Carolyn Guertin – Digital Prohibition: Piracy and Authorship in New Media Art

Carolyn Guertin

Continuum, ISBN13: 9781441131904, 304 pages, English
Guertin begins to define the territory of her investigation as the “third space of authorship”, borrowing a definition from Homi Bhabha’s “Location of Culture”. According to the author this is a site of resistance and renegotiation, in contrast to the first space of authorship as “oral culture”, and the second space as “solitary genius”. This third space is also ultimately a site of creation, as the many creative works and actions illustrated in the text definitively prove. “Digital Prohibition” describes strategies artists have employed to challenge prohibition and the deliberate or mimicked use of piracy, framing these in appropriate contemporary economical and legal contexts. This is an inclusive text that connects media philosophers with radical changes to internet periodicals and plenty of related digital artworks. It defines three conceptual “zones” (Appropriation, Authorship and Digital Cannibalism/Anthropophagy) carefully mapping both their historical references and their most current manifestations. So beyond the expected sampling, remixing and mash-up practices, Guertin also considers strategies of interruption, disturbance, capture/leakage, archiving, vernacularity and digital anthropophagy (among the others) – with a specific last chapter about analogous works in China and Pakistan. Nicolas Bourriaud’s definition of “art as a social interstice” suitably describes most of the art present here, with its distinctively disruptive, powerful and subtle qualities.