaces demands a position of authorship where, according to Chantal Mouffe (2007), the antagonism between the claims of the art world and the complexity of politics must be represented. Her notion of antagonism consequently contains a “pattern of amity-enmity” (ibid.). This pattern refers to the fact that a work of art has to equally represent the two antagonistic positions specified above. As long as an artwork represents only these antagonistic positions without offering a solution-oriented basis, it remains simply an empty discourse that solidifies the ruptures of the discrepancy between the art world and ordinary citizens. Therefore, I argue that frameworks must be designed which do not confine the participants to previously determined role models and predictable results. In the case of the occupation of the Volksbühne, Staub zu Glitzer/B61-12 tried to represent all antagonistic positions involved in the discourse about the ongoing changes. On one hand, they invited diverse communities of citizens and non-citizens to design and create the future of the Volksbühne; on the other, they asked the politicians who had already determined the future of the theater. They had no pre-established role models for the participation in their “trans-media performance” to the extent that they had not established a score which determines the actions of the participants. In their manifesto, “transmedia performance” is defined as a performance whereby fiction replaces reality and vice versa. Their definition of the term “trans-media” refers to a non-linear narrative, told by different narrators who are referring to each other (Graw 2017). Therefore, a division between recipients and authors in this performance becomes seemingly obsolete, because all participants act as authors when they are taking the position of narrators. By taking the position of narrators, the participants become collaborative authors who are engaging in the performance with an open end. This unobstructed performance can be compared to Bertolt Brecht’s Versuche (trials) as defined in Walter Benjamin’s theoretical essay The Author as Producer (Benjamin 1970 [1934]). In this authorship theory, Benjamin describes these trials as open experiments, as they allow the audience members the possibility to react and enact without a script that instructs and defines their actions and dialogues – unlike in conventional theater, dance and film productions. In addition, the

10 John Goetz and Peter Laudenbach, “Chronologie eines Desasters.”: (31 March 2020).

Collaborative Authorship – Or How to Overcome the “Nightmare of Participation”


performing participants are not being observed in order to be controlled or even evaluated. He proposes instead to “make use of elements of reality in experimental rearrangements” (Benjamin 1970 [1934], 778). In this context, Benjamin describes the activist route of the almost forgotten Russian artist and author Sergej Tretyakov. This author expanded his approach to literature with different techniques, by transgressing and mixing the long-established genres of both activism and art. Tretyakov organized mass meetings of activists by visiting reading corners, installing radios and even a cinema, as well as by distributing placards and journals – disseminating artistic and activist revolutionary information as a form of agitprop – in the so-called kolkhoz (a form of collective farm in the Soviet Union). In this scenario, authorship is meant as a tendentious act, devoted to the “proletarians.” At that time, artists had been heavily involved in designing a new society when the Russian Revolution transformed Czarist Russia into the Soviet Republic in 1917.11 In the light of Benjamin’s theorization of Tretyakov, I will now break down the occupation of the Volksbühne by Staub zu Glitzer/B61-12. When the collective occupied the Volksbühne for six days in September 2017, they had been following an uncertain path, hanging large format notice boards in the foyer to plan a preliminary program, to be published online at a later date. With the use of simple notice boards, a piano and unconventional spaces, the threshold of access was deliberately lowered to encourage informal, artistic participation in the ongoing performance. In this environment, they also invited the Berlin art scene, especially its lesser known members. As this was a unique opportunity, they filled the notice board full of announcements of art projects. The collective declared that the Volksbühne was the “property of all people.” Their performance was indeed a commemoration the founding of the Volksbühne. The theater was founded by 140,000 members of a workers’ union, financed with their so-called Arbeitergroschen (workers’ pennies). Built in the 1890s, the workers’ aim had been to invent an institutional alternative to the bourgeois theater culture in Berlin. Thus, the art performed at the Volksbühne had

11 But Benjamin doesn’t consider Tretyakov as the founder of activist art that, moreover, seemed to be the result of the socialist division of labor, shown for example in the socialist press (Benjamin 1970 [1934], 770). Here the concept of authorship is not exclusively bound to (writing) expertise but conversely expertise is bound to authorship. Ideally, the idea of authorship here is transferred into the collective virtue of authority, reproduced by different techniques instead of social class. By referring to Brecht, Walter Benjamin points to his journal called Versuche (“Attempts”) in which he published his poems, plays and theoretical works since 1930 (Benjamin 1970 [1934], 769). By doing so, he was formulating a new theory of artworks with Experimentalcharakter (“experimental character”) in order to redesign institutes and institutions as complex systems with continuity in their actions (Benjamin 1970 [1934], 768).


Thari Jungen

famously represented the polarized tensions within the city and its politics from the beginning (Bogusz 2007). The aesthetic of the “trans-media performance” referenced to the squatted houses Berlin’s in early 1990s: The theater was decorated with banners and posters written in felt-tipped marker, made seemingly at the last minute. Those amateurish provisional arrangements framed the interim stage of the theater as a construction site of the city perfectly. There was no trace of a corporate identity or professionally designed prop. In referring to the myth of an early 1990s abandoned Berlin, this participatory artwork was a powerful trigger of critical reflection – both positive and negative – ; it raised questions about the potential of design of a city by its artistic citizenry, and generated a contentious discourse about who was enabled to perform and create urban spaces. It is significant that this question arose in an urban institutional space to hear the expression of many voices. Shortly after, the city’s administrative authorities framed it as the problem of how to handle this unruly performance. It was perceived as squatting, and the performance was dissolved in the way many 1990s squats were – by police intervention. Chris Dercon, the new festival director, took the side of the authorities, but in April 2018, three years after he signed his contract, Dercon was dismissed after persistent massive public discredit.12

The Institute for Falsification (IFF): Enabling participation by concealed appropriation In contrast to the “trans-media performance” within the Volksbühne, the intervention of the Institute for Falsification was organized by a small group in a modest space with far fewer participants. The IFF opened its doors to enable the public to participate in an artistic process where different citizens and noncitizens – mostly walk-in customers of other shops – were invited to falsify documents and artifacts as a means of visualizing their own very personal, different concepts and notions of citizenship. By learning and analyzing the informal and official structures of citizenship, the IFF discussed the different qualities and degrees of belonging. At that time, the Institute was situated in a gallery, located in the basement of a swap-meet in MacArthur Park, Los Angeles (Fig. 2). The 12 Even three years after Dercon signed his contract as a director, the public discussions and hostilities never stopped. In April 2018 during his first season he was officially dismissed, that was caused by an ongoing critique of his concepts, the plays themselves, the increasing debts of the theater and its very low visitor numbers.

Collaborative Authorship – Or How to Overcome the “Nightmare of Participation”


Fig. 2: The Institute for Falsification (IFF) at the Selecto Planta-Baja Gallery in Los Angeles. Photo: Thari Jungen.

surrounding shops were mostly run by so-called “Chicanos” – members of the huge Hispanic and Latino community in east L.A.13 A colorful shopping center, the swap-meet consists of cookery shops, nail studios, barber shops, second-hand electronic discount stores and small independent grocers. The gallery looked like an office of citizen administration, filled with desks, shelves, folders and files adorned with the IFF logo, which is a fake of the logo of the Max Planck Institute, picturing Minerva. It was mainly due to this setting that customers and shop owners engaged in debates at the gallery; some of them also had ideas on how to design and invent new documents and other artifacts enabling them to react to their very specific approaches to citizenship. Others willingly offered to show their forged documents. The fakes they made with the IFF were not identical reproductions of the originals. The fabricated artifacts are poignant arguments about their originals – not forgeries, but fakes – designed in order to explore the multidimensional excluding effects of documents.

13 It is said, that the term “Chicano” first occurred in the cotton fields in California, used as a defamation; later on, the term was used during the Civil Rights Movement as a re-appropriated self-description, originally coming from the Spanish, meaning “Mexicans.” Coined as an activist term, the self-description as Chicano refers to the 1960s and 1970s when the term was proudly used to confidently describe an own Mexican-American identity. Nowadays it is used more broadly to describe the Hispanic and Latino community.


Thari Jungen

In this project, the IFF collaborated with local artists and photographers, professional forgers and local shop owners. It also conducted various interviews in which the participants, engaged as authors of artifacts, would detail their own private approaches to citizenship. In Los Angeles, the loose collective of the IFF faked a passport, a social security card and reenacted photographs of a wedding scrapbook. The original wedding scrapbook could also be considered a fake: B., a 34-year-old American citizen with a Moroccan background, had married in Las Vegas eight years ago, after having been asked by his boss, the owner of a construction company, to marry his sister-in-law. The family of B.’s boss had been badly hurt in a car accident. Shortly afterwards, the boss’s sister-in-law moved from Serbia to the U.S. to care for her niece and sister. However, the sister-in-law’s visa had not been extended. Contemplating for approximately ten minutes, B. agreed to the marriage. For this agreement, he received 5,000 dollars from his boss. The couple married in Las Vegas. After their ceremony, the loosely acquainted marriage partners only had sporadic contact; they barely knew each other. Months later, they were invited by the immigration office to provide proof of their marriage. Within 24 hours, they created their wedding scrapbook to document their relationship. Later, the book got lost. Today, they are friends on Facebook. In order to create the fake of this already faked wedding scrapbook, the IFF re-enacted the photos together with B. by visiting the locations where B. and his wife took the pictures of their fake engagement and relationship. The IFF tried to re-enact those situations within the original timeslot of one night and one day. Some of those reenacted photographs were anonymously exhibited in the gallery space at the closing reception of the IFF in Selecto Planta-Baja. Referencing to the original document of the immigration process, on the one hand the photo album visualizes the process of becoming a citizen by appropriating the codes of romantic love. On the other hand, the visualization points to the fact, that immigration law emphasizes marriages over family care, even though nursing specialists were urgently demanded in the US. With the example of the wedding scrapbook, I would like to demonstrate the issue at the heart of the IFF’s concept for the faking of artifacts and documents: how to design artifacts that reflect the complexity of the process of authorizing legal citizenship when very unique personal histories are involved. While collaborating with experts of everyday life (meaning the contributing citizens and noncitizens), the IFF carefully connects the fakes to the producers’ individual biographies. This might be a problem inasmuch as forging is illegal and faking very often flirts with the edges of the law. Consequently, the IFF’s responsibility lies in protecting its members’ identities. In order to preserve their anonymity, the IFF takes over the authorship of the faked documents and artifacts. Contrary to

Collaborative Authorship – Or How to Overcome the “Nightmare of Participation”


the critique of the unseen collaborators in various other participative artworks, the invisibility in this specific setting is indispensable for the protection of the collaborators and therefore can be considered an essential component of the IFF’s method of collaborative authorship. In this way, the IFF presents a possibility for how to deal with the problem of interfering in citizenship politics without having any legal legitimation. There are substantial obstacles to be overcome in representing and including different social groups. It was on this basis that the IFF formulated their agenda to only produce documentation of their performances anonymously, never collecting or publishing names and ensuring that the faked artifacts were returned to their makers. At this point, it is also important to mention that all artifacts produced by the Institute for Falsification were labeled as fakes. With this transparency, the fakes – in contrast to forgeries – do not intend to mislead by pretending to be originals; they perform with even more disruptive power (Doll 2012), precisely because they provide insight into the various mechanisms of aesthetic approaches to citizenship. In the case of the collaborative work of the Institute for Falsification, I define as art not only the falsified artifacts and their anonymous photographic representations on the IFF’s website but also the performative process of their production. The IFF – by means of all its collaborators – is not only renegotiating the ownership, the circulation and the distribution of the faked documents; it is also doing so for the performative process of producing the fakes. The IFF offers space to understand how various documents and artifacts are connected to diverse subjectivation processes (Foucault 1988). The relation between artifact and subject can neither be described exclusively as an individual tool of subjectivation nor is every artifact necessarily representing a community as a whole.14 Here, faking is used as an artistic method in order to investigate the different entanglements of power, knowledge and desire in the concept of artistic citizenship. The participants are offering not only “time- and context-based community services,” (Martin 2012, 178); they also offer their insights into the procedure of faking their documents. For instance, they mention the impact and the inscribed effects thereby produced, which reveal the inscriptions, that is to say the inadesquacies and the particular character of each and every artifact they’ve faked. Here, faking is used as a strategy of mimicry (imitating, copying, doubling),

14 Although the process of authorship is organized here strictly in the form of a hierarchy, subjectivation is understood as an ongoing procedure; it must be examined and translated individually case by case.


Thari Jungen

criticism (by repeating, highlighting, unmasking) and mockery (due to minor interventions, adjustments, changes). This project invites experimental investigation into the struggles of “being singular plural” (Nancy 2000), which, in the case of the IFF, refers to the idea of connecting singular aesthetic experiences to plural aesthetic modalities within aesthetic experiments. The IFF works as a platform for civic aesthetics by producing a merely symbolic capital relevant for the approach to citizenship. The question of how the accumulated symbolic capital can be transferred to legal capital is secondary. It is seemingly more important to build a platform where everybody is enabled to create artifacts of citizenship that are of individual or common interest as a way of gaining the right to speak up. By using fakes as a tool to provide the right to claim artistic citizenship, authorship here is connected to the re-appropriation of the authority to create citizenship artifacts.

Conclusion The large collective of Staub zu Glitzer/B61-12 and the small collaboration of the Institute for Falsification signify evolved approaches to the claim of artistic citizenship by representing aesthetic, social and political ideas of diverse citizens and non-citizens. By stating that these collectives try to overcome the “nightmare of participation,” I understand that they are not merely representing social disparity as pure antagonism but instead are developing a wide range of solutionoriented approaches as collaborative authors. Sharing the authority with other everyday experts results in individual answers, multiple approaches or even produced artifacts that reflect the complexity of how to live side by side as a heterogeneous community in collective arrangements. By proposing to broaden the scope of participatory art towards a formulation of artistic citizenship that includes collaborative authorship as a method, I have attempted to show that artistic citizenship should not operate as an elaboration to simply visualize political claims, it is a means to produce alternative and informal stocks of (artistic) knowledge. Subsequently, artistic citizenship is not a tool for filling those spaces left vacant by power. Moreover, the concept of collaborative authorship marks a shift from participatory art towards artistic citizenship – from the exclusive artistic politics of formulating and creating productions that are mostly hosted in restricted (art) spaces towards a form of representation that includes the perspective of a plurality of citizens and non-citizens. Therefore, the challenge of collaborative authorship here is to enable representation that includes the complexity of social disparity by inducing citizens and non-citizens to produce their

Collaborative Authorship – Or How to Overcome the “Nightmare of Participation”


own artistic outcomes. Hereby, single authors are using collaborative authorship while similarly acting as temporary members of artistic citizenship collectives. In this context, art is assured as a common good. Therefore, genuine artistic citizenship can be understood as art that is testing its own limitations and boundaries when reflection becomes a main quality. In contrast to non-artistic “acts of citizenship” (Isin 2008), both collectives cited here are using various artistic methods to enable collaborative authorship in order to form temporary communities bound together on a physical and sensorial level. The collectives are not working primarily intellectually, since they do not usually accumulate political capital. Hence, it is important to state that, when it comes to a certain point, there is a need to refer to other institutions if social modification is to be realized. Against the different backgrounds of artists and participants, it has become clear that artists are taking on a different role as authors through their artistic knowledge, their relations to the art world and their methods and possibilities of distribution. However, when it comes to inventing and defining new modalities of citizenship, the artists in general are losing their role as sole experts. By inviting their participants to act as authors within certain settings, both Staub zu Glitzer/B61-12 and the IFF are enabling their participants to explore, to investigate and to fail by probing the question of how to live side by side as a heterogeneous citizenry. Consequently, I would like to point out Mary Schmidt Campbell’s and Randy Martin’s approach to artistic citizenship (2006, 26) and their argument that the claim must be to collect and to share this said artistic sensorial knowledge on a reflective level. Even though both collectives share common ground by initiating frameworks that encourage participation by using various methods (such as dancing and debating, faking and hacking) in order to develop artistic citizenship, they do differ when it comes to their artistic goals and practices. Whereas the collective Staub zu Glitzer/B61-12 engages in Berlin’s Volksbühne on a local level with a performative theatric approach, the Institute for Falsification scrutinizes global artistic citizenship conditions by designing multiple individual artistic fakes of citizenship artifacts and documents. Considering these two examples of performed artistic citizenship, I conclude the following: In order to establish progressive conditions for creating collaborative authorship, participatory art must include low-threshold invitations to participate in scores – not scripts – with unforeseeable effects, but it should avoid overburdening participants with overly noble objectives. Thereby, collaborative authorship – as a tool to engage in artistic citizenship – is entangled with the very different politics of representation and responsibility in enabling citizens to speak up, to resist, to take part or simply to connect. Citizens and non-citizens can assert legal, political and social ideas through their practice of artistic citizenship, as it fosters


Thari Jungen

the ability to make something tangible and improves the capacity to arrive at nuanced understandings about cultural conditions that are distinct from other more familiar approaches to our cultural circumstances.

References Bishop, Claire. Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship. London and New York: Verso, 2012. Benjamin, Walter. “The Author as Producer.” Translated by John Heckman. New Left Review 62 ([1934] July–August 1970). 220–238. Bogusz, Tanja. Institution und Utopie: Ost-West-Transformationen an der Berliner Volksbühne. Bielefeld: transcript, 2007. Bourdieu, Pierre. Rules of Art: Genesis and Structure of the Literary Field. Translated by Susan Emanuel. Stanford: University Press, 1996. Bourriaud, Nicolas. Relational Aesthetics. Dijon: Les Presses Du Reel, 2006. Campbell, Mary Schmidt, and Randy Martin. Artistic Citizenship. New York: Routledge, 2006. Creischer, Alice, and Andreas Siekmann. “Reformmodelle.” Springerin 3.2 (1997). 17–23. Czenki, Margit, and Christoph Schäfer. “The Park Fiction Agenda and the Right to the City.” The Art of Urban Intervention: On the Transformation of Societies and Neighbourhoods. Ed. Judith Laister, Anton Lederer, and Margarethe Makovec. Vienna: Löcker, 2014. 98–111. Doll, Martin. Fälschung und Fake: Zur diskurskritischen Dimension des Täuschens. Berlin: Kadmos, 2012. Elliott, David, Marissa Silverman, und Wayne Bowman. Artistic Citizenship. Oxford, UK and New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, 2016. Foster, Hal. “Arty Party.” Review of Relational Aesthetics, by Nicolas Bourriaud, translated by Matthew Copeland, Postproduction, by Nicolas Bourriaud, Interviews: Volume I, by Hans Ulrich Obrist. London Review of Books 25.23 (2003). 21–22. Finkelpearl, Tom. “Participatory Art.” Encyclopedia of Aesthetics. Ed. Michael Kelly. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014. Foucault, Michel. Technologies of the Self: A Seminar with Michel Foucault. Ed. Luther H. Martin, Patrick H. Hutton, and Huck Gutman. Amherst: The University of Massachusetts Press, 1988. Goetz, John, and Peter Laudenbach. “Chronologie eines Desasters.” Süddeutsche Zeitung (16 April 2018). (31 October 2019). Graw, Isabelle."Die Revolution sind wir. Ein Gespräch über die Besetzung der Volksbühne mit Sarah Waterfeld („Staub zu Glitzer“) und Anna-Sophie Friedmann („B61–12“) von Isabelle Graw.” Texte zur Kunst (December 2017). lution-sind-wir/. (20 August 2020). Isin, Engin F. Acts of Citizenship. London and New York: New York: Zed Books Ltd, 2008. Köster-Eiserfunke, Anna, Clemens Reichhold, and Helge Schwiertz. “Citizenship zwischen Nationalem Status und Aktivistischer Praxis – Eine Einführung.” Grenzregime II. Berlin and Hamburg: Assoziation A, 2014. 117–96.

Collaborative Authorship – Or How to Overcome the “Nightmare of Participation”


Kümmel, Peter. “Die Warnung der Kulturministerin.” Die Zeit (9 April 2015). https://www.zeit. de/2015/15/kulturpolitik-volksbuehne-gruetters-peymann. (31 March 2020). Latour, Bruno. “On Actor-network Theory. A Few Clarifications.” Soziale Welt 47.4 (1996). 369–382. Miessen, Markus. The Nightmare of Participation. Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2010. Mouffe, Chantal. “Artistic Activism and Agonistic Spaces.” Art & Research 1.2 (Summer 2007). (31 March 2020). Nancy, Jean-Luc. Being Singular Plural. Translated by Robert Richardson and Anne O’Byrne. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2000. Rancière, Jaques. The Emancipated Spectator. London: Verso, 2011. Raunig, Gerald. Fabriken des Wissens. Zurich: Diaphanes, 2012. Rollig, Stella. “Activism and Participation in Twentieth Century Art.” eipcp (March 2000). (31 March 2020). Stange Reimar. “Interview with Rirkrit Tiravanija.” Spike Art Magazine 31 (Spring 2012). (31 March 2020). Terkessidis, Mark. Kollaboration. Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2015. Wildner, Kathrin. “Inventive Methods. Künstlerische Ansätze in der ethnographischen Stadtforschung.” Ethnoscripts 17.1 (2015). 168–185.

Dispersed Authorship in Contemporary Media

Silke Roesler-Keilholz

The Camera-stylo of Postfeminist Auteurism: Sofia Coppola’s “Cinema of Relief” “Más Mujeres!” was the slogan and exclamation of the Goya Awards in March 2018, the top Spanish event for national and international artists in film and TV. The appeal of this rally refers to a global and ubiquitous discontent about women’s lack of appreciation and visibility. The assignment of women’s signature to media products was already the primary task of feminist art critics in the mid1970s (Humm 1997, 9). B. Ruby Rich proclaimed in “The crisis of naming in feminist film criticism”: “Without names, our work remains anonymous, insecure, our continued visibility questionable.” She amplifies: “To name is to take possession, and the time is at hand to possess, finally, our own culture by name” (Rich 1978, 46–47). One possibility to counter the lack of female recognition would be the reintroduction of the auteur concept – although originally it was a male concept. My suggestion is to use it as a strategy to make women and their work visible! By juxtaposing female auteurism and a postfeminist standpoint, the female presence in film business can be reinforced. Female auteurism and postfeminism occupy not just the same time period; since the 1990s, they have also gone hand in hand in promoting similar concerns: They present women as producers of art in a multifaceted, kaleidoscopic, in parts antithetic cosmos. In this chapter postfeminism is understood as a reflection of the dependencies between feminism, femininity and culture. Postfeminist work has to be understood as a bricolage, as it implies a multiplication of positions – a continuation and rejection of feminism’s concerns and claims at the same time (Butler 1990, Gill 2007). When Alexandre Astruc labeled a “camera-stylo” in filmmaking in 1948, he observed a group of directors with a certain aesthetic and structural ambition. A postfeminist auteur combines feminist and anti-feminist ideas and standpoints in his or her body of work. Thus, the oeuvre culminates in a multiplication of positions. In the work of Sofia Coppola, the “branding” of postfeminist auteurism becomes obvious: The Film Fest Munich dedicated a retrospective to Coppola in 2017 and stressed the fact that Francis Ford Coppola’s daughter is a star of her own – also in Germany. After her first role as a baby in The Godfather (1972), directed by her father, and further engagements as an actress (The Outsiders [1983], The Godfather: Part III [1990] and Stars Wars: Episode I: The Phantom


Silke Roesler-Keilholz

Menace [1999]), Sofia Coppola turned out to be one of the most powerful female directors in the world. She is also an entrepreneur, as well as she is a curator of external art collections and of her own many-sided work. Obviously, Coppola’s privileged background sets her apart from other female filmmakers. Critics frequently act as if she was unworthy of even making film, having – they imply – been given the money from her father (Kennedy 2010, 39). Such critique seems to be ironic when one considers her father’s status as a forerunner of American auteur cinema (Kennedy 2010, 39). Sofia Coppola is characteristic of an authorship which can be bound back to her name and “handwriting” (a unique aesthetic, formal and thematic style, which shall be described in the following), even though she employs a team of hundreds and her movies are the outcome of a collaborative work. Coppola won the Best Director award 2017 for The Beguiled in Cannes (as the second woman to do so after Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker [2008] a few years earlier) and is part of a movement, which I want to declare as postfeminist. Her “cinema of relief” is a manifestation of postfeminist cinema. To unfold this assumption, I will re-introduce Laura Mulvey’s category of the “male gaze” as established in her famous essay Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema (1975) with reference to the concept of authorship.

Auteurism Auteurism still can work as a powerful concept in film theory. Borrowed from French film criticism, “auteurism applies to the work of imaginative directors who adapt/play around with and/or deconstruct the playright’s original script, or devise their own, developing their own unique style, a trademark that characterises their work” (Sidiropoulou 2009, 1). This statement leads back to the first half of the twentieth century: The so-called nouvelle critique came up in the late 1940s and gathered a group of young film critics. Alexandre Astruc supplied this movement with its most important theoretical ideas. The concept of the auteur emerged in his 1948 article Nassaince d’une nouvelle avant-garde: la camera-stylo in L’Écran Français. Astruc’s aim was to understand film as a complex artform. He observed a new avant-garde in the movies of Jean Renoir, Orson Welles and Robert Bresson. He reinterpreted directing as an act of writing and the camera was understood as a stylo or pen for the writing of this new artform. On the one hand, “writing” was used as a metaphor referencing authorship in literature. On the other hand, Astruc observed a unique aesthetic of the visual medium film (especially apparent in the composition of the mise-en-scène), the director-as-author’s signature. Directing

The Camera-stylo of Postfeminist Auteurism: Sofia Coppola’s “Cinema of Relief”


became an individual aesthetic procedure in Europe,1 as opposed to directors during the period of Classical Hollywood Cinema were employees of the studio and remained mainly nameless. It is important to note that Astruc did not mean to create an exclusive language of cinema; he merely sought to bring together different art forms and their tools: “La mise en scène n’est plus un moyen d’illustrer ou de présenter une scène, mais une véritable écriture. L’auteur écrit avec sa caméra comme un écrivain écrit avec un stylo” (Astruc 1948, 5). The camera, according to Astruc, was the director’s pen, and cinema could provide a potent means of expression, such as writing had been doing for a very long time. Astruc’s ideas were taken on by a number of critics, like André Bazin, and filmmakers, like François Truffaut, who used the French cinema journal Cahiers du cinema as a forum to voice their iconoclastic ideas on art. In fact, François Truffaut’s revolutionary article in 1954 “Une certaine tendance du cinema français” first introduced the term auteur in the coined phrase “la politic des auteurs,” which celebrated the director’s total control, claiming that he/she was the only person in charge of all aesthetic choices in the cinema (Sidiropoulou 2009, 1–2). Similar to Astruc, Truffaut spoke up against quality cinema as a self-contained bourgeois institution (Kamp 1996, 1–2). In his eyes, directors like Renoir, Bresson, Cocteau, Ophüls and Tati were valid as real auteurs, since they presented a unique view of the world in their movies and wrote the dialogues for their films on their own. The French film critic postulated the concept of an auteur movie characterized by a thematic and stylistic coherence. For the critics of the Cahiers du cinema the auteur was meant to be responsible for the thematic, ethical and moral approach of his or her movie. In this context, the mise-en-scène became prominent: “[Cahiers concentrated on] mise-en-scène, which, lying between the script and the cutting room, is the characteristic domain of directional choice: lighting, camera, sets, acting and so on. By taking a script written by someone else and by imposing his directional style, an auteur makes the film his own they argued” (Lapsley and Westlake 1988, 107). The combination of écriture (writing), mise-en-scène and author lead to a new understanding of filmmaking: The director became responsible for the “look” of the movie. In the 1950s, the writers of Cahiers du cinema officially proclaimed the age of the authors; whereas, before, “star” actors had been the central figures in movie-making, despite being bound to their studios by tight contracts. The director had been mostly unimportant for the marketing, reception

1 See Angela Krewani’s essay “Gendered Discourses on Authorship in Film and Video” in this volume.


Silke Roesler-Keilholz

and success of the movie during the Golden Age of the Classical Hollywood Cinema. In this respect, the upcoming of the auteur marked a cesura. In his article “Notes on the auteur-theory” from 1962, Andrew Sarris consequently transferred the principles of the Cahiers du cinema to the United States. For Sarris, a director qualifies for the title auteur if and when he or she displays a unique personal technique and consistent style in his work. Thinking this way, artistic identity is created retrospectively. Topics, structure and style can be identified ex post. When the auteur is nominated, his (or her!) whole corpus must be questioned and re-read under this premise: auteurism [. . .] cared not much for “what” is written, but “how” it is written. At this point, the “reader” is the one that is able to reveal the unique “style” of an author – perhaps with a need to idealize or glorify him or the tendency to identify with him by means of proving the possible “coherence” in his body of works that his “style” provides. (Demiray 2014, 18)

Following Sidiropoulou, Sarris’ The American Cinema: Directors and Directions, 1929–1968, quickly became the unofficial “bible of Auteurism” in cinema. The anthology reflects the work of more than 160 mostly American directors and tries to define their signature style. Nonetheless, it cannot be denied that film is a collective artform and must be seen as a product of teamwork. Caughie reflects: Within its distinguishable currents [. . .] auteurism shares certain basic assumptions: notably, that a film though produced collectively, is most likely to be valuable when it is essentially the product of its director [. . .]; that in the presence of a director who is genuinely an artist (an auteur) a film is more than likely to be an expression of his individual personality: and that its personality can be traced in a thematic and/or stylistic consistency over all (or almost all) of his films. (Caughie 1981, 9)

Over are the times when the name of the male author functioned as a “brand name” and worked as a guarantor for the success of a movie. Huge studio productions promote their movies by naming the franchise company (e.g. Marvel) and not the director. Interestingly enough though, the nomination and “branding” of the female auteur can be productive in twenty-first century. At the film festival in Cannes in May 2017, a handful of actresses spoke up and accused the film industry of unfair treatment and pay discrepancies between men and women. Additionally, they criticized the lack of appreciation for women’s economic potential in the film branch. Gradually – in the twenty-first century – gifted women are conquering the market, freeing themselves and their characters from generic boundaries by using the term auteurism.

The Camera-stylo of Postfeminist Auteurism: Sofia Coppola’s “Cinema of Relief”


Post/Feminism & film Long before the recent coup de Cannes, feminism sought to disempower the one-dimensional presentation of females in film. Marjorie Rosen’s Popcorn Venues (1973) and Molly Haskell’s From Reverence to Rape (1973) were the first feminist texts depicting women’s particular roles in mainstream cinema: In addition, the journal Women and Film was founded in 1972. Both Rosen and Haskell created a descriptive, emotional “historiography” of Hollywood cinema showing how women’s conventional roles, for example, as mothers or girls next door, had little representational bite on women’s real identities and experiences. (Humm 1997, 12)

Laura Mulvey’s Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema (1975) became “the inaugural text for a feminist ‘cine-psychoanalysis’ which would dominate feminist film theory during the 1980s” (Thornham 2006, 53). The essay is part of the British, so-called theoretical approach – in contrast to the American, more phenomenological and analytical approach. Mulvey’s insight, derived from study of the relationship between film techniques, spectators and viewing pleasures, is that movies create masculine structures of “looking.” Under this view women are objects, not subjects, of the gaze, their bodies eroticized and often fragmented. This division between active/male and passive/female, argues Mulvey, also structures film narrative. It is the film’s hero who advances the story, controlling events, the woman, and the erotic gaze. Women, in contrast, function as an erotic spectacle, interrupting rather than advancing the narrative. (Rich 1978, 54)

Its power and its pleasures come from the alignment of what Mulvey calls the “three different looks” of cinema. Mulvey herself explains: To begin with (as an ending), the voyeuristic-scopophilic look that is a crucial part of traditional filmic pleasure can itself be broken down. There are three different looks associated with cinema: that of the camera as it records the profilmic event, that of the audience as it watches the final product, and that of the characters at each other within the screen illusion. (Mulvey 1975, 69)

What the spectator sees is determined by the gaze of the camera, and that in turn is aligned, through point-ofview shots, with the gaze of the film’s characters at each other. In the latter, it is the look of the central male character which is privileged, so that we see events largely through his eyes and identify with his gaze. Thus the hero’s narrative power – the power to control events – coincides with the “active power of the erotic look,” the two together providing for the male spectator“ a satisfying sense of omnipotence.” (Rich 1978, 54–55)

Nowadays, Mulvey’s observations about the “male gaze” are not completely applicable anymore. Postfeminist movies re-evaluate the theoretical essays of the


Silke Roesler-Keilholz

1970s and serve as one field of expression within the political discourse. They mark a shift from feminism to postfeminism by themselves: One of things that makes the media today very different from the television, magazines, radio or press of the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s is that feminism is now part of the cultural field. That is, feminist discourses are expressed within the media rather than simply being external, independent, critical voices. (Gill 2007, 167)

Nevertheless, Rosalind Gill outlines that “after nearly two decades of arguments about postfeminism, there is still no agreement as to what it is, and the term is used variously and contradictorily to signal a theoretical position, a type of feminism after the second wave, or a regressive political stance” (Gill 2007, 148). Obviously, the relations between feminism, popular culture and femininity have changed as they strike up new alliances. Similarities between postmodern achievements and postfeminist ambitions are evident as both concepts combine different elements of culture: “Arguments about postfeminism are debates about nothing less than the transformations in feminism and transformations in media culture – and their mutual relationship” (Gill 2007, 148). In this regard, postfeminism must be understood as an advancement of feminism rather than a rejection of its attributes. According to this, Gill argues “that postfeminism is best understood as a distinctive sensibility, made up of a number of interrelated themes” (Gill 2007, 147). In this context, “[n]otions of choice, of ‘being oneself,’ and ‘pleasing oneself’ are central to the postfeminist sensibility that suffuses contemporary Western media culture” (Gill 2007, 155). What makes a postfeminist “sensibility” different from both prefeminist constructions of gender or feminist ones is that it is a response (and not a backlash) to feminism: It also points to a number of other relatively stable features that comprise or constitute a postfeminist discourse. These include that femininity is a bodily property; the shift from objectification to subjectification; the emphasis upon self-surveillance, monitoring and discipline; a focus upon individualism, choice and empowerment; the dominance of a makeover paradigm; a resurgence in ideas of natural sexual difference; a marked sexualisation of culture; and an emphasis upon consumerism and the commodification of difference. These themes coexist with and are structured by stark and continuing inequalities and exclusions that relate to ‘race’ and ethnicity, class, age, sexuality and disability – as well as gender. (Gill 2007, 149–150)

To conclude “what makes contemporary media culture distinctively postfeminist, rather than pre-feminist or anti-feminist, is precisely th[e] entanglement of feminist and anti-feminist ideas” (Gill 2007, 167). The body and its constitution are the main protagonists in this construct. As Simone de Beauvoir stated in The Second Sex “one is not born as woman,

The Camera-stylo of Postfeminist Auteurism: Sofia Coppola’s “Cinema of Relief”


but, rather becomes one” (de Beauvoir 1973, 301). Also from Judith Butler, who is one of the main postfeminist protagonists, we learned that “gender is culturally constructed: hence, gender is neither the causal result of sex nor as seemingly fixed as sex” (Butler 1990, 6). In postfeminism sex (biological) and gender (socially constructed) both have to be neglected. The individualization of the subject is the main cores of a postfeminist identity. As a consequence, Gill observes an obsessional preoccupation with the body in postfeminist media culture (Gill 2007, 150): Instead of caring or nurturing or motherhood being regarded as central to femininity (all, of course, highly problematic and exclusionary) in today’s media it is possession of a “sexy body” that is presented as women’s key (if not sole) source of identity. The body is presented simultaneously as women’s source of power and as always already unruly and requiring constant monitoring, surveillance, discipline and remodeling (and consumer spending) in order to conform to ever narrower judgements of female attractiveness. (Gill 2007, 150)

In this passage Gill perceives a “surveillance of women’s bodies (but not men’s)” (Gill 2007, 150), which – following her argument – constitutes the largest type of media content across all genres and media forms. The body has to be maintained and treasured, which is a completely new perspective in contrast to the defense of the body. It can be built, trained and manipulated and is not just a given entity. The body of flesh and blood becomes one’s greatest personal good, the very measure of one’s self. When Gill observes a sort of surveillance, she is talking about control, the control of and care for the self that leads to power. It is remarkable that this surveillance can be related back to different kinds of media and that it is connected to images of the body. Manifestations of this surveillance of the body and its exposure can be observed on social media platforms like Instagram or Facebook; here, mainly young pretty people present their training regimes in front of stylish (sunny) environments. To conclude, according to Gill, postfeminism should be conceived as a “sensibility” that is defined as an awareness of human appearance and behavior (Gill 2007, 149). The highest complexity of these postfeminist bodies and images are presented in cinema by its directors, talking about formal decisions of the auteur as well as meaning the personification of the figures in the movie. Several Hollywood “chick flicks” (Monster-in-Law (2005) and The Devil Wears Prada (2006)) stage a generational conflict by paring baby-boomer female stars (for instance, Meryl Streep and Jane Fonda), associated with the 1970s, with younger female actors (Cobb 2011, 31). By doing this, the characters’ differences in feminist and postfeminist behavior becomes all too obvious. To Cobb, the postfeminist woman has been presented as the “envoy of an apolitical version of feminism” (Cobb 2011, 31) that “has been effectively assimilated into our cultural common sense” (Tasker and Negra 2007, 2).


Silke Roesler-Keilholz

The postfeminist woman does not pretend to be (e.g. politically) well-informed, or – more correct – she does not have to show her knowledge anymore: Postfeminism maintains this assimilation by promoting a traditional view of femininity, in which “good” women are marked out by their resistance to familial and romantic intimacy. In the postfeminist generational plot, either the younger woman or the older woman can learn the lesson of prioritizing family and relationships over her career and herself, although it is the younger woman who is prevailingly situated as the exemplar of appropriate postfeminist behavior. By contrast, the other actor’s stardom is used as shorthand for a politicized and “outdated” mode of feminism that is based around the caricature of the career-obsessed and/or neurotic woman. (Cobb 2011, 31)

Feminism in twenty-first century, ergo postfeminism, does not imply a rejection of home and family (and their values) in order to pursue the narcissistic goal of selffulfillment anymore. Postfeminist cinema presents attractive, powerful women with interests, attributes and competences; they are aware. Nevertheless, it does not neglect stories about weakness, loss and despair. After the success of (very few) black actresses like Halle Berry (Monster’s Ball [2002]) and Gabourey Sidibe (Precious [2009]), a black female auteur is held in high esteem.

Female power The early image of women in cinema was an image created by men (Grant 2001). For many years Hollywood served as a patriarchal institution where women were objects of the “male gaze” (Mulvey 1975); as directors, they were not taken seriously. Movies made by women have always been rare; they have also been negligently archived and documented. Interestingly enough though, women reflected questions of role, identity and gender since they started making films. Alice GuyBlaché for instance switched roles of man and woman in the narration of La résultats du fèminisme (1906). Feminist theorizations of film authorship began with political concerns about women’s limited presence in the male-dominated cultural sphere (Grant 2001, 115). In consequence, “spectator theory” became one of the most powerful concepts of feminist film theory. Gradually women filmmakers started to address the spectator as a female rather than a male regardless of the spectator’s actual gender (Woodwarth 2008, 144). So does Sofia Coppola. The directress forces the structures of spectatorship that Laura Mulvey described in her famous essay. Coppola’s films are relevant above all because of their “reformulation of the gaze” (Kennedy 2010, 37). To exemplify my argument, I will have a closer look at her movies:

The Camera-stylo of Postfeminist Auteurism: Sofia Coppola’s “Cinema of Relief”


The Virgin Suicides (1999) is set in Michigan during the 1970s and relates the story of five teenage girls who all commit suicide. Despite being based on Jeffrey Eugenides’ original novel, Coppola created a piece of art in its own right; the result is a congenial adaption which alters the perspective of seeing. Although the Lisbon girls are infantilized and sexualized as objects of male desire at first sight (pretty, long-haired, blond girls with seductive eyes), Coppola addresses women’s scopophilia as well as men’s. While the book exclusively tells about the male gaze and provides a male coming-ofage-story, the movie presents the story and the cosmos of the girls, how they stroll around, how they observe each other, their parents and how they flirt with the boys of their neighborhood. In the book it says: “so we had a lot of time to watch them, the two parents leached of color, like photographic negatives, and then the five glittering daughters in their homemade dresses, all lace and ruffle, bursting with their fructifying flesh” (Eugenides 1993, 6). Even though the movie – like the book – is narrated by a male third-person character, the look of the movie and the three dimensions of the gaze (of the camera, the characters and the audience) are basically female. While the book tells us a lot about the suffering of Trip Fontaine, after the night when he “screw[ed] things up” (Eugenides 1993, 133), the movie presents the lost and lonely Lux (Kirsten Dunst) on a way too big baseball field in a panorama shot. She is the center of the narration, the focus of the “three-dimensioned look.” By reformulating the gazes, Coppola creates a freeing of anachronistic structures. Suicide climaxes this relief as a form of escape. Lost in Translation (2003) opens with a shot that makes the spectator aware of his gaze. This first shot confirms the male gaze at first sight. But the image is not unambiguously erotic and not exclusively sexualized, despite the prettiness of its appearance. Coppola is aware of the female spectacle of the body, but she seeks to make the camera feminine by the composition of the following montage: We watch Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) listening to a self-discovery CD while overlooking Tokyo; boredom and loneliness characterize her life in the Park Hyatt. Life in the hotel room is not touched by intimacy. But, Charlotte and Bob (Bill Murray) instantly feel close to each other when they first meet and exchange looks on the elevator: They feel lost in their rooms, in the hotel, in the country and in their relationships. They escape by conquering the city and by the exchange of gazes. Charlotte and Bob share equal glances, they desire each other on an equal level and feel connected; accordingly, male and female audience are equally addressed. The Beguiled (2017) presents a man stuck in a woman’s world. The poster of Don Siegel’s movie from 1971 has Clint Eastwood in focus with his gun


Silke Roesler-Keilholz

and addresses the male audience. In contrast to its remake, the pre-make satisfies mainly the male gaze, tells the story of a wounded man from his perspective and additionally puts the story into a noir-look (which is less prominent in the remake). The main protagonist observes his female nurses, until his observation changes into fear. When Siegel directed the movie, he employed a complex team, but similar to that he had for Dirty Harry in the same year. For example, he asked Bruce Surtees to be director of cinematography, Lalo Schifrin for music and Carl Pingitore for editing. Both movies are the result of a collective, starring Eastwood as the main protagonist. Coppola’s The Beguiled offers a postfeminist transcription, as it presents the “reborn” Lisbon sisters (from The Virgin Suicides). Five female students, their teacher and governess care for a wounded soldier. They do this with passion and endurance before the situation gets out of control and he – the male intruder – becomes their object of interest, the object of a female gaze. The male works as a metaphor for women’s needs and interests until he makes himself impossible. The girls and women spin around the corporal until he is defeated. He gets curtailed in his male competences and becomes obsolete. With the artistic freedom of an author, Coppola seems to pursue the narration of The Virgin Suicides in The Beguiled and tells a story of revenge: While Trip Fontaine suffers from his love to Lux and ends in a psychiatric ward, Corporal McBurney (Colin Farrell) gets physically and emotionally castrated. Semantically, Coppola’s reformulation of the gaze is bound back to the topics of invasion and escape, captivity and release: “A growing sense of claustrophobia and despair characterizes the emphasis on repeated actions that become increasingly futile and meaningless in their very repetition, even if they begin as pleasurable, such as the all-night parties in Versailles in Marie Antoinette” (Handyside 2015, 6). Coppola’s figures lack focus and direction and consistently carry along a “phenomenology of boredom” (Petro 2002, 93). Their existences are those of drifters and passengers: Before the Lisbon girls commit suicide, they pass time by (superficially) doing almost nothing. Similarly, Marie Antoinette (Kirsten Dunst) buys shoes and cupcakes to pass time; Bob (Bill Murray) drinks whiskey at a bar in Tokyo in Lost in Translation; Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) spends time watching two girls pole dancing in Somewhere (Krützen 2013, 31–32). But it has to be stressed that all these moments of boredom lead to important insights sooner or later, even if suicide is the consequence. They lead to relief. The negotiation of consumption and excess can also bring relief. Seven years after the costume drama Marie Antoinette (2006), The Bling Ring (2013) presents a number of visual and acoustic multilayered shopping montages, climaxes in the presentation of a girl-like cosmos and “comments upon postfeminist concerns

The Camera-stylo of Postfeminist Auteurism: Sofia Coppola’s “Cinema of Relief”


about consumption as a ‘feminine’ ideal” (Kennedy 2010, 37). In The Bling Ring, five teenagers while their time by breaking into celebrities’ houses to steal clothes and accessories. The longing for things and material products permeates Coppola’s oeuvre. Already in The Virgin Suicides, Coppola cultivates the “ontology of things” – a term from Lorenz Engell –, for example by putting colorful bracelets around Cecilia’s bandages. In the novel, they work as a tool of surveillance and not of style: “The rattling of her bracelets comforted her parents because it allowed them to keep track on her movements like an animal with a bell on its collar” (Eugenides 1993, 42). Accordingly, the “Ontologie kinematographischer Dinge” (Engell 2013, 50) means: The cinematographic aspects can and will be more, in most cases, than they appear at first sight. To start with, they do not stand alone. They play different roles at the same time and subvert themselves, and in doing so they open a variety of their own effect and pseudo intentions, we are exposed to. We can notice this several times, for example when dance poles are dismantled, when cupcakes arrange themselves into ornaments or taxidermy birds sit in ridiculous beehive hairdo of the queen.2 (Engell 2013, 61)

The Bling Ring now can be seen as a distillate of the estimation of objects, putting luxury goods into focus. The burglaries embody an act of rebellion and a search for a sense in life, as does the consumption in Marie Antoinette. The stars’ luxury lifestyles in The Bling Ring is exposed as superficial. By presenting heaps of luxury goods (hundreds of similar peep-toes, almost identical Louis Vuitton bags and mini-skirt dresses), Coppola demonstrates that this way of living is meaningless in its superficiality. She creates an inversion of the visual spectacle promulgated on social media. To go beyond, the directress undertakes a range of activities across the boundaries of directing, modelling and acting that associates her with couture fashion. She provides an image of authorship that draws together strands from different disciplines to offer a vision of extra-textual knowledge about her work (Handyside 2015, 10). In her advertisements for Marc Jacobs, Cartier and Gap Coppola provides a similar style to that of her movies. The ads mainly present pretty young women dipped in pastel colors. But – in contrast to the movies – these pictures show empty images. The narrations of the advertisements imply no 2 “Die kinematografischen Dinge können und werden zumeist etwas anderes sein als das, was sie sind. Sie sind nicht allein, um damit zu beginnen. Sie nehmen mehrere Funktionen zugleich ein und unterlaufen sie außerdem, und genau darin eröffnen sie sich einen Spielraum für eigene Wirksamkeit und Quasiabsichten, denen sie uns dann aussetzen. Das ist uns schon mehrfach aufgefallen, so etwa, wenn die Tanzstangen zerlegt werden, wenn die Törtchen sich zu Ornamenten ordnen oder ausgestopfte Vögel in der aberwitzigen Turmfrisur der Königin sitzen.” Translation into English: Adam Steinberg.


Silke Roesler-Keilholz

deepness or darkness. They stay on the surface and serve clichés, while the movies use clichés to transform them. Not only the freedom to do both – supporting the commercial market and telling complex stories of despair – makes Coppola a postfeminist auteur. According to Woodwarth, Coppola’s films and her presence on Vogue’s “Best-Dressed” list make her appear to be postfeminism’s poster child. Yet while Coppola’s concern for style can make her seem superficial, this is belied by her film form, which shows an intense care in representing her subjects and recognition of the ideological weight of aesthetic choices. Though postfeminism is often defined as taking the gains of second-wave feminism for granted, Coppola seems actively engaged in appropriating and applying its critiques of patriarchal cinema in her own way. (Woodwarth 2008, 158)

Already the proclamation of the first three of Coppola’s films (The Virgin Suicides [1999], Lost in Translation [2003], Marie Antoinette [2006]) as a trilogy (labeled thus by reviewers such as Jacques Mandelbaum and by Coppola herself) signaled a “triumphant assertion of agentic authorship” (Handyside 2015, 9). In the consequent presentation “on narrow, girlish worlds” (Handyside 2015, 1), Coppola has established her camera-stylo on both an aesthetic and a semantical level. She demonstrates the creative power and autonomy of a postfeminist auteur (Handyside 2015, 1).

Conclusion Postfeminist cinema in twenty-first century is different from previous womenmade cinema since it does not work by a domestication of the male, rather it thrives on togetherness of women and men, femaleness, weakness and power. Some female directors have accomplished a certain – recognizable – camerastylo within their body of work and gained auteur status. So does Sofia Coppola in her “cinema of relief.” This cinema has to be understood as a freeing of structures and expectations (e.g. in film form and style). This freeing concerns the director as an auteur, as well as the figures in the movie. As is the case in Germany: When Nicolette Krebitz presents the love of a woman to a wolf in Wild (2016), this kind of liaison is beyond radical. Welfare and trust are the main elements of this relationship between a wild animal and a lost young woman. The woman’s caring leads to a closeness that goes beyond human interaction. Anke Sternborg asks in EPD Film what is wrong with society when it has come this far. Wild does not answer this question; it just observes the situation, the sickness of society (and not of the woman!) and presents a political standpoint by doing this. In Toni Erdmann, Maren Ade not only reflects a difficult relationship between father and daughter from the directress’ view. In

The Camera-stylo of Postfeminist Auteurism: Sofia Coppola’s “Cinema of Relief”


the character of Ines Conradi (Sandra Hüller), Ade also shows what happens when women are smart in a male-dominated working environment. The filmmaker suggests how to get around chauvinism without acting like a victim. Both Ade and Krebitz capture their characters with close-ups and a slow pace of the camera work. Their cameras observe the subject in a gentle, precise way and create a montage of authenticity. Christoph Hochhäusler uses the term “tender realism” (Abel 2007) to describe the camera-stylo of these two German auteurs. Maren Ade, Nicolette Krebitz and Sofia Coppola share an interest for presenting the complexity of sensitive women with emotional and sexual desires. This longing is paired with emotion and is captured by a stunning camera work. Obviously, the emotional relief of the female characters is frequently demonstrated by spending time and being bored, by consumption and by an active sexual life; the directresses’ relief lies in making their respectively unique movies. It has to be pointed out that postfeminist cinema can also be bound back to special players, talking about actresses like Jessica Chastain (Miss Sloane [2016], A Most Violent Year [2014], Zero Dark Thirty [2012]) and Christina Hendricks (in Lost River [2014], Drive [2011]) – who have to be discussed in detail elsewhere. In Germany Nina Hoss (Phoenix [2014], Barbara [2012], Yella [2007]) is the impersonation of postfeminist cinema. All three actresses have created a type of woman beyond dependencies. They play complex roles presenting the whole range of experiences and knowledge about being human. The combination of strong female auteurs and artists lays out a powerful force of culture and politics. Together they work as opponents to Hollywood’s – in parts still remaining – patriarchal institutions where women were the objects of the male gaze (or even not just of the gaze, following the #Metoo debate) and where this structure was created through both film form and film content. They offer a cosmos of identification for women and leave a postfeminist imprint on film in the twenty-first century.

References Abel, Marco. “Tender Speaking. An interview with Christoph Hochhäusler.” http://sensesofci Senses of Cinema (February 2007) (3 November 2019). Ade, Maren. “Feministin sein war uncool.” Wie haben Sie das gemacht? Aufzeichnungen zu Frauen und Filmen. Ed. Claudia Lenssen and Bettina Schoeller-Boujou. Marburg: Schüren, 2014. 422–429. Astruc, Alexandre. “Nassaince d’une nouvelle avant-garde: la camera-stylo.” L’écran Francais 144.5 (1948). 381–384. Backman Rogers, Anna. American Independent Cinema. Rites of Passage and the Crisis Image. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2015.


Silke Roesler-Keilholz

Beauvoir de, Simone. The Second Sex. New York: Vintage, 1973. Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble. Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York and London: Routledge, 1990. Caughie, John. Theories of Authorship. London: Routledge/British Film Institute, ed. 1981. Cobb, Shelley. “I’m nothing like you! Postfeminist Generationalism and Female Stardom in the Contemporary Chick Flick.” Women On Screen. Feminism And Femininity In Visual Culture. Ed. Melanie Waters. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011. 31–44. Demiray, Basak Göksel. “Authorship in Cinema: Author & Reader.” Cinej Cinema Journal 4.1 (2014). 5–19. Engell, Lorenz. “Was wollen die Dinge? Sofia Coppolas kleine Ontologie kinematografischer Objekte.“ Sofia Coppola. Ed. Johannes Wende. Munich: edition text + kritik, 2013. 48–66. Eugenides, Jeffrey. The Virgin Suicides. London: Fourth Estate, 1993. Frisch, Simon. Mythos Nouvelle Vague. Wie das Kino in Frankreich neu erfunden wurde. Marburg: Schüren, 2007. Gill, Rosalind. “Postfeminist media culture: elements of a sensibility.” European Journal of Cultural Studies 10.2 (2007). 147–166. Grant, Catherine. “Secret Agents: Feminist Theories of Women’s Film Authorship.” Feminist Theory 2 (1 April 2001). 113–130. Handyside, Fiona. “Girlhood, Postfeminism and Contemporary Female Art-House Authorship: The ‘Nameless Trilogies’ of Sofia Coppola and Mia Hansen-Love.” Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media 10 (winter 2015). 1–18. Humm, Maggie. Feminism and Film. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1997. Johnston, Claire. Notes on Women’s Cinema. London: Society for Education in Film and Television, 1973. Kamp, Werner. Autorenkonzepte und Filminterpretationen. Frankfurt/Main: Peter Lang, 1996. Kennedy, Todd. “Off with Hollywood’s Head: Sofia Coppola as Feminine Auteur.” Film Criticism 35. Meadville, Pa.: Allegheny College, 2010. 37–59. Krützen, Michaela. “Zeitvertreib in der Zwischenzeit. Charlotte und Bob sind Lost in Translation.” Sofia Coppola. Ed. Johannes Wende. Munich: edition text + kritik, 2013. 4–33. Lapsley, Robert, and Michael Westlake. Film Theory: An Introduction. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1988. Mulvey, Laura. “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.” Feminist Film Theory. A Reader. Ed. Sue Thornham. New York: New York University Press, [1975] 2006. 58–69. Neale, Steve. “Art Cinema as Institution.” Screen 22.1 (1981). 11–40. Petro, Patrice. Aftershocks of the New: Feminism and Film History. Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2002. Rich, B. Ruby. “The crisis of naming in feminist film criticism.” Feminist Film Theory. A Reader. Ed. Sue Thornham. New York: New York University Press, [1978] 2006. 41–46. Sarris, Andrew. “Notes on the Auteur Theory in 1962.” Film Culture 27 (winter 1962–1963). 561–564. Sidiropoulou, Avra. The Theatre of the Director-Auteur: Text, Form and Authorship. PhD diss., Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, 2009. Silverman, Kaja. The Acoustic Mirror: The Female Voice in Psychoanalysis and Cinema. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1988. Sterneborg, Anke. “Starke Filme von Frauen.” EPD Film 34.6 (2017). 40.

The Camera-stylo of Postfeminist Auteurism: Sofia Coppola’s “Cinema of Relief”


Tasker, Yvonne, and Diane Negra. Interrogating Postfeminism: Gender and the Politics of Popular Culture. London: Duke University Press, 2007. Thornham, Sue. Feminist Film Theory. A Reader. New York: New York University Press, 2006. Truffaut, Francois. “Une certaine tendance du cinéma français.” Cahiers du Cinéma 31 (1954). 15–29. Tyler, Imogen. “The Selfish Feminist.” Australian Feminist Studies 22.53 (July 2007). 173–190. Woodworth, Amy. “A Feminist’s Theorization of Sofia Coppola’s Postfeminist Trilogy.” Situating the Feminist Gaze and Spectatorship in Postwar Cinema. Ed. Marcelline Block. Newcastle Upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008. 138–167.

Herbert Schwaab

Auteurism and Anonymity in Television: On the Domestication and Dispersion of Television Authorship Contributor to the magazine Film Comment, Richard Corliss made a very rare foray into US television culture in 1979 with his reference to the difficult endeavor of exploring forms of television authorship in “The Credits You Never Read”: “You’d need an archeologist to dig up the credits even of the most important TV writers, but when held up to the light they show traces of some fascinating careers” (Corliss 1979, 45). What follows is a modest attempt to end this anonymity, offering nothing more than a list of writers and directors that contributed to famous and classic sitcom programs like All in the Family from the 1970s or I Love Lucy from the 1950s. The article does go into some detail about comedian Steve Martin’s prior career, who got his start as a member of the writing pool for the 1960s comedy and music show The Smother Brothers. The article goes on to speculate about a near future that will finally give credit to the authors of television programs: “Someday, if TV ever acquires the cultural respectability lately vested on movies, a scholar-critic may produce the TV version of Andrew Sarris The American Cinema” (ibid.). Television has always been, to a great extent, marked by the anonymity of its creative personnel. The production of long running television programs and series often meant a division of labor in the writing process and a lack of control and limited influence on a television series by individual authors, who were sometimes contracted for single episodes of a popular program like Dynasty without necessarily having seen any previous episodes (Grisprud 1995, 44). Writing for television felt like filling out what was left open (the dialogue and incidents) in a detailed outline given by the story editor, and what was offered by the authors was routinely rewritten without permission by story editors, producers, director or actors (ibid.). Film and television both suffer from creative anonymity since both are produced collectively in large units at film studios and TV networks. So, it is no wonder that Corliss mentions film critic Andrew Sarris, expressing his hope for an end to this anonymity of TV writing. The French invention of a théorie des auteurs, or what André Bazin defined as a “politique des auteurs” (Bazin in Caughie 1981, 45), was brought to America by Andrew Sarris. This théorie or politique is a strategy for identifying individuals who can be credited with a film’s aesthetic value: “The politique des auteurs consists [. . .] of choosing the personal factor in


Herbert Schwaab

artistic creation as a standard of reference, and then of assuming that it continues and even progresses from one film to the next” (ibid.). It is not enough for a work to be a “film of quality,” at least there has to be a “personal stamp of the auteur” in a film to be considered a work of art (ibid.). More than a decade later, Corliss seems to have been proved right. Auteur theory or authorship finally entered into television studies with Robert J. Thompson’s study Television’s Second Golden Age from 1992, a study that helped to establish quality TV as a genre of television. It was also instrumental for linking an implicit and problematic distinction between good and bad television with the term “quality TV” (Newman and Levine 2012, 161). For Thompson, a valid criterion for quality TV is that it is “literary and writer-based” (1996, 15), that it is associated with the names of certain producers and writers who are the source of the quality of the program (ibid., 15). A few years later, Jane Feuer referred to auteur cinema and its relationship with quality series in her survey of Reagan-era television in Seeing Through the Eighties (1995). She regarded authorship as a credential of art discourse (ibid., 82), one that gives television cultural status. She observed such an art discourse as a strategy used by television series that try to attract a sophisticated audience with sophisticated intertextual references to films of auteur cinema (ibid., 84). This strategy is known as the “cinematization” of television (Newman and Levine 2012, 5), an attempt to legitimate television by linking it with cinema (or some forms of intellectual cinema) and its cultural status. For Feuer, authorship is primarily a label used to brand a television program, and it says little about the conditions of television writing. But 30 years later, auteur theory and an affirmative and unequivocal use of authorship seem to have found its full entry into television culture and studies. I will mainly turn here to German television scholar Christoph Dreher, who edited two volumes of essays on quality TV, as a key example for referring to auteur cinema to boost the status of certain TV shows. Dreher proclaims a reinvention of television with the subtitle of his first edited volume of essays on Auteur Series published in 2010, which was followed by another collection of essays, Auteur Series II in 2014. “Auteur Series” is used in the publication as a synonym for quality TV, as a specific genre of serial narratives of television that promise narrative progression and integrity of character development. Although the term “quality television” dates back to the 1970s and was first defined in the volume MTM ‘Quality Television’, co-edited by Jane Feuer in 1984, the discussion surrounding quality television has heated up over the last 15 years. But, as the paper will make clear, there are some pitfalls in the discussion of authorship with the concept of auteurism. The paper will take a closer look at some ambiguities in the discussion of authorship around quality television and auteur series in context. It will at first aim to be more specific about what distinguishes televisual authorship from cinematic authorship

Auteurism and Anonymity in Television


and the theories of auteur cinema. As will become clear in this first section, the discussion of quality TV seems to refer to cinema’s concept of authorship established through auteur theory, but TV’s understanding differs in significant ways from the director as author in cinema: It favors an author as an authority that effectively controls all aspects of television writing and production – that optimizes forms of organization afforded by a television text with its many episodes and extensive duration, which is, as I will argue, a rather limited understanding of creativity and authorship.

Quality and (psychological) realism Dreher claims cinematic authorship for television, but he does not seem to be interested in the details of auteur theory. In the introductory remarks of Auteur Series, the term is used but never really defined until the end of the chapter, which points, rather vaguely, to a bond between quality TV and auteur cinema: The way we receive and appreciate epic series may perhaps be compared to certain innovative views held by a number of young Parisian writers featured in the film journal Cahiers du Cinéma in the fifties – writers who a little later were to make films themselves as directors of the Nouvelle Vague. (Dreher 2010, 60)

In an earlier passage of the text, Dreher uses the well-known topos of personal expression of directors within the restrictive and coercive structures of assembly line entertainment production in Hollywood studios: A very elaborate and expansive series, The Sopranos is not akin to an industrial product – which it nonetheless is – and more like a very long auteur film – something it also is, this being the surprising part. Recognizable in many details, a very personal taste prevails here that is realized in undiluted form. (ibid., 42)

To identify a personal taste in a seemingly industrial product is one of the main tasks in auteur theory. Constructing authorship in film and in television is hard work, it has to be actively produced by identifying elements of the expression of an individual personality: “[. . .] this personality can be traced in a thematic/or stylistic consistency over all (or almost all) the director’s films” (Caughie 1981, 9). Such personal taste is linked with a penchant for romanticisms in auteur theory that tends to emphasize a tension between the constraints of films produced in entertainment industry and the desire for personal expression (ibid., 12). Such a topos of “grace under pressure” reemerges in Robert J. Thompson’s catalogue of criteria for quality TV: “[. . .] quality shows must often undergo a noble struggle against profit-mongering networks and non-appreciative audiences” (1996, 14).


Herbert Schwaab

The discourse on quality TV often points to a constant threat of cancellation, to obstacles overcome by heroic authors tackling touchy subjects in order to find a way to express themselves. Yet, except for those references to some key elements of auteurism, Dreher is more interested in the resonances between quality TV and art cinema. He is less interested in a tangible relation between the vast corpus of theories and forms of criticisms established with the concept of auteurism and quality TV. This becomes apparent considering some contradictions that are directly linked to the concept of quality itself. François Truffaut and other Cahiers du Cinéma critics, which itself evolved from a circle of cinephiles and critics inspired by the work and companionship of film critic André Bazin in the 1950s, were very hostile towards films that were made within a “tradition de la qualité” of French cinema. This hostility to mostly literary adaptations that were done with a certain craftsmanship was expressed with some vigor in Truffaut’s 1954 essay “Une certain tendence du cinéma Français” published in the Cahiers du Cinéma (Truffaut 1981, 39). For Truffaut, quality is the direct opposite of works that deserve to be credited to the vision of an author and director. It is interesting to note that Truffaut damns not only the films for their craftsmanship but also for a tendency toward psychological realism (ibid.). In sharp contrast to Truffaut’s refusal of an accuracy of representation, realism and psychological realism are key “qualities” of quality TV. Realism is one of the dominating traits in the discourse around programs like The Sopranos or Breaking Bad. Quality TV’s aspirations towards realisms, noted by Thompson as a criteria for this genre (Thompson 1996, 14), is often linked with another distinctive trait of this genre: having a large ensemble of complex characters whose psychologies are thoroughly explored in consecutive episodes (ibid.). In quality series, actions always have to be motivated by the character’s psychology, whereas auteur theory and the Nouvelle Vague films inspired by it often opted for enigmatic characters and playful deconstruction of causal chains established with classical forms of film narrations. The discrepancy between quality TV`s preference for psychological realism and auteur cinema’s critique of such forms of realism indicates an indifference within the discourse on quality TV toward the origins of the term auteurism and its aversion to craftsmanship.

Seriality and authorship It is also important to note the label “auteur series” does not indicate that the director plays the same role in television as he or she does in film. The director of television programs remains rather unknown, as do the authors. Instead, a

Auteurism and Anonymity in Television


personal signature that can be identified in auteur series similar to film is based on the subject of the showrunner or creator. Jason Mittell uses the term “authorship by responsibility” in connection with the title of the showrunner. “Authorship by responsibility” is used because of the collaborative nature of television production. If it is impossible to literally identify the voice of one author, at least it is possible to hold one person responsible as the source of meaning of a television text (Mittell 2015, 90). This responsibility ascribed to the role of the showrunner or creator is also stressed in relation with auteur series: “The head writers, the creators, have the last word, they are omnipresent while the directors, generally changing from one episode to another, implement the material under the watchful eyes of the creators” (Dreher 2009, 44). That a writer as a head writer, creator or writer/ producer plays such a significant role rather than the director makes the title of auteur, as Dreher argues, even more compelling for television than for film (Dreher 2014, 38). But there is a significant difference in the reading strategies adopted for film or for television in the name of an author as the creator of a work of art: Interpreting the work of a film author or auteur is like turning his or her films into a serial, because such a reading seeks to find the links between the individual films, identifying the personality in thematic or stylistic consistency in, if possible, all the films of a director (Caughie 1981, 9). Evidently, it is not necessary to search for such links in a quality TV series. This (quasi-) serial element in reading auteur cinema becomes apparent in Ivo Ritzer’s text about the branding strategies involved in film and television and their tendency to overemphasize the importance of a single person. Ritzer explores the convergence between film and television and the interesting case of distinctive film authors directing episodes of the CSI television franchise. He asks what happens if directors who have received the title of auteur in film direct single episodes of a series with repetitive structures. The stylistic manners and use of recurring motifs linked to film auteurism and to directors like William Friedkin and Quentin Tarantino, who have directed single episodes of CSI, reemerge like elements of a series in the medium of an episodic television program (Ritzer 2014, 108). To replace the constants of an episodic program with the variables of a distinct artistic contribution is used for the sake of product differentiation: The label of authorship and cinema helps to brand a program. But, following Ritzer, it also makes explicit that both auteur cinema and episodic series are marked by repetitions not by prosecution or narrative progression. Such repetition does not involve forms of narrative progression but, however, does involve a retrospective approach to all the recurring and quasi-serial moments that link all the movies and, in this case, also some episodes of television programs of film directors’ work for television. But this repetitiveness in the use of motifs and visual style, which is so helpful in establishing the label of a film author as a brand and which can be used for the


Herbert Schwaab

benefit of episodic and formulaic programs seeking moments of uniqueness, is not the same as validating the work of a showrunner in a quality series: “Quality TV has a memory” notes Thompson (1996, 15), which points to expansive narrative arcs and complex character development in series of quality TV. The scrutiny afforded in quality TV is not the scrutiny linking individual works by identifying recurring patterns, because the episodes of serials are already supposed to be linked and the appraisal of quality TV often amounts to a simple validation of the intensity of this linkage. Therefore, it is something else to write about showrunners or writer/producers like David Chase (The Sopranos) or Vince Gilligan (Breaking Bad) than to write about the creativity attributed to auteur cinema.

Domesticating authorship in quality TV This difference concerns the demands for organization and control. Auteur theory and criticism was often bound to find modes of unique expression at unlikely places, with directors that “displayed a consistency of underlying theme and style which was surprising in the industrial and commercial system in which they worked” (Caughie 1981, 10). Auteur theory privileged an idiosyncratic approach to filmmaking that worked against the constraints of the industry. Auteur theorist Andrew Sarris, for example, praised the work of Edgar G. Ulmer as the films of a Bmovie director working under severe restrictions in budget and freedom of artistic expression: Ulmer had no control but he nevertheless managed to give his films of the 1940s and 1950s a signature style (Sarris 1985, 143). This lack of control of the conditions in which creative work was done contrasts with an emphasis on control considering showrunners and writer/producers. Stewart Lyons, writing about producing Breaking Bad, points to an authority as the “unified creative vision of usually a single person” embodied by the showrunner, who achieves this goal by monitoring every shot of a television series (Lyons 2014, 60). The quality of quality TV is based on the expansiveness of the narrative arcs, the largeness of the ensemble cast, it is about organizing timelines and causal chains over long duration, maintaining the coherence of a visual style over many episodes – but all these aspects do not really support an understanding of The Sopranos as “a very long auteur movie” (Dreher 2009, 42). The point of reference of creativity and meaning in auteur theory is a director whose position in the creative process remains uncertain and unstable but who somehow manages to author and to mean something, to plant visual idiosyncrasies and recurrent motifs in individual works. In contrast, the point of reference for authorship in quality TV is rarely found at unlikely

Auteurism and Anonymity in Television


places. The point of reference is the amount of control over the production process and the narrative. Jason Mittell defines one form of televisual authorship as authorship by management, which evokes the leadership and oversight that managers take in business and sports teams (Mittell 2015, 88). Authorship is earned with countless leadership decisions (ibid., 92), surveying a collaborative process in hierarchical collectives of writers with clear ranks (ibid., 91). Television writing for quality TV is organized in writing units: from staff writer to story editor, to executive story editor, culminating in the position of control with executive producer (who is on the set) and the showrunner as executive producer (Humphries 2014, 82). Televisual authorship does not seem to be about untamed creativity that cannot be stopped from finding its expression; it is more about domesticating creative energy in an extremely well-organized production process. With all the differences between televisual authorship and the creative subject of the director produced by auteur theory – which was far from being applicable to the organization of creative labor in Hollywood cinema anyway (Schatz 1988, 5) –, to refer to this theory by proclaiming a genre of auteur series just does not seem to be accurate for a complex theory of authorship in cinema that was nourished within a specific cultural context. It is evident that the use of the label “auteur” functions solely as a claim to cultural status – normally reserved for film – for television.

Popular culture, cultural studies and alternative concepts of authorship The insistence on authorship and auteurism in quality TV seems to be wrong for another reason. The 1970s and 1980s saw the emergence of an approach to television in cultural studies. Inspired by post-structuralist theory and its proclamation of the “death of the author” with Barthes famous essay from 1968, this approach aimed at an alternative understanding of television as a medium of popular culture freed from traditional categories of criticism and cultural hierarchies. As one of the leading cultural studies scholars, John Fiske questions – in his chapter on character reading in Television Culture – the notion of realism and psychological realism (Fiske 1987, 153), which resembles Truffaut’s critique of the tradition de la qualité in French cinema. But Fiske’s criticism of realism doesn’t play any role anymore in the debate of quality TV. This is due to the persistence of the status attributed to literary authorship in connection with film or television. Dreher serves again as an excellent example for the evocation of a literary authority in his praise of the quality series Oz:


Herbert Schwaab

The comparison to certain kinds of literature also arose in another context in view of the length of the continuous plot of Oz extending over 60 hours, the number of protagonists, the multiple strands of plot and the seriousness and substance of the portrayal of characters and socio-political background and context – Oz is reminiscent of the works of authors like Dickens, Dostoevsky and Balzac and this reference was and is now quite rightly often sought, also in conjunction with other, comparable auteur series. (Dreher 2009, 30)

Although auteur theory has a completely different notion of cinematic authorship that has nothing to do with literary authorship, the term “auteur series” is used here to point to affinities between serial narratives and literary forms, again with a strong emphasis on the complex organization of timelines and a large ensemble of characters epitomized in the (proto-serial) novels of Balzac and nineteenthcentury realism and naturalism. Its preference for realism, which pervades through all the writing on quality TV, narrows the genre to specific forms with “[. . .] a rich and complex character-based narrative, a generally liberalist humanist outlook, the engagement of controversial and/or social issues” (Rushton and Chamberlain 2007, 15). The auteurism of quality TV is rather tame, neutral, obsessed with objectivity and reality, only rarely offering radical points of view or visual and emotional excess. Earlier examples for authored forms of quality TV, such as the televisions series written by Dennis Potter for the BBC in the 1970s and 1980s, were critical of linear forms of realist narratives. Rosalind Coward regards Potter’s work as a negation of authorship; although, Potter and his literary approach to television writing – his series were partly inspired by his own life – reinforce the idea of television text as the emanation of one individual (Coward 1987, 83). Nevertheless, she reads his post-modern serial narrative The Singing Detective (1986) as a text that questions the role of an author and of realism, as it playfully mixed the genres of film and television and never authoritatively guided the viewer through its non-linear juxtaposition of reality and fantasy (ibid., 85). The Singing Detective was a rather successful program on British television but compared to quality series like The Sopranos and Breaking Bad it is much more radical, perplexing, uneven and demanding for the audience. Adding to this view of Potter’s playful attitude to authorship is his use of musical sequences, interrupting the grim reality of his narratives with characters lip synching and dancing to popular songs. He was letting the text itself speak with the voices of popular culture and not with an authorial voice. Potter’s series could be understood as non-authored texts, not obsessed with control and the management of causal chains, memory and characters, more about giving up control, transferring authority to the popular songs in order to explore what popular culture, songs and television meant for people. Whereas Dennis Potter was not opposed to television – he referred to it as a democratic medium that collected a dispersed, but still large audience coming from different origins, education and classes for his rather sophisticated television

Auteurism and Anonymity in Television


series (Potter in Creeber 2005, 159) – the appropriation of the role of authors for showrunners in quality TV is always coupled with an aggressive repression of television as popular or mass medium. As auteur theory itself was already regarded as a step backwards from post-structuralist notions of authorship or non-authorship to a romantic conception of the artist as a genius (Caughie 1981, 11), the misconception of the author in quality TV discourse is a total denial of the achievements of television studies in the 1980s and 1990s, which were aiming at an understanding of television as an “unauthored” open, ambiguous and democratic text. John Fiske and other exponents of cultural studies were more interested in the process of reception: Televisions playfulness is a sign of its semiotic democracy, by which I mean its delegation of production of meanings and pleasure to its viewers. The reading relations that it invites are ones of greater or lesser equality. Its unwrittenness means that it does not set itself up as the authority (the pun between “author” and “authority” is far from accidental): it has no singular authorial voice proposing a singular way of looking at the world. The author role is delegated to, or at least shared with, its viewers. Television is a producerly text that invites a producerly set of reading relations: the production of meaning is shared between text and viewer so that television does not preserve its authorial power and privilege. (Fiske 1987, 236–237)

The authority of authorship mentioned by John Fiske is reinstalled with the discourse on authorship in quality TV: Television is taken back from the viewer, the author as showrunner is taking control of meaning. The viewer might be cognitively engaged in a complex narrative, but he or she does not get to create their own reading anymore: He or she solves the mysteries posed by the authors. It is central for HBO as one of the first and major suppliers of quality TV to promote the TV auteur (McCabe and Akass 2005, 8) and to stage authorship in opposition to conventional television. David Lavery cites in his introduction to Reading The Sopranos showrunner David Chase: “I loath and despise almost every second of television” (Lavery 2006, 4). Alan Ball, creator of Six Feet Under, presents himself in a similar way, as someone hating television and only finding the freedom to express himself in the subscription-based HBO model (McCabe and Akass 2005, 9). Since HBO also brands itself with the slogan “It is not TV, its HBO,” the claim is that being authored is simultaneously still something alien to (conventional) television but integral to quality series produced for HBO. The anonymity of television as a medium without the status of art continues; it is used here as the antipode to an alternative version of television. But repressed within this notion of television is not only a commercial, conventional, schematic form of popular TV but also a democratic cultural form open to the capacity of the viewer to produce her or his own meanings. What is repressed is a notion of television as, in the words of John Fiske mentioned above, an “unwritten” text. The authorship


Herbert Schwaab

of auteur series is also a denial of experimental and somehow disorganized, playful forms of authorship epitomized in the work of Potter and his hybrid of autobiographical control and delegation of authority to forms of popular culture, it is a denial of everything excessive, non-representational and uneven in Potter’s work and in television.

The TV author and 1950s television This image of finally installing the authority of authorship in television with quality TV or auteur series appears to be wrong for yet another reason: It neglects the history of television and the once prominent role of the author in forms of television of the 1940s and 1950s. The history of authorship in television cannot be told as the progress from anonymity to authority and critical reputation; it is more like a recursive history of constantly changing attitudes towards television, because TV once had an author in the live drama of the first golden age of television (Thompson 1996; Kerbel 1979). Television of the 1940s and the 1950s provided the frame for the attribution of authorship to television texts. In its formative years, television was a niche medium unavailable in rural areas, mostly made for a metropolitan, affluent audience. New York as the first major site of TV production was, with its vivid, popular culture of vaudeville tradition and Broadway theater, influential for early forms of television (Murray 2002, 67). Television was in its early days a live medium or considered to be a live medium. In the discourse related to television and its aesthetic potential, liveness was often used as a “marker of quality” in contrast to taped and filmed television productions that were soon to dominate a television program that no longer found its main base in New York but in Hollywood (Jacobs 2003, 73). Since liveness as an aesthetic property of television was linked to metaphysic notions of presence and immediacy, live drama as a narrative form that gave meaning to this immediacy was even regarded to be superior to cinema (Boddy 1993, 81). Live drama was a specific form of television that offered short and character-driven dramatic programs within a 30- to 60minute live format, mostly in the style of the naturalism and realism of modern US theater drama (ibid., 82). As part of anthology programs, the single selfcontained plays had no relation to other dramas in an extremely variable serial format whose only common point of reference was the name of the sponsor in long running programs such as Kraft Television Theatre or Philco TV Playhouse (Thompson 1996, 21).

Auteurism and Anonymity in Television


Live drama was credited not only with cultural prestige for its sense of immediacy but also for its clearly identifiable links to literature and theater, which had more in common with concepts of authorship than cinema. Live dramas of this golden age written by acclaimed authors such as Rod Serling or Paddy Chayewski were even collected in book editions (Thompson 1996, 21). The cultural prestige of live drama was expressed in its prominent role for the cultural boards of national newspapers and magazines. The TV critic was seen as the “new elite of the editorial board” of the magazine Newsweek (Boddy 1993, 191). Since television of live drama with its constant output of individual television plays was regarded as a “writer’s medium” (ibid., 87), criticism could refer to the author as the creative source of a program: They were made visible since it was the writers that guaranteed a literary quality and gave form to a medium that was still in its formative stage. The critics needed established cultural categories to find a context to understand the medium. But serial programs produced in Hollywood that would soon replace live drama completely were lost on TV critics. With this shift from live drama television to filmed series, from radical forms of uniqueness to repetitive forms of collectively produced seriality, critics dismissed television as a medium of cultural prestige. They were “disturbed because the new episodic form fundamentally altered the functions of playwright and critic” (ibid., 190). The loss of the author resulted in a loss of words for television as a medium: Episodic television was regarded as being “intrinsically resistant to thoughtful criticism” (ibid., 191–192). Boddy illustrates this transformation with the words of a television critic: “After the first show, I don’t know what to say about a western or quiz show, and I don’t know anybody else who does either” (ibid., 192). Television was dismissed off hand, because it no longer addressed a cultural elite but aimed to address a vast and diverse audience of both metropolitan and rural (midwestern) areas. This new television of formulaic, serial “lowest common denominator” programs (Ellis 2002, 49) was condemned in the 1950s with the head of the US Federal Communication Commission (FCC) Newton Minows’ famous dictum that “bad [i.e. non-live drama-based] television” is a “vast wasteland” (Thompson 1996, 26). It took film culture 50 years to establish a notion of authorship with the help of auteur theory. Television had its authors right from the start, but it lost them within just one decade in the simple shift from live to filmed programming, from self-contained episodes of anthology programs to filmed serials. Yet, this transformation is not merely a loss of cultural value once attributed to television; it is a transformation of a context that used to make it rather simple to talk about television, to identify sources of form and meanings that were familiar. The same authors that became famous with live drama had to come to terms with structures that could not produce a similar tangible concept of


Herbert Schwaab

authorship: The stand-alone play was something completely different from series as formats with recurring motifs, characters and sets but no narrative progress and (seemingly) with no psychological depth of its characters, who will never learn anything from episode to episode.

Conclusion It was not until the 1980s that television studies provided the concept for an understanding of seriality and of a notion of authorship that was more specific to television. The concepts that arose were mostly freed from the necessity to refer to a single writer as author, instead opting for the producer, a production company or the collaborative efforts of technicians and other production personnel as the main source of a program (Cavallero 2017, 49). The authorship of television is by nature never clearly defined, and this condition has not changed significantly with the advent of quality TV: “Narrative television is a highly collaborative medium, with dozens of individuals participating in the production process of each episode, thus making the ascription of authorship a difficult process, especially if we are trying to import a literary model of singular authors” (Mittell 2015, 87). But instead of coming to terms with a dispersed and distributed form of authorship in television, quality TV’s inappropriate concepts of auteur series increases the willingness to attribute authorship to a single author, actively seeking it in the person of the producer, writer producer or showrunner. There is something unsatisfying about this quest for authority and authorship, since it ignores how quality TV adopts a strategy of branding television. It repeats the addressing of elite niche audiences of live drama and therefore reestablishes a context in which it seems worthwhile to have an author, making it easier to brand certain forms of television. Quality TV even seeks and finds authors were there are none. Some authors seem to be inextricably linked to a program but have nothing to do with it. J.J. Abrams is often credited with the authorship of Lost in the public discourse, but he ended his collaboration midway through the first season (ibid., 93): “Even years after Abrams has left the program, many articles about the series referred to it as J.J. Abrams’s Lost, suggesting how external discourses can be as vivid in defining authorship as internal creative roles [are] [. . .]” (ibid.). Such attributions of authorship are arbitrary; they lack any applicability to an exploration of the creative processes involved in television production. They ignore television and the collaborative creativity it affords or reduces it to what Mittell defines as authorship by management (ibid., 88) – an understanding that finds its analogues in decision-making processes, oversight and control in business and

Auteurism and Anonymity in Television


economics. This deficit calls for concepts of distributed and collective forms of authorship, concepts that avoid the linkage between authorship and authority in the discourses of quality television and comes to terms with a notion of television as an “unwritten” text in the sense of John Fiske. Such concepts could make us aware of what is not creditable to a single person, of how technology, forms and conditions of television contribute to the writing of a television text. It could also point us to the contributions of providers like HBO or Netflix that radicalize forms of addressing an assumed “smartness” of niche audiences with references to art cinema, auteurism and the singularity and closure of their programs. They act as agents in the production of authorship. Such concepts of dispersed authorship would offer alternatives to discourses on authorship obsessed with creativity as forms of control; they could give us a sense of television as something untamed and out of control of either authorship, showrunner or its audience, but open to the individual experience of a television text (see Schwaab 2013, 28). To identify authorship seems the easiest way to avoid something that is still irritating about television as a medium, its ephemerality and “unreadablity” (ibid.). The reclamation of auteurism for television ignores that authorship does not just reside in a process of organizing timelines, causal chains and securing the integrity of a character over many seasons. Authorship also resides in the episodic nature of a sitcom or a crime series, in how ready the viewer is to attribute a unity to a character of a sitcom not as the product of an author but as the product of television and his or her own engagement with a program.

References Akass, Kim, and Janet McCabe. “Introduction.” Reading Six Feet Under. TV to Die For. Ed. Kim Akass and Janet McCabe, London: I.B. Tauris, 2005. 1–19. Boddy, William. Fifties Television. The Industry and Its Critics. Chicago: Univ. of Illinois Press, 1993. Caughie, John. Theories of Authorship. London and New York: Routledge, 1981. Cavellero, Jonathan J. “Written Out of the Story: Issues of Television Authorship, Reception, and Ethnicity in NBC’s ‘Marty’.” Cinema Journal 56.3 (2017). 47–73. Chamberlain, Daniel and Scott Rushton. “24 and Twenty-First Century Quality Television.” Reading 24. TV against the clock. Ed. Steven Peacock. London and New York: I.B.Tauris, 2007. Corliss, Richard. 1979. “The Credits You Never Read.” Film Comment (July/August 1979). 45–47. Coward, Rosalind. “Dennis Potter and the Question of the Television Author.” Critical Quarterly 29, No. 4 (December 1987). 79–87. Creeber, Glen. Serial Television. Big Drama on the Small Screen. London: BfI Publishing, 2005.


Herbert Schwaab

Dreher, Christoph. “Auteur-Series. The Reinvention of Television.” Auteur-Series. The Reinvention of Television. Ed. Christoph Dreher. Stuttgart: Merz Akademie, 2010. 24–58. Dreher, Christoph. “Perspectives of Auteur Series. USA, Scandinavia, Germany.” Auteur Television II. Quality TV in the USA and Europe. Ed. Christoph Dreher. Paderborn: Wilhelm Fink, 2014. 16–49. Ellis, John. Seeing Things. Television in the Age of Uncertainty. London and New York: I. B. Tauris, 2002. Feuer, Jane, Paul Kerr, and Tise Vahimagi, eds. MTM ‚Quality Television. London: BFI Books, 1984. Feuer, Jane. Seeing Through the Eighties. Television and Reaganism. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1995. Fiske, John. Television Culture. London and New York: Routledge, 1987. Grisprud, Jostein. The Dynasty Years. Hollywood Television and Critical Media Studies. London: Routledge, 1995. Humphries, Cathryn. “Writing for TV Series in America and the Mad Men Experience.” Auteur Television II. Quality TV in the USA and Europe. Ed. Christoph Dreher. Paderborn: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 2014. 52–83. Jacobs, Jason. “Experimental and Live TV in the US.” The Television History Book. Ed. Michelle Hilmes. London: BFI Books, 2003. 72–75. Kerbel, Michael. “The Golden Age of TV Drama.” Film Comment (July/August 1979). 12–19. Lavery, David. “Introduction: Can This Be the End of Tony Soprano?” Reading the Sopranos: Hit TV from HBO. Ed. David Lavery. New York: I.B. Tauris, 2006. 3–14. Lyon, Stewart. “On Producing Breaking Bad and 40 Years in the business of American TV series.” Auteur Television II. Quality TV in the USA and Europe. Ed. Christoph Dreher. Paderborn: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 2014. 86–111. Mittell, Jason. Complex TV. The Poetics of Contemporary Television Storytelling. New York: New York University Press. 2015. Murray, Susan. “Lessons from Uncle Miltie. Ethnic Masculinity and Early Television’s Vaudeo Star.” Small Screens, Big Ideas. Television in the 1950s. Ed. Janet Thumin. London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 2002. 66–87. Newman, Michael Z., and Elena Levine. Legitimating Television. Media Convergence and Cultural Status. London and New York: Routledge, 2012. Nowell-Smith, Geoffrey. “Quality Television.” Writing for the Medium. Television in Transition. Ed. Thomas Elsaesser, Jan Simons, and Lucette Bronk. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 1994. 35–40. Ritzer, Ivo. “Charisma und Ideologie. Zur Rückkehr des Autors im Quality-TV.“ Quality TV. Die narrative Spielwiese des 21. Jahrhunderts? Ed. Jonas Nesselhauf and Markus Schleich. Münster: LIT-Verlag, 2014. 105–120. Sarris, Andrew. The American Cinema. Directors and Directions 1929–1968. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1985. Schatz, Thomas. The Genius of the System. London et al.: Simon and Schuster, 1988. Schwaab, Herbert. “‘Unreading’ Contemporary Television.” After the Break. Television Theory Today. Ed. Marijke de Valck and Jan Teurlings. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2013. 21–33. Thompson, Robert J. Television’s Second Golden Age. From Hill Street Blues to ER. Syracuse and New York: Syracuse University Press, 1996. Truffaut, François. “Extracts from Une certaine tendence du cinéma française.” Theories of Authorship. Ed. John Caughie. London and New York: Routledge 1981. 39–40.

Annika Richterich

Hacks as Means of Meaning-making When entering the term “hacker” in Google Image Search, one is first and foremost provided with images reflecting a fairly widespread idea: Hackers tend to be seen as mysterious, malicious computer geeks breaking into computer systems (see Fig. 1). In public discourses and opinion, the term “hacking” is predominantly associated with cybercrime (Tréguer 2015; Jordan 2008; Thomas 2002; Taylor 1999). Despite this dominant, misleading view, the term has multiple, partly opposing and still unfolding meanings (Jordan 2016). It goes back to the 1960s when it was initially used in university contexts and early computing (sub-)cultures. Originally, it referred to college pranks, for example at the California Institute of Technology and MIT, among others (Bender in Peterson 2011). Over time, the notion has referred to many different practices and actors: phone phreaks, script kiddies, crackers, digital activists, free and open source developers (Jordan 2016, 2008; Coleman 2012, 2009, 2004; Himanen 2010; Söderberg 2008; Nissenbaum 2004; Thomas 2002). Meanwhile, it has become even more diffuse, since hacking is used to describe not only technological practices but broader forms of culture jamming, e.g. life hacking or urban hacking (Krewani 2017). In this sense, it describes playful everyday practices in which spaces and/or objects are used and modified in unexpected ways. The abovementioned negotiations concerning “hack/hacker/hacking” remain unresolved and have a fairly long tradition. While the association of hacking with illegal, destructive activities is still dominant in popular culture and news coverage (e.g. Williams 2016; Tamblyn 2015; Gibbs 2014), this understanding of hacking has been vehemently opposed by actors identifying as non-malicious, creative hackers (Turgeman-Goldschmidt 2008; Stallman 2002; Levy 1984). Also, in this paper, I suggest that understanding hacking merely as destructive practice is a misleading simplification and generalization. But if it is not mere digital demolition that some hackers seek, what are their hacks aimed at and how do they realize their objectives? Starting from these questions, I will argue that hacks can function as means of technological intervention and cultural meaning-making alike. Already the Original Hacker’s Dictionary suggests multiple definitions for the term “hack/s”; among them are: “1. Originally a quick job that produces what is needed, but not well. 2. The result of that job. 3. NEAT HACK: A clever technique. Also, a brilliant practical joke, where neatness is correlated with cleverness, harmlessness, and surprise value” (Dourish, n.d.). Cleverness, ingenuity, creativity and a certain surprise factor are still common characteristics assigned to hacks. The second point, i.e. the result, also indicates a point emphasized by Jordan (2002):

Fig. 1: Top-ranked search results for the term “hacking” in Google Image Search (June 2016). To some extent, these images will be different depending on one’s personal Google search history, location, etc. [Google and the Google logo are registered trademarks of Google LLC, used with permission.]

198 Annika Richterich

Hacks as Means of Meaning-making


“A hack is a form of material practice that creates a difference in computer, communication and network technologies” (para. 7). In this paper, I will focus on examples illustrating that such hacks can act at the same time as means of cultural, often technopolitical meaning-making.1 I will show how hacks, particularly in the form of technological interventions, have been used to communicate certain aims, values and issues. As indicated above, attempts to attribute more positive meanings to hacking have been rather unsuccessful. Nikitina argues that “[i]t is possible that the romanticized image of hackers in popular culture could not be salvaged because the increase in illegal intrusions was accompanied by the decline of their truly creative output” (2002, 144). In contrast, as Dahm points out, one may likewise contest that “[. . .] the character of hacking as a way of creative engagement with technology has been overlooked for a long time” (2017, 108). This lack of consideration has been addressed during the last years by authors such as Coleman (e.g. 2015; 2012), Jordan (2016), and Kubitschko (2015), among others (see also Richterich and Wenz, 2017). Even though some literature still focuses on (of course likewise relevant) illegal “cracking,” Kubitschko observes that “[i]t is particularly interesting to notice that recent writings all share the view that hackers hold a vast amount of timely and politically relevant expertise” (389).2 Likewise stressing the relevance of hacking for increasingly digital societies, I will explore why it makes sense to understand hacking as constructive practice of technopolitical meaning-making.

Technological authorship The notion of “technological authorship” (Philip 2005; Llach 2015, 41) refers to techno-creative practices and their producers. It describes social practices and products/results emerging in interaction with technology. These results may be new digital objects, such as software or hardware, or modifications of existing technology. The concepts of “the author” and “authorship” refer to modes of cultural production and creation. With regards to technological cultures, Vaidhyanathan proposes that we should move beyond “romantic ideas of authorship,” and “define an ‘author’ 1 In doing so, I do not claim to provide an all-encompassing overview of such examples and their documentation. 2 This is not meant to say that all hackers pursue the same politics (see also Coleman and Golub 2008). As Hunsinger and Schrock point out: “The media and popular culture cemented the figure of the hacker with criminal intent. As a result of these dual movements, hackers are often assumed to be anti-institutional. Yet, a splintering of hacker cultures has disrupted easy assumptions about their countercultural or resistant nature” (2016, 537).


Annika Richterich

broadly, as cultural entity: a ‘producer’” (Vaidhyanathan 2001, 10). With particular regards to hacking, Stalder argues that comparable to artists, hackers “represent contemporary types of unconventional authorship. In their own respective ways, they both appear as autonomous producers” (2015, para. 1). It is important to note here that “[m]odes of technological authorship [. . .] blur the lines between cultural and technological creativity” (Philip 2005, 207). Speaking of technological authorship does not refer to an individual creating an isolated technological object. Instead, technological authorship is about the object’s embeddedness in a socio-cultural context and the meaning imbued in it through, for example, statements concerning its function, purpose and assigned values. In this paper, the idea of authorship focuses on the realization of technological interventions as conditions for further communicative means of meaningmaking. Based on examples which I will discuss further below, I will argue that hacks tend to merge two kinds of authorship practices: First, hacks demonstrate technological expertise through technological modifications/interventions; second, hacks function as platform for cultural meaning-making by articulating e.g. aims, demands, motivations and values. Technological authorship should be understood as techno-creative process in which new digital objects emerge from the interaction between actors and (digital) technology. Yet, it can be rarely separated from means of cultural meaning-making. Individuals and groups engaged in technological creativity likewise find ways to communicate their authorship and to assign (e.g. normative, moral or political) meanings to their technological intervention. This implies that the technological product does not just speak for itself but is contextualized in a way that allows the author to communicate how her/his audience should make sense of it. Whether this suggestion is then taken up, is of course another question. One can repeatedly observe that hackers may use their creations – and that includes interventions and modifications – in order to make normative statements about their own practices and societal embedding. In this sense, they use technology as a resource (Postigo 2012) for expressing concerns about security gaps, power imbalances, or their rejection of proprietary, authoritative approaches, among other things. Hacks therefore combine technological interventions with strategies of cultural meaning-making and, in the case of hacktivism, political messages. How this may be done will be examined in the following section.

Hacks as Means of Meaning-making


Hacks as means of meaning-making The following analysis draws on examples which were described in secondary literature (see e.g. Coleman 2013, 170ff.; Coleman 2015; Jordan and Taylor 2004; Ferbrach 1992) as well as primary sources, published by contemporary hacker collectives such as the Cult of the Dead Cow and the hacktivist group Anonymous. I have structured the material into three main sections: “Defending code (and hacks) as speech,” “Hacktivism and technopolitics,” and “Morality alert?”. The first section looks at the DeCSS code and case. In particular, it examines this example with regards to its significance for hackers’ dedication to information freedom. The second section “Hacktivism and technopolitics” presents examples which the technological author/s released in combination with concrete (technopolitical) messages. It refers to several, among them an early hack at Xerox, the so-called WANK work, and anonymous hacks dedicated to Aaron Swartz. These hacks illustrate how technological expertise and communicative means are intertwined. Section 3, “Morality alert?” discusses the program Backorifice. More specifically, I look at the normative discussion which ensued after its release between the Cult of the Dead Cow hacker collective and Microsoft. I have included this controversial example, since it illustrates that even such contested cases yield effects beyond those directly enabled by the actual software. With all three sections and included examples, I therefore explore different variations of entanglements between technological modifications/interventions and the cultural, often technopolitical meanings assigned to these.

Defending code (and hacks) as speech Communication does not lose constitutional protection as ‘speech’ simply because it is expressed in the language of computer code. [. . .] Of course, computer code is not likely to be the language in which a work of literature is written. (Universal City Studios, Inc. v. Corley 2001, 10)

In his analysis of hackers as producers, Stalder argues that in exploring technology “a hacker begins by experiencing an absolute dearth of freedom. His [or her/their]3 work unfolds while dealing with an omnipotent system in which all options for action are predetermined. The hacker’s goal is to seize hold of moments of freedom

3 Hacker culture has been often described and criticized as largely white, male dominated. However, developments opposing this tendency have likewise been discussed (see also Toupin 2014).


Annika Richterich

anyway” (2015). This assumption mainly holds for technological ecosystems dominated by proprietary soft- and hardware, however. Historically, hacker cultures have been closely related to or even identical with communities involved in the development of free and open source software (Jordan 2016, 2008; Coleman 2012, 2009, 2004; Himanen 2010; Söderberg 2008; Nissenbaum 2004). The historical evolution of the Open Source Movement “can be traced back to the ‘hacker culture’ that created Unix, Linux, and parts of the Internet infrastructure” (Zhao and Elbaum 2003, 66; see also Bergquist et al. 2011; Kelty 2008; Hippel and Krogh 2003). The relevance of open systems has already been stressed in Levy’s hacker ethic: “If you don’t have access to the information you need to improve things, how can you fix them? [. . .] The best way to promote this free exchange of information is to have an open system” (Levy [1984] 2010, 24). Free and open source software is therefore released with licenses that allow developers to access and modify the source code, which hence enhances the possibilities for legal technological modification. Proprietary software is however still at the heart of many IT business models. Due to the existence of proprietary systems and software, the dilemma emerges that certain technological practices and forms of authorship are possible, but illegal. As Philip points out, this means that “[. . .] at the very historical moment that technological authorship seems to become widely accessible, the law marks off certain authorial spaces as transgressive” (2005, 207). An insightful, early case of hackers trying to counter this development is the release of the DeCSS code/software in 1999.4 Jon Lech Johansen and two unknown developers (aliases “mdx” and “The Nomad”) wrote DeCSS and distributed it on various mailing lists in 1999. Back then, DVDs contained the encryption system CSS as a technical means of digital rights management. It ensured that DVDs could be only played on devices authorized by e.g. Apple or Microsoft. DeCSS also allowed Linux users to also be able to watch these DVDs by unlocking CSS (see Coleman 2013, 170–171). At the same time, it made these DVDs vulnerable to “ripping,” i.e. the copying of the DVD’s contents. In 1998 the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) had just been introduced in the United States; it included regulations defining software allowing for copyright circumvention as illegal. In consequence, DeCSS infringed U.S. copyright law. Subsequently, the United States DVD Copy Control Association and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) urged Johansen’s prosecution in Europe and the (underage) developer was arrested in Norway in 2000. Moreover, the institutions also sued individuals and website collectives for distributing the

4 The example has been discussed in more detail by Coleman (2014, 171f.) and Gillespie (2006).

Hacks as Means of Meaning-making


DeCSS code. Among the accused was the well-known 2600: The Hacker Quarterly.5 This development was controversially discussed among hacking communities worldwide. As Coleman explains: “Hackers saw Johansen’s indictment and the lawsuits as violation of not simply their right to software but also their more basic right to produce F/OSS [Free/Open Source Software]” (Coleman 2013, 172). They opposed the prosecution of Johansen, since it infringed the developer’s freedom to write code; it was thus perceived as limitation of their freedom to code – as form of free speech. In fact, also the various lawsuits against individuals/companies sharing the program were eventually also opposed on grounds of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guaranteeing freedom of speech. The argument of computer code as free and moreover expressive speech was brought forward: The 2001 court case Universal City Studios, Inc. v. Eric Corley, publisher of 2600: The Hacker Quarterly, is particularly insightful in this context. Accused of hosting the DeCSS code and linking to external sources, Corley argued that restricting the source code was equivalent to restrictions concerning freedom of speech. Hence, his defense claimed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act conflicted with the First Amendment. In the end, the judge ruled in favor of the Universal City Studios, but he also acknowledged Corley’s position as partly valid. He confirmed the perspective of code as form of expressive speech, while arguing that the DMCA only targeted its “functional parts”: Turning to the Defendants’ numerous constitutional arguments, the Court first held that computer code like DeCSS is “speech” that is “protected” (in the sense of “covered”) by the First Amendment, id. at 327, but that because the DMCA is targeting the “functional” aspect of that speech, id. at 328–29, it is “content neutral” [. . .]. (Universal City Studios, Inc. v. Corley 2001)

The court cases and the verdict concerning the distribution and creation of DeCSS were highly controversial. Not only did they lead to discussions among hackers, but actually they inspired further authorship practices which aimed at demonstrating that code is free and expressive speech (see Coleman 2013, 171–172). Prominently, the free speech activist Seth Schoen authored a poem which literarily defended and illustrated the perspective of code as free speech in the case of DeCSS: And all mathematics Is full of stories (just read Eric Temple Bell) And CSS is

5 See (31 March 2020).


Annika Richterich

no exception to this rule. Sing, Muse, decryption once secret, as all knowledge, once unknown: how to decrypt DVDs. (Schoen cited in Coleman 2013, 177)

The DeCSS case illustrates several characteristics of hacking as authorship. First of all, it shows most basically that this type of technical authorship applies not only to physically tangible creations but to digital objects as well, i.e. code and programs. The program in question has a distinctive function and enhances user practices: It acts as opportunity for users to overcome predefined modes of usage, such as the limited readability and reproduction options of DVDs. Secondly, it highlights that hackers’ have aimed at asserting their creations as a form of free and expressive speech. These attempts are however countered by governmental efforts to prevent copyright infringements and have led to the differentiation between the code’s aesthetic and its function. This opposition somehow seems to ignore that form and function are in this case inseparable. It was moreover not mainly the actual (co)author who engaged in giving a particular meaning to the creation of the program. Instead, actors and institutions involved in the distribution of the program became involved in the process of assigning meaning to the program. Corley and his allies affirmed that DeCSS was a form of creative expression: a manifestation of information freedom and freedom of speech. The actual technological authorship and processes of meaning-making were influenced by different actors. Nevertheless, one can observe in this case how a technological achievement is infused with socio-cultural meaning, i.e. code being a form of expressive speech which should be protected under the First Amendment. That various actors were involved in giving meaning to the program also seems to be related to the fact that it was not initially meant to trigger public discussion. The author(s) did not “attach” predefined meanings to their product, but these unfolded in an ensuing discussion. Historically seen, this has been different in cases where technological authors aimed at deploying the functionalities of their creations and the opportunities they created in order to communicate normative motivations and aims. Therefore, the following sections will focus on examples of hacking as more explicitly technopolitical interventions.

Hacks as Means of Meaning-making


Hacktivism and technopolitics In the mid-1970s, developers at Motorola discovered a bug in Xerox’s CP-V Universal Time-Sharing operating system.6 As Xerox customers and users of the system, they detected that its security could be circumvented. They reported this issue to Xerox, asking the company to provide a patch to fix the problem. However, since they did not received a reaction for a few months, Motorola staff members decided to tap into the security issues in order to demonstrate the severity of the issue. While it is not possible anymore to retrace the actual technical details, the modification they created resulted in the following scenario: The main CP-V software development system in El Segundo experienced various technological malfunctions, such as rewinding and dismounting tapes and an uncontrollable card-punch output. In addition to the technological issues, the machine would print (insulting) messages under the names of “Robin Hood” and “Friar Tuck.” These were names of two programs which the Motorola staff had written and which were triggering the malfunctioning: The two programs were designed in a way that – apart from adding unexpected functions to the system – they would restart each other, whenever one of the programs had been deleted by the Xerox staff trying to fix the issue. Each time one of the programs was successfully deleted, they would receive the following message: id1 Friar Tuck . . . I am under attack! Pray save me! id1 Off (aborted) id2 Fear not, friend Robin! I shall rout the Sheriff of Nottingham’s men! id1 Thank you, my good fellow!

(Ferbrache 1992, 7)

Drawing on the popular folklore of Robin Hood, the programs were designed not only to produce technical effects, but to assign literary meaning to the malfunctioning. The authors remained anonymous, but they made it obvious that the errors were not accidental, but strategically placed. Moreover, in executing the intervention, they called attention to the relevance of security issues. The authors framed the intervention in a playful, teasing way. The literary references suggest that the programs were meant not to be simply malicious; the authors instead identified themselves with popular protagonists known for their

6 It should be noted that the following account of this hacking case at the Xerox corporation has been difficult to verify. My reflection will be mainly based on the account described in Ferbrache’s A Pathology of Computer Viruses (1992). It was also described by Aycock (2011, 29f.) and in a later version of the Jargon file/The New Hacker’s Dictionary.


Annika Richterich

fight against injustice and tyranny. This case hence illustrates nicely how two dimensions of authorship are interrelated: On the one hand, the intervention presents a technological achievement in the sense of the modified system and its unexpected malfunctioning. On the other hand, the hackers performed a form of cultural creativity and added statements which provided a meaningful framing for the technological intervention. While this is an example which goes back to the early days of hacker cultures, one can find structurally similar approaches also in more recent approaches to e.g. hacktivism. The term refers to the subversive use of digital technology in activist practices. Just like the term hacking, also the meanings and practices of hacktivism are contested: Jordan and Taylor (2004) differentiate between “mass action hacktivism” (67–68), which involves strategies such as distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, and “digitally correct hacktivism” (90–91). The latter opposes tactics such as DDoS, since they are seen as a violation of freedom of speech. Despite such fundamental differences, one can define hacktivism broadly as the utilization of digital tools and skills for activist purposes. In opposition to hacking culture as overarching field, it is more strongly politicized. Activists such as Julian Assange have claimed that one of the first attempts of political hacktivism was the so-called “Wank worm” (Assange 2006; see also Ferbrache 1992, 24–25). It was circulated in October 1989 and spread the message: “Worms against nuclear killers” and “You talk of times of peace for all, and then prepare for war” (quoting the 1985 Midnight Oil song “Blossom and Blood”). It infected the US Department of Energy and NASA machines globally, apart from the nuclear free zone New Zealand (see also Applegate 2015). The log-in screens on affected machines would then show an image looking somewhat like the emulation in Fig. 2:

Fig. 2: Emulation of the screen shown on systems affected by the “Wank” worm.

Hacks as Means of Meaning-making


The worm most likely originated in Australia, and its message needs to be understood in the context of the cold war and anti-nuclear protests. It drew attention to the nuclear threat at the end of the 1980s, and at the same time mocked the attacked institutions with its pop-cultural references and playful/provocative phrasing, i.a. by prominently displaying the colloquial phrase for masturbation. Unlike the Xerox intervention, the technological achievement was not aimed at demonstrating the relevance of security (gaps), but rather it was used in order to deliver a political message. While the actual authors remained anonymous, the message represented the globally increasing concerns of the era about the nuclear threat. In more recent hacking and hacktivism practices as well, one can still observe similar approaches when it comes to assigning meaning to technological interventions. After the tragic suicide of developer and activist Aaron Swartz in 2013, the hacktivist collective Anonymous fiercely criticized the circumstances of his death (see also Coleman 2015). Swartz had hung himself after being accused of data theft and computer fraud for automated downloading of academic journal articles (using an MIT guest account). His death was seen by many as a result of intimidation by the US criminal justice system (Naughton 2015); in addition, Swartz was said to have suffered from depression (Doctorow 2013). Shortly after his suicide on 11 January 2013, when accessing the MIT site, one could read the message shown in Fig. 3. Using the name of the Anonymous collective, (an) unknown hacker(s) replaced the MIT website with a message concerning Swartz’s death. Anonymous criticized the conduct of the US government and prosecution system regarding computer crimes and copyright violations as disproportionate (Kopstein 2013; Anonymous hacktivists target MIT websites 2013). According to the collective, Swartz’s death should be seen as one of many cases demonstrating why US copyright and intellectual property law should embrace returning to a free, uncensored internet environment. The technological intervention was aimed at calling attention to the circumstances of Swartz’s death. While Anonymous stated that they did not put any blame on MIT, they used the institute’s web presence strategically – since it was related to Swartz’s indictment. Just like the technological efforts needed to ensure that the message would replace the regular MIT website, skills were needed to author the text itself and the content had to be created. While such approaches can be seen as examples of “politically correct hacktivism” upholding ideals such as freedom of information/speech, earlier initiatives of Anonymous were more closely related to “mass action hacktivism” (Jordan and Taylor 2004, 67–68), i.e. collective, distributed forms of (digital) activism. For instance, in the 2008 initiative Project Chanology (2008) the group declared affiliation with protests and actions opposing the Church of Scientology. Anonymous affiliates sent blank faxes, organized street protests, but


Annika Richterich

Fig. 3: Anonymous’s message placed on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology website a few days after Aaron Swartz’s suicide in January 2013.

also coordinated distributed denial of service attacks. These actions were widely described as forms of hacktivism, since they drew on digital technologies as means for protest (Olson 2012; Herwig 2011; Bryan-Low and Gorman 2011). However, it is disputed whether especially DDoS attacks are in fact a form of hacktivism, as they are also considered a violation of free speech and freedom of information (Apps 2010; Jordan and Taylor 2004, 97–98; Ruffin 2000). Since DDoS is branded as a method for suppressing individuals’, institutions’ or corporations’ right to free speech, these tactics have been criticized for conflicting with values of (certain) hacker cultures. However, such criticism on DDoS also has faced vehement opposition from activists such as Leiderman (2013). The examples described in this section illustrate that hackers’ authorship tends to intertwine technological achievements with the placement of messages assigning meaning to the intervention. Here, hackers make use of their own IT skills and technological possibilities in order to create new digital objects or modify existing ones. In addition, they use these technological interventions to communicate certain messages: These may range from a (public) illustration of security issues concerning the respectively modified technology to broader societal and political issues exposed and communicated by means of the technological intervention.

Hacks as Means of Meaning-making


Morality alert? The notion of authorship also applies to controversial software which most people would see as at least risky if not malicious. But even these may still be constructive, given certain effects, as illustrated in the following case of early malware. In 1998, Josh Buchbinder, a.k.a. Sir Dystic, and the US hacking community Cult of the Dead Cow released a program called Backorifice (see Jordan and Taylor 2004, 111–112). It allowed for the remote system administration of computers running Windows 98. Microsoft heavily criticized this program and its release. Under the label “Morality alert” (see Fig. 4), the hacking community published a response to Microsoft’s criticism: They stated that they released the program in order to call attention to the insufficient security of Windows systems (Cult of the Dead Cow 1998, August 6). Of course, it was quickly classified as malware by antivirus services, since it basically enabled remote users, such as (juvenile) “script kiddies,” to control another user’s computer.

Fig. 4: Header for the message published by the Cult of the Dead Cow hacker collective in response to Microsoft’s criticism on the release of Backorifice.

Even in this controversial case, one can identify communal efforts to attach meaning to its release and even a distinct author of the program as such. In the original press release, Backorifice was described as a technology exposing “Microsoft’s Swiss cheese approach to security” (Cult of the Dead Cow 1998, July 21) and the consequences for users. In a further reaction to Microsoft’s criticism of Backorifice, the hacking community reflected on the morality of the program and explicitly described its release as a starting point for moral negotiations: “So to make things easier, we’ll frame our culture and actions against their’s [Microsoft’s] and let the public determine which one of us looks better in black” (Cult of the Dead Cow 1998, August 6). This comment also raises the issue of accountability, not only in the sense of affiliation and authorship but in the sense of liability. Who should be held accountable in


Annika Richterich

such cases? The hacking community basically suggest that it should not be the developers who call attention to security gaps by exposing users to potential attacks; rather, corporations should offer programs and services to contain such gaps. Nevertheless, one may also use this case to illustrate the boundaries of hacking authorship: While Josh Buchbinder acts as author of the program, its utilization by script kiddies in the late 1990s hardly refers to any creative efforts and displays no qualities of technological authorship. Most importantly, one should keep in mind that Backorifice’s release eventually had an impact on security improvements in the Windows system. This also stresses that monitoring, awareness raising and technopolitical pressure can be considered as achievements and products of hacker cultures and hacktivism. Postigo argues that “hackers’ rapid responses and continuous development put constant pressure on media outlets such as the iTMS to continue to devise ways of technologically safeguarding content and contracts” (2012, 171). By highlighting certain societal or technological issues, such as security gaps, hackers’ technological authorship may initiate wider changes which are significant for increasingly digital societies. Hackers may use technological interventions as an opportunity to spark wider debates, call attention to certain issues and put pressure on institutions and corporations.

Conclusion This chapter has explored hacking practices by focusing on the link between technological authorship and hackers’ critical, societal engagement. I have shown how hacks can function as means of meaning-making in combining technological with communicative interventions. While this does not mean that hackers’ activities are inherently and exclusively positive or morally superior, I stress the often neglected perspective that many hacking practices are societally relevant and productive. The discussed examples illustrate that hacking tends to merge different dimensions of authorship: It can be described as techno-creative practice in which technological interventions are imbued with cultural meaning and potentially technopolitical messages. Hacks in this sense are employed as technological means to enable communicative meaning-making. Especially in hacktivism, forms of technological authorship often go hand in hand with more explicit forms of cultural authorship: Hackers and hacktivists may create cultural, political and moral frameworks for their technological practices and products. Technological interventions and

Hacks as Means of Meaning-making


programs are in these cases not only meaningful as such – e.g. as an exposure of technological security gaps – but also accompanied by strategic efforts and messages giving meaning to these hacks.

References Applegate, Scott. “Cyber Conflict: Disruption and Exploitation in the Digital Age.” Current and Emerging Trends in Cyber Operations. Ed. F. Lemieux. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015. 19–36. Apps, Peter. “WikiLeaks battle: a new amateur face of cyber war?” article/us-wikileaks-cyberwarfare-amateur-idUSTRE6B81K520101209. Reuters (2010) (31 March 2020). Assange, Julian. “The Curious Origins of Political Hacktivism” 2006/11/25/the-curious-origins-of-political-hacktivism. (2006) (31 March 2020). Aycock, John. Spyware and Adware. Boston, MA: Springer, 2011. Bergquist, Magnus, Jan Ljungberg, and Bertil Rolandsson. “A Historical Account of the Value of Free and Open Source Software: From Software Commune to Commercial Commons.” Open Source Systems: Grounding Research. Ed. Scott Hissam, Barbara Russo, Manoel G. de Mendonça Neto, and Fabio Kon. Berlin and Heidelberg: Springer, 2011. 196–207. Bryan-Low, Cassel, and Siobhan Gorman. “Inside the anonymous army of ‘Hacktivist’ attackers.” SB10001424052702304887904576399871831156018. The Wall Street Journal (2011) (31 March 2020). Coleman, Gabriella. “The political agnosticism of free and open source software and the inadvertent politics of contrast.” Anthropological Quarterly 77.3 (2004). 507–519. Coleman, Gabriella. “Code is Speech: Legal Tinkering, Expertise, and Protest among Free and Open Source Software Developers.” Cultural Anthropology 24.3 (2009). 420–454. Coleman, Gabriella. “The hacker conference: A ritual condensation and celebration of a lifeworld.” Anthropological Quarterly 83.1 (2010). 47–72. Coleman, Gabriella. Coding Freedom: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Hacking. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2013. Coleman, Gabriella. Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Story of Anonymous. New York: Verso, 2015. Coleman, Gabriella, and Alex Golub. “Hacker practice: Moral genres and the cultural articulation of liberalism.” Anthropological Theory 8.3 (2008). 255–278. Cult of the Dead Cow. Morality Alert: St. Paul, Backdoor Boom Boom, and all the tea in China. (6 August 1998) (not available anymore). Cult of the Dead Cow. Running a Microsoft Operating System on a Network? Our condolences. (21 July 1998) (not available anymore). Doctorow, Cory. “RIP, Aaron Swartz.” html. Boingboing (2013) (31 March 2020). Dourish, Paul. The Original Hacker’s Dictionary. html. (31 March 2020).


Annika Richterich

Ferbrache, David. A Pathology of Computer Viruses. London: Springer, 1992. Gibbs, Samuel. “Your phone number is all a hacker needs to read texts, listen to calls and track you.” The Guardian (18 April 2014) (31 March 2020). Gillespie, T. (2006). “Designed to ‘effectively frustrate’: Copyright, technology and the agency of users.” New Media & Society, 8(4): 651–669. Herwig, Jana. “Anonymous: peering behind the mask.” ogy/2011/may/11/anonymous-behind-the-mask. The Guardian (2011) (31 March 2020). Himanen, Pekka. The Hacker Ethic. New York: Random House, 2010. Hippel, Eric von, and Georg von Krogh. “Open source software and the ‘private-collective’ innovation model: Issues for organization science.” Organization science 14.2 (2003). 209–223. Hunsinger, Jeremy, and Andrew Schrock. “The democratization of hacking and making.” New Media & Society 18.4 (2016). 535–538. Jordan, Tim. “A genealogy of hacking.” 135485651664071. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies (6 April 2016) (31 March 2020). Jordan, Tim. Hacking: Digital Media and Technological Determinism. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2008. Jordan, Tim. “Hacking and power: Social and technological determinism in the digital age.” First Monday 14.7 (2002) (31 March 2020). Jordan, Tim, and Paul Taylor. Hacktivism and Cyberwars. Rebels with a Cause? Abingdon: Routledge, 2004. Jordan, T., and Paul Taylor. “A Sociology of Hackers.” The Sociological Review 46.4 (1998). 757–780. Kelty, Christopher M. Two Bits: The Cultural Significance of Free Software. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2008. Kopfstein, Janus. “Anonymous replaces MIT websites with Aaron Swartz memorial, calls for copyright reform.” The Verge (2013) (31 March 2020). Kostakis, Vasilis, Vasilis Niaros, and Christos Giotitsas. “Production and governance in hackerspaces: A manifestation of Commons-based peer production in the physical realm?” International Journal of Cultural Studies. (13 February 2014) (31 March 2020). Krewani, Angela. “Urban hacking and its ‘media origins’.” Digital Culture & Society, 3 (1) (2017). 139–146. Kubitschko, Sebastian. “Hackers’ media practices Demonstrating and articulating expertise as interlocking arrangements.” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 21.3 (2015). 388–402. Leiderman, Jay. “Justice for the PayPal WikiLeaks protesters: why DDoS is free speech.” The Guardian (2013) (31 March 2020). Levy, Steven. Hackers, Heroes of the Computer Revolution. Sebastopol, CA: O’Reilly, [1984] 2010. Lindtner, Silvia, and David Li. “Created in China: the makings of China’s hackerspace community.” Interactions 19.6 (2012). 18–22.

Hacks as Means of Meaning-making


Llach, Daniel Cardoso. Builders of the Vision: Software and the Imagination of Design. London: Routledge, 2015. n.a. “Anonymous hacktivists target MIT websites over Aaron Swartz suicide.” http://www. sites-over-Aaron-Swartz -suicide.html. The Telegraph (2013) (31 March 2020). Naughton, John. “Aaron Swartz stood up for freedom and fairness – and was hounded to his death.” The Guardian (2015) (31 March 2020). Nikitina, Svetlana. “Hackers as tricksters of the digital age: creativity in hacker culture.” The Journal of Popular Culture 45.1 (2012). 133–152. Nissenbaum, Helen. “Hackers and the contested ontology of cyberspace.” New Media & Society 6.2 (2004). 195–217. Olson, Parmy. We are Anonymous: Inside the Hacker World of Lulzsec, Anonymous, and the Global Cyber Insurgency. Chicago: Brown, 2012. Peterson, T.F. Nightwork: A History of Hacks and Pranks at MIT. With a new essay by Eric Bender. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2011. Philip, Kavita. “What is a technological author? The pirate function and intellectual property.” Postcolonial Studies 8.2 (2005). 199–218. Postigo, Hector. The Digital Rights Movement: The Role of Technology in Subverting Digital Copyright. Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 2012. Richterich, Annika, Karin Wenz, Pablo Abend, Mathias Fuchs, and Ramón Reichert, eds. Making and Hacking. Digital Culture & Society 3(1). 2017. Ruffin, Oxblood. Hacktivismo. (2000) (not available anymore). Söderberg, Johan. Hacking Capitalism: The Free and Open Source Software Movement. London: Routledge, 2008. Stalder, Felix. Hackers as Producers. Authorship and Freedom. node/318. (2015) (31 March 2020). Stallman, Richard. On Hacking. (2002) (31 March 2020). Tamblyn, Thomas. “Hackers Could “Crash Trains” Using a Cyber Attack.” http://www. The Huffington Post (24 April 2015) (31 March 2020). Taylor, Paul. Hackers: Crime in the Digital Sublime. London and New York: Routledge, 1999. Thomas, Douglas. Hacker Culture. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002. Thomas, Jim. “The moral ambiguity of social control in cyberspace: a retro-assessment of the ‘golden age’ of hacking.” New Media & Society 7.5 (2005). 599–624. Toombs, Austin, Shaowen Bardzell, and Jeffrey Bardzell. “Becoming Makers: Hackerspace Member Habits, Values, and Identities.” Journal of Peer Production (2014) (31 March 2020). Toupin, Sophie. “Feminist Hackerspaces: The Synthesis of Feminist and Hacker Cultures.” The Journal of Peer Production (2014) (31 March 2020). Tréguer, Félix. “Hackers vs States: Subversion, Repression and Resistance in the Online Public Sphere.” Droit et société 1.3 (2015). 639–652.


Annika Richterich

Turgeman-Goldschmidt, Orly. “Meanings that hackers assign to their being a hacker.” International Journal of Cyber Criminology 2.2 (2008). 382–396. Universal City Studios, Inc. v. Corley. 273 F. 3d 429. tfisher/IP/2001%20Corley%20Abridged.pdf. Court of Appeals (2001) (31 March 2020). Vaidhyanathan, Siva. Copyrights and Copywrongs: The Rise of Intellectual Property and How It Threatens Creativity. New York: NYU Press, 2001. Williams, Rhiannon. “Hackers could crash your iPhone over Wi-Fi – how to protect yourself.” – how-to-protect. The Telegraph (14 April 2016) (31 March 2020). Zhao, Luyin, and Sebastian Elbaum. “Quality assurance under the open source development model.” Journal of Systems and Software 66.1 (2003). 65–75.

Karin Wenz

Claiming Authorship? Machinima Production and the Streaming Practices of Gamers New technologies not only offer opportunities to engage users in new ways, they go so far as to challenge the very notions of authorship and ownership. The opportunity for the audience to become “authors” in their own right and creatively engage with text, images, sound, video and computer games in such a way as to appropriate material for themselves has previously been discussed as a crisis of the “aura” of the original (Benjamin 1936). When users appropriate content our conventional understanding of authorship changes. As Maarten Michielse shows, there exists a distinction between two different forms of appropriation: (a) appropriation in terms of claiming ownership and (b) appropriation as “making something your own (that is: bringing a cultural object or text closer to yourself: intellectually, technically, bodily and/or emotionally)” (Michielse 2015, 16). Various forms of content produced and disseminated through social media platforms today show that both forms of ownership are at stake. Indeed, actual content creators do not necessarily claim authorship of their productions; they understand their content as community based. Much so-called user-generated content does not come with the rights we usually associate with authorship. Alina Ng shows that “property rights may be needed to sustain the continuous production of creative works by identifying owners of literary and artistic works, facilitating transfers of use rights between the original creator of a work and their users, and protecting the authorial integrity of authors” (Ng 2010, 858). Users on social media platforms, however, share and appropriate content produced by themselves but also by others. Authorship in a digital environment is understood by Ng as communal, part of a creative community (Ng 2010). It is not always apparent who the author is; nor is it clear whether we can speak about individual or collective authorship. The use of aliases, often different from the author’s offline name, makes tracing authorship even more difficult. The concepts of authorship and ownership are based on an understanding of a creative work being a form of private property, i.e. belonging to an identifiable individual or a group. Notions of power are also deeply embedded therein: The concept of authorship implies an ideational understanding. Ownership on the other hand is explicitly understood in a juridical sense. As we will see in the following, “making something your own” lies exactly in between these two concepts. While Henry Jenkins, Mizuko Ito and danah boyd (2016) claim that participation and


Karin Wenz

sharing increase agency and thereby empower users – others are less positive about this development. Nicolas John (2013) investigates how big social media platforms use the word “share” to highlight user empowerment but mask the exploitation involved. Sharing includes “positive connotations of equality, selflessness and giving, in combination with its resonance with what is viewed as the proper mode of communication between intimates” (ibid., 176). John demystifies the way social media platforms represent themselves as leading the way to a better world in that these platforms obscure the financial gains from selling users’ works and sharing activity data to third parties. Similarly, Tim Jordan points out that greater access to tools and means of distribution is still problematic if it does not translate into user agency and control (Jordan 2015). Instead, we have the current state of affairs in which creative works and information benefit a powerful few (e.g. the entertainment industry or big social media platforms) who juridically own the content. Without the aforementioned translation the status quo will persist, and users will not be empowered but instead exploited. This article investigates how gamers1 claim agency and ownership over the digital games they play by engaging in video productions (machinima) and streaming practices. Due to the time and effort that goes into playing digital games, players tend to make these game worlds their own. It is their play and their engagement with the game that shapes and defines their gaming experience, not only for themselves but for the community of players sharing these worlds. They engage in practices that appropriate the gaming experience for their own needs and share their experiences with others through game videos and streaming of gameplay via I will catalogue these practices in terms of the two forms of appropriation described above in an attempt to figure out where the various players – gamers, the game industry and the publishing platforms – stand on the question of ownership and authorship. Finally, I will analyze how their stances relate to owners and authors in other media contexts, namely print publishing and TV broadcasting.

1 The term ‘gamer’ is used here to refer to the identity of a person to whom playing games is a relevant social activity in their lives. However, not every player of digital games sees him- or herself as a gamer. Therefore the concept ‘player’ is used to refer to the activity of playing digital games in general.

Claiming Authorship? Machinima Production


Machinima: Claiming ownership over gameplay Machinima is a term used to refer to game videos. These are based on the recording of game footage as a real-time video. This video is then edited and used to tell a story, which is not necessarily related to the background story the digital game is based upon. The term machinima was introduced by Hugh Hancock und Paul Marino in 2004. They emphasize the importance of this media format as an example of media converge, which is also central to Katie Salen’s concept of emergent play (Salen 2002, 99). She uses machinima to show that emergent play is part theatrical performance, part film and part digital game. Salen points to the intermediality of the format. Its source comes from digital games, but it uses filmic as well as theatrical techniques. Additionally important are the low production costs, making it an ideal arena for film school students as well as laypeople who want to create a low budget movie. Historically, machinima came from hacker culture. Producers of machinima initially used game engines to program their projects. In the case of machinima today, an already existing game is used as a platform to perform a theatrical play, to tell a story by using the avatars (the players’ gameplay character) as actors. These first machinima productions can be understood as the foundation for game “modding,” modifications of game software to adapt the game to one’s own purposes, i.e. not intended by the game designers. Machinima production has become easier and does not necessarily entail modding anymore. Software tools had been developed to record the gameplay quite easily; programs for post-editing are either affordable or free; and some recent digital games even come with built-in tools to record the gameplay already (Kelland 2011). Who owns the machinima produced by the player? The performance takes place in the game world owned by the game publisher, including the player’s character, as part of a game world. However, players claim their characters as their own, name them, develop them and in some cases even sell them (in online games) for real money to other players – as if they own them. Game publishers consider this practice illegal as you cannot sell what, in a juridical sense, you do not own. Nevertheless, the practice has become common in many online games when players lose interest in the game and decide to quit playing. This is a case of contested ownership, maybe not from a juridical standpoint but for players who invest hours of time creating content, invest money to pay for “their” game and understand their avatars as a representation of themselves in the virtual world. Some game publishers on the other hand consider video taken of their game program to be their property in cases where a player tries to monetize gameplay footage. Freely shared videos are condoned as long as they follow a code of conduct (e.g. no pornographic machinima). The creators of videos receive the credit for their videos and are considered to be


Karin Wenz

the “authors,” but ownership is claimed by the publisher. This clearly points to the distinction of these terms: an ideational understanding of the concept authorship in contrast to the juridical/legal understanding of the concept ownership.

Gamers as “Authors” Besides machinima producers’ ties to the modding and demo scene, machinima productions are of course rooted in a digital game scene, gamers wanting to record their own playing experience, their game’s footage. Two functions are relevant here: First, there is documentation, which Henry Lowood (2009) calls archival replay. Documentation videos are often made as tutorials for new players interested in the game but also as a walkthrough. Second, machinima makers show off their own gameplay prowess; examples are videos based on competitive gameplay and tournaments, gamers competing against other gamers in e-sports or “speed runs” and competitions between gamers to finish a game as fast as possible. A video is published as proof of their achievement. Machinima are a possibility for gamers to express themselves and share their own gaming experience. Players’ screen names are the ones given to refer to the content creators in credits; in most cases, these pseudonyms say nothing about the real person behind the machinima. If we want to know who makes a machinima, this poses a problem. Behind some of those screen names we find gamers, students of art and film schools who use machinima to experiment with film making and post-editing. However, the entertainment industry also produces machinima, either as an advertisement for their games or as new and interesting forms of transmedial storytelling. The difficulty in tracking down content creators can be shown in a famous example of machinima made in the online game World of Warcraft: A music video with the title “The internet is for porn” (2006), based on a song written by Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez for the Broadway musical Avenue Q. The machinima in question has been published on various video sharing sites online (e.g. YouTube, [meanwhile integrated into YouTube as a channel],, etc.). The content creators’ names used here are “Evilhoof” and “Flayed,” two screen names that reference the game. These two screen names have not reappeared in any other machinima production, and viewers of the video inquiring about the content creators in forums have never received an answer. The content creators’ video platform profiles do not provide any further clues either, as they only filled in their screen names and did not give away any additional information. Thus content creators can mask their identities and confuse authorship. In other cases, however, content creators do make explicit who

Claiming Authorship? Machinima Production


they are. Individual gamers, guilds and clans, organizations of gamers grouping up in game to support each other and socialize in online games are some examples. There is also the entertainment industry itself as well as artists. Gamers often produce machinima as documentation of their own experiences playing. Most game videos found on YouTube consist of game footage, in many cases using the player’s favorite music as a soundtrack. Some of these videos very clearly serve as tutorials, showing difficult tasks and ways to solve them. Some exhibit the skills of the player’s game character in fights to give an impression of how and in which sequence skills can be used to the greatest possible effect. Gameplay documentation is also used by guilds/clans2 to analyze the group’s team play for weaknesses and improvements. They are used for debriefing and strategy development. Besides the innumerable videos using game footage as documentation, there are also machinima for music/dance videos, comedy and news shows. These three genres represent the greatest number of machinima productions on the website, a site for publishing and sharing the videos as well as how-to advice and articles on the history of machinima, workshops and competitions. The website has been integrated into YouTube and is now one of the many YouTube channels. The channel machinima (https:// has more than 12.5 million subscribers (as of May 2018). YouTube as a platform and the specific channel were chosen to reach a broader public. Guilds and clans also produce videos as promotion for their group and as a tool to recruit new players. These videos are then shared under the screen names of the players or under the guild/clans’ YouTube channel. These videos often are a mixture between documentation and advertisement for the group with references to other recruitment strategies, e.g. the American Army’s recruitment strategies,3 references to celebrities4 or the gaming history of the guild.5

2 Guilds or clans are organized groups of players playing together in online games on a regular basis. They share the same goals (e.g. competitive vs. casual gameplay). The group can be identified by a chosen name. To organize a bigger group of players, a guild leader and a few officers help to organize events, provide a social media channel, e.g. Discord, for communication outside of the game and a Teamspeak or Ventrilo server (for voice-over communication). 3 The video for the World of Warcraft guild Rogues take Zero Skills includes references to the American Army, (31 March 2020). 4 An example is a video made in the game Aion by the gaming clan MuffinFactory as an homage to Michael Jackson shortly after his death in 2009. Even though this video is not explicitly a recruitment video, it gives information about the clan’s history and the website. The video is not online anymore. 5 This recruitment video from the Ordo Veritas guild includes information about the guild’s success in other games and attempts to recruit players for Camelot Unchained, a game not


Karin Wenz

Discussing the relationship between the industry and the gamers as producers of machinima, Lowood (2009, 425) asks: “Is the relationship [. . .] characterized more accurately as one of conflict or of cooperation?” Generally, the game industry is perceived as giving the creative impulse for gamers to then create their machinima. However, even though the industry is the producer of the source the machinima is based upon, Lowood clearly sees the player “not only as performer but also as creator of the medium of presentation as well as the new forms of spectatorship associated with it” (Lowood 2009, 426; see also Lowood 2011). The player’s performance is central, and the game world is only used as a stage. This is even more the case in story-line machinima, in which narrative content is chosen or written by the players and enacted in the game world. These narratives are often completely unrelated to the game’s storyworld and sometimes use well-known narratives or theatrical scripts to be reenacted in a game world. An example is the Shakespeare project from Stage Left Studios.6 The group used the game Guild Wars 2 to re-enact different scenes from Shakespeare’s dramas such as scenes from Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet. In these cases, the gamers are as much developers as those in the game industry creating the games. Machinima increase engagement with the game by those who produce them as well as for those who watch them. This is one reason why machinima have finally been embraced by the entertainment industry.

The entertainment industry The entertainment industry does not follow one coherent set of rules in response to machinima production. This means that relying on a “fair use” doctrine is not a guarantee to avoid lawsuits, as discussed in a blog by James Wagner for machinima producers: A number of the top game companies have crafted usage rules around machinima. In fact, Microsoft’s Game Content Usage guidelines drew a lot of praise at the conference. (EFF’s Von Lohmann even compared them to the free software GPL license.) World of Warcraft developer Blizzard has machinima guidelines as well. But Von Lohmann strongly advised

launched at the time of the video production in 2017. 57jDZzCwWBk. (31 March 2020). 6 More information about the project and its producers can be found under: http://www.stage (31 March 2020).

Claiming Authorship? Machinima Production


machinima makers to also read the End User License Agreement for the individual game used. Microsoft’s EULAs recognize fair use, he noted, while Blizzard’s do not.7

Copyright infringement usually leads to the deletion of the machinima from YouTube or the gaming website, and not to a lawsuit. However, nowadays the entertainment industry usually reacts in one of two different ways to these machinima productions. First, they deem the gamers’ productions as a possibility to indirectly advertise their game. Blizzard offered its own video-sharing platform for World of Warcraft videos only.8 This does not mean that the videos are published there exclusively; producers of machinima also additionally publish their videos on YouTube. The websites hosted by the game publishers focus solely on their own product and bring together gamers and fans of one specific game. Sometimes competitions are announced and the best videos are chosen. Video-sharing platforms, but especially the support of the entertainment industry, has led to machinima production gaining ever greater acknowledgment. Thus, gamers’ activity is now seen in a positive light and not as an illegal activity related to copyright infringement or hacking. To publish a video on a site hosted by the game publisher, however, the video’s content creators must follow fair use rules, e.g. no commercial usage, seeking developer permission before applying for a competition, choosing a storyline as well as a visual representation adapted to the age group the game is made for, etc. The second reaction the entertainment industry has towards machinima is to create and use their own videos, either trailers as game advertisements or machinima to advertise products with no direct connection to the game, or for transmedia storytelling. The trailer production is related to game footage as documentation, but of course also to the production of trailers by the film industry. While the gamers who produce machinima are the “authors,” they are not automatically the owners (see Zimmerman 2003). Authorship and ownership seem to be detached in this case, as the player’s performance takes place in an environment that is owned by the developers.

7 (31 March 2020). 8 The following website hosts machinima from World of Warcraft: https://www.warcraftmovies. com/machinima.php. (31 March 2020).


Karin Wenz

Monetization Archival replay and gameplay documentation in combination with gamers’ comments have become the major genre of machinima. So-called “Let’s Play” videos are a relatively new genre but have become a very popular phenomenon. Let’s Play videos document a walkthrough and function as tutorials. At the same time, these are game reviews, often accompanied by subjective player commentaries. They date back to 2004 and the Something Awful forums – a community known for their Internet memes and engagement with online games (Glas 2013). After the interest in Let’s Play videos increased, Something Awful offered a sub-form exclusively dedicated to these walkthroughs. Various Let’s Play genres have developed over time, but typical for all of them is that gameplay is commented upon and often a personal narrative of the player is added. These genres include videos showing a player approaching a game for the first time, struggling with the interface or the gameplay, and showing his/her strategies to find a way through the game. Others include cooperation between several players where e.g. one is playing and another is commenting. A typical genre is also the speed run, showing a player finishing the game as fast as possible. These speed runs show off a player’s prowess, his/her knowledge of the game, but are also often by using exploids, cheats or bugs. A new aspect relevant for the discussion of authorship and ownership can be observed in the context of Let’s Play videos: monetization, the possibility to earn money from these productions by e.g. including advertisements, including a link to a company or referring to a brand in other ways. In 2007, YouTube launched their “Partner Program,” allowing content creators to monetize their content with adverts shown alongside their videos. To join the program, one must be “approved” (Google, no date, b). As instances of adverts appearing on videos posted by radical political groups increased, advertiser concern grew. In reaction to this, YouTube re-evaluated its approach towards content monetization, altering their policy without warning or communication to their content creators. Videos are now being algorithmically monetized or demonetized based on content. Acknowledging that their platform is a “source of income” and more than “just a creative outlet,” YouTube stated the changes were put in place to “help protect creator revenue” (Google 2017). This recent change has caused concern among content creators. Comments by content creators and an outcry by YouTube communities highlight a clash in points of view about what YouTube ought to be (from the perspective of the content creator compared to the corporation). YouTube acts as a publisher who decides which content is published under their label and which is not. This is not how the content creators understand the platform, but rather a tool to freely upload and share their productions. YouTube makes clear that while creators may use the platform to publish their content, they

Claiming Authorship? Machinima Production


do not own the platform and cannot claim the right to profit from their works without any restrictions. The reaction to this change by YouTube communities, and also the Let’s Play community was unambiguous. One of the most famous content creators on YouTube engaged in Let’s Play videos is Felix Kjellberg, aka PewDiePie. In 2018, he ranked fourth on YouTube with an estimated income for 2018 of €565.900–€9.1 million9 based on a combination of ad revenue and contracts with videogame producers. The change of YouTube’s policy affected him adversely as he uses explicit language in his Let’s Play videos, a feature that leads to demonetization on the platform. In one of his videos from 2016, he reflects on YouTube’s policy paper line by line and comments on it critically. Kjellberg (2016) stated, “we are the core of the site” and expressed his viewpoint that YouTube underestimates the relevance of their content creators for the platform. He knows that most of his content does not meet the monetization guidelines. As such, the rules compromise his business. In reaction to the changes in YouTube’s policy, in April 2017, Kjellberg announced that he was to begin a weekly stream on (Weiss 2017), creating another revenue stream.

Streaming Streaming services fit the interests of users, allow for monetization and are specialized, e.g. in digital games. A popular live-streaming service for games is, where a large community of streamers and followers has grown. was launched in 2011 and acquired by Amazon in 2014. Tom Smith, Marianna Obrist and Peter Wright (2013, 131) discuss the “player as commentator” who is in control of the unfolding gameplay. They have observed that “the video game livestreaming community is not unified in content or practice but technology” (ibid.). The Let’s Play community mentioned above already produces live-stream content but also video-on-demand (often shared on YouTube as well). The e-sports community is the largest. It documents e-sports competitions and shows the gameplay of professional gamers. Documenting and commenting on gameplay is key here. Following Veli-Matt Karhulahti (2016), two types of live-streaming can be distinguished: a) personal live-streaming, streaming one’s personal performance (gamerelated or not) via platforms like and b) impersonal live-streaming, when a third-party organization streams the gameplay, which is often the case in e-sports tournaments and mirrors the practice of TV/radio sports broadcasting

9 Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg has 103 million subscribers to his main channel in 2020. https:// (31 March 2020).


Karin Wenz

with commentators. Streaming platforms have been designed for direct interaction, and streaming is different from machinima in this respect. Players can comment on the live-stream the moment it is recorded. The comments can be seen by the streamer so that he/she can react directly, either by speaking (audio commentary) or writing in the chat window of the streaming interface. A picture-in-picture frame within the live-stream is integrated as part of the stream. The streamer can use one of the windows to be seen in person (or embed another video). Some streamers use the larger window to stream footage of themselves and the smaller part for the gameplay, or they switch between both depending on what they want to show and comment on. This allows them to highlight their performance as skilled players or entertaining commentators. The majority of streamers, however, use the main screen to show the game. Monetization is possible here not only via ad revenue but also by donations from followers. A button directs the viewer to a site, where money can be donated along with a message to the streamer. This increases not only the agency of the streamer but also of his/her audience. In the case of personal live-streaming the question arises of who the author and owner of the stream is. The case is more complex here as we have two videos: the video showing the streamer and the video showing the game.’s terms of service treat both as one and the same. As the publisher of the content, stipulates that “all Materials contained on the Twitch Services are the property of Twitch” and “are protected by relevant intellectual property and proprietary rights and laws” excluding user content.10 However, user content including personal information about the user (e.g. the frame showing him/her playing) maybe used by What we observe here is an understanding of shared ownership. The live-stream is understood as the intellectual property of the streamer and thereby his/her authorship and ownership are approved. At the same time ownership is also claimed by as publisher of the content. This is a business model well known to book publishing, where authors sign copyright agreements and thereby either share the ownership or even give ownership to the publishing house. Leenheer Zimmerman (2003, 1140) writes: [I]n 1772 [. . .] the poet Friedrich Gottlob Klopstock unveiled a scheme to enable writers to circumvent publishers altogether and bring their works directly to the public by subscription. His aim, he wrote, was ‘to ascertain whether it might be possible by arranging such subscriptions for scholars to become the owners of their writings. For at present they are so only in appearance: book dealers are the real proprietors, because scholars must turn their writings over to them if they want to have these writing printed.

10 (31 March 2020).

Claiming Authorship? Machinima Production


Authors are owners “only in appearance” – little has changed since. Content creators using content owned by the gaming industry add another element of uncertainty. As in the case of YouTube, also understands its role partly as publisher, claiming ownership as a publisher would.

Conclusion Authorship and ownership are what is at stake in machinima production and gaming communities’ live-streaming practices. As has been shown, the concept of authorship is barely used in the discussions of machinima and streaming communities. It is the ideational understanding of authorship in contrast to a juridical understanding of ownership that has to be distinguished, however; even though the term “ownership” is used by creators in this context as well. The game designers and platform owners on the other hand see a usage they might deem to be appropriation, but the “emotional ownership” the creators claim implies more than appropriation of a product of popular culture (Lamerichs 2014). The creators of machinima are more the directors of their production – more the producers than the authors. As the material investigated here is also much closer to video and TV production, the term authorship is barely used by the communities. The games that are used for recording and streaming are not owned by the players and neither are the platforms for publishing. The platforms consider themselves to be publishers who decide which content is published under their label and which is not, how they use this content further for their own purposes and how they allow for or restrict monetization. This is in line with broadcasting stations that decide what is accepted as part of their programming and what is not. In contrast to broadcasting, however, we do not have someone in charge of the programming for the whole platform, nor do content producers have a contract or necessarily get paid. Content creators understand the platforms to be a community service, a form of utility, to express their voice – and believe that without their content the platforms would simply be empty shells. Typical for platforms is that they do not provide content themselves and are therefore dependent on content creators sharing their works. The platform as publisher provides the technology and technological support and asks for content in exchange. For game content being used and appropriated, the game publishers are the copyright holders. This is experienced by content creators as censorship, especially in cases when the publishers claim that they have a say as to which kind of content may be published and which is not acceptable and has to be taken down.


Karin Wenz

Some game publishers state that they own all content supplied with the game software. Content creators often cite fair use in their defense. In the case of parody, this helps, but not all machinima formats are protected, neither is live-streaming. This is an example of conflict between the copyright holders and those who claim “ownership” – although the machinima makers mean ideational authorship – over their creative productions. With the move from experimental and story-telling machinima to tutorials and documentation of gameplay, the focus of the production being understood as an original – implying that an author or a collective of authors was involved – has moved to a much stronger understanding of these productions as educational tools or as proof of the player’s or group of players’ extraordinary skills. The communal relevance of these productions as tutorials have thus come to the fore, while conflicts with the game publishers have receded into the background. Tutorials help new players find their way in the game world and make the game more accessible for less experienced players. Why would a game publisher complain when the tutorial functions as a free advertisement tool? Are they instead exploiting the player who is producing indirect ads for their product? The motivation for a player to produce such a video is strong and goes beyond monetization. It has to do with their reputation in the gaming community. These productions are shared not only on YouTube and but also embedded in gaming forums and the social media platform Discord, used by gaming communities. This means that they spread fast and help to build up a player’s fame within the community. Gamers as performers both in the games with their game characters but also in person as commentators have become as famous in their community as some TV celebrities. The community understands them as the producer, “author” and owner of the content provided. Their role is also appreciated by game developers and community managers. Popular gamers are approached by the latter and receive special support, e.g. specific game items as a present in an online world. These items are often given as a gift to the community and make the chosen player even more popular. Sometimes players and guilds receive an invitation from developers to play a game before launch for alpha testing to give feedback. Playing a game before launch gives players an advantage as they already know the game, have learned how to play and have developed strategies to be successful in the game environment before the main player community can even start. This helps to build the gamers’ reputations. Their agency and control over the game but also over the gaming community is increased. This does not increase their ownership from a legal perspective, but it does boost their involvement and “emotional ownership” (Lamerichs 2014). These are motivations for sharing and creating content alongside the monetization of their work.

Claiming Authorship? Machinima Production


Content creators using digital games find themselves in a power struggle between copyright holders (the game publisher), their understanding of their works as their own and the ownership claim of the publishing platform they use. An understanding of authorship–equals–ownership is simplistic and idealistic. It was not part of the printing industry, nor the broadcasting industry, neither does this understanding apply to sharing creative content in a digital age. Furthermore, the platforms claim the right to not only use the posted content but all data provided by content creators, to sell such data to make their technological support sustainable and profitable. In this case, not only ownership of the creative work is challenged but ownership of personal data as well – a subject for further study.

References Benjamin, Walter. The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. London: Penguin, 1936. boyd, danah. “Undoing the Neutrality of Big Data.” Florida Law Review 67 (2016). 226–232. Glas, René. Battlefields of Negotiation. Control, Agency and Ownership in World of Warcraft. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2013. Glas, René. “Vicarious play: Engaging the viewer in Let's Play videos.” Empedocles: European Journal for the Philosophy of Communication 5.1–2 (2015). 81–86. Google. History of Monetization at YouTube. youtube5year/home/history-of-monetization-at-youtube. N.d. (31 March 2020). Google b. Advertiser-friendly content guidelines. answer/97527?hl=en. N.d. (31 March 2020). Google. Introducing Expanded YouTube Partner Program Safeguards to Protect Creators. YouTube Creator Blog, 2017 (31 March 2020). Jenkins, Henry, Mizuko Ito, and danah boyd. Participatory Culture in a Networked Era. London: Polity Press, 2016. John, Nicholas A. “Sharing and Web 2.0: The Emergence of a Keyword.” New Media & Society 15.2 (2013). 167–82. Jordan, Tim. Information Politics. Liberation and Exploitation in the Digital Society. London: Pluto Press, 2015. Karhulahti, Veli-Matt. “Prank, troll, gross and gore: Performance issues in esport livestreaming.” Proceedings of 1st International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG. Dundee, Scotland: Digital Games Research Association and Society for the Advancement of the Science of Digital Games, 2016. (31 March 2020). Kelland, Matt. “From game mod to low-budget film: the evolution of machinima.” The machinima reader. Ed. Henry Lowood and Michael Nitsche. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT, 2011. 22–35. Kjellberg, Felix. Unmonetized., 2016. (31 March 2020).


Karin Wenz

Lamerichs, Nicolle. Productive Fandom. Intermediality and Affective Reception in Fan Cultures. Ph.D. thesis Maastricht University, 2014. Leenheer Zimmerman, Diane. “Authorship without ownership: Reconsidering incentives in a digital age.” DePaul Law Review 52 (2003). 1121–1170. Lowood, Henry. “Storyline, Dance/ Music,or PvP? Game Movies and Community Players in World of Warcraft.” Games and Culture 1 (2006). 362–382. Lowood, Henry. “Found technology: Players as innovators in the making of machinima.” Digital Youth, Innovation, and the Unexpected. Ed. Tara McPherson. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT, 2007. 165–196. Lowood, Henry. “Warcraft adventures: Texts, replay and machinima in a game-based storyworld.” Third person: Authoring and Exploring Vast Narratives. Ed. Pat Harrigan and Noah Wardrip-Fruin. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT, 2009. 407–428. Lowood, Henry, and Michael Nitsche, eds. The Machinima Reader. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT, 2011. Michielse, Maarten. Remix, Cover, Mash. Remediating Phonographic-oral Practice Online. Ph. D. thesis Maastricht University, 2015. Ng, Alina. “When users are authors: authorship in the age of digital media.” Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law 12.4 (2010). 853–888. Ng, Jenna, ed. Understanding Machinima: Essays on Filmmaking in Virtual Worlds. London: Bloomsbury, 2013. Salen, Katie. “Telefragging monster movies.” Game on: The History and Culture of Videogames. Ed. Lucien King. London: Laurence King Publishing, 2002. 98–112. Smith, Tom, Marianna Obrist, and Peter C. Wright. “Live-streaming changes the (video)game.” Proceedings of the 11th European Conference on Interactive TV and Video. New York: ACM, 2013. 131–138. doi 10.1145/2465958.2465971 (31 March 2020). Taylor, Nicholas. “Play to the camera: Video ethnography, spectatorship and e-sports.” Convergence 22.2 (2016). 115–130. Wagner, James. “How to Make Machinima without Getting Sued Blind.” 2009/04/28/how-to-make-machinima-without-getting-sued-blind. Gigiaom. (2009) (31 March 2020). Weiss, Geoff. Pewdiepie to Launch Weekly Twitch Streams. 04/06/pewdiepie-to-launch-weekly-twitch-streams/. 2017. (31 March 2020).

Vera Cuntz-Leng

Authors, Fans, Pirates: On Fan Practices and Authorship Twenty-first century’s popular culture is defined by constant appropriation and reappropriation – from hip-hop to fashion brands to fan fiction, through different cultural contexts, media, genres and institutions. The phenomenon has been given different names: One may refer to it as a “remix” culture (Gunkel 2016; Lessig 2004) and call its cultural artifacts “mashups” (Voigts 2015). It has been called a “piracy culture” (Castells and Cardoso 2012) of “textual poachers” (Jenkins 1992) that are “free” in the sense that Richard Stallmann (2002) and Lawrence Lessig (2004) use the term. Mirko Tobias Schäfer called it a “bastard culture,” in which the “interactions between users and corporations, and the connectivity between markets and media practices, are inherently intertwined” (2011, 11). Due to digitalization, the access to participatory media practices has become easier, cheaper, faster as well as time- and location-independent. In fact, with participatory culture becoming so easily accessible to its users and consumers, we are beginning to see an increasing “lack of respect” or “loss of reverence” in the more traditional understandings of authorship, intellectual property and cultural heritage (Obrist 2015, 191). Who owns and produces today’s culture? Can the concept of the persona auctoritas – with its codes, rules and concomitant power – still claim overarching validity today? Does it even still apply? The term “piracy culture” describes how on a global scale people build “media relationships outside the institutionalized sets of rules” (Castells and Cardoso 2012, 826). The refusal to follow established rules manifests itself in illegally downloading and using copyrighted material from the Internet, borrowing and remixing, through derivative writing – the “writing from sources” (Jamison 2013, 25). The phenomenon of active participation in fan cultures, such as fan fiction writing and audio-visual fan art, memes, and game mods, constantly challenges the traditional understanding of authorship. How do these cultural practices challenge the ways in which we distinguish authors from writers, from poachers, from DJs? And is it possible to propose new concepts to describe these text creators in a way that better fits today’s conditions of cultural production? What is the true nature of authorship and how does the current media environment force us to change our thinking about it? The aim of this chapter is to stress different understandings of authorship by looking into the self-perception of successful contemporary novelists whose works have attracted a lot of attention and appropriation by fans in the digital


Vera Cuntz-Leng

environments of online communities and through social media: Anne Rice (The Vampire Chronicles), Joanne K. Rowling (Harry Potter) and George R.R. Martin (A Song of Ice and Fire). Other than these writers, Stephenie Meyer (Twilight) as a fourth example, is quite interesting since she was not an “analogue” writer; her success is very much connected to new media developments. At the same time, Meyer’s strategies of writing from other texts can hardly be distinguished from the writing practices witnessed in fan fiction. This is important in order to understand what I would like to call “authorship 2.0.” By critically discussing the writings of Meyer, E.L. James (Fifty Shades of Grey) and associated fan works, the true similarities between “official” and “unofficial” forms of appropriation rise to the surface.

Borrowing, stealing, archival practices and the question of authorship in fan cultures With Michel de Certeau’s The Practice of Everyday Life (1984) in mind, media and fan scholar Henry Jenkins (1992) argues that the act of “poaching” refers to an ongoing power struggle between producers and users over the possession and control of a certain cultural artifact and its meaning – be it a text, a film, a television series, a video game or a star persona. This power-struggle is all the more prevalent within fan communities since fans are the group of consumers most invested in the products. When fans produce their own content based on the work of someone else, are they really borrowing or even stealing intellectual property? Jenkins claims that the activities and actions of fans: [. . .] pose important questions about the ability of media producers to constrain the creation and circulation of meanings. Fans construct their cultural and social identity through borrowing and inflecting mass culture images, articulating concerns, which often go unvoiced within the dominant media. (ibid., 23)

Consequentially, these questions regarding the constraints erected by media producers lead directly to a critical reflection and reevaluation of the concept of authorship. There is a notable turn towards authority – one that stresses the hierarchies established between officially and unofficially produced and published content, and the maintenance of said hierarchies. It is quite telling and deeply problematic, however, that the term used by Jenkins reinforces these established distinctions and hierarchies because poaching suggests illegitimacy. In response, Abigail de Kosnik has insightfully problematized Jenkins’ notion of poaching as well as other terms that have been used to describe the nature of texts written by fans: “derivative” and “appropriative.” The use of these labels for

Authors, Fans, Pirates: On Fan Practices and Authorship


fan fiction questions the legitimacy of the literary genre since they signify a hierarchy between two texts that automatically devalues the secondary text as the lesser one in terms of its quality, originality, creativity and legality. To counter this inherent bias, de Kosnik instead proposes the term “archontic literature.”1 She argues that the word “archontic” [. . .] is not laden with references to property rights or judgments about the relative merits of the antecedent and descendant works. A literature that is archontic is a literature composed of texts that are archival in nature and that are impelled by the same archontic principle: that tendency toward enlargement and accretion that all archives possess. Archontic texts are not delimited properties with definite borders that can be transgressed. So all texts that build on a previously existing text are not lesser than the source text, and they do not violate the boundaries of the source text; rather, they only add to that text’s archive, becoming a part of the archive and expanding it. An archontic text allows, or even invites, writers to enter it, select specific items they find useful, make new artifacts using those found objects, and deposit the newly made work back into the source text’s archive. (Derecho 2006, 64–65)

The concept of the archive is useful when reflecting upon the problem of authorship in fan fiction. To a certain degree, this understanding of fan texts as archontic releases their creators from their ongoing struggles for self-definition and legitimization. Archontic texts are like puzzle pieces of a bigger fictional story-world/fictional universe where every piece requires the next one, each as necessary as the last, in order to create and expand the narrative in its complexity and size. Collective authorship is the premise for the archive, and the archive can be understood as the premise for world building. For franchises like Marvel or Star Trek, which originated and benefited from collective authorship, the idea of the archive may be selfevident. Yet, the issue seems to be quite different when it comes to fandoms that are linked to the fictional works of a certain individual person (especially novelists and musicians): Arthur Conan Doyle, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, J.R.R. Tolkien, Ursula K. Le Guin, Anne Rice, Joanne K. Rowling, George R.R. Martin, Stephenie Meyer, E.L. James, among others.

Conventional forms of understanding authorship The authorship of original works of art is legally protected under copyright law. In Germany, the rights of utilization can be transferred to another person or institution, but the author is always protected as the sole creator of a certain work of

1 For a more in-depth study on the archontic principle, see Kosnik 2016.


Vera Cuntz-Leng

art. This safeguard of the author’s interests ends seventy years after his or her death. Afterwards, the work enters the public domain. While more than seventy years have passed since the death of Doyle and Austen – novelists who are still very popular in contemporary fan culture – questions regarding authorship and the legitimacy of texts are more pressing with living authors who may generate new content themselves. As a first example, Anne Rice’s relationship with her own novels and fictional characters as well as to her fans and the larger The Vampire Chronicles fictional universe shows a conventional understanding of authorship and ownership that appears untenable in the Internet age. The Vampire Chronicles consist of 13 novels so far, with the first book Interview with the Vampire having been published in 1976. A cinematic adaptation of the first novel, directed by Neil Jordan, came out in 1994. Therefore, both were released in time periods prior to fandom becoming a large-scale online movement. However, if the movie is perceived as a derivative work of Rice’s novel and as an extension of the Vampire Chronicles archive, Rice’s initial reservations towards the movie operate in a comparable manner to her later reservations towards digital fan culture. At first, Rice was unhappy with the casting of Tom Cruise as the vampire Lestat: The Tom Cruise casting is just so bizarre, it’s almost impossible to imagine how it’s going to work, and it’s really almost impossible to imagine how Neil [Jordan], David [Geffen] and Tom [Cruise] could have come up with it. I have one question: Does Tom Cruise have any idea of what he’s getting into? I’m not sure he does. I’m not sure he’s read any of the books other than the first one. (Frankel 1994)

Rice rejected that Cruise might have sufficient knowledge of her text to play the role, which in her mind made him unfit to take part in an adaptation. Her estimation of her power over the text and its theatrical interpretation reflect an attempt to assert her authority as its author. The film’s success and critical acclaim for Cruise’s performance suggest that she overestimated her status. This would carry on in Rice’s battle over authorship online. In 2000, she sent a cease and desist letter to the online multi-fandom archive in order not only to control but to fully stop the production of fan fiction based on The Vampire Chronicles. The result was that the owners of the platform deleted all fan fiction related to her works. These legal conflicts over the website’s content even made it into the website’s guidelines (https://www.fanfiction. net/guidelines). (Fig. 1) However, while it may no longer be possible to sort and group Vampire Chronicles fan fiction into a corresponding category on, several hundred stories featuring the vampire Lestat can still be found on the site via the search function. Aside from the platform, Vampire Chronicles

Authors, Fans, Pirates: On Fan Practices and Authorship


Fig. 1: Guidelines of regarding copyright issues with certain authors.

fan fiction regularly pops up across several websites, remaining there for a while and then disappearing again. This process illustrates quite nicely Hakim Bey’s (2003) anarchistic vision of the nomadic principle that defines the World Wide Web. Websites that fans and writers of Vampire Chronicles fan fiction use as gathering points operate analogue to Bey’s idea of islands on the web – temporary autonomous zones where revolution (against certain guidelines, against the power of the author) is possible for a limited time and that cannot be found or controlled due to their instable nature. These pirate utopias are “open – not to everyone, of course, but to the affinity group, the initiates sworn to a bond of love” (ibid., 103), in other words: the fans. The need for a bond of love emphasizes the fact that, in fan cultures, the majority of fandom participants are actually involved not so much with the cultural artifact in question but with the fandom itself, unconditionally and thoroughly. In the case of Rice, she has been unable to understand these mechanisms – of fan communities and web infrastructures alike – and her statements show a strong belief in her power over the text. The following personal statement by Rice, as quoted by Rachel Parish (2016), illustrates the author’s attitude towards intellectual property and her naïve belief in being able to control the reader: I do not allow fan-fiction. The characters are copyrighted. It upsets me terribly to even think about fan-fiction with my characters. I advise my readers to write your own original stories with your own characters. It is absolutely essential that you respect my wishes. (ibid., 110) (Fig. 2)

George R.R. Martin, author of the famous fantasy saga A Song of Ice and Fire that has been adapted for TV as the series Game of Thrones (2011–2019), shares Rice’s


Vera Cuntz-Leng

Fig. 2: George R.R. Martin internet meme, source unknown.

reservations towards fan fiction – in a manner that is at the same time more aggressive and less resentful: “My characters are my children . . . I don’t want people making off with them, thank you” (Kosnik 2016, 265). Judith May Fathallah argues that A Song of Ice and Fire is not only a story about authority but that Martin asserts himself as the “Author-God” (2017, 103). The construction of Martin’s authority as the author is discursive in nature and, clearly, although Martin does not have “the power to ban fanfic, [he] discursively lays claim to the patriarchal, traditional authority of the author” (ibid., 115). Yet, Martin’s relationship with other writers playing in “his” world and with “his” characters has become much more complicated since the release of the sixth season of the TV adaptation. Martin’s novels have lost their status as the primary source or “urtext” since the narrative of the TV series got ahead of the events in the books. If we put the still prevailing hierarchy between different media aside for a moment, one can imagine that this shift in the publication process may lead to questions about Martin’s authority over the text’s interpretation. Both authors’ statements make clear that Rice and Martin argue against fan texts in terms of ownership – mine vs. yours. But if we stick to the idea of the archive, and if we perceive of The Vampire Chronicles and A Song of Ice and Fire as archives in their own right – detached from the creator of the first item in that archive, out of his or her control inevitable questions arise. Lev Grossman poses one in his TIME article discussing the cultural division that occurs around “original” and fan works:

Authors, Fans, Pirates: On Fan Practices and Authorship


Do characters belong to the person who created them? Or to the fans who love them so passionately that they spend their nights and weekends laboring to extend those characters’ lives, for free? There’s a division here, a geological fault line, that looks small on the surface but runs deep into our culture, and the tectonic plates are only moving farther apart. Is art about making up new things or about transforming the raw material that’s out there? (Grossman 2011)

The example that Grossman discusses is Harry Potter – today still one of the liveliest and most active online fan communities with major fan fiction output. Taken together, the parallel evolution of Rowling’s story and the growing-up of her readers and fans alongside the digital revolution of online fandom explain the exceptional success of Harry Potter fan culture. Quite differently from Rice and Martin, Harry Potter author Rowling has publicly endorsed fan fiction – notably in the wake of some unpleasant and unsuccessful legal hassles with fans at the beginning of her career (Jenkins 2006, 194–200). Today, Rowling uses several, both more subtle and more effective strategies to control the reception of her work: online through the centralized platform Pottermore,2 which is actually a counter model to Bey’s pirate utopia; and through the constant publication of additional material that incrementally closes the gaps and imaginative spaces originally left open for self-inclusions by fans; finally, through certain developments in the novels themselves, like strategically killing off characters that most appealed to fan fiction writers of adult material. Further, as many scholars have pointed out, the Harry Potter novels combine a variety of elements from different contexts and literary traditions: fantasy, boarding school narratives, detective stories, and a combination of Austen, Dickens and Tolkien. Philip Nel has therefore described the books as the “creative synthesis of a lifetime of reading” (2005, 245). In this sense, Rowling really did transform what Grossman has called the “raw material that’s out there.” But this has not led to a questioning of her status as an author. Whereas Martin and Rice dwell in the illusion that they have created original characters that are somehow their intellectual property, Rowling quite self-consciously engages with the fact that her works would not exist without other texts and visionaries. However, when Rowling chose to extra-textually out one of the most popular characters of the saga as homosexual, Albus Dumbledore, it gave some fans the opportunity to choose to ignore her interpretation (Kebarle 2009). This indicates a loss of power by the author, who may have involuntarily become one reader of the text among millions after publication of the book and the “end” of the story.

2 For a more in-depth discussion of Pottermore in terms of its endorsement of certain kinds of ‘good’ fan culture see Cuntz-Leng 2014.


Vera Cuntz-Leng

But mostly, the author’s superior role remains unchallenged by fan fiction writers. It is not solely the novelists who are trying to sustain their own status as authorial figures. The publishers and the fans themselves maintain the hierarchy between official author and unofficial fan writer. We have to keep in mind that the traditional, legal concept of authorship is not there to safeguard the intellectual property of a specific person. Instead, it is primarily used to control the monetization of texts and to sustain an industry, namely, the book publishing industry. Traditional notions of authorship allow this industry to live off the ideas of a second party, deemed the author, and the revenue from a third, its customers. Some of those customers are also fans. So, the big question is: Why is it taken for granted that one party (the publishing industry) may benefit from the ideas of party number two (the authors), but party number three (the fans) may not? Nevertheless, there is obviously a glaring logical fallacy in equating monetary benefits (industry) with ideational benefits of having a story-world to create in (fandom). The only way around the counter argument, which any publisher would bring, i.e. it costs money to print, advertise and distribute, may well be to point out that this is the very fallacy authors make when they lay claims to exclusive authorship in an environment where publishing costs = 0. Not only authors and industry but mainly the fans perpetuate and sustain the author/fan divide and the hierarchies between texts. Fathallah argues that this “legitimation paradox” (2007, 9–10; 200–202) in fandom finds its clearest expression in the ongoing reproduction of the author-fan distinction. Although fan fiction writers obviously put a great deal of time, effort and creativity into their texts, these are perceived as inferior to other forms of literature – even to other forms of literature that allude to earlier sources, such as parody or homage. Similar to the ready-mades and found object art (e.g., Marcel Duchamp’s The Fountain, 1917), fan fiction is condemned through accusations of plagiarism and vulgarity. The accusation of plagiarism comes from the above-mentioned derivative origin of fan texts; the accusation of vulgarity is due to the huge amount of explicitly pornographic fan fiction. But unlike Duchamp, the fan community lacks a will to overthrow this notion of inferiority. Instead, the community itself subscribes to it. Apologetic gestures by fans for their own practices and the items they create are quite common. The best example may be the socalled disclaimer. A disclaimer is a generally redundant text form that fans regularly put above their own story in the header. Interestingly, the disclaimer has absolutely no legal relevance – the fan is in no way protected from copyright lawsuits, although, at least in the United States, fan fiction is tolerated under fair use. Since the legal irrelevance of the disclaimer is known in the community but the text form is established as a fan practice, many disclaimers are

Authors, Fans, Pirates: On Fan Practices and Authorship


slightly ironic and funny. The disclaimer signifies that the writer is associated with the fan community and knows the rules and its customs, but it can also be seen as a moral safeguard and courtesy towards the original copyright holders. In addition, the superior positioning of the disclaimer on top of the page is important to maintain the hierarchy between author and fan writer. To place a disclaimer at the end of a certain fan text would be unusual. Moreover, the actual wording of the disclaimer reveals in many cases that the inferiority of fan texts stems from the self-conception of the fan: “Rowling owns the characters, the plot, and my soul. I own only the spaces in between”; or “We do not own Static Shock or it’s [sic] characters . . . and unfortunately, during the move, I broke my coffee pot . . . so . . . I DON’T OWN A COFFEE POT EITHER! *cries*”; or “I own nothing.” All these phrases are both a very personal statement describing a bond with the original text and a statement acknowledging the property of the copyright holders, as well as a communiqué to the fan community letting fellow fans know that the writer is one of them, facing the same issues, working under the same circumstances and codices, giving his or her contribution to the archive of the respective fandom freely to the community with no intention to make money from it. As I implied earlier, the lack of monetization in fandom is one key factor why fan fiction writers are not recognized as authors. But many fans are proud of the gift economy of fandom and celebrate it as a counter-model to the capitalist exploitation of literature, and they find compensation for their work through non-monetary forms of appreciation, for example the number of likes or kudos a story gets or reviews written by fellow fans (Turk 2014). To possibly earn money from writing fan fiction – a literary form that evolves in and from a certain more or less closed community – seems to be an unimpeachable taboo, mostly dismissed as selfish betrayal. There are only a few known exceptions of fans who have moved from producing unofficial content online to officially published texts marketed by publishing companies.

Authorship 2.0 Whereas Rice and Martin represent traditional understandings of authorship, and Rowling is situated in between offline and online culture, the success of Stephenie Meyer, writer of the Twilight saga, is directly connected to social media and (female) online fan culture. It is an open secret in online fan communities that Meyer, prior to her career as an author, consumed fan fiction based on the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997–2003). In fact, seen from the perspective


Vera Cuntz-Leng

of literary aesthetics, Meyer’s writing and style employ the conventions of fan fiction, suggesting that Meyer is well aware of the reception processes and literary conventions among online fan fiction communities and uses them for her own success (Wagenseller Goletz 2012). She does this mostly with her subjective writing style from the perspective of her protagonist Bella. Bella is a so-called “Mary Sue” character type – the Mary Sue or Gary Stu as a male version are a common staple in fan fiction: this is a clumsy alter ego of the writing fan that is loved and admired by all the other characters. Moreover, similar to fan writers, Meyer initially faced legal action due to potential copyright infringement and plagiarism, but all charges were eventually dismissed. These factors have helped to successively deconstruct the myth and image of the author-god in Twilight fandom. The perception of the fan texts as legitimate works increases in inverse proportion to Twilight’s cultural value as a unique and creative work of art. On the one hand, the closeness between official and unofficial text gives the franchise a new archival openness, which greatly differs from Harry Potter, Game of Thrones or The Vampire Chronicles. On the other hand, Twilight has been dismissed as cheap and primitive entertainment for girls and housewives: the exact same devaluation strategies that dominate the discourse on fan fiction. This devaluation discourse is mirrored by the reception of E.L. James’ Fifty Shades books, which have been controversially discussed due to their explicit content and a biased portrayal of BDSM. As I will show, Fifty Shades of Grey is directly linked to the Twilight saga and fandom. Similar to Twilight, Fifty Shades “generated an ironic, even guilty, fandom in which readers and viewers bemoan the series’ flaws, while enjoying (sometimes furtively) the texts. [It has the] status as the current hated text par excellence” (Harman and Jones 2013, 953). Twilight is a story about non-heteronormative sexual practices and abuse as much as Fifty Shades is a romantic fantasy. They are two objects within the same archive. Fifty Shades originated as Twilight fan fiction under the title Master of the Universe, published on by E.L. James under the pen name Snowqueen’s Icedragon in 2009, deleted in 2011 (her account is still online, though) – a fact that had been downplayed by publisher Vintage Books. Vintage in turn is a Random House subsidiary that purchased the legal rights for republishing the books from the small ebook publishing house The Writer’s Coffee Shop, which specializes in fan fiction. Changes in the Master of the Universe text had to be made prior to publication of Fifty Shades in order to avoid possible copyright infringements, but Meyer never tried to take any legal action against Fifty Shades. But its derivative origin, alongside Fifty Shades’ explicit content, was precisely the reason for many critics to dismiss Fifty Shades as naïve, poorly written and uncreative (Harman and Jones 2013, 952; Cuntz-Leng 2017, 207–209). (Fig. 3)

Authors, Fans, Pirates: On Fan Practices and Authorship


Fig. 3: of Snowqueen’s Icedragon.

Whereas the origin of Fifty Shades remained unbeknownst to many readers of the books, James’ success became a major issue within fan debates for several reasons (Jones 2014). Some Twilight fans felt betrayed because they had collaborated with Snowqueen’s Icedragon and contributed to the story, but James took the sole credit for Fifty Shades’ success. Others have embraced James’ selfpromotion and success as an important opening for amateur writers and for female voices in literature to step out of the secure anonymity of the online realm. As Bethan Jones (2014) has put it: Analyzing the reactions of fans to the publication and widespread success of the Fifty Shades series reveals two results: fans either applaud James for making the leap from fan fic to pro fic, or they criticize her for exploiting her fans and bringing fandom into disrepute.

Only minor textual changes have been made from the Twilight fan fiction to the published novel Fifty Shades of Grey. The more significant change is the writer’s transition from Snowqueen’s Icedragon to E.L. James – the establishment of a non-anonymous author persona in the marketing process and through the press coverage, which permanently uproots James from the community she had joined originally as a member, as an equal among other Twilight fans. In this sense, James is trying to establish herself within a more traditional understanding of authorship, with the final text being the result of a single writer. However, the genesis of Fifty Shades and its predominantly negative public perception indicate the futility of these endeavors. On the contrary, embracing online authorship (from fan fiction) as being predominantly collective and archontic would have presented the opportunity to create a more complex, democratic and open model of authorship in the digital age. Eventually, this would have helped to legitimate Fifty Shades, but if still measured by standards established by nineteenth- and twentieth-century publication principles and organizational structures, the diminishing of Fifty Shades, its origin, and its creator(s) remains inevitable.


Vera Cuntz-Leng

Conclusion Authorship is not an established entity. Although the book industry wants us to believe differently, authorship always has been and still is – now maybe more than ever – fluid and changeable. Current developments through social media in general and by online fan fiction in particular continue to challenge established concepts. With more big franchises and more collectively written texts entering the market, the public understanding of authorship will necessarily become less subjective and more archival in nature. The future will show what consequences these developments will have – not only for authors and the book market but also for fan fiction and other fan cultural practices. Will it be the end of free labor in fandom or the end of the publishing sector as we know it?

References Bey, Hakim. T.A.Z.: The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism. New York: Autonomedia, 2003. Castells, Manuel, and Gustavo Cardoso. “Piracy Cultures.” International Journal of Communication 6 (2012). 826–833. Certeau, Michel De. The Practice of Everyday Life. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984. Cuntz-Leng, Vera. “Harry Potter transmedial.” IMAGE 20 (2014). 42–59. Cuntz-Leng, Vera. “Slash/Trash: Fanfiction zwischen Kunst, Kritik und Kehricht.” Banal, Trivial, Phänomenal: Spielarten des Trash. Ed. Jonas Nesselhauf and Markus Schleich. Darmstadt: Büchner, 2017. 207–222. Derecho, Abigail. “Archontic Literature: A Definition, a History, and Several Theories of Fan Fiction.” Fan Fiction and Fan Communities in the Age of the Internet: New Essays. Ed. Kristina Busse and Karen Hellekson. Jefferson: McFarland, 2006. 61–78. Fathallah, Judith May. Fanfiction and the Author: How Fanfic Changes Popular Cultural Texts. Amsterdam: Amsterdam UP, 2017. Frankel, Martha. “Interview with the Author of Interview with the Vampire.” http://www.angel Movieline 5 (1 January 1994) (15 November 2019). Grossman, Lev. “The Boy Who Lived Forever.” 0,8599,2081784,00.html. TIME (7 July 2011) (15 November 2019). Gunkel, David J. Of Remixology: Ethics and Aesthetics after Remix. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2016. Harman, Sarah, and Bethan Jones. “Fifty Shades of Ghey: Snark Fandom and the Figure of the Anti-Fan.” Sexualities 16.8 (2013). 951–968. Jamison, Anne. Fic: Why Fanfiction Is Taking Over the World. Dallas: BenBella, 2013. Jenkins, Henry. Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture. New York: Routledge, 1992. Jenkins, Henry. Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York and London: NYU Press, 2006.

Authors, Fans, Pirates: On Fan Practices and Authorship


Jones, Bethan. “Fifty Shades of Exploitation: Fan Labor and Fifty Shades of Grey.” https://jour Transformative Works and Cultures 15 (2014) (15 November 2019). Kebarle, Karen. “If Rowling Says Dumbledore is Gay, is He Gay? Harry Potter and the Role of Authorial Intention.” Hog’s Head Conversations: Essays on Harry Potter. Ed. Travis Prinzi. Allentown: Zossima, 2009. 141–164. Kosnik, Abigail De. Rogue Archives: Digital Cultural Memory and Media Fandom. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2016. Lessig, Lawrence. Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity. New York: Penguin, 2004. Nel, Philip. “Is There a Text in This Advertising Campaign? Literature, Marketing, and Harry Potter.” The Lion and the Unicorn 29.1 (2005). 236–267. Obrist, Hans Ulrich. Kuratieren! Munich: C.H. Beck, 2015. Parish, Rachel. “In the Author’s Hands: Contesting Authorship and Ownership in Fan Fiction.” Authorship Contested: Cultural Challenges to the Authentic, Autonomous Author. Ed. Amy E. Robillard and Ron Fortune. New York and London: Routledge, 2016. 107–117. Schäfer, Mirko Tobias. Bastard Culture! How User Participation Transforms Cultural Production. Amsterdam: Amsterdam UP, 2011. Stallman, Richard M. Free Software, Free Society: Selected Essays of Richard M. Stallman. Ed. Joshua Gay. Boston: GNU Press, 2002. Turk, Tisha. “Fan Work: Labor, Worth, and Participation in Fandom’s Gift Economy.” https:// Transformative Works and Cultures 15 (2014) (15 November 2019). Voigts, Eckart. “Mashup und intertextuelle Hermeneutik des Alltagslebens: Zu Präsenz und Performanz des digitalen Remix.” MEDIENwissenschaft: Rezensionen|Reviews 2.32 (2015). 146–163. Wagenseller Goletz, Sarah. “The Giddyshame Paradox: Why Twilight’s Anti-Fans Cannot Stop Reading a Series They (Love to) Hate.” Genre, Reception, and Adaptation in the ‘Twilight’ Series. Ed. Anne Morey. Farnham and Burlington: Ashgate, 2012. 147–162.

Johannes Bruder

Psychic Residues or: Maths, Wires, Code So basically you’ve created a musical Huge Ever-Growing Pulsating Brain . . . Sean Booth: Yeah! Ha, I’ll tell Alex [Paterson]1 that, he’ll be excited. I mean, it’s been seven or eight years we’ve been building this one now. It’s been through a few revisions, it’s changed a lot, and now it’s become this monster.

Does it feel like another entity in the band besides you two? Sean Booth: Yeah it does.

In his interview with Manchester, UK based combo Autechre, residentadvisor’s Joe Muggs apparently could not conceal his excitement about how Sean Booth and Rob Brown conceive of what many would consider no more than artistic infrastructure (Muggs 2016). Throughout the art world, the influence of tools on artistic practice, while often and widely discussed, tends to be downplayed when artistic credit is on the line. In other words, technology fades into an invisible background: “an invocation of the ineffability of [artistic] practice [. . .] to win space in an at least partially stochastic process of artworld success” (Lewis 2018, 52). In the field of experimental electronic music and sound art, by contrast, the “voice” of the tool is often emphasized. Analogue circuits and synthesizers, in general, tend to be considered as to having “personality,” as enlivened or possessed, and as to resisting “domestication” to a certain degree. Andreas Tilliander aka TM404 consequently takes account of the tool’s agency by naming all tracks on his self-titled album after the drum machines used in the production process and electroacoustic music pioneer Bebe Barron explains that “each circuit has a characteristic activity pattern as well as a voice” that can be turned into the source material of artistic production.2 To capitalize on the tool’s agency, Toshimaru Nakamura’s no-input mixing board project amplifies a mixing desk’s noise floor.3 In an interview with the online music magazine “Fifteen” Questions, the artist explains that he “would like to be as free from any system and structure as possible” (Fischer and Cory 2015)

1 Alex Paterson is co-founder of the ambient music act The Orb. 2 The full interview has been published on a DVD accompanying the compilation OHM+: The early Gurus of Electronic Music: 1948–1980 (Ellipsis Arts 2000). The practice of Bebe Barron and her partner Louis Barron is considered an early form of circuit bending, which involves the performative modification of circuits in search for new sound generators. 3 “Noise floor” denotes the sum of all unwanted signals within a measurement system or source.


Johannes Bruder

and commits to the “naïve fantasy” that there is more freedom in improvising with the tool’s agency than in writing tracks and playing compositions. Autechre take this idea to the extreme and play with constellations where the differentiation between artist and tool appears to collapse for the tool embodies the abstract ideas of the artist. In this essay, I am concerned with such complications of authorship, and I will approach them through selected projects where artistic practice involves a great deal of infrastructural labor and the agency of the tool or infrastructure is (over)amplified. At the heart of my contribution sits the question about whether the artist can claim authorship or whether it is “the privileged machine in this context that creates its marginalized human others” (Suchman 2007, 270). To begin with, I elaborate on the intricacies that arise where the process of “patching” in modular synthesis4 is framed as externalization and embodiment of an artist’s mind(set). In the field of “intelligent dance music” (IDM), selfarchitected machines are often considered to expose some sort of intelligence that derives from the artist’s attempt at architecting “the perfect machine” (section 1.3). The resulting agential confusion mobilizes and actualizes late twentieth-century discourses around human-machine reconfiguration and, as I will argue in the concluding section, unsettles the very concept of authorship itself.5

The Artist’s cellF The twenty-fourth episode of Regular Show’s season seven has been so excessively referenced in the context of electronic music that you will earn derogatory comments instead of raised eyebrows when feeding it through your social media channels.6 While the episode owes its popularity among electronic music lovers

4 The patch constitutes a signal path that connects different synthesizer modules – oscillators, amplifiers, filters, modulators, etc. – via so-called patch cables. Modular synthesizers are constructed to provide maximum flexibility in constructing a personalized patch as a basic infrastructure to work with. 5 My contribution has been driven by field work in electronic music circles conducted within the framework Machine Love?, a research project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation and situated at the Institute for Experimental Design and Media Cultures (IXDM), Academy of Art and Design FHNW. 6 Regular Show is an American animated television sitcom created by J.G. Quintel for Cartoon Network. After the airing of “Gary’s synthesizer,” the episode was quickly sent back and forth between people involved in the scene and many quickly grew tired of enthusiastic references on Facebook or Twitter.

Psychic Residues or: Maths, Wires, Code


at least partly to the unfolding story, where dissonance and experimentation with synthesizers trumps classic musicianship, the opening scene hints at the oftentimes more-than-affective relationship between electronic music artists and their beloved tools. “Gary’s synthesizer” begins with a scene where the two protagonists Mordecai and Rigby discover a mysterious modular synthesizer while cleaning out their friend Skip’s garage. Ignoring a note that says “do not touch,” they start to re-wire the synthesizer’s modules as suddenly a spaceship comes crashing down into the backyard. Skip, who just came back from an interrupted phone call, recognizes the spaceship as belonging to his friend and owner of the synthesizer, Gary. Asking the still dazed passengers for Gary’s whereabouts, he learns that Gary had suddenly vanished from the driver’s seat, causing the crash. “Only one thing could have caused this,” Gary’s friends explain and the following dialogue unfolds: Gary’s friends: Which one of you messed with his synthesizer? Mordecai & Rigby: Ahm, messed with? We might have unplugged some cables . . . Gary’s friends: Fools! The device synthesizes Gary’s physical being into existence! Skips: So, Gary is dead? Gary’s friends: No, his conscious still resides within the synth, but until you plug the cables back to make the correct patch, the device won’t project his physical form.

The fact that Gary’s physical existence appears to be bound to a specific synthesizer patch is an interesting footnote to discourses that revolve around the “intelligence” of tools in the field of intelligent dance music. For instance, Walesbased modular Techno artist Steevio describes the modular synthesizer as an opportunity for “a musician to be the absolute architect of their perfect machine,” emphasizing the infrastructural labor that first enables the artist to be “creative” (quoted in Warwick 2019). The machine exhibits more-than-passive agency and, according to electronic musician and sound designer Joseph Fraioli aka Datach’I, provides a carefully crafted scaffolding for “many worlds to discover” (Headphone Commute 2016). The modular synthesizer patch embodies the artist’s wishes and desires and helps an infrastructural imaginary emerge, where the artist is no longer in control of her very own ideas. Said idea has been taken to the extreme by artist Guy Ben-Ary, who explains on his website that the design of his modular synthesizer cellF was driven by an “ultimately narcissistic desire to re-embody myself” (Ben-Ary 2016).7 In video documentation on Ben-Ary’s website, cellF is described as an exploration of “the

7 Website: About page, para. 3 (Ben-Ary 2016).


Johannes Bruder

potential for artworks using biological technologies to evoke responses in regards to the shifting perceptions surrounding the understanding of life and the materiality of the human body” (ibid.). Indeed, the cellF team made a bold statement by re-embodying the artist as an array of plastic cells and wired sensors, yet the much more interesting aspect of the project in regard to questions of authorship is the imaginary that it puts forth. cellF (read: “self”) is composed of a “body,” made of an array of analogue modular synthesizers and a neural network (“the brain”), which was bio-engineered from originator Guy Ben-Ary’s skin cells and connected to both the synthesizer and the sonic environment via a read-and-write interface. cellF is therefore not entirely autonomous; rather, its brain recodes auditory input supplied by an array of distributed microphones in order to operate the modular synthesizer that forms its body.8 Although the fact that Ben-Ary’s skin cells have been used to construct cellF’s brain certainly supports the imaginary of another, bioengineered self, it is the unpredictability of the instrument that urges the artist to interact. The decisive aspect is not that cellF has a “brain”, but that it provides the artist with the opportunity to engage and experiment with their own abstract idea through the medium of sound. Ben-Ary speaks of a cybernetic musician: cellF situationally collapses the distinction between artist and tool, for it is the self that insists through an Other and hence complicates the question about who or what the author of a given piece really is.

Artificial intelligence The complicated imaginary that cellF (Fig. 1 & 2) puts into place is reminiscent of Andy Clark and David Chalmers’ extended mind-hypothesis, which posits the idea that objects in the environment function as part of the mind (Clark & Chalmers 1998). Clark and Chalmers consider intelligence to be distributed, since cognitive processes demand the integration of external objects, whether these are logistical media such as notebooks or supposedly passive objects that conjure up memories and trigger certain behaviors. The modular synthesizer patch is a case in point.

8 For instance, cellF has collaborated with vocalist Stine Janvin ( and Dirk Dresselhaus’s electronic music project Schneider TM ( (17 November 2019). Both had been invited to complete the circuit and improvise on cellF’s interpretation of their input.

Psychic Residues or: Maths, Wires, Code


Fig. 1: Guy Ben-Ary, CellF.

Sean Booth and Rob Brown aka Autechre belong to an exclusive – and strictly male9 – cast of artists that has been marketed under the label of “Artificial Intelligence” by their record company Warp Records.10 While the two artists have a rather ironic take on the label’s marketing, they do not shy away from discussing their studio and live setup in terms of artificial intelligence. The following is an

9 Over the course of this chapter, I am quoting mostly white artists. I would like to emphasize that this is not a curatorial decision but reflects a persistent discursive dominance of “yte” artists (white male) in the field of modular synthesis and intelligent dance music (IDM). While female artists are currently gaining recognition and a “voice” in the field of IDM and sound art, they are often portrayed as having a specific, “female,” “natural” or “intuitive” rather than a “heady” approach to modular synthesis (see, e.g., a residentadvisor feature on Kaytlin Aurelia Smith [Fallon 2016]); non-yte artists (not white and not male) are predominantly successful if and when they emphasize certain exoticisms. I am concentrating on said yte discourse, not to make generalizations, but to discuss a discourse that revolves around “artificial intelligence” in IDM. 10 Only recently, The Guardian published a short article on how Warp Records “Artificial Intelligence” series “helped techno grow up” and “unleashed a tidal wave of snobbery” around the label of intelligent dance music (Cardew 2017). The mystery surrounding Autechre resulted in extensive discussions on every detail of their music.


Johannes Bruder

Fig. 2: The inner CellF at an early, experimental stage.

excerpt from said interview, which had been conducted in anticipation of Autechre’s European tour in summer 2016.11 Earlier on you referred to working on a “batch” of live sets. Do you actually prepare different sets for different shows? Sean Booth: : Not as such. We write software, then we’ll do tracks on that software, but if that track needs something else then there’ll be some more software programming to do. Programming is long, it’s a lot slower than strictly making tracks, but it does mean that by the end of the period of time I’ll have some extra tricks and tools to use to work with

11 The interview (Muggs 2016) was published online via the electronic music magazine residentadvisor. I am reproducing the sequence in full in order not to distort Autechre’s idea of artificial intelligence in synthesizer patches.

Psychic Residues or: Maths, Wires, Code


the music that’s there. I mean, there’s no actual music “there” – it’s not like we make music, then use the system to replay it in new ways. The system itself is making the music each time, it’s all about the capabilities of the system dictating what the music’s like. [. . .] Rob Brown: : When you start working on tracks you find yourself going, “Oh, that would’ve been good if it could’ve done this or that,” then you end up putting it all down for four days and programming the modules or patches that are going to create the certain type of musical motifs you were wishing for, or even influence all the other patches you’ve already got to do certain things at certain times in certain ways. Then when you’ve fixed it, and it’s not doing it all wrong, you try it, and you’ve got a track basically. You’ve got a live track. Sean Booth: Yeah, it’s mad how fast the tracks come once you’ve built something. And it’s multiplicative or exponential or something. Once you’ve created a module you can combine it with 80 other modules, and there’s this huge multiplicative effect in the number of things you can do. That means I know it’ll be a lot quicker building the set this time because we’ve already got this huge foundation to build on. But then the more you do, the more you can do.

Autechre are well-known for their DIY approach to electronic music – be it circuit bending and unusual combinations of cheap “off-the-shelf” instruments in their early days or their current approach to software programming in Max/MSP12– and their tracks or live sets hinge on a carefully crafted array of oscillators, amplifiers, filters and other modular objects. In Booth and Brown’s approach to electronic music, the “making” part can be taken quite literally: Making music first and foremost involves a tedious construction process that might seem to be “no different than building a bridge from metal girders” (Sean Booth, quoted in Tingen 2004). Their approach to infrastructural labor, however, is different from building bridges in one specific aspect: once externalized through the patch, an abstract idea turns generative machine. Connectivity is key and involves excessive tinkering with and the rewiring of modules until they form an operable and near autonomously operating system. Booth and Brown accordingly describe the

12 Max/MSP is a visual programming language for music and multimedia originally developed at IRCAM (Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique) in Paris and maintained by the San Francisco-based software company Cycling ’74. Users operate on a visual canvas, where they can connect different objects (i.e. self-programmed synthesizers) in order to create a signal path that can be modulated on-the-fly. Max/MSP is, accordingly, remarkably conservative: It reproduces the concept of analogue modular synthesis – patching in particular – in the realm of the digital.


Johannes Bruder

moment when a patch is provisionally finished in almost cathartic terms: “it’s mad how fast the tracks come once you’ve built something” (Muggs 2016). The patch is simultaneously creative infrastructure and cognitive architecture, ever-evolving and generative but not exactly alive. The way the duo manipulates the patch “dictates how the system responds” (Sean Booth, quoted in Tingen 2004) and yet the system “dictates what the music’s like” (Sean Booth, quoted in Muggs 2016). This strange simultaneity of submission and insistence, of passivity and aliveness is typical not only of discourses about artistic production in the field of intelligent dance music but continues to haunt attempts at defining intelligence in between the poles of brains and artificial neural networks. Google’s DeepMind program AlphaGo, the infamous algorithm that beat the world’s best players at the game of Go, for instance, had originally been designed based on an enhanced Monte Carlo Tree Search (MCTS) system, which does no more than simulate different learned and random moves in order to determine the probability of success for different board configurations. (Silver et al. 2017) To be fair, comparing the sort of software programming that Autechre routinely perform with contemporary machine learning systems appears to be quite a stretch. Synthesizer patches – whether analogue or digital – are not supposed to provide solutions for “climate change, economics, disease” (Rowan 2015), and they are certainly not made for turning patterns in data into logics of managing uncertainty. However, the fact that even the most advanced neural networks may be regarded as stupid and divine at the same time suggests that artificial intelligence ought not be measured in the classic, all-to-human terms of conscious decision-making. Sean Booth: It’s like gaming sometimes, trying to guide it. There’s some very basic AI in there – I mean only using “if” statements, conditionals, if-the-situation-is-this-then-dothat type things. It’s as basic as a game AI, if you look at the AI for the characters in a game, it’s just a chain of “if” statements, basically. It’s very much on a level to that, really. So playing music on it is about as fun as playing Grand Theft Auto, doing random shit with pedestrians, seeing if you can get someone to run up a wall or whatever. If I can get the musical equivalent of that, I’m generally quite happy. Rob Brown: Make the cars float. Transparent cars that float. That’s what we aim for. Sean Booth: I wouldn’t say it’s a living entity, really. It’s about as much like an entity as a shit AI in a game is. That’s how intelligent it is, which is not intelligent at all, but it might at least resemble the way a person thinks. It’s funny, I’ve been reading about Markov models and Markov chains recently, the results from Markov Chains are remarkably similar to what you get out of Watson or DeepMind, these super advanced language modelling things. And this article was about how unwieldy that kind of mega-gigantic,

Psychic Residues or: Maths, Wires, Code


expensive AI is, because you can actually achieve very close results using Markov chains, and they’re really fucking simple, they’re computationally really easy to deal with, they’re what people use for Twitterbots and things like that. So in some ways these simple conditional responses can resemble very high-end AI. Even though it’s very simple, the result is close enough not to matter.

Indeed, even such cutting edge AI as AlphaGo continues to divide experts over the question whether a system so simple might be called intelligent at all: Whereas some see a dumb statistical engine trained on particular problems and an abundance of data,13 others believe that AlphaGo might have changed the game for good and will be ready to take on the world’s most pressing problems in a heartbeat. While the version of AlphaGo that defeated the world’s best player Ke Jie in May 2017 does have the capacity to learn almost entirely from playing against itself due to a new and more powerful architecture (Silver et al. 2017), even the early versions of AlphaGo, which had been trained on a database of human moves, taught Fan Hui, the algorithm’s first human sparring partner, a new way of perceiving the Go board. Intelligence is, hence, a measure for the machine’s capacity to open our minds to moves that “the teacher would never allow you to play”14 or to see – I am staying with Autechre’s metaphor here – “if you can get someone to run up a wall”. That is, AlphaGo’s otherworldly gameplay does not emerge from an attempt at mimicking human intelligence but originates in the technological implementation of the most abstract understanding of the human psyche we currently have. Google’s DeepMind algorithms have been successful since they follow principles believed to subtend human episodic memory and creative thinking with a methodical strictness that humans cannot voluntarily and consciously enforce.15 Intelligence, therefore, also refers to the capacity of an algorithm or patch to expose, as Sean Booth has it, “the way a person thinks.” And people want to believe. The brain is programmed to see another mind at work in anything complex. Sean Booth: : But it’s not another mind at work in our stuff. It’s just our habits, transcribed. It’s a weird thing. I was talking to [Richard D. James]16 about this, and he’s got

13 This is the assessment of Yann LeCun, infamous artificial intelligence researcher and current head of AI at Facebook. Please see his interview with James Vincent for The Verge (2017) for further details. 14 Go professional Xu Ying, quoted in Jiahui (2017). 15 Please see two articles by the author (Bruder 2017, 2018) for deeper insights into the ontological and epistemological intricacies of Google DeepMind algorithms. 16 Richard D. James, British musician and composer, is better known under his alias Aphex Twin.


Johannes Bruder

like ten different studios, which he leaves set up all in different ways. That setup in itself is something that only he would come up with, each one is a unique instrument. With programming it’s exactly the same thing, you’ve created an instruction set, and that’s defined by what you wanted to achieve, so there’s an element of your personality and wishes that exists in code terms now. I think all programmers feel like that when they make something: that a little bit of themselves is out there doing its thing.

You’re leaving ghosts and psychic residue everywhere. Sean Booth: Yeah! I don’t want to call that AI, because that’s a really loose definition. But there is this slight element of personalities being split up and lost into the world. And that is interesting. I’m not about legacy or anything, but it’s cool when I switch my computer on and it can just be me [. . .] even if it’s just a little bit.

Non-specific viewpoints Joe Muggs’s observation – that Autechre’s practice churns out ghosts and psychic residue – suggests that the question of authorship can be easily resolved: programing a patch in Max/MSP would be considered an act of authorship and the subsequent sonic experiments an engagement with the artists’ abstract ideas through sound. Berlin-based Italian minimalist electronic artist Caterina Barbieri describes said process as an experience of acoustic and psychoacoustic phenomena in first person through attentive and active listening.17 “You gain a better understanding not only of the sound in itself but also of its effects on you and therefore of your mechanisms of perception” (ibid.) – a cybernetic feedback system with psychoanalytical qualities, as it were. While it might be true that there is no other mind at work in the patch, Autechre’s and Barbieri’s autoethnographic observations beg the question about how the extended mind came into existence in the first place. Why, in other words, do programmers and modular synthesizer artists feel like “a little bit of themselves is out there doing its thing” (Rob Brown, quoted in Muggs 2016)? Many artists would argue that abstract ideas, wishes and predispositions become tangible when they are simultaneously relinquished and perpetuated by sounding out the patch. In “A Guide To: Modular Synthesis,” for instance, Steevio emphasizes that it’s “only when [abstract ideas turn] into sound that 17 See Barbieri’s interview with the British online magazine Sound on Sound (Betts 2017). Deliberating the entanglement between mathematical operations and the corporeal character of auditory experience is central to discussions around “sonic thinking” (Gerloff and Schwesinger 2017, Herzogenrath 2017).

Psychic Residues or: Maths, Wires, Code


I become a creative person, so it’s like two halves of my brain working” (Warwick 2019). But the infrastructural labor that precedes said engagement with “psychic residues” prominently involves “seeing all the mathematics that’s going on there, [. . .] where the signals are going and what they’re gonna do” (ibid.). Similarly, composer Kara-Lis Coverdale asserts that she feels the most at peace with herself when “law is in place, numerical law” (quoted in Darville 2016). In other words: experiencing sound as the materialization of an abstract idea typically involves or necessitates an engagement with “the strange infinity of pure maths” (Gamble and Singh Brar 2017). The title of the four-hour modular synthesizer documentary I Dream of Wires captures said phenomenon extraordinarily well: Although the construction of the patch is pervaded by sonic feedback, artistic energies are channeled through mathematics, wires, and code until the patch “works.” It appears that the artistic mind is in this process colonized by the practice of patching so that the distinction between artist and tool collapses through an attunement to the system’s logic: the extended mind of the modular synthesizer patch demands an identification with the operational principles of the surrogate body. What Joe Muggs (2016) calls a psychic residue is thus the artifice or trickery of the patch: It merges mathematics, wires and code with the artist’s wishes and desires and shifts “the attention from the object and subject of perception to the field where the perception is occurring, ‘a non-specific viewpoint’” (Barbieri, quoted in Betts 2017). Against this background, the notion of human-machine interaction appears to occlude a significant aspect of “making” intelligent dance music, namely the processes of techno-logical inscription that occur in the process of patching. While the patch might mediate and embody the ideas of the artist, these ideas are always already inspired by the logic of the system. The practice of modular synthesis thus mobilizes discourses around human-machine reconfigurations and exhibits “the boundaries between persons and machines to be discursively and materially enacted rather than naturally effected [. . .]” (Suchman 2007, 12). An analysis of modular synthesis in intelligent dance music hence infinitely complicates the question of authorship. Rather than being authored by an ontologically stable artistic subject, live sets and tracks represent residues of psychic energies that arise through infrastructural labor and – to stay with the idea of embodiment put forth by Gary’s friend in Regular Show – synthesize the artist’s physical being into existence (Fig. 3). The concept of authorship is nonetheless far from being rendered obsolete, yet attention is diverted away from the product of artistic practice and towards processes of reconfiguration and individuation through maths, wires, and code.


Johannes Bruder

Fig. 3: Psychic residues or the artist as non-specific viewpoint, photograph of Joseph Fraioli aka Datach’I in front of his modular synthesizer setup.

References Ben-Ary, Guy. “cellF.” 2016. (17 November 2019). Betts, Will. “Interview: minimalist electronic artist Caterina Barbieri.” https://www. Sound on Sound (31 July 2017) (17 November 2019). Bruder, Johannes. “Infrastructural Intelligence: contemporary entanglements between neuroscience and AI.” Progress in Brain Research 233 (2017). 101–128. Bruder, Johannes. “Where the sun never shines. Emerging Paradigms of Post-Enlightened Cognition.” Digital Culture & Society 4.1 (2018). 133–154. Cardew, Ben. “Machines of loving grace: how Artificial Intelligence helped techno grow up.” The Guardian (3 July 2017) (17 November 2019). Clark, Andy, and David Chalmers. 1998. “The Extended Mind.” Analysis 58.1. 7–19. Darville, Jordan. “Kara-Lis Coverdale thinks you should destroy your mind.” http://www. The Fader (16 June 2016) (17 November 2019). Fallon, Patric. “Breaking Through: Kaytlin Aurelia Smith.” features/2693. Residentadvisor (27 April 2016) (17 November 2019). Fischer, Tobias, and Lara Cory. “Fifteen Questions Interview with Toshimaru Nakamura: Free from any system.” “Fifteen” questions (2015) (17 November 2019).

Psychic Residues or: Maths, Wires, Code


Gamble, Lee, and Dhanveer Singh Brar. “Atmosphere and Architecture in the Distributed Intelligence of Soundsystems: Glass Bead in conversation with Lee Gamble and Dhanveer Singh Brar.” Glass Bead (2017) (17 November 2019). Gerloff, Felix and, Sebastian Schwesinger. “What does it mean to think sonically? Contours of Noise as a Sonic Figure of Thought.” Navigating Noise. Ed. Nathanja v. Dijk, Kerstin Ergenzinger, Christian Kassung, Sebastian Schwesinger. Cologne: Walther König, 2017. 168–190. Headphone Commute. “In the studio with Datach’I.” https://reviews.headphonecommute. com/2016/10/05/in-the-studio-with-datachi/. Headphone Commute (10 May 2016) (17 November 2019). I Dream of Wires. The History and Resurgence of the Electronic Modular Music Synthesizer. Toronto, CA: Waveshaper Media, 2014. Jiahui, Sun. “The Alpha and Omega of Go.” Headphone Commute (20 July 2017) (17 November 2019). Lewis, George E. “Why Do We Want Our Computers to Improvise?” Turmoil Magazine: CTM Festival 2018 (2018). 50–54. Muggs, Joe. “Autechre: elseq et al.” residentadvisor (8 June 2016) (17 November 2019). OHM+: The Early Gurus of Electronic Music: 1948–1980. South Burlington, VT: Ellipsis Arts, 2000. Prebble, Tim. “20 Questions with Joseph Fraioli aka Datach’I.” nz/blog/20-questions-with-joseph-fraioli-aka-datachi. Music of Sound (27 June 2016) (17 November 2019). Rowan, David, “DeepMind: inside Google’s super-brain.” deepmind. Wired (22 June 2015) (17 November 2019). Herzogenrath, B., ed. Sonic Thinking. A Media Philosophical Approach. New York: Bloomsbury, 2017. Sholette, Gregory. Dark Matter. Art and Politics in the Age of Enterprise Culture. London: Pluto Press, 2010. Silver, David, et al. “Mastering the game of Go without human knowledge.” Nature 550 (2017). 355–358. Suchman, Lucy. Human-Machine Reconfigurations: Plans and Situated Actions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. Tingen, Paul. “Autechre: Recording Electronica.” autechre. Sound on Sound (April 2004) (17 November 2019). Vincent, James. “Facebook’s head of AI wants us to stop using the Terminator to talk about AI.” The Verge (26 October 2017) (17 November 2019). Warwick, Oliver. “A Guide To: Modular Synthesis.” a-guide-to-modular-synthesis/. xlr8r (17 August 2019) (17 November 2019).

Images: Credits, Copyrights and Sources Bruder: Fig.1: taken from the project website at (accessed 24 Jan., 2020), Courtesy of the artist; Fig.2: (accessed 24 Jan., 2020), Courtesy of the artist; Fig.3: (accessed 24 Jan., 2020), Courtesy of the artist. Cuntz-Leng: Fig.1:; Fig.2: https://i.imgflip. com/hyx1d.jpg; Fig.3: Finger: Fig.1: wikimedia, public domain, #/media/File:Morton_Schamberg_-_%22God%22_By_Baroness_Elsa_von_FreytagLoringhoven_and_Morton_Schamberg_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg (18 February 2020) Huber: Fig.1: Typ 525 68.864, Houghton Library, Harvard University; Fig.2, 3 and 5: archives of the author; Fig.4: Venice, Archivio di Stato, San Giacomo alla Giudecca, busta 17, no. 687. Jungen: Fig.1-2: Courtesy Thari Jungen. Meer: Fig.1: Courtesy Liselotte Müller Estate and Albinus Collection, Museum Angewandte Kunst, Frankfurt/M.; Fig.2: © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2020 for Wagenfeld and Gyula; drawing: Courtesy Holger Meer. Petri: Fig.1:, public domain; Fig.2-3: Archives of the Department of Art History, University of Bonn. Richterich: Fig.1: screenshot taken by the author, available at: com (20 June 2016; Google and the Google logo are registered trademarks of Google Inc., used with permission); Fig.2: (computer_worm) (20 June 2016); Fig.3: Kopfstein 2013; Fig.4: screenshot taken by the author, Cult of the Dead Cow 1998. Schütze: Fig.1: © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2020 and Courtesy Frankfurter Kunstverein; Fig.2: Liprandi 2014, 9; Fig.3-4: Courtesy Hiwa K. Stoltz: Fig.1: archives of the author; Fig.2: php?nomecategoria=Fusione (25 Jan. 2020); Fig.3: Lippincott, Jonathan D. Large scale. Fabricating sculpture in the 1960s and 1970s. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2010, 190; Fig.4: wikimedia, public domain, php?curid=10116105 (18 February 2020), photo: Axel Hindemith.

Contributors Johannes Bruder is a researcher at the Institute of Experimental Design and Media Cultures (IXDM) and the Critical Media Lab Basel (CH). He works at the intersection of anthropology, STS, and media studies, with a current focus on the influence of artificial intelligences on psychology, ecological thinking, artistic practice and design. His first book Cognitive Code. Post-Anthropocentric Intelligence and the Infrastructural Brain is now out with McGill-Queen’s University Press. Vera Cuntz-Leng is a postdoctoral research fellow at the department of media studies at Philipps University Marburg and chief editor of the academic journal MEDIEN/wissenschaft. Further, she works at the equal opportunities office of Goethe University Frankfurt. Cuntz-Leng studied film and theatre science in Mainz, Marburg, and Vienna. She received her Ph.D. from the department of media studies at Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen with a thesis about the intersecting relations between queer reading, slash fandom, and the fantasy genre in Harry Potter. Her research focuses mainly on film, the fantastic, fan studies, and gender/ queer studies. Anke Finger is a professor of German Studies, Media Studies and Comparative Literature at the University of Connecticut (USA). Her research focuses on comparative modernisms, media studies, especially Vilém Flusser, and intercultural communication. She is the author of several books and many articles, including Das Gesamtkunstwerk der Moderne (2006); The Aesthetics of the Total Artwork (2010, with Danielle Follet); Vilém Flusser: An Introduction (2010, with Rainer Guldin and Gustavo Bernardo); and KulturConfusão: On German-Brazilian Interculturalities (2015, with Gabi Kathoefer and Christopher Larkosh). She is working on a study about the avant-garde, artificial intelligence, and sensory perception. Christiane Heibach is a professor of Media Aesthetics at the Institute of Information and Media, Language and Culture at Regensburg University. Her research focuses on the epistemology of media, the history and theory of multi- and intermedial art forms, the aesthetics of new media and the literary and media theories of the twentieth century. She is the author of Multimediale Aufführungskunst: Medienästhetische Studien zur Entstehung einer neuen Kunstform (Munich 2010) and the editor of Atmosphären: Dimensionen eines diffusen Phänomens (Munich 2012). Hans Dieter Huber is an artist, a filmmaker and a scientist. From 1997 to 1999 he was a professor at HGB Leipzig and from 1999 to 2019 he worked as a professor of Contemporary Art History, Aesthetics and Art theory at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Stuttgart, where he presided over the international master program Conservation of New Media and Digital Information (2006–2011). In 2007 he was a senior fellow at the International Research Center for Cultural Studies in Vienna. From 2006 to 2009 he was a professor at the postgraduate program “Image, Body, Medium” at HfG Karlsruhe. Since 2013 he is a member of the scientific advisory board of the International Institute for Subjective Experience and Research (ISER) at the MSH Medical School, Hamburg, since 2016 he is a deputy chairman of the Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart, and from June 2017 to July 2020 he was a member of the board of trustees of the Adolf Hölzel Foundation, Stuttgart.



Thari Jungen is a PhD-candidate at the graduate program „Performing Citizenship“ at the HafenCity University Hamburg and founder of the artistic collective “Institute for Falsification (IFF)”. Her artistic based research focusses on fakes within the everyday practices of citizenship. Her forthcoming dissertation is entitled as Faking Citizenship – Bürger*innenschaft im Modus des als-ob. Angela Krewani is a professor of Media Studies at Marburg University. Her research focuses on the hybridization of media forms, digital media, media art and media epistemologies. She is the author of Hybride Formen. New British Cinema – Television Drama – Hypermedia (Trier 2001) and Medienkunst. Theorie-Praxis-Ästhetik (Trier 2017) and the co-editor of Producing Space. Media and Mapping Practices in the Middle East and North Africa (Amsterdam University Press, in print). Julia Meer is a designer, educator, curator and design historian. Her work focuses on questions of historiography, agency and gender, the visualisation of time, and deconstructing borders between inseparable realms such as theory and practice or content and form. She majored in Communication Design, earned her doctorate with a thesis on the reception of New Typography and co-edited the volume Women in Graphic Design 1890–2012 together with Gerda Breuer. Inter alia, she worked at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, at the Cluster Image Knowledge Gestaltung of the Humboldt University in Berlin, at the Bergische Universität Wuppertal and at the University for Applied Sciences Potsdam. Since September 2020 she is head of the graphics and poster collection at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg. Grischka Petri is an art historian and legal scholar. One of his main areas of research is the history of art and copyright law (e.g. “The Photograph as Acheiropoieton. A Copyright Perspective.” Nichts Neues Schaffen. Perspektiven auf die treue Kopie 1300–1900. Ed. Antonia Putzger et al. (Berlin/Boston 2018), 153–174; “Der Fall Dürer vs. Raimondi. Vasaris Erfindung.” Fälschung – Plagiat – Kopie: Künstlerische Praktiken in der Vormoderne. Ed. Andreas Tacke et. al. (Petersberg 2014), 52–69). Currently, he is preparing the publication of his habilitation thesis, Künstlerethos, Kapital, Kontrolle, sub-titled An Art History of Copyright. During the Summer of 2020, he is a Research Fellow at the Käte Hamburger Center for Advanced Studies “Law as Culture” in Bonn. Annika Richterich is an assistant professor in Digital Culture at Maastricht University and a Marie Skłodowska Curie research fellow at the University of Sussex (2019–2021). For her latest project, she researches how individuals engage in informal, digital learning in hacking and making communities. Her research has been published in international, peerreviewed journals such as Information, Communication and Society and Convergence. She is the author of The Big Data Agenda: Data Ethics and Critical Data Studies (London 2018) and co-editor of the Digital Culture & Society-journal. Silke Roesler-Keilholz is a research assistant of Media Studies at the Institute of Information and Media, Language and Culture at Regensburg University. Her research focuses on media of surveillance, space theory, postfeminism and the history, theory as well as the aesthetics of photography. She is the author of Doing City. New York im Spannungsfeld medialer Praktiken (Marburg 2009), the co-author of Mediengeschichte als Historische Techno-Logie (Baden-Baden



2017, together with Bernhard Dotzler), and the co-editor of Schlaf(modus). Pause | Verarbeitung | Smartphone | Mensch (Marburg 2020, together with Ulrike Allouche and Solveig Ottmann). Irene Schütze is a senior researcher in the department of Art Theory at the Art Academy of Mainz University. Her research focuses on art theory and media practices (and here in particular on creative processes), visual studies, the aesthetics of contemporary art, of modern art and of art of the early modern age. She is the editor of Aspekte künstlerischen Schaffens der Gegenwart (Weimar 2015) and Über Geschmack lässt sich doch streiten. Zutaten aus Küche, Kunst und Wissenschaft (Berlin 2010/2011) and is currently preparing a book on biopics and their constructions of the lives of artists. Herbert Schwaab teaches at the Department of Media Studies, University of Regensburg, Germany. His main fields of research are the film philosophy of Stanley Cavell, popular film and television culture, sitcom and reality TV, animals in animation, Japanese media culture and the mediality of the bicycle. He is currently working on a post-graduate project on aspects of mediality of autism. Recent publications: Lost in Media (co-edited with Benjamin Beil and Daniela Wentz, Münster 2017), Trump und das Fernsehen. Medien, Realität, Affekt, Politik (co-edited with Dominik Maeder, Stephan Trinkaus, Tanja Weber and Anne Ulrichs, Köln 2020). Barbara Stoltz studied history of art and Italian literature at Philipps Universität Marburg and Università Ca’ Foscari di Venezia. Her research focuses on art theory and art techniques. She is author of Gesetz der Kunst – Ordo der Welt. Federico Zuccaros Dante-Zeichnungen (Hildesheim 2011), a PhD-thesis about art theory and literature within the reception of the Divine Comedy in the sixteenth century. Recently she obtained the habilitation with a research on theory of printmaking in the Renaissance (Die Kunst des Schneidens und die gedruckte Zeichnung. Theorie der Druckgraphik in der Kunstliteratur des 16. und 17. Jahrhundert, on publication 2020). At present she works on metal-sculpture in the twentieth and twenty-first century. Karin Wenz is an assistant professor for Digital Cultures at Maastricht University. Her disciplinary profile is in digital cultures with a focus on digital art and literature, digital games, and hacking. Her recent research focuses on gaming culture (theory crafting, modding and game art, machinima and streaming), death in digital games and hacking communities. Karin Wenz is one of the editors of the peer reviewed journal Digital Culture and Society. She co-edited the special issues on Making and Hacking (2017), Digital Citizens (2019) and Playbour (2020).

Index Abramovic, Marina 113, 141 Abrams, J.J. 194 Ade, Maren 178–179 Alberti, Leon Battista 67 Angeleti, Gabriella 31 Anke Finger, 121 Aranda, Julieta 18–24, 31 Arnheim, Rudolf 139 Arp, Hans 57 Ascott, Roy 115–116, 136–137 Assange, Julian 206 Astruc, Alexandre 8, 131, 167–169 Atwood, Margaret 138 Austen, Jane 138, 231–232, 235 Baglione, Giovanni 52 Bakunin, Mikail 111 Ball, Alan 191 Ball, Hugo 124, 174 Balzac, Honoré de 190 Banksy 114 Barbieri, Caterina 252–253 Barron, Bebe 243 Barron, Louis 243 Barry, Robert 96, 98 Barthes, Roland 18, 84, 87, 99, 105, 126, 131, 139, 189 Baumgarten, Alexander 106 Bazin, André 169, 183, 186 Beauvoir, Simone de 141, 173 Behrens, Peter 35 Behzadi, Lale 29 Bellour, Raymond 139 Beltracchi, Wolfgang 86–87 Ben-Ary, Guy 245–246 Benjamin, Walter 54, 93, 128, 147, 154–155, 215, 261 Bentley, Lionel 123 Berry, Halle 174 Beuys, Joseph 111 Bey, Hakim 233, 235 Bidlo, Mike 89 Biron, Laura 98, 123 Bishop, Claire 15, 147–148

Boddy, William 192–193 Booth, Sean 243, 247–252 Borges, Jorge Luis 21 Borofsky, Jonathan 59 Borroughs, William 113 Botero, Ferdinand 54–55 Bourdieu, Pierre 84, 152 Bourriaud, Nicolas 15–16, 147–148 Boyd, Danah 215 Brandt, Marianne 44 Brecht, Berthold 154–155 Bresson, Robert 168–169 Breughel, Jan 92 Brown, Rob 243, 247, 249–250, 252 Bruder, Johannes 10, 243, 251, 259 Buchbinder, Josh 209–210 Buchmann, Sabeth 17 Buren, Daniel 98 Buscombe, Ed 139 Butler, Judith 167, 173 Cage, John 113 Caliari, Benedetto 77 Campendonk, Heinrich 86 Cariou, Patrick 90 Carracci, Annibale and Agostino 67–68 Cash, Johnny 28 Castiglione, Baldassare 73 Castorf, Frank 145, 152–153 Cellini, Benvenuto 52–54 Celtis, Conrad 71 Certeau, Michel de 230 Chalmers, David 246 Chaput, Thierry 95 Chasalow, Eric 243 Chase, David 188, 191 Chastain, Jessica 179 Chayewski, Paddy 193 Chéret, Jules 40 Cixous, Hélène 141 Clark, Andy 246 Cobb, Shelley 173–174 Cocteau, Jean 169 Coleman, Gabriella 197, 199, 201–204, 207



Coppola, Francis Ford 167 Coppola, Sophia 9, 167–168, 174–179 Corley, Eric 201, 203–204 Corliss, Richard 183–184 Coverdale, Kara-Lis 253 Coward, Rosalind 190 Cranach, Lucas (The Elder) 92 Creischer, Alice 146 Cruise, Tom 232 Cuntz-Leng, Vera 9, 116, 229, 235, 238, 259 Dalí, Salvador 85–86 de Baere, Bart 27 de Beauvoir, Simone 172 Del Chiaro, Massimo 7, 54–57 Delluc, Louis 133 Derain, André 86 Dercon, Chris 145, 153–154, 156 Deren, Maya 138 Dickens, Charles 190, 231, 235 Doolittle, Hilda 139 Dorff, Stephen 176 Dostoevsky, Fyodor Mikhailovich 190 Downey, Anthony 25–27, 29–31 Doyle, Arthur Conan 231–232 Dreher, Christoph 184–190 Dresselhaus, Dirk 246 Duchamp, Marcel 8, 87–89, 112–113, 121, 123–124, 236 Dulac, Germaine 133, 138 Dunst, Kirsten 175–176 Dürer, Agnes 72 Dürer, Albrecht 68–72, 74, 87, 260 Eastwood, Clint 175–176 Elíasson, Ólafur 18 Engell, Lorenz 177 Enwezor, Okwui 25–26 Ernst, Max 37, 39, 42, 44, 86, 128 Esser, Manfred 87 Eugenides, Jeffrey 175, 177 Everett, Roxanne 59 Export, Valie 141 Farrell, Colin 176 Fathallah, Judith May 234, 236

Ferbrache, David 205–206 Feuer, Jane 184 Feuerstein, Thomas 16–17 Finger, Anke 8, 112, 117, 259 Fiske, John 189, 191, 195 Flusser, Vilém 117, 259 Foucault, Michel 1–2, 18–19, 24, 28, 54, 84–85, 87, 99, 105, 126, 131, 135, 159 Fraioli, Joseph 245 Freytag-Loringhoven, Elsa von 8, 87, 121–122, 124 Friedkin, William 187 Fritsch, Herbert 153 Fuller, Buckminster 35 Gammel, Irene 121–122 Gautel, Jakob 97 Geffen, David 232 George, Alexandra 83–84, 98 Getzels, Jakob W. 115 Ghiberti, Lorenzo 52 Giacometti, Alberto 57 Gilbert, Sandra 138 Gill, Rosalind 167, 172–173 Gilligan, Vince 188 Giotto di Bondone 51 Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von 106, 108 Goldsmith, Kenneth 127–128 Göring, Hermann 85 Graham, Donald 91 Graw, Isabelle 17, 61, 106, 154 Green, Charles 123 Greuter, Matthäus 52 Gricic, Konstantin 35 Gropius, Walter 35, 40–41, 43–44 Grossman, Lev 234–235 Gruijthuijsen, Krist 30 Gubar, Susan 138 Gumbrecht, Hans-Ulrich 140 Guy-Blaché, Alice 174 Gysin, Bryan 113 Hancock, Hugh 217 Hardt, Michael 116 Haring, Keith 59 Hartley, John 127


Haskell, Molly 171 Hayles, Katherine 135, 137 Heath, Stephen 139 Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich 109 Heibach, Christiane 1, 8, 17, 105, 107, 110–111, 114, 116, 259 Hendricks, Christina 179 Hentig, Hartmut von 115 Herder, Johann Gottfried 106–109 Hitler, Adolf 85–86 Hochhäusler, Christoph 179 Hölderlin, Friedrich 109 Hoss, Nina 179 Huber, Hans Dieter 7, 67, 76–77, 259 Huhtamo, Erkki 140 Hui, Fan 251 Hüller, Sandra 179 Hunsinger, Jeremy 199 Huxley, Thomas Henry 21 Huyghe, Pierre 16 Immendorf, Jörg 50 Irigaray, Luce 141 Ito, Mizuko 215 Jackson, Michael 219 Jackson, Philip W. 115 James, E.L. 230–231, 238–239 James, Richard D. 251 Janvin, Stine 246 Jaszi, Peter 83–85, 92 Jenkins, Harold 9 Jenkins, Henry 126, 215, 230 Jie, Ke 251 Johansen, Jon Lech 202–203 Johansson, Scarlett 175 John, Nicolas 216 Johnston, Claire 140 Jones, Amelia 122 Jones, Bethan 239 Jordan, Neil 232 Jordan, Tim 197, 199, 206, 216 Jucker, Carl Jacob 40–42 Judd, Donald 96–97 Jungen, Thari 8–9, 145, 260

K, Hiwa 18, 25–32, 231 Kállai, Ernst 44 Kaplan, Benjamin 93 Karhulahti, Veli-Matt 223 Kehler, Peter 44 Kelly, Ellsworth 59 Kjellberg, Felix 223 Klein, Yves 95–96 Klopstock, Friedrich Gottlob 224 Koons, Jeff 60, 62, 90, 92 Kosellek, Reinhard 106 Kosnik, Abigail de 230–231, 234 Krebitz, Nicolette 178–179 Krewani, Angela 1, 8, 131, 134, 139, 169, 197, 260 Kris, Ernst 39 Kristeva, Julia 2, 141 Kubitschko, Sebastian 199 Kubota, Shigeko 141–142 Kuhn, Thomas 135 Kujau, Konrad 85–86 Kurz, Otto 37, 39, 42 Lacan, Jacques 140 Latour, Bruno 6, 105, 149 Lavery, David 191 Lebon, Elisabeth 54 LeCun, Yann 251 Leiderman, Jay 208 Leonardo da Vinci 4 Lessig, Lawrence 229 Lessing, Gotthold Ephraim 106–107 Levine, Les 136–137 Levine, Sherrie 89, 184 Levit, Briar 38 Lévy, Pierre 116 Levy, Steven 197, 202 LeWitt, Sol 93, 124 Lichtenstein, Roy 59 Lieser, Peter 27 Lippincott, Donald 59, 63 Liprandi, Ignacio 20–22 Loewy, Raymond 37 Lopez, Robert 218 Lowood, Henry 218, 220




Lüpperz, Markus 50 Lyons, Stewart 188 Lyotard, Jean-François 95, 116 Marcantonio Raimondi 69–70 Marino, Paul 217 Martin, George R.R. 230–231, 233–235, 237 Martin, Randy 148, 161 Martin, Steve 183 Marx, Jeff 218 McLuhan, Marshall 2, 136 McPherson, Hugh 139 Meer, Julia 7, 35, 260 Mertens, Heike Catherina 30 Meyer, Stephenie 230–231, 237–238 Michelangelo Buonarotti 51, 92 Michelangelo Buonarroti 74 Michielse, Maarten 215 Mies van der Rohe, Ludwig 35 Miessen, Markus 146–148 Mitoraj, Igor 54–55 Mittell, Jason 187, 189, 194 Moholy-Nagy, László 40–41 Moore, Henry 57 Mouffe, Chantal 154 Mucha, Alphonse 40 Muggs, Joe 243, 248, 250, 252–253 Müller, Lieselotte 38 Mulvey, Laura 140–141, 168, 171, 174 Murray, Bill 175–176 Murray, Robert 59 Nakamura, Toshimaru 243 Naumann, Francis 89, 121 Negri, Antonio 116 Nel, Philip 235 Neswald, Elisabeth 117 Newson, Marc 46 Ng, Alina 215 Niebisch, Arndt 125–128 Norton, Louise 87, 122 Novalis 106, 108–110 Obrist, Marianna 223, 229 Oldenburg, Claes 59

Ono, Yoko 113, 140 Ophüls, Max 169 Oswalt, Philipp 40 O’Grady, Gerald 134–135 Paik, Nam June 134 Paine, Roxy 16 Panza di Biumo, Giuseppe 96–97 Pap, Gyula 40–41 Parish, Rachel 233 Paterson, Alex 243 Penck, A. R. 50 Perec, Georges 113 Petri, Grischka 8, 22, 83, 260 Pfeiffer, Karl 140 Pfennig, Gerhard 27, 57–58 Picasso, Pablo 85 Pignatti, Terisio 77 Pingitore, Carl 176 Pirckheimer, Willibald 71–72 Pollesch, René 152 Potter, Dennis 9, 190–192, 259 Prince, Richard 90–92 Quéneau, Raymond 114 Quinn, Marc 55 Quintel, J.G. 244 Rabe-Blum, Rosalia 151 Raimondi, Marcantonio 68–70, 260 Rams, Dieter 35 Rancière, Jacques 148, 151 Raphael 80 Raphael Sanzio da Urbino 73–75 Reckwitz, Andreas 107 Renoir, Jean 168–169 Rheims, Bettina 97 Rheingold, Howard 116 Rice, Anne 230–235, 237 Rich, B. Ruby 167 Richter, Hans 125, 128 Richterich, Annika 9, 197, 199, 260 Ritzer, Ivo 187 Rock, Michael 46 Rodgers, Art 90


Roger, Art 90 Rogers, Art 90, 92 Röhl, Karl Peter 44 Romano, Giulio 75, 80 Rosefeldt, Julian 18 Rosen, Marjorie 171 Rösler-Keilholz, Silke 9 Rowling, Joanne K. 230–231, 235, 237 Rubens, Peter Paul 79, 92 Rush, Michael 142 Salen, Katie 217 Sarris, Andrew 139, 170, 183, 188 Schäfer, Mirko Tobias 150, 229 Schamberg, Morton Livingston 121–122 Schelling, Friedrich 109 Schifrin, Lalo 176 Schiller, Friedrich 106, 108 Schlegel, August Wilhelm von and Friedrich von 106 Schlegel, Wilhelm August 109–110 Schleiermacher, Friedrich 2, 106, 109 Schlemmer, Oskar 44 Schlingensief, Christoph 153 Schmidt Campbell, Mary 148, 150, 161 Schoen, Seth 203–204 Schrock, Andrew 199 Schütze, Irene 1, 7, 20, 29, 58, 106, 261 Schwaab, Herbert 9, 183, 195, 261 Schwarz, Arturo 87, 89 Serling, Rod 193 Serra, Richard 59 Shakespeare, William 21, 220 Shannon, Claude 135 Sidibe, Gabourey 174 Sidiropoulou, Avra 168–170 Siedhoff-Buscher, Alma 44 Siegel, Don 175–176 Siekmann, Andreas 146 Silverman, Kaja 139–140 Slater, David J. 22–23, 94–95 Smith, Kaytlin Aurelia 247 Smith, Tom 223 Spacek, Vladimir 27 Sperling, Otto 92


Stalder, Felix 200–201 Stallmann, Richard 229 Starck, Philippe 35 Starling, Simon 27 Steevio 245, 252 Sternborg, Anke 178 Stieglitz, Alfred 87, 122–123, 126 Stoltz, Barbara 7, 28, 38, 49–52, 261 Sturtevant, Elaine 89–90, 97 Surtees, Bruce 176 Swartz, Aaron 201, 207 Szyłak, Aneta 25, 27 Szymczyk, Adam 25 Tarantino, Quentin 187 Tati, Jacques 169 Taylor, Paul 206 Thompson, Robert J. 184–186, 188, 192–193 Tilliander, Andreas 243 Tintoretto, Jacopo 74 Tiravanija, Rirkrit 15, 148 Tiziano Vecellio 74 Tolkien, J.R.R. 231, 235 Torrini, Annalisa Perissa 75–76 Tretyakov, Sergej 155 Truffaut, Francois 131, 169, 186, 189 Tzara, Tristan 112–113, 127 Ulmer, Edgar G. 188 Van Bruggen, Coosje 59 van Meegeren, Han 85 Vasari, Giorgio 4, 28, 39, 42, 50–51, 68–71 Vermeer, Jan 85 Veronese, Paolo 74–77, 79–80 Vertov, Dziga 131–133 Vidokle, Anton 19–20, 24 Von Beyme, Klaus 125–126, 128 Von Lohmann, Fred 220 Vostell, Wolf 113 Wagenfeld, Wilhelm 42, 46 Wagner, James 220 Wagner, Richard 110–112 Wagner-Egelhaaf, Martina 19



Wald, Georg 133 Warhol, Andy 89–90, 97 Wees, William C. 132–133, 138 Weibel, Peter 141 Welles, Orson 168 Wenz, Karin 9, 199, 215, 261 Westheim, Paul 44 Wetzel, Michael 126 White, Jim 28 Wölfflin, Heinrich 15

Wollens, Peter 139 Wood, Brian Kuan 19 Woodwarth, Amy 174, 178 Woolf, Virginia 141 Wright, Peter 223 Youngblood, Gene 136–137 Zemer, Lior 83 Zimmerman, Leenheer 221, 224