Science Appropriation

Since our readings left us off on the note of appropriation, I thought that I would share a new concept that I have been digging into: “science appropriation”. When I came across that term, naturally it piqued my interest due to my science-meets-art studio work. I have only begun to scratch the surface, but what I have read so far leads me to two very different ideas of what the phrase “science appropriation” means. On one side of it you have very negative connotations that refer to people using scientific language to support entirely non-scientific ideas and beliefs. This kind of appropriation of science is more in line with the term “pseudoscience”. It insinuates that the appropriator has little to no scientific knowledge or contextual awareness of the words or data they use. While this is something important to consider, I did not find it relevant to my own endeavors. While I use scientific techniques and information, it is not without context, research, or at least general understanding. Then we have the other side of the discussion. In the more scholarly texts I have found on the subject, I have found a much less negative view of science appropriation. Instead, these texts identify it as a social/cultural tool utilized by the public to inform decisions. These decisions could be something as simple as which product to buy at the store or as critical as how they will vote on an issue. The “appropriation” part of this is how these individuals use and digest information that they do not have specific expertise in. I enjoyed that in the articles that I have read so far (I will link to one that I got some good thoughts from) that the outlook is generally positive about this appropriation. The text that I most recently read says that scientific culture ought not be passive and exclusive and that it (and culture in general) “requires assimilation of diverse types of information in the enrichment of one’s own life, not only generating opinions but also attitudes and disposition to the action in different spheres in daily life” (Cerezo 71). I quite enjoy this concept of science appropriation. I think it’s an interesting spin on the word “appropriation” and the overall attitude toward non-experts and experts engaging in information sharing. I think it’s much more parallel to my thoughts on interdisciplinary work and the significance of breaking down those barriers.

Jose A. Lopez Cerezo & Montana Camara. “Scientific Culture and Social Appropriation of the Science.” Social Epistemology 21, 1 (2007): 69-81. doi: 10.1080/02691720601125522

Last ‘thought ‘about Lindiwe Dovey’s ‘thoughts’

2 or 3 years ago I was in the event “The Unfinished Conversation: Encoding and Decoding” that Power Plant ‘ galleries projected among other film installations. John Akomfrah’s three screens about Stuart Hall’s life was showed in one of the galleries. At that moment, I was impressed. Lindiwe Dovey’s “Fidelity, Simultaneity and the ‘Remaking’ of Adaptation Studies” activated my ” involuntary memory” (crucial in the making and re-making adaptation inquiries as she says in her article) and brought to my mind some Akomfrah’s images   .

Akomfrah’s film Mnemosyne , that Dovey discussed in the article, has very subtle connections  in the  idea of migration and immigration that viewers are able to elaborate. Crossing ideas inside the audience imagination are juxtaposed together with those projected ( a mixed past and present). These are some of Akomfrah’s simultaneous images:

The archival idea of simultaneous adaptation that Akomfrah elaborates is defined by Dovey when she speaks about Mnemosyne:

“Whether we recognize the individual quotations throughout or not is not important; it is the overall effect of the simultaneous presentation of these literary quotations that has an emotional and intellectual impact. They conjure a sense of a lost past – a history and a memory just beyond our reach- as captured in the Basho quotation used by Akomfrah:”Every day is a journey and the journey itself is home”” (173).

The case of Akomfrah’s simultaneity in adaptation is a valuable concept to analyze after all the variations that we processed and researched  in the classes. I look forward to discussing these and more on 16th of April.


Work Cited

Dovey, Lindiwe “Fidelity, Simultaneity and the ‘Remaking’ of Adaptation Studies”, spectrum Literaturwissenschaft / spectrum Literature: Adaptation and Cultural Appropriation : Literature, Film, and the Arts (Walter de Gruyter 2012) 162-185


Reenacting offence

Thinking about the many layers of offence that people can react to from viewing images that take influence from the past, brought up the controversies involving the image of Kim Kardashian with a champagne glass balanced on her bum come to mind. The (in)famous image from the 2014 photo shoot in Paper magazine of Kim Kardashian displaying her ‘well-known’ figure, a set out to make-history and break the internet. Critics judged her for being photographed nude and being a mother but the main criticism was allowing the objectification and exploitation of a female-of-colour’s body to be celebrated.

This photo shoot of Kardashian for Paper was shot by photographer Jean-Paul Goude and the cover shot of the champagne and glass was a reenactment of his 1976 photograph with model Carolina Burmont, which for me takes away much of the ‘groundbreaking’ proclamation that the Paper photograph was trying to ‘break the internet’ with. The ‘original’ photograph was part of Goude’s 1981 book of images titled Jungle Fever, a book that mainly exhibited images of women of colour and primarily of his then girlfriend Grace Jones. A quick google of Goude and his views on black beauty will provide plenty of material for offence. However, for the many writings that criticize the sexual and racial politics of Goude’s work, there are as many that praise him has one of the great artists of the 21st century – a master of his craft, an innovator, one of the first to manipulate photographic images, long before photoshop.

My question lies in this blurred line between art and what is offensive. In the case of Jean-Paul Goude this line can perhaps be thought of more as a curtain hiding offensive white male politics of colonial power. Then again, he isn’t hide anything at all. It is all there on the surface. Here is a direct quote from Goude:

“Blacks and I were drawn to each other for some of the same reasons but to different ends. The politics of Black Power didn’t interest me as much. I knew its existence was justified but as a white I felt a little left out, to say the least. Also, I could not get interested in their comic-book rhetoric. My enthusiasm was aesthetic. Whatever the reason, most blacks back then were interested in Africa, their interpretation of Africa, but so was I!” (Chambers)

And yet, despite these, what I find to be, distressing statements, Goude has had no end of willing subjects for his art and is largely accepted in the pop culture canon. In short, he has been immensely successful. Even in 2014, Kardashian seemed unknowing of any offence that has surrounded Goude and his images, nor the ties of this particular balancing a glass on a bum shot has with the Hottentot Venus which was the stage name of Saartjie “Sarah” Baartman, a Khoikhoi woman who was kidnapped and taken to Europe as a sexualized early-19th century freak show exhibit all because of her physic. While Kardashian has been known to capitalize on her body I wonder if she should be more sensitive towards the modern images she is participating in and the connotations that are tied up in them. Or why is it that Goude is allowed to continually to spew hidden exploitation through flattery in his work and why are we still reenacting these images? It leaves me thinking that perhaps offence is really just a kind of hunger. That there is an element of art that seeks to feed this hunger, or perhaps this is the art of power – it’s ability to cause offence without any kind of real accountability.


Jean-Paul Goude. “Kim Kardashian for Paper Magazine.” 2014.


Jean-Paul Goude. “Champagne Incident.” 1976.


Jean-Paul Goude. Page from book Jungle Fever. 1981.

F5768 001
George Loftus. “La Venus Hottentote”. circa 1814. National Maritime Museum Collections.

Chambers, Steve. “Before #BreakTheInternet: Jean-Paul Goude’s Unsettling History Of Exploiting Black Women”. The Urban Daily. November 18,2014.

Between Influence and Originality

Expressions of adaptation normally had negative evaluation and considered to be a sort of subsidiary or inferior work compared to the “original” source from which they derive. However, the adaptation theories and forms that we discussed in this course certify that adaptation is a form of legitimation of the source as an authoritative model to be followed, and of the adapted work as a viable product that equally respects and challenges the original.

It’s interesting how most adaptation vocabulary terms start with “re” like: remix, reenact, reproduce, replicate, recycle, revisit, reinterpret, which confirm that the process is a reproduction of an “original” production: a source and a destination. Adaptations allow reinterpretations of established cultural works or fragmented citations. Works that are adapted from heritage or history are done for a desire to preserve or to bring a tribute to the artist. Such works recognize and recite the past. Recent contemporary works are adapted to find further meanings, add a value or criticize a charged discourse.

Nicolas Bourriaud (2002, 20) comments: “The artwork is no longer an end point but a simple moment in an infinite chain of contributions (…). Going beyond its traditional role as a receptacle of the artist’s vision, it now functions as an active agent, a musical score, an unfolding scenario, a framework that possesses autonomy and materiality to varying degrees…”

In my practice, I create interior spaces through inhabitable environments or artistic installations. When I see concept replications or artistic adaptations in installation arts, I wonder if the artist was influenced by the works of another artist or they just happen to use the same available materials or tools that generated the resemblance. In interior architecture as well as in installation arts, site-specificity, spatiality, composition, materiality, role and audience engagement are main factors to be considered in the design process. I, similar to installation artists, use in my work tools, materials, and sources with openness. That being said, there’s a large chance of witnessing works with similar components or materials, but the way they’re composed or configured, and the experience of internal space created are important elements that give the work its unique character, narrative or mood. Every motif enters into the mix carrying an entire cultural, historical, and political load. The motifs, either celebrated artworks, famous popular images, or obscure objects, are part of an open and accessible cultural reserve; all we need is to select the motifs and remix them into a new subjective discourse.

Referring to the idea of remix, musician and essayist Brian Eno writes: “What’s interesting is this idea of people using as their materials things that are not neutral. More and more, artists are working with materials that are already culturally charged”. (2002, 17)

Below are some examples of installation arts that I find similarity among them due to the use of strings in an arbitrary configuration.


Marcel Duchamp – ‘Sixteen Miles of String installation’, the ‘First Papers of Surrealism’ exhibition, New York, 1942



Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota presented “In Silence”, a site-specific installation for Art Basel 2013, featuring an abandoned/ burnt down piano concert that has been wrapped a thick layer of black thread.



Tomás Saraceno. “14 Billions (working title)”, 2010. A large-scale installation that depicts a Black Widow spider’s web on a 1:17 scale, exhibited at Bonniers Konsthall and at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in 2010.

Appropriate Appropriation?

In week 12, we had a brief discussion of Sherry Levine’s work “After Walker Evans”. Walker Evans documented the lives of families living in southern Alabama during the Great Depression. His goal was to spread awareness of the destitute nature the families were living in, but it is a questionable practice when a person of privilege documents people of less socio-economic status, regardless of the intention. Can an image depict lived experience? Sherry Levine re-photographed images of walker Evans photography, as a commentary on the exploitative nature of his work. It makes me question if her photographs are serving Levine’s intentions of critique, or if they are re-inscribing the same problems in Walker Evans’s work? Does citing Walker Evans in the title of her own work make is an appropriate appropriation? Who is receiving gain? Both Evans and Levine have received attention and ultimately success in their careers from this work, whereas the subjects do not benefit to the same degree.


sherry-levign-%22after-walker-evans%22   walker-evans_allie-mae-burroughs

Sherry Levine .                                        Walker Evans

“After Walker Evans:4”                      Photograph of Allie Mae Burroughs

Thoughts on week 12: Influence vs theft in comedy

I enjoyed Hasnain’s presentation on comedians appropriating each other and whether it was “plagiarism” or “fuking plagiarism”. It was interesting to think about the nature of comedy, in that there isn’t as much of a concrete product of their act, like a work of art, unless it is recorded so it makes it is easier to get away with copying. What consists of copying and who owns jokes? Are they ever truly original? I think cryptomnesia is valid since there is always going to be a lot of stimulus, especially if you are watching a lot of comedy, for their influence to become intertwined into your own practice, becoming easily mistaken for your own work. I think the most useful thing to do would be to think of it like art, where there is going to be similar artists producing similar works if they are drawing from the same themes and influences. But I do agree that the artist or comedian has to make it their own somehow, if you add your own flavour or something to it to make it you, then it becomes influenced by, rather than copied. In the example Hasnain showed of Louis ck and Dane Cook, the nature of the joke was a pretty universal topic, naming babies, although the jokes and the punchlines were pretty similar. In the case with Amy schemer and the mad tv sketch of shopping in the store, it was pretty much an exact replica, even the frames were almost identical. I find it hard to believe that Schumer and her entire team were unaware of that video.

It all comes down to awareness, and doing your research. It is possible to just be completely un aware of similar people out there, but its an even better reason to do your research to make sure you aren’t blindsided if someone is doing similar work as you.

Adapting and Adaptation

Following from my last post, I am going to talk about Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys… again.

After reading the book for a course I’ve returned to the book multiple times, missing that initial emotional reaction to the characters and events within the novel. One section that particularly resonated with me was Antoinette’s relationship with her friend Tia. The two girls were similar age but different situations but had a constantly changing relationship of power and privilege between the two of them. While Antoinette came from a wealthy family, her family was no longer wealthy and was isolated from her community. Tia came from a poorer family but fit in with her community.  Sometimes friends, and sometimes rivals the relationship between the two mirrored and opposed each other.

I ended up adapting this relationship and interaction between the two characters into a video. The two main events that connected them in the novel were when Tia stole Antoinette’s dress, and when Tia threw a rock at Antoinette. I used sections of the text that illustrated the dynamic nature of their relationship. The video doesn’t deal directly with the content of the words but the motif of the dress, and the mood is meant to draw that connection between imagery and text.

Examples of Copying in Fashion

I thought that you might be interested to see some of the plagiarism and copyright examples from the lectures that we present to students at the School of Fashion. (See my post on influence in the institution for more information and context).

The first example is a magazine advertisement that was created by fashion designer John Galliano. The advertisement replicated the style and content of American photographer, William Klein’s work. Klein’s image is shown on the left and Galliano’s advertisement on the right. You’ll see a clear resemblance between the two pieces. Galliano was ordered to pay $271,800 USD to Klein. Read more about the story here.


The second casestudy is a local example and deals with an art installation created by Mahmood Popal, for Art of the Danforth in 2014. Popal created boarding on the outside of a storefront, advertising a Chanel store opening as commentary on urban gentrification. In this case, Chanel seemed most concerned with the improper use of their logo. In this article, their spokesperson comments on the incorrect combination of wordmark logo and graphic elements.

I also present students with examples of companies like Zara and Urban Outfitters, who copy independent artist’s pins and patch design work. This article describes how some of these artists have begun to catalogue the copied designs beside their own designs.


This last example is generally the case study that best resonates with students. The students can likely relate to this because they shop at Zara or Urban Outfitters or because many of them do independent design work. A large company capitalizing on indie artists’ ideas is much more offensive to them than the example of William Klein or Chanel’s copyright infringement. This is also a strong example because the catalogue of copied designs shows just how easily a company can be caught copying.

Damien Hirst invents Aboriginal Art (?)

This morning I found this article on Damien Hirst paintings looking, as The Guardian puts it, “uncanny” similar to Australian Aboriginal paintings.
As you can imagine, the price tag is not the same.

This article continues some of our recent discussions on cultural appropriation and goes on to point out its relationship to capitalism and the claim of ignorance as an excuse. Did Damien Hirst invent Aboriginal Art randomly or is there something else going on?
Enjoy the reading.

Dafen Village – A copy industry of Western oil painting

Recently I have been looking for an apartment and as awkward as I am, I have to force myself to talk casually with different potential landlord and roommates. Yesterday I was in a conversation with a landlord from my hometown, and once I mentioned that I am a graduate student from OCAD, he started to plan my future and what I can do as an artist. His suggestion was: 1. teach art to children 2. do copies of famous art. I find it amusing but also surprise to hear that there is actually a whole entire village in China that is dedicated to producing forgery paintings. As this article mention, at its peak, this village producing 60% of the copy and those copies find their way into “hotel rooms, show homes, and furniture outlets all around the world. ”

In the latter part of the article, it introduces that the village is going through a transition as the government interfere and ask artists to produce original art while the main inquiry still comes after village’s reputation of copy and duplication.