With the vast amount of information stored online, I often wonder if we’re killing our creativity by taking the easier route of “mashing up” other people’s work. Jaron Lanier, an early online creator thinks that “all we can do now is mine the past like salvagers picking over a garbage dump.” Recently, I talked with a film professor at NYU who mentioned how surprised he was that film students today don’t fret over finding original shots and shooting styles as much as copy great shots from other films. On a recent student film shoot, he lamented that
the student had meticulously copied shots from films he admired, rather than spend the time finding the right shots for each scene of his script. I also have a friend who’s built an website that does nothing but aggregate other links and stories, and yet he considers himself a “content creator.” In the art world, take a look at the modern art in a typical museum today and notice how much is merely a pastiche or collage of “found items” rather than original work.
I know, I know. Yes, art based on “found items” can be original, and I know all the quotes about “talent imitates, but genius steals.” But I can’t help but wonder that as lazy as we all are (I am chief of the lazy tribe) how much easier it is to link to, aggregate, or collage other people’s work than do the heavy lifting of real originality.