Among several others, one difference between nature and man-made entities is that nature does not believe in reproducing exact replicas. No two leaves on a tree completely match, no two human beings perfectly resemble — even identical twins differ from each other: often with a small mole, birth mark, and if not in their physical features, they differ in their characters, personalities, thoughts, and destinies.
Human beings, on the other hand, take pride in producing indistinguishable copies. Just visit any super store or shopping mall and you will come across rows of items, hundreds and thousands of which are the same in every respect— a scenario that has only been possible due to the industrial revolution, in whose result factories and their products began flooding our surroundings.
The shift in society in which a consumer picks a bar of soap that has a million copies, owns a car which is driven everywhere, uses a computer used by thousands in the world and chats on a mobile phone which is owned by billions across the globe, has also altered our notion of originality and imitation, our beliefs about the importance of genuine objects and authentic ideas, as well as the necessity of copyright.
Music market, film industry, and publishing businesses resist the practice of preparing counterfeit copies, but in the age of mechanical reproduction and virtual proliferation, it is practically impossible to control the duplication of original pieces in different forms, formats, mediums and various media.
In the realm of visual art, too, the old constructs of authenticity and authorship have been transforming with time. If on one hand the demands of the art market have increased forgeries, consumerism on the other has led us to disregard the distinction between hand-made art pieces and mechanically produced works of art—especially after the Brillo Boxes by Andy Warhol, which were not different from ordinary detergent cartons. Also, one suspects that these artworks associated with Warhol, in actuality were not made by him, but fabricated by his assistants.
Thus, the idea and insistence on copyrights need to be seen again; In the present issue of Art Now Pakistan, copyright (its history, relevance, and state) is discussed in two essays, besides being addressed in the photo-essay. The present issue also includes Profile of Imran Qureshi, the 2017 recipient of the Department of State International Medal of the Arts.
Reviews of various exhibitions and a book review of Landscape: John Berger on Art bring forth specific views of writers and artists, unique yet connected with several other points of view, thus liberating them from the pressure of originality and exclusivity.
Discourses, which make one think that the mere term copyright may imply that making a copy is right, hence everyone’s right!