Yes, conceptual art practices and patents are not the same thing. I
hope that my introduction did not confuse or conflate them.
In my statement, I began by describing my area of research, which is
the intersections between patents and contemporary art.
In the paragraph about artist as inventors, I do not mention patents.
The series of quotes by the artist Jakob Fenger of Superflex speak to
parallels between inventing and art-making; he is not referring to
patents. His comments address our discussion's topic of artists as
inventors, which he links through creativity.
However, I will add here that Superflex did secure patents for their
biogas system. Nevertheless, according to Fenger, it was not
intentionally an integral part of the work's concept. The driving
force for Superflex's patenting was to engage investors in their
project. At that time (about a decade ago), investors were demanding
an intellectual property position. In an e-mail message on 3 February
2009, Fenger describes the situation and references the related shift
in their newer work, which engages intellectual property from a
significantly different vantage point, he wrote: "If we were to start
out developing the biogas system today, we work quite differently
('copy-shop,' 'free beer,' 'copy right,' etc.) and we do not see any
thread in people copying our system."
I am glad to offer examples of artworks that deliberately attempt to
integrate patent and art concepts as the discussion continues. I also
think the idea of examining the role of design is interesting.
However, as we begin the dialogue, I think it might be productive to
keep the discussion more broadly on the topic of artists as inventors.
On 3/1/09, Bronac Ferran <email@example.com> wrote:
> Interesting discussion and I would like to add some comments.
> I think it is quite provocative and dangerous to conflate conceptual art
> practice with the notion of a patent (which is a legal device) or a
> trademark (similar).
> I attended a talk with a representative of Superflex a few weeks ago at
> South London Gallery which also had a lawyer who has done some great work
> with radical art - Daniel McClean. Some of these issues and questions were
> covered but at no stage was there a straightforward conflation of patenting
> with concepts - obviously what Superflex have done is go beyond concept into
> production of goods and services for sale which of course then leads into
> realisation of objects within a market (with all the legal systems thereby
> I hope that some of the parsing apart of this kind of conflation can be
> activated within the process of this Yasmin discussion - and that we may
> also put a finger on some examples where artistic 'invention' has led to
> patenting (as the list is very small at present). We should also take into
> account the role of design which has a much clearer and much more
> straightforward relationship, here.
> all best wishes
> www.boundaryobject.org .
> 2009/3/1 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>> Dear Yasminers,
>> I wish to thank Roger Malina for the opportunity to moderate the
>> discussion on artists as inventors and our six accomplished
>> discussants for their participation: Derek Hales, Sylvie Lacerte,
>> Arantxa Mendiharat, Hideki Nakazawa, Barbara U. Schmidt, and Colette
>> My interest in artists as inventors stems from my curiosity about the
>> intersections between contemporary art and utility patents. I
>> discovered through research that this seemingly narrow terrain was
>> actually an expansive area, which could encompass a wide range of
>> practices that went far beyond artists' patents. For instance, it
>> could include elements as diverse as the novel achievements of an
>> innovator whose self-patent works were reclassified as "visionary" or
>> "outsider" art (William W. Adkins) and a patent institution that
>> collects contemporary art and displays it in the workplace with the
>> progressive idea of stimulating discussion, productivity, and
>> integration (the European Patent Office).
>> However, the topic of artists as inventors is focused on the
>> relationship between the roles and practices that are conjured by the
>> terms. To this end, I will share comments on the subject by the artist
>> Jakob Fenger, who is a member of Superflex, which invented (with Jan
>> Mallan) a biogas system. In a conversation via Skype on 12 February
>> 2009, Fenger told me that "all good artists are inventors," adding
>> that "a concept for a piece is like an invention," and that in his
>> opinion there is "no difference between inventing and art-making,"
>> referencing the creative process as the link between these two
>> I look forward to a lively discussion on the topic of artists as
>> inventors throughout March.
>> Robert Thill
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HOW TO SUBSCRIBE: click on the link to the list you wish to subscribe to. In the page that will appear ("info page"), enter e-mail address, name, and password in the fields found further down the page.
HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE: on the info page, scroll all the way down and enter your e-mail address in the last field. Enter password if asked. Click on the unsubscribe button on the page that will appear ("options page").
HOW TO ENABLE / DISABLE DIGEST MODE: in the options page, find the "Set Digest Mode" option and set it to either on or off.