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31 July 2006

Ceramics, in relationship to commercial art, art education and more.

I have recently been strugglin' with questions about fair use. One
thing that has piqued that interest in recent weeks has been my
discovery of barcode wikia. Go look it up...learning new markup
languages is a slow process for Netizen Lorraine. Anyway, much of my
internal ethical struggle has centered around what some term
`derivative works.' Roughly speaking, these are what happens when
original content collides with unoriginal concepts.

Obviously, the most openly derivative of creative pursuits has got to
be advertising. I reminded myself of this recently by diving into my
collection of VHS� tapes (I'm a vagrant netizen in multiple
ways...) and re-watching the 2004 US Open (golf, not tennis). At
some level, this violates my own conscience, no so much in my belief
that people somehow violate the intellectual property of others by
taping stuff off the television airwaves, but more by the guilt over
using such exotic (by the austere expectations of the vagrant netizen)
technologies as VHS�-licensed media and machines, which offer
capabilities beyond the most utopian fantasies of literally hundreds
of generations of samizdateli for something as mundane as men's
professional golf interlaced with numerous golfomercials. I mean,
even if I never get around tuit and `re-constitute' that setup I once
had rigged between our VHS� VCR and our modified Minolta�
video camera with the formerly proprietary handy-dandy electrical
interface to both the 12VDC power supply and the composite A/V signal
lines of the Minolta� portable VCR which unfortunately suppliable
at the gar(b)age sale where we had bought the camera. For a few
precious months I actually had live action montage capability,
although it was a very dim and lo-res one as there seems to be
something wrong, at some level, with the camera. To make a long story
at least a little bit shorter, the untimely death of our other VCR
necessitated unplugging our surviving VCR from the breadboard and
enlist it in the dreary work of taping stuff off the free (as in beer)
airwaves. When one is in love, one gladly makes such sacrifices.

Anyway, this was supposed to be about `derivative work,' whatever that
might be. What triggered it was seeing a 2+ year old golfomercial. I
distinctly remember the 'mercial from back then, but had forgotten
whose advertising campaign it was. Re-watching the 2004 USGAMO
reminded me that the advertiser in question was Lexus�. It was
about a wintersports enthusiast and occasional hitchhiker who was
discussing with his companion his interest (an academic interest, no
less) in ceramics. The punch line of the golvert had something to do
with minoring rather than majoring in ceramics.

A (seemingly) more recent incarnation of the witty deployment of the
concept of a `ceramics major' as a concept in advertising is a recent
radio advertising insertion bankrolled by or for the National
Fatherhood Initiative. It's part of their `be a dad' campaign and
implores the audience "have you been a dad today?" The NFI blitz
describes many ways in which people[?] can earn their dadhood, at
least for a day. One is by driving home the point that a dad worthy
of the job title will evaluate investments in the education of his
offspring based primarily on direct applicability to careerism. In
this respect, in creative terms, the NFI advomercial is lifted
directly (and pretty much `whole cloth') from the Lexus�

It must be emphasized that I am in no way accusing NFI or its agents
of any kind of wrongdoing. I simply found one of their many ads to be
an amusing case study in the recycling of advertising gimmicks.
Another interesting case study involves Daimler und Chrysler... not
the present-day business resulting from the merger of DaimlerBends and
Chrysler, but the separate entities that existed prior to the vaunted
merger of equals. Shortly before the merger a Dodge� commercial
recyled Mercedes�' cute (the first time) inclusion of rhinoceri
(or rhinoceroses) in a car commercial, the beasts in both cases
serving as an example of what's out there, traffic-wise.

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