Research by RMIT PhD graduate, Nathanael Bates, investigates the notion of originality in remix culture.
Sampling and the 'Sound Object' in contemporary sonic art explores the limits of artistic practice based upon sampling music from other artists.
Bates said the project develops our understanding of what can be created outside the confines of copyright and media ownership.
“My research shows that there is artistic merit in the re-use of existing material in a sampling context; and that we currently live and work in a remix culture that is being stymied by old fashioned notions of ownership and copyrights,” he said.
As an artist extracts a sound from its original context and uses it to create something new, the research examines how the practice of sampling serves as a reminder that every sound object is derived from something else.
But, to Bates, it is not the originality of the object that matters, but the perspective the listener brings to the appreciation of that object as artwork.
“I wanted to investigate the use of recordings of others as the building blocks for new compositions,” he said.
“I was already using sampling to make music and sound art, but it is only in the academic realm that one can be somewhat free from the limitations that copyright places on commercial music/art activity.”
Bates hopes to continue his research through his work as a teacher in the Advanced Diploma of Screen and Media at RMIT.
“I intend to continue teaching and maintaining an artistic practice and have the two inform each other,” he said.
“I hope my work inspires other artists and researchers to not be frightened to openly appropriate and re-use existing cultural material.
“Contemporary artists must more thoroughly interrogate this spurious notion of the value of originality; only by making art that openly challenges the status quo will there be any real shift in community attitudes.”