Good questions! I was talking about this with my class not too long ago. Okay, so the designer appropriated the photo, right? But didn't Obey Giant also appropriate a Pop Art style and an aesthetic directly drawn from Guerrilla Propaganda posters, in order to relate a grass-roots type enthusiasm as well as to inspire a younger generation of potential optimists? And didn't the new Pepsi logo aim to similar concepts with their new "optimismmm" branding? I find it interesting how measured visual strategy has become. Art as reference for commercial appeal? Not only are the lines of ownership blurred, but also the categories of visual literacy, which I think may be a good thing. Designed objects have the sophistication and form of fine art, graffiti has a place in mainstream design, and the DIY craft aesthetic has already hit the contemporary art scene. There is no question about origin. Utter originality is mute--something for egos. The discussion comes in not about ownership of ideas, but responsibility of manipulation. We are a deeply visual culture, but not always critically so. How can visual makers ethically make?
Collaborating, in this sense, makes a political statement.
We have to consider where we are (America), and what we promote (upward mobility for the individual with the passion to succeed). That mythic rugged, dare I say Modernist, individualism is what makes us the envy of so many other situations, it is part of our definition of "freedom," and goes hand-in-hand with capitalist culture. So..."you dream it, you can do it!" Although, you have to get credit for it, or else that other guy will get the patent and "steal" your chance of becoming a millionaire in a matter of seconds.
True collaboration is a Utopian concept, selfless and flexible. It goes against our natural grain to share failures and successes equally. Not I, We. AND it's difficult! Working with others towards a common end within various social dynamics can be painstaking, but this is the sort of bilateral tension Obama is mindful of. This is what makes process so intriguing. This is what makes a final decision or output so rewarding--we did it together. (It may have taken a lot longer, but still, we did it together!) Yet in collaborating we are giving up our singular opportunity for success, we are saying, "credit isn't neccessary, it's the dialogue, the growth, the compromise, the middle ground, the experience, the relationship, the community, the whole."
With a networked technology connecting us to a gazillion bits of info and imagery on a daily basis, we are intertextual thinkers. I feel that it is impossible to differentiate ownership of ideas within such a system of fast-moving bites. Instead, we should just consider this a wonderful opportunity to share, to collaborate, to do more than what our individuality could accomplish.
Looking forward to our collabos!
p.s. the pics above are of my dad (pops) and me as obama poster. you can make one too @ Obamicon.com
p.p.s. love the maps post! I'll respond to that later.