A NEW PERFORMANCE BY DAVID VINCENT: YOU CAN'T COPY ME!
1st of February 2003
The situation: you have to understand that net artists are in
a difficult situation. They simply can't earn any money with their art. Nor can
they legally protect their work. Every piece they do is plagiarised and after
a very short time you've got nothing but worthless downstream imitations. The
original concept falls into mere oblivion. The worst part of all this is that
many of them are actively supporting the copyleft attitude. So there is no way
The artist: I, David Vincent, have the right to steal, modify and destroy
pieces without the author's consent. I can create new pieces by crossing two distinct
artworks. I can create new artists by interbreeding one with another.
The performance: on January 29th, I sent an e-mail to the net
artist, Christophe Bruno. Here is the e-mail:
"Dear Christophe Bruno. I've been aware of your work for some time and I
would like to point out that however good its quality may be, you might very well
never be able to sell one single piece. How can you sell a piece which uses media
that does not belong to you? In the case of your piece called non-weddings
for instance, you should pay copyright to practically everyone who took a picture
and put it on the Internet. Anyway, you should seriously think about this problem.
All the best, Yours sincerely, David Vincent"
Apparentely he understood the situation and wrote a text called: You
can't copy me! . Then, as I had forecast, after the text was published,
another artist, Jimpunk, sent the very same text to the same online editor, changing
only the name of the author and replacing it with his own: You
can't copy me! . The aim of this prank was to highlight the paradoxical situation
of the original text. Not only the second text was published,
but in their announcement (rhizome digest January 31, 2003) the editor forgot
to mention the original author (probably to add another layer to the prank).
David Vincent: "So Chris, could you explain how you reacted when you saw
the text sent by Jimpunk"
Christophe Bruno: "Well at the beginning I was amused because I thought it
was a clever prank. Then I must admit I was a bit worried, specially after seeing
my name had disappeared from the announcement of the rizhome digest. But this
event underlines the ambiguity of the situation. The whole economy of the world
depends crucially on what can be duplicated without any cost and what cannot.
Words are easily duplicated, but speech is not. DNA will be easily duplicated,
but human beings as subjects, won't be. Images can be duplicated, but what about
David Vincent: "Dear Jimpunk, what was your intention when you sent the text?"
"?txet eht tnes uoy nehw noitnetni ruoy saw tahw ,knupmiJ raeD"
Conclusion: Artists are right to debate whether copying is a
crime or not. To me, copying is the most fundamental and ambiguous crime of mankind.
And now, how about multiplying oil supplies?