Saturday, November 18, 2006

Originality

I recently got an anonymous comment on my blog addressing the fact that I sometimes cover peoples creations that are just reproductions of designs from Real Life. The author of the comment I guess feels that it isn't something noteworthy to just reproduce an item.

I was a little confused by this, although I can see a point. Personally, I would say I do hold an 'orriginal' design in higher regard than a straight reproduction. But where its tricky for me is deciding where a design becomes original.

It's no secret I have my sources of inspiration, inside SL and outside (RL). My textures and clothing have a hand drawn look, obviously because I have learned a lot from Toast and Nylon. My shading techniques are straight from Cory Edo herself. The way I have started to cut prims is totally mimicked off of what I have seen Makaio Stygian and others do. People often confuse my work for Juro Kothari's and Ingrid Ingersoll's, who has been friends since I was a newbie, or even since before SL. Beyond that I have a great admiration for some RL architects and designers that comes through in my buildings, furniture, clothing, and accessories.

Have I ever copied something I have seen it in RL? Of course I have. And I am not alone here. I would be a far richer man if I had a dollar for every designer dress I have seen reproduced in SL. There have been times where I have been caught down right staring at someone in RL or an item in a store, catalogue, on a commercial asking myself, "Isn't that the dress so-and-so released in SL a few weeks ago?"

I think the basic truth is, kill me if you want for saying this, but true originality is very rare. But consider how many people have reproduced a Le Corbusier item, and yet they are all different interpretations of the original design inside SecondLife. I have seen the same dress hand drawn and photosourced, but obviously based off the same item from RL. But the way they have been created, the approach, the way its presented etc makes them different and unique from each other. Doesn't that make it original to some degree?

This sort of copying isn't unique to SL, look at any RL designer and you can trace them back to their inspirations and influences. Other artists and styles that show through in their work. Look at how simple things such as a chair can be made a billion different ways, all based off the same simple idea. People take an idea, they reproduce it and maybe build on it, tweak it here or there. How many tweaks does it take for something to be original? 1? 5? 10? I guess my point is, we all reproduce to some degree, some of us take more artistic license with it, and others reproduce exactly. Making something exact is REALLY hard, sometimes its easier to take artistic license, but you have to be creative then and make sure your creation doesn't loose anything (whether that be functionality or aesthetics etc) by your changes. Personally I'm in no position to judge what kind of content is better. Each approach has it's own challenges.

If you don't agree with me on all that, that's fine. A more simple and straight forward answer to the anonymous poster's comment is that my goal with this blog is to simply feature quality content. The specific designer that was referenced makes high quality reproductions, and there are people, including myself who are interested in such items. So I will continue to feature them.

16 Comments:

Blogger caLLie cLine said...

wow, great post barnes. you're so smart and articulate.

i always think back to my favorite artists/musicians, (in any genre) and they all humbly admit to having lots of influences, and often, when they say what they are, i have had a hard time "seeing" the influence... but when pointed out, i say, "ahhh now i see"...

or like some guy in the bible said, i think king solomon, (who was supposed to be the wisest man who ever lived) "there is nothing new under the sun"

so what's cool to me, is seeing HOW everyone uses whatever they are inspired by... cuz for SURE no two of us would ever do it the same.. i don't think we could if we tried.

anyway, thought provoking post, i enjoyed it.

xoxo,

caLLie

November 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well, I agree with you, I'm myself a Sl furniture designer and yes sometime I find my ideas in RL life .. I'm probably jaleous because of the succes that max have with things that others people made. Anyway thanks for this huge post. I love you barnes .. Ciao !

(the anonymous guy)

November 22, 2006  
Blogger Fade Languish said...

I see building things in SL as drawing - drawing is what I'm trained in. Sometime I draw from life, sometime I draw from life and abstract it, and sometimes I draw from my head.Same goes with the things I make in SL. I'm not making a chair - I'm making a depiction of a chair.

I find it just as satisfying to try and recreate something exactly as to design something of my own - they both have their challenges - like the easel I made - it's the one that stands in my home a few feet from my computer. I enjoy the process of studying closely and describing it as accurately as possible sometimes. Other times, I'll build from a recollection of something, and reinterpret it, take it in a new direction, or start with my own idea and work my way through to a finished design. Even with a completely original design, I'm a sum of all my influences, employing a vocabulary learned largely from them. Whichever approach I take, I like to think the end result is something distinctly me.

Interesting post.

November 28, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree fade, but what I wanted to say is more about making money on other's idea .. thats it

November 30, 2006  
Blogger Barnes said...

Anonymous - do you then think its wrong for people to make and sell reproductions of a Mies van der Rohe Barcelona chair in real life as well? Because there are several companies who make and sell them...
A lot of people seem to have this interesting double standard when it comes to this kind of creation in SL, it very odd.

i think the point I and others are trying to make is that although you may not design something, the skills needed to create the item sucessfully in SecondLife are just as admireable.

I guess it is afterall, a matter of opinion, which you are entitled to think whatever way you want on it. I can valid points both ways.

And please post with a real name, no need for this 'Anonymous' bussiness. We are all mature adults capeable of discussion without hiding our identities. I'm actually glad that this kind of dialogue is happeing here, but somewhat disapointed that whoever you are you dont feel comfortable enough to use your name.

November 30, 2006  
Anonymous Menno ophelia said...

Really a great post Barnes.

I think we all get our inspiration from others through music, movies, design or even inworld creators. So it is nothing more than logical that you create something that is filled with your favorite influences without you being aware of it.

I personally try to make things as original as possible.But the question in general is, how really original is original. And how original is that texture i use? or how original is that prim shape? We all got the same Photo shop with the same tools and we all got the same building menu in sl.So i find it more than logical that someone on the other side of the grid might makes something that almost looks the same as something you would have build or created Its like notes and melodies that make up a song, and although you have a million of options we still speak about genres in music.

I think they only way to be different is to adopt/create a certain style that is unique or that comes the closest to the person your are. Even i if you decide to get your favorite RL design into SL, it would probably still be your interpretation filled with your influence.

Great topic..

December 04, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you wrong, I'm a furniture designer on Sl and I have a store that works really well. I just wanted to say that I find it sad that ppl make alot of RL cash but only taking a picture on the net and build it on sl .. Thats it. Its my opinion .. of course evrybody know you and like Callie said '' Your so smart and articulate'' you're opinion will always be better than mine.

December 10, 2006  
Blogger Barnes said...

What am I wrong about? I don't disagree with anything you said Anonymous #2 (except that its 'sad'). I never said that people don't make money off of just reproducing. I'm just saying that I don't particularly think that it is a lesser form of creation in that each way has its own challenges.

Yes, some people may make a lot of money and encounter a lot of success doing recreations. People also make a lot of money and encounter success with originality. So please clarify what I am wrong about.

By the way, you will remain an nobody if you spend your entire life posting as anonymous. You would be surprised how much more people will take a comment seriously if the author stands behind it enough to actually sign their name. Otherwise it comes through as unfounded, jealousy, and that the commenter doesn't believe enough in their statement to accept any ramifications it may have. I find it very ironic that you posted anonymously and wonder why people may not put much stock in your opinion.

December 11, 2006  
Anonymous Orion Keynes said...

I'm with Fade and Barnes on this. Anon's comments taken to the extreme start to remove things like Photography, film, and some forms of paiting of the arts list.

After all, a photo is a representation of someone / somthing else's creation.

January 04, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i try not to copy designs, second life should be filled with avant-garde but its filled w/ ikea wannabe designs. its one thing to be inspired by someone a whole nother story to just outright copy it.none the less , we all like what we like

Kymbah Spicer / La~Ti~ Da! Posh home furniture.

February 07, 2007  
Anonymous kymbah spicer said...

i try not to copy designs, second life should be filled with avant-garde but its filled w/ ikea wannabe designs. its one thing to be inspired by someone a whole nother story to just outright copy it.none the less , we all like what we like

Kymbah Spicer / La~Ti~ Da! Posh home furniture.

February 07, 2007  
Anonymous Pablo Andalso said...

I think that there should be some sensitivity in reproducing particularly iconic designs. Sometimes the "influence" seems rather superficial, not so much reinterpreting but poorly imitating. If one is going to "reproduce" something, such as a LC chaise or a Mies Barcelona Chair, one really ought to make it as accurate as possible. On the other hand, if one is "reinterpreting," one ought to emphasise the way in which the changes respond to the original (while being very explicit about the inspiration). Of course, in any situation where there is an explicit inspiration, it is very important to cite it regardless.

Also, in regard to copyrights: I believe the design copyright to a piece of furniture or building (at least in the U.S.) only applies to the original medium (i.e. the drawings and the finished product). For this reason, I don't imagine Knoll (owners of Mies' oeuvre ) or Cassina (zealous protectors of their rights to the furniture of Le Corbusier and Charles Rennie Mackintosh, as well as some pieces by Frank Lloyd Wright) would terribly mind digital reproductions by the likes of Maximilian Milosz. Representations simply don't compete with real life furniture in the same way as a real life knockoff would. Of course, if someone were selling a piece derived from a copyrighted CAD model (freely available from Knoll's website), I'm sure the story would be quite different.

March 25, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the founding notions of modernism in design is that scientific inquery, technological advances, and industrial mass production could be employed to bring architecture to the masses. The designs begged to be replicated for mass consumption.

Tadao Ando, a contemporary master, learnt architecture not by attending university, but by redrawing the works of Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn.

Imitation is one way to learn from the masters.

June 15, 2007  
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February 17, 2008  
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July 13, 2008  
Blogger teak furniture said...

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June 05, 2012  

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