Appropriation; the Definition of Word and Visuals

“To borrow, adopt, recycle or sample aspects (or the entire form) of man-made visual culture”

The genre of appropriation is, generalizing the term to everyday life; how the world of the modern age is progressing. The renewing of the computer, television, and moving vehicle are more mechanical examples of the borrowing of a concept and redesigning the same product multiple times over to accommodate the rapidly involving world; but essentially remaining the same.

The world of film today is appropriation – the remaking, re-imagining of old theatrical cinema. It’s to “update” to the current convention of people, of the modern age. The remake of a film sometimes bears no difference to the original; same script, same scenery only the actors are changed to those of the new millennia. Sometimes it’s the same story, only the location is changed, or the era. Films that originally used animatronics, real elements, or animation are remade to have full blown CGI (computer generated imagery).

In the visual and aural arts (music), appropriation is a deliberate reproduction of a famous piece but has the new artist’s own take intermixed. This can take the form of a prose, physical position or scenery from a painting and used in a piece of artwork that isn’t related or may bear some resemblance. Pop Art, a singular branched off art movement from Modernism, becoming popular in the 1950s and 1960s certainly made the term “appropriation” just as popular. Andy Warhol, the most well-known and exploited Pop Art contributor is has been notorious for using examples of borrowing in his art.

“Marilyn”, by Andy Warhol

A photograph of Marilyn Monroe, one of the two most well-known; to join the artist in question’s most recalled work in his career, which expanded four decades taken and replicated nine times in different shades of blues, pinks, reds, and yellows. The question could be asked as to why Warhol had to take this particular photograph and alternate it on a router, reconstruct a beautiful face into obscure colours. The statement of the computers and cars applies to this very artwork.  Appropriation in art, like evolving a car is rehashing something old and bringing it into a new light.

The 1960s was an odd time in general, with its wacky style, odd haircuts and obsession with baby shades of colours; but because it was in at the time. Pop Art, as an art movement was possibly the inspiration for the style of the 1960s and 1970s, for the appropriation of comic books/graphic novels and its flat color practice. Andy Warhol made a set of colorized celebrities in abstract styles, originally formalized in black and white to attract a new audience. That brings the person to the question as to why he would want to do that. The statement that speaks of the evolution of cars, computers, and televisions represents the movement of appropriation as an art form. To broaden something considered a relic, dust it off and enhance the positive points to a new mainstream.

Graphic designers, a considerably newly formed group of artists which have expanded and have relished recently with the development of modern technology, coming into fashion around the time of the 1960s onwards; Saul Bass being one of main pioneers – are a brand new take on appropriation. They, as a group are nicknamed “magpies” because, like the animal they are named after, they “steal” things of great value. Graphic designers take what they “stole” and decorate their artwork with that great value, whether it is a piece of art, film ect; like a magpie would decorate its nest.

Not only does this technique draw the attention of other designers, arts, film makers, it also draws the attention of the general public; because when they see a familiar section of an old, perhaps famous painting/photograph/film; perhaps they’ve never seen it before, but it’ll grab their interest and make them possibly look back to where this borrowed piece came from; to inspire them to take what they found and pass it on, so this artwork is replicated into other means. A new ending cycle of renewal to attract fresh eyes.  

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One response to “Appropriation; the Definition of Word and Visuals

  1. Good start. I’m not sure Saul Bass would be a good example of someone who uses appropriation. Why not stick to one artist or designer and explore in more depth. Careful if you are using any texts to inform you that you say who wrote it and where it came from. It looks like you have done research from other sites/books, but I want to see where. Perhaps you could develop this to talk about recycling or the remix as a concept in design or film. Looking forward to the next instalment.

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