April 21, 2011

Thin line between plagiarism and inspiration

Some months ago, I posted what seemed to me a plagiarism: Robert Voltaire 'copying' Mario Testino.

After that, I found two more authors doing a very good imitation job: I posted Manuel Vilariño imitating Gerhard Richter. And there is also a stencil by Constantine Xenos based on a picture taken by my friend Pablo, inspired by Madonna, as I also posted already.

There is a video about Voltaire's working in Rio de Janeiro. Somebody has drawn my attention to this scene, where Mario Testino's book is on Voltaire's backstage. Inspiration? Plagiarism? Or is it the same and we invented two words to name the same action, in order to absolve/condemn ourselves?

Robert Voltaire for Calvin Klein (2009?)

Andreas H. Bitesnisch, On Form (2003)

When I asked Pablo if he felt being plagiarized by the pencil stencil of Xenos, he replied to me quoting Jim Jarmusch:
Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery - celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: "It’s not where you take things from - it’s where you take them to".

I understand, but disagree. Inspiration is an excuse that triggers the imagination, plagiarism is to surrender to the lack of imagination.


Anonymous said...

"Inspired by"... gives a legitimate air of respect for the original creator, that the person desired to emulate.

But this guy is a blatant rip off artist. It is sad and pathetic that so many take his "work" as 'great'.

Jeff Stinson said...

I was assisting when the lightbox picture was taken. The shot was actually set up by Andreas in Palm Springs and Robert Voltaire was the photographer. Of course there would be a similarity. They were working in the same studio together for nearly a week.

Enrique G de la G said...

Interesting, Jeff, thank you for sharing this piece of information! Cheers.