Lawrence Liang - Piracy and Production
Duration: 00:07:54; Aspect Ratio: 1.778:1; Hue: 27.851; Saturation: 0.136; Lightness: 0.245; Volume: 0.076; Cuts per Minute: 0.886; Words per Minute: 118.926
Piracy is a term used to stigmatise but Liang contextualises the term as an instance in the long history of 'commoning', where people organise themselves outside of hierarchy and property. He identifies the real threat to industry in the chance they may lose control of production as well as reproduction, as users become aware of their own potential. Finally, he underlines how in previous areas prohibited works were surppressed and destroyed, but argues that nowadays these works can survive in the private digital so the past of loss and erosion need not repeat itself. http://footage.stealthisfilm.com/video/14
This interview was recorded for Steal This Film II
. The project tries to bring new people into the leagues of those now prepared to think 'after intellectual property', and think creatively about the future of distribution, production and creativity. This is a film that has no single author. It makers encourage its 'theft', downloading, distribution and screening, and have made the entire film and its footage available for download in HDV format, on their website and on Pirate Bay.
Interview with Lawrence Liang
Steal This Film II
There's a very beautiful story
narrated by the social historian of piracy,
Peter Linebaugh, in which he speaks of a custom
if it was imminent that a ship was going to sink
because of very bad weather,
everyone on the ship would get together and break
the locks that were there on the barrels
off the caskets of wine or of rum and drink together,
temporarily suspending relationships of master, owner,
captain, slave etc because it was imminent
that they were all going to die,
but what they were suspending really,
was the logic of private property
right, in this moment where all of a sudden
there's this carnivalesque celebration just before death
or what the... decide to be inevitable death
and he, Peter Linebaugh narrates interesting stories
of a number of communities who were formed
by an act of divine intervention where after the celebration
of this temporary autonomous zone of property,
the ships actually didn't actually sink.
And they ended up in islands
or in places where all of a sudden,
you know once you'd already suspended,
even for a brief moment,
the logic of private property,
what is the term or what are the terms,
through which you will then create a new community.
And this is a very interesting metaphor for our contemporary
because this is the time where all of a sudden
after having survived,
they clearly couldn't go back to an older logic
where property determined social relations
and they created for themselves
temporary communes which celebrated the idea of commoning,
or returned themselves to a memory of the commons.
All of which were brutally crushed,
and piracy has its roots in this particular history.
In the same that if you look in the contemporary
where the emergence of piracy as a mode of circulation
and distribution of knowledge etc
it is not so much the fact that the "Phantom Menace"
is downloaded 500 times,
or 600 times etc, yes of course
there's an imaginary specter of economic loss
that informs that. But the real battle
or the real threat lies in a shift in the ways that we think
of the possibilities, we think of the shift
of possibilities, of ourselves as creators,
and not merely as consumers,
as writers filmmakers, photographers etc,
and i think that is really where the danger lies
Because if the imagination of global mass media
is dependent of a particular kind
of relationship between production,
circulation and consumption,
now this is where the rules are being changed altogether.
The fact that the DVD writer is the new
weapon of mass destruction in the world,
is primarily for the fact that a 50 billion dollar film
can be reproduced at the cost of
virtually 10 or 15 cents on a DVD.
Now you have a strange paradox,
you have a situation, you know,
where in some senses
the ability to even think of ourselves
sitting on our computers with a DVD writer,
to a 535 billion dollar industry
is not science fiction anymore.
And it's really the ability to think of the possibilities
you know that have happened.
Earlier people were happy with reproducing the DVD,
then people started looking for
their favourite scenes and archiving it,
then people who were not happy with the scenes
decided they would make parodies.
and remix some scenes, and then people realized
they had a better film in their head
they could make and they could of course use some bits of the existing film,
so that the possibilities really became endless.
I think the example that highlights
the gap between the possible and the proscribed
is really in terms of let's see filmmakers who are
suddenly making films outside of the logic of the studio,
outside of the logic of industrial mode of production,
which demands that a film
is a particular kind of cultural commodity that
is manufactured in a particular kind of manner.
And an example of this
is a filmmaker called Jonathan Caouette
who made a film called Tarnation which used home video,
clips from other sources, etc
and all of this for $280, when the film was sought
to be distributed because it made a splash
in independent film festivals, and when they tried
to distribute the film and tried to get copyright
permissions from the different owners of copyright,
the budget of the film suddenly shot to $800,000.
And again one cannot speak about the gap
between the possible and proscribed
with looking at what actually exists between the two.
And what exists between the two are legal fictions
backed by extreme capabilities of violence.
So it's a terrorism of the mind that
actually sustains concepts like intellectual property,
it's a terrorism that's grounded
on an idea of brutal repression,
of that which was actually possible.
What actually lies therefore between the two,
is in some senses the bare naked idea of sovereignty and
authority and power, linked to the service of property.
I think that what we need
to start imagining for the 21st century
is to create a museum of all the lost objects,
cultures, thoughts, poetry music,
lost cultures in the sense that the kind of cultural commodities
that could have been created,
the kind of practices that could have been initiated
had it not been for the law.
I think it's time to create a similar museum of this sort,
which memorialises the loss of culture
created by the enforcement of property,
the loss of cultures created
by the boundaries of the law.
And this museum would look very interesting
because it would be partly Marquez,
part Kafka, a bit Borges and a lot of very very grey
murky Proust in between.
So let's start thinking of ways in which we have lost.
But the time is not to lament because the 21st century
is marked by the possibility that
in some senses these museums are also being archived.
there are these museums that people have secretly created
in their personal space
and it's just the ability now of
these museums to speak to each other
and come together in sense in a way that we can retrieve
these lost cultural commodities or objects,
where they no longer lost then, but are actually found.
So I think it's time to find our place of culture
in the 21st century
and forget our lament for the loss
that took place in the 19th and the 20th century.