Artists are often magpies, continually looking out for ideas  and/or images, provocative or otherwise, that they can ‘appropriate’ or borrow, often incorporating  these elements into their own work, sometimes acknowledging them, sometimes not.

The great Roy Lichtenstein was accused of plagiarizing – or at least borrowing –  ‘Whaam!’ is based on an image from ‘All American Men of War’ published by DC comics in 1962.

But fifty years on things are a lot more complex, and in the world of art education – more specifically the IBDP visual arts course – its a huge, full and pulsating can of worms, and we have to tip them out, (squirmy, writhing things though they are), and then we have to examine them…and they have so many names!

Appropriation, plagiarism, borrowing, imitation, stealing, celebrating, copying etc

I was interviewing a student who told me that he had made a video. Some bits were inserted from different sources but most of the video (he said) was his. So we watched the 4 minutes 30 second video and I was quite impressed – made mostly in black and white, with scratchy and surreal sequences, it had obviously been edited with care and contained a variety of ideas.

His workbook had a little description but not much in the way of process documentation.

The music was haunting and later (after the interviews) I used the ‘shazam’ music finder to locate the band, and then put the band name into a YouTube search – and it all started to go horribly wrong.

There was the video, a scratchy, quirky black and white promotional movie uploaded by the band, but downloaded by our candidate and passed on as his own.

Oh dear. But there are so many images and movies out there, and so many of them are so easy to take and use…

Of course the teacher should not have signed the front cover ‘authentication’ statement on the CRB if he had any doubts, but presumably he did not realize or suspect.

Be watchful, art teachers! Plagiarism can strike anywhere, anytime!