Author Archives: Vittoria Somaschini

Capturing time: reproduciblity, the real, and photography

Capturing time: reproduciblity, the real, and photography

Vittoria Somaschini


Sally Mann, Family Pictures, #3


As we have worked through various themes throughout the course of the semester that encompassed varying art movements such as pop art and postmodernism, concepts of appropriation, remix culture, and globalization, one of the topics that I have been most drawn to is photography, and questions of its ability to capture and reproduce moments in time and history. Photography literally means to draw with light from the Greek, photo meaning light and graph, meaning to draw. The photograph initially developed on monochrome plates using a variety of noxious chemicals to produce the image and as it has moved forward with technological, it went from black and white to color, and now to the wild world of digital image production.

Around 1800, the first attempts of photography are recorded as Thomas Wedgewood discovers the camera obscura, however, it is not until 1827 that the first recorded photograph comes into existence by French inventor, Joseph Nicéphore Niépce. The inception of the photograph began as a method to capture moments of culture importance in a person’s life, such as birth, marriage, and death. Much in the way traditional painted portrait sought to capture similar moments, the photograph was able to do so in a fair quicker and easier way. It’s popularity rose in the mid-1800’s and its uses moved from strictly capturing families but also as a mode to capture history. Technological advances brought he advent of digital photography in 1969 at AT&T Bell Labs, however, it was not until 1975 that Kodak develops it’s Bayer filter. We see kodak as the front runner of photography, as they release campaigns to encourage users to produce “Kodak moments”. In 1992, the first digital photo, by Tim Berners-Lee was published to the internet, and since there has been a clear movement to archive photographs and make them all digital, both out of preservation, and out of the goal of sharing.  Moving forward into the age of the digital, the photograph has made leaps and bounds as companies such as Sony in the 1980’s released the first handheld personal camera, as that the act of photographing the world was no longer a form of art but rather part of the mundane. Today, they are ever more present as most handheld devices – outside of the actual digital camera – such as a mobile phone or even the iPod come equipped with cameras. .

I would like to continue exploring photography and examine photographs and their relation to reality, time, and reproducibility in the digital era. If we look at a photographer such as Hiroshi Sugimoto, what do his photographs tell us about the ability of the very medium to capture a moment of time? Do high levels of aperture equate a photo that captures reality or is it a question of traditional versus non-digital photography as we see with Sally Mann? Does living in the digital age redefine what it means to produce and  reproduce an image? Can a digital image be reproduced as it’s ‘original’ version is merely a copy?  Do the codes of the image move forward or have cyclical nature looking backwards in history to reproduce a forgotten moment?

To work through some of these questions, I will be using the work of theorists such as Jean Baudrillard, Umberto Eco, Andre Bazin, Henri Cartier-Bresson. Some of the photographers that I will be examining include Sally Mann, Robert Mapplethorpe, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Jimmy Nelson, and Judith Joy Ross. These photographers have been selected because of their focus on portraits as their subject matters. Each of these photographers examines different modes of meaning that is coded within their images, however, if placed together the photographs are still a collection of portraits that capture the venerability of the human subject mediated by the lens.

Theorists, Photographers, and their work

In Henri Cartier-Bresson’s Statement on Photography, he offers a thought that, “the camera is a sketch book, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity, the master of the instant which – in visual terms – questions and decided simultaneously”(Cartier-Brennson, 1). If we accept this is as the true manifestation of the camera, perhaps then, this is why we as viewers its believe that even staged photos are in fact spontaneous moments that the photographer has captured and that they  encompass a larger reality.  A juxtaposition exists when we examine traditional photographic methods and digital photography the product of both changes the moment in history as one that captures a singular moment to one that captures hundreds of frames. Capturing frame upon frame offers the photographer and the audience what could be considered raw moments of spontaneity, as multiple frames give the photographer the freedom to play with the very form of capturing an image, whereas traditional photographic methods must be staged to some degree, as there is only one frame in which the photograph can be captured. The digital medium gives a photographer the infinite ability to capture moments in time and history, whereas traditional mediums of photography are limited to number of frames and thus give the photographer a finite ability to capture the same moments in time and history.

Sally Mann, and Judith Joy Ross work with non-digital modes of photography or as some would consider them “traditional” modes of capturing images. Mann works with plates, and Ross works with silver prints and an 8×10 -view camera. Their work captures different sorts of codes, embedded in their subject matter, which in both the case of Mann and Ross, it is the act of capturing portraits.  The wet plates and the use of an 8×10 camera equate a new mode of understanding the codes within these photographs. Some of Mann’s photography projects read as antique, while others still have a sense of capturing real moments in a specific historical moment, such as those of her children at the lake house. The photographs of both Mann and Ross capture the venerability of portrait work and a nostalgia of a historical moment that can no longer exist as time as moved forward. Those of Ross similarly capture what read as raw moments of human vulnerability. These images are staged moments, as Mann and Ross  are attempting to capture a moment in a specific history, but rather becomes the driving factor of their work as it commands what reality they are able to capture and produce.



Judith Joy Ross

Simulacra, likeness or similarity, is fundamental as we examine photography, as the photograph is capturing the likeness of reality. In Baudrillard’s work, Simulacra and Simulation, he examines the way through which simulacra effects representations of reality. He states, “therefore, pretending, or dissimulating, leaves the principle of reality intact: the difference is always clear, it is simply masked, whereas simulation threatens the difference between the “true” and the “false,” the “real” and the ‘imaginary’” (Baudrillard, 4). A component of simulacra and its direct application in photography is the coding through which we are socialized to understand that the photograph is not merely a likeness of reality, but a manifestation of the real through a particular medium. Portraiture and images such as Sugimoto’s capture the simulacra of reality, and yet convey a particular moment of reality in time and history.

Hiroshi Sugimoto’s photography has varying motifs that deal with questions of introspection such as capturing the horizon, or taxonomic scenes at the American Natural History Museum in New York City. However, some of his most captivating images are part of a photo series through which he examines time. Sugimoto captures time by taking a photo of a film, a series of captured moving images, by setting a high aperture through the entire duration. I chose to include this set of work, as I find that it represents a portrait of modern America as the Mecca of Hollywood culture. Aperture is a technique throughout which the lens is opened  or closed to adjust the amount of light that enters the camera, which affects the depth of field of an image as well. A crucial part of understanding Sugimoto’s photographs of the cinema is the fact that he does not give the audience the name of the feature film that he has captured, but rather simply the location and year in which it captured, so as to say that the subject is irrelevant, and that the image instead reflects the movement of time.


Robert Mapplethorpe, much like Sugimoto, composes introspective photographs that capture time and history. His images depict moments within life, often with shock value, as the premise behind his work is to question time. His series of photos that capture naked human bodies display the symmetry within nature and much like those of flowers they capture specific moments of physical perfection. His photographs serve as proof of the fleeting nature of humanity, the enduring nature of culture, and display much like the work of Mann, and Ross, the vulnerability of the human condition.



Mapplethorpe, Self Portrait 1988

Similarly to Mann and Ross, the subject of Mapplethorpe’s work is portraiture. He worked with celebrities as a method of capturing the cultural and historical moment of the seventies and eighties. One of his most recognized images is a self portrait, that Mapplethorpe captured at the end of his life, as he was staring death in the face. In spite of the fact that the reader through codes, and the photographer through acknowledging that this photo is in fact staged, it is able to capture an instance of raw reality. The contrast of a living person and the silver skull topping Mapplethorpe’s cane, is vivid, as Mapplethorpe actually resembles the skull because of how gaunt and sickly he appears. The image becomes a striking moment of mortality, capturing how fleeting life can be.

Mapplethorpe’s self portrait much like the photographs of Mann and Nelson address questions of the codes of reality. Do the codes of the image move forward or have cyclical nature looking backwards in history to reproduce a forgotten moment? Do we see this with portraits such as the work of Sally Mann, the Family of Mann or photo projects such as Jim Nelson’s Before They Pass? Do these codes carry through because we are enculturated into them to understand them as moment of reality rather than posed moments? To answer these  questions of the ways in which we understand images through socialization and  the process of enculturation, we must first examine the semiotics and the cultural encyclopedia that code photographs as well as other forms of art. Borrowing from semiotics, we can turn to the work of Umberto Eco, the prominent Italian linguist, as he states,

When a text is produced not for a single addressee but for a community of readers – the author knows that he or she will be interpreted not according to his or her intentions but according to a complex strategy of interactions which also involve the readers, along with their competence in language as a social treasury…. I mean by social treasury not only a given language as a set of grammatical rules, but also the whole encyclopedia that the performances of that language have implemented, namely the cultural conventions that that language has produced and the very history of the previous interpretations of many texts, comprehending the text that the reader is in the course of reading. (Eco, 67-68).

Examining a photo project, such as Jimmy Nelsons’ work in Before They Pass, uses this understanding of the cultural encyclopedia to code the images that he produces as they have specific meaning within the cultural encyclopedia both for the author and the reader. His work exposes the reader to a set of documentary like photographs of indigenous tribe members across the globe. Nelson chose to place his subjects in poses that mimic past anthropological photos taken of tribes during the turn of the century, as the use of photography in anthropology became a vastly important part of ethnographic research around 1860. By placing his subjects in these poses, there is a nod to the past, while looking forward. It has a jarring affect because the viewer is able to make reference to images that they have been previously exposed to, as there are semiotic signs coded in these images.


Jim Nelson, Vantu #8

In Nelson’s image of a group of Vantu men, appear to be walking in traditional garb either to or from a hunt. The photograph captures cultural tradition within the Vantu tribe, but it is also able to carry forward the traditions that still exist outside of these remote tribes, such as gendered roles and the meanings of masculinity. Furthermore, these images tap into a deeper cultural encyclopedia and knowledge of a moment in prehistoric time in which all of humanity lived as hunter-gathers.  Although the reader can confirm that image appears posed  – as much of Nelson’s work though documentary in nature, is but a staged recreation of traditions for the sake of documentation – the image is loaded with codes of the real.


The photograph in the post-digital world continues to serve the same function as it was originally intended for, as it captures the simulacra of reality to preserve moments in time and history, whether these moments are introspective in the case of Mapplethorpe and Sugimoto, or simply a mode to capture humanity in the case of Ross and Mann. As the digital continues to become more and more expansive as the main mode of capturing images, it will redefine the reality of the image in its literal production and what it reproduces.


Baudrillard, Jean.Simulacra and Simulations“. Simulacra and Simulation, 1981; English trans., 1988.

Bourdieu, Pierre. Photography: A Middle-Brow Art.

Cartier-Bresson,Henri. “Statement on Photography“.1933.

Eco, “The Theory of Signs and the Role of the Reader.”

Editors of Phaidon Press, The Photography Book, Mini Edition. Phaidon Press, 2000.

Irvine, Pop and Appropriation Art and the Encyclopedia

Krauss,Rosalind. “A Note on Photography and the Simulacral,” October 31 (1984),

Mann, Sally. 2010.

Mapplethorpe, Robert. 

MoMA. “Judith Joy Ross. Untitled, from Eurana Park, Weatherly, Pennsylvania (1982).” Web. 14 Dec. 2013.

Nelson, Jim. Before they pass away.

Wikipedia. “History of Photography.” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 11 Dec. 2013. Web.

Wikipedia. “Photography.” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 5 Dec. 2013. Web.

Inspector Gadget

Vittoria Somaschini

Donna Haraway’s Cyborg Manifesto deals with many of the cultural issues surrounding dictional representations of the cyborg. According to Haraway, “A cyborg is a cybernetic organism, a hybrid of machine and organism, a creature of social reality as well as a creature of fiction” (Haraway 142).  Inspector Gadget is a creature of fiction that is shaped by social realities but suited to please young viewers.


Inspector Gadget was a television series from the early 80’s that was later adopted into a film by Disney (1999). The premise of the show is that a goofy security guard is made into a cyborg police officer that is lovable yet unable to accomplish the simplest missions. He and his niece Penny go on adventures to try and stop the villain Dr. Claw.  Both in the cartoon and in the film, Dr. Claw and Inspector Gadget are cyborgs that are battling, one fighting for a good cause, and the other for total world domination through the M.A.D. organization.


Inspector Gadget is half human half robot. He is the human version of a Swiss Army knife, and by stating “go go gadget [insert gadget of choice here]”, the item of choice will appear. Dr. Claw on the other hand, simply has a mechanical claw for his left arm. Interestingly, we are given a glimpse of the cyborg theme molded for young viewers, and we see both the “good” cyborg, one that does actions for the state and the betterment of society, and the “bad” cyborg, who wishes to take over the world and acquire fame, fortune, and wealth. The theme within Inspector Gadget is standard for children’s shows, however, the incorporation of cyborgs, is unusual.

Works Cited

Haraway, Donna. A Cyborg Manifesto. New York; Routledge, 1991. pp.149-181.

“Inspector Gadget.” IMDb., n.d. Web. 

Wikipedia. Inspector Gadget.



Vittoria Somaschini

Continuing to examine hiphop and mainstream music, this week I wanted to look at Jay-Z’s song Crown from Magna Carta Holy Grail, as it combines both musically stylings and production styles. The song was produced with Travi$ Scott and Mike Dean of Dirty South Records, both producers come from the southern rap scene. We hear this throughout the song as there are elements of ‘chopped & screwed’ which is a rap style born in Houston and most associated with Paul Wall and Mike Jones.


08 Crown (Produced By Travi$ Scott & Mike Dean)

Chopped and Screwed “is accomplished by slowing the tempo down to between 60 and 70 quarter-note beats per minute and applying techniques such as skipping beats, record scratching, stop-time, and affecting portions of the music to make a “chopped-up” version of the original” (Wikipedia).Along with being produced with elements from Chopped and Screwed, Crown always incorporates reggae, and elements of a ‘traditional’ sounding hip-hop.


Irvine, Martin. “Popular Music as a Meaning-System: The Combinatorial Structures We Use in Understanding Music.” Communication, Culture, and Technology Department, Georgetown U, Nov. 2013. Web. 17 November 2013.

Wikipedia. Scott, Travis.

Wikipedia. Chopped and Screwed.

Jay-Z as a remix artist

Vittoria Somaschini

Eduardo Navas defines remix culture as “the global activity consisting of the creative and efficient exchange of information made possible by digital technologies that is supported by the practice of cut/copy and paste”. Jay-Z as an artist and as an empire can be easily linked to remix culture, as the greater part of his music embodies this concept.In an interview with MTV, Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter openly acknowledged his stance by stating “I grew up around music, listening to all types of people, I used to listen to old music like Donny Hathaway, Marvin Gaye and things like that. I’m into music that has soul in it, whether it be rap, R&B, pop music, whatever. As long as I can feel their soul through the wax, that’s what I really listen to.”


For the purpose of this analysis I would like to focus on Magna Carta, Holy Grail as well as he and Kayne’s Watch the Throne, as both have influences from all over the musical map but particularly from jazz, blues, roots, reggae, and world music. Jay-Z has deep musical style with a vast and important history particularly when examining his music within the context of Black-American music, however his lyricism is shallow, and more in line with modern artists.

This is highly interesting, as Navas claims that part of remixing music is maintaining the aura of the song, something that is difficult to do when haphazardly  putting together particular musical stylings and lyrics that do not match that cultural, and historical, moment. Jay-Z changes the aura of music when he combines such different musical stylings, however, it is not a negative change, as it creates a different experience for the audience.

Works Cited:

Anderson, Kyle. A Young Jay-Z describes his Early Influences. MTV. 2009.

Navas, Eduardo. Remix: The Bond of Repeition.

Jay-Z. Wikipedia

Preserving History

Vittoria Somaschini

According to Bazin, family photos are “no longer traditional family portraits but rather the disturbing presence of lives halted at a set moment in their duration…for photography does not create eternity, as art does, it embalms time, rescuing it simply from its proper corruption” (Bazin,8).

The readings inspired me to look at various photography projects that have cropped up over the years that aim to preserve history, or look at the changes that have occurred since the photos were taken. One of these projects has skyrocketed to fame over the past five years as its grown in popularity. Irina Werning is an Argentinian photographer who created the project, Back to the Future, in which people are asked to submit childhood photos and identically recreate these photos as adults.

Christoph 1990:2011 berlin wall

The project captures realism in its truest sense, as the childhood photos tend to be silly, endearing, and typical of children, whereas when they are juxtaposed with the photos of these children as adults, the realism of the image is jarring. The project aims to preserve the past as well as mark the passing of time, and it successfully does this, with significant shock value. The project has a postmodern appeal as it is a no longer a traditional photographer, passive subject, and product, but has been replaced by a new model of photographer, active subject, and product.

Other projects exist that similarly aim to preserve something about this current moment, and I chose to examine another project, created by English photography Jimmy Nelson, titled Before They Pass Away. Unlike Back to the Future, this project is completely documented by Jimmy Nelson and we return to a traditional model of photography in which the subject is passively photographed rather than actively participating. However, the project share something in their ability to reference the past, preserve it, and yet capture something about the present moment.


Similar to Werning’s project, Nelson chose to place his subjects in poses that mimic past anthropological photos taken of tribes during the turn of the century. By placing his subjects in these poses, there is a nod to the past, while looking forward, and again it has a jarring affect because the viewer is able to make reference to images that they have been previously exposed to, as there are semiotic signs coded in these images.

Both Back to the Future and Before They Pass Away document moments, either of small family histories, or of the impending doom of a culture. The projects aufheben reality, as they are “the creation of an ideal world in the likeness of the real, with its own temporal destiny” (Bazin 6).


Works Cited

Bazin, André. The Ontology of the Photographic ImageFilm Quarterly, 1960.

Nelson, Jimmy. Before They Pass Away. 

Werning, Irina. Back to the Future I.

Werning, Irina. Back to the Future II. 

Sonesson, Göran.Semiotics of Photography. Lund University

Studio Hush

Vittoria Somaschini

This week I wanted to focus on the street art produced by the London based street artist, Studio Hush. Unlike other street artists such as Banksy, or Keith Haring, little information exists about Studio Hush. After some extensive googling, I was unable to find even a name associated with the art. In all photos of the artist working on his art obscure his face, which indicate that anonymity is a part of his identity as an artist as well as his method.


I found his work to be astounding in its ability to be hyperreal. When I initially found Studio Hush, I thought it was photography mounted with collages, however, it is all painted. His art is reminiscent of portraits of geishas, and overall traditional Japanese portraits. His portraits capture sadness as well as the hustle and bustle of modern life, as they are dark and collaged with bursting color. Hush  is in dialogue with his fellow street artists as the color in his paintings initially appear to be scribbles – much like the work of Cy Twombly, however, upon further inspection they are bits and pieces of tags and “traditional” graffiti art. “Hush transforms the remains of past tags into points of expression, recycling them into illustrative fluorishes that generate his innovative new work” (Juxtapoz 2013)


Works Cited:

Irvine, Martin,The Work on the Street: Street Art and Visual Culture” .The Handbook of Visual Culture, ed. Barry Sandywell and Ian Heywood. London/New York: Berg, 2012: 235-278.


Studio Hush 

Nouveau réalisme, the European pop art

Vittoria Somaschini

This week I wanted to examine movements that were similar to Pop Art in the UK and the United States that were also occurring at the same moment. After some research, I discovered nouveau realisme that was developing in France around the 1960’s. The movement has been compared to pop art many times, however, unlike pop art, it died around the 1970’s, additionally, the movement has its roots in surrealism and Dada as it grew out of the Lettrism movement in the 1940’s. Some of the major artists associated with Nouveau Realisme include Jacques Villegle, Niki de Saint Phalle, Mimmo Rotella, and Yves Klien.


I wanted to focus on Niki de Saint Phalle and Jacques Villegle. Saint Phalle and Villegle both experimented with art in the same ways that Warhol, Koons, and Rauschenberg did. Villegle most notably brought commercial art to high art as he created collages out of pre-WWII posters. His art is laced with hybridization as it is part high art, part street art, and part commercially produced art. Both the works of Villegle and Saint Phalle can be examined under the perspective of semiotics as Villegle’s works, much like Warhol’s work, often incorporate text, images of the celebrity, and photo realism.

Saint Phalle on the other hand has works that are reminiscent of Koon’s statues, Haring’s colorful playfulness, and Rauschenberg’s sculptures. Much like other pop artists, she hyper sexualized the female body in her series of works called Nanas, the French colloquialism for “chick”. The life size sculptures embody appropriation of culture and art as they are a reiteration of African fertility symbols. The nana’s are life sized, and boldly colored – much like other pop art, full figured women, who symbolize female power.

Works Cited:

“Designed by Reality.” Museum Ludwig Köln. N.p., n.d. Web.

“Jacques De La Villeglé.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 14 Oct. 2013.

Neal, Jean. “Niki De Saint Phalle: The Power of Playfulness.” The Telegraph. N.p., 26 Feb. 2008. Web.

“Nouveau Réalisme.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 21 Oct. 2013. Web.



Vittoria Somaschini

This week was really about exploring varying pop artists for me, as I had had exposure to the big names like Wesselemann, Warhol, and Leitchenstien, however I was not familiar with some of the other names in pop art, which is why I chose to look at the work of Edward Ruscha. He is most recognized for his typography paintings that express concepts. in 1962, His work was featured in “New Paintings of Common Objects” at the Pasadena Art Museum along side other big name pop artists and has since been grouped together as a pop artist.  Ruscha worked with photography, painting, typography, writings, and film. He is known for using a multitude of media in his art such as, “gunpowder and painted and printed with foodstuffs and with a variety of organic substances such as blood and the medicine Pepto-Bismol” (MoMA).

Unlike his contemporaries, Ruscha did not appropriate the works of classical artists to make social commentary and challenge preexisting conventions about art. He instead made social commentary by using text and two highly recognizable signs: Standard gasoline, and Hollywood.


The Standard gasoline painting is easily Ruscha’s most recognizable work and it offers a picture of classic Americana, as there were Standard gas stations all along Route 66. In the vein of pop art  as commercial art, Ruscha used the Standard gas station painting to create a variety of screen prints and it became “one of the first fine-art applications of this commercial process that combines differently colored inks” (MoMA).

Much like the Standard gas station image, Ruscha similarly played with the Hollywood sign. It first appeared in 1968 as a drawing with charcoal and has since


had many reincarnations. According to Alloway, “Pop Art deals with material that already exists as signs: photographs, brand goods, comics, that is to say, with pre-coded material”(Alloway). The Hollywood sign is both a physical sign but when unpacked it is also a semiotic sign that carries pop cultural and historical meaning, particularly as Hollywood can be hailed as the Mecca of pop culture.

Works Cited

Alloway, Lawrence. “Popular Culture and Pop Art,” Studio International, July-August 1969: 17-21.

“Edward Ruscha. Hollywood Study #8. (1968).” Web.

“Edward Ruscha. Standard Station (1966).” Web.

“Edward Ruscha.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 14 Oct. 2013. Web.

Honnef, Klaus, and Uta Grosenick. Pop Art. Köln: Taschen, 2004. Print.

Coffee Table Books: rise & implications

Vittoria Somaschini

While thinking about the readings, I was most intrigued by Malraux and the musee imaginaire. I was thinking of modern examples and looking back to Benjamin’s writings and want to discuss the idea of auroa and the raise of coffee table books.


The practice of coffee table books, or glossy books filled with shiny photos have been around since the 1960’s when they were “invented” by David Brower and the Sierra Club, which published a 20 part series of books titled “Exhibit Format Series”. The books feature photographs and accompanying text that reflect the exhibitions at the LeConte Memorial Lodge.


The raise of coffee table books has since increased exponentially and encompasses all sorts of subjects, from art to sex to “celebrity” pets (Boo the Dog). There is a book that encounters every taste, and there are now tabs at retail store websites such as Anthropologie or Urban Outfitters where one can look for coffee table books. More interesting however is the Phaidon company, which publishes titles such as “The Art Book”, “The Photo Book”, “The Art Book for Children” etc. etc. These books are completely in keeping with Malraux, as they have a photograph of a great piece of art, or in the face of the The Photo Book, a photography, and text that follows explaining the stylistics of the artwork.

The use of coffee table books and the genre of “art history” books brought up the idea of aura that Benjamin describes in “the Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. Benjamin states, “the technique of reproduction detaches the reproduced object from the domain of tradition. By making many reproductions it substitutes a plurality of copies for a unique existence” (Benjamin, 221). Following Benjamin’s logic, the production, dissemination, and use of art history books or coffee table books completely removes the aura attached to an original production that we would otherwise see in an exhibition. Similarly, Malraux’s “art history” books do the same thing. They strip away the cultural significance and the uniqueness of a piece of art by allowing it to become categorized by style, and period. This categorization further aids in removing the aura of art works.

Works Cited:

Benjamin, Walter, Hannah Arendt, and Harry Zohn. “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” Illuminations. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1968. N. pag. Print.

“Coffee Table Book.” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 9 Sept. 2013. Web.

Irvine, Martin. “Malraux: Imaginary Museum – Google Drive.” Malraux: Imaginary Museum – Google Drive.Web.

“This Is the American Earth 1955 Exhibit – LeConte Memorial Lodge – Sierra Club.” This Is the American Earth 1955 Exhibit – LeConte Memorial Lodge – Sierra Club. Web.


J.K. Rowling and the Copyright Infringement

Vittoria Somaschini

harry potter and the sorcerers stone

As I was thinking of cases to use for our class discussion, I kept coming back to the plethora of lawsuits brought against J.K. Rowling as well as the ones that she has brought against other people for the use of her material. I think cases surrounding J.K. Rowling bring up interesting aspects of copyright such as questions of authorship as well as the politics that are deeply embedded in big corporate cases.

One of the most predominate lawsuits that was brought against J.K. Rowling occurred in the late 90’s, as Nancy Stouffer claimed that J.K. Rowling had plagiarized her work and recreated Harry Potter based upon her two books, Larry Potter and his best friend Lilly and The Legend of Rah and the Muggles. However this is not the first nor the last time that J.K. Rowling has been accused of plagiarism. Similarly, she was accused of plagiarizing from Adrian Jacob’s book, The Adventures of Willy the Wizard: No 1 Livid Land. Though in both cases the plagiarizing may seem extremely obvious, I am going to play the devil’s advocate and side with J.K. Rowling for the purpose of analyzing authorship and what it means to be part of the greater literary community as well as appropriation.

Lethem states, “[it] becomes apparent that appropriation, mimicry, quotation, allusion, and sublimated collaboration consist of a kind of sine qua non of the creative act, cutting across all forms and genres in the realm of cultural production” and J.K. Rowling is no exception to this rule (Lethem, 3). If J.K. Rowling appropriated some terms and remixed them for her own use, then it follows that anyone who partakes in fan fiction writing is appropriating characters, names, and stories, and should be subject to prosecution.

Works Cited

Jaszi, Peter. “On the Author Effect: Contemporary Copyright and Collective Creativity,”.” The Construction of Authorship: Textual Appropriation in Law and Literature. Ed. Martha Woodmansee. Durham: Duke UP, 1994. N. pag. Print.

“Larry Potter Returns to Print.” BBC News. BBC, 16 Mar. 2001. Web.

“Legal Disputes over the Harry Potter Series.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 22 Sept. 2013. Web.

Lessig, Lawrence. Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy. New York: Penguin, 2008. Print.

Lethem, Jonathan. “The Ecstasy of Influence: A Plagiarism.” Harper’s Magazine 1 Feb. 2007: n. pag. Print.