Cutting Across Media


Cutting Across Media: Appropriation Art, Interventionist Collage and Copyright Law

Cutting-across-mediaIn this collection of essays, leading academics, critics, and artists historicize collage and appropriation tactics that cut across diverse media and genres. They take up issues of appropriation in the popular and the avant-garde, in altered billboards and the work of the renowned painter Chris Ofili, in hip-hop and the compositions of Béla Bartók and Zoltán Kodály, and in audio mash-ups, remixed news broadcasts, pranks, culture jamming, and numerous other cultural forms. The borrowing practices that they consider often run afoul of intellectual property regimes, and many of the contributors address the effects of copyright and trademark law on creativity. Among the contributors are the novelist and essayist Jonathan Lethem, the poet and cultural critic Joshua Clover, the filmmaker Craig Baldwin, the hip-hop historian Jeff Chang, the ’zine-maker and sound collage artist Lloyd Dunn, and Negativland, the infamous collective that was sued in 1991 for sampling U2 in a satirical sound collage. Cutting Across Media is both a serious examination of collage and appropriation practices and a celebration of their transformative political and cultural possibilities.

Cutting Across Media comes with downloadable mixtapes from People Like Us, The Tape-beatles and Negativland! Click on the artist names in the previous sentence or the mixtape cover below to download.


CSJ100.qxd Cutting-Across-Media---NegativlandBook Contributors:

Craig Baldwin
David Banash
Marcus Boon
Jeff Chang
Joshua Clover
Lorraine Morales Cox
Lloyd Dunn
Philo T. Farnsworth
Pierre Joris
Douglas Kahn
Rudolf Kuenzli
Rob Latham
Jonathan Lethem
Carrie McLaren
Kembrew McLeod
Davis Schneiderman
David Tetzlaff
Gábor Vályi
Warner Special Products
Eva Hemmungs Wirtén


“Spanning media from visual art to popular music, literature to culture jamming, this series of essays challenges the litigious environment in which copyright is used as a blunt weapon to prevent reinvention of existing works and the transformative process of reuse to inform the creative cycle of ideas. . . . Advanced undergraduates through faculty in art, art history, media studies, film, literature and music will appreciate the interdisciplinary treatment of collage.” – Cara List, ARLIS/NA Reviews

“I believe this is an important book, specifically because the issues discussed affect much of our future artistic creations; as mentioned this has profound social and cultural ramifications. As such, this book should be at minimum included as a recommended text in a variety of applicable tertiary education courses. The stakes are too high to ignore the erosion of artistic freedom brought about by ignorant and greed driven application of copyright law.” – Rob Harle, Leonardo
“Where the most prominent works on the subject tend to dwell on digital’s infinite capacity to reproduce and share itself freely and its current kowtowing to corporate rights management, this book begins by situating appropriation art and collage in the earlier recesses of the twentieth century with Walter Benjamin, the Surrealists, and Dada. Along the way, it touches upon zine culture, audiotape collage, street art, and new wave science fiction; it critiques the international outflows of copyright-subject culture and then it critiques the debate itself.” – Allie Curry, Rain Taxi

“Communication is much like a work of art—it is a process of copying, repeating and varying what we hear. There is no originator or owner of that which shapes our very being, and Cutting Across Media demonstrates how placing restrictions on creative commentary can stifle our cultural development.”—Vicki Bennett, aka People Like Us