Case Studies/Digital Fringe
“The flexibility and accessibility that Creative Commons provides really opens the options for artists about how they want their creations to continue their cultural life” — Simeon, Digital Fringe coordinator
Broadcast across the city of Melbourne using screens, projections and the web, Digital Fringe showcases the latest digital art from around the world and features “interactive media shenanigans from a gaggle of local media artists”. This web-based digital art festival forms part of the annual Melbourne Fringe Festival and offers established and emerging artists working in the digital medium the opportunity to exhibit their works via site specific digital content streaming.
Managed by Melbourne digital arts venue Horse Bazaar (renowned for its unique immersive video projection environment), Digital Fringe exhibits its works during the festival in three ways: general stream, interact and the mobile projection unit (MPU).
The general stream is a continual playlist of digital art projected across a multitude of screens and surfaces in Melbourne. Locations include galleries, public spaces (such as the Federation Square plaza screen), entertainment and hospitality venues, cyberspace and city iHubs. The varied nature and extent of the exhibit locations ensure the works are viewed by as large an audience as possible. In sourcing content, Digital Fringe curators undertake an extensive web-based call out, accepting submissions from digital artists across the globe.
The Interact exhibit utilises mobile phones and Internet technologies to create an interactive creative platform for digital artists. As part of the general call for submissions, artists can present interactive digital art projects for inclusion in the “amorphous mobile phone interactive piece”. Interact links data sent from mobile phones directly into artworks displayed through participating screens across Melbourne and the Digital Fringe website.
The MPU is a mobile van travelling through the streets of Melbourne on the evenings of the festival. Guest artist programmers interact with the architectural nuances of the city by projecting their playlist onto nearby buildings. GPS positioning and projections from the van are monitored in real time alongside video hook-ups with the programmers. Internet users can also use text via sms to interact with the MPU.
The festival aims to foster avant-garde tech-cultural interactions and embraces the ideological concept of open source and shared culture, knowledge and expertise.
Artists uploading content to the Digital Fringe website can select from the full range of licences, ie from traditional ‘all rights reserved’ to public domain dedication. However in order to maximise the interactive and remix elements of the festival while retaining their copyright, participants are encouraged to select a ‘some rights reserved’ Creative Commons licence. As an extra condition the artist must agree to their works being screened during the festival and for the promotion of Digital Fringe, however copyright in each work remains with the artist in entirety.
At present the uptake of Creative Commons licences by artists on the Digital Fringe website demonstrates an enthusiasm for the licences matched by the Digital Fringe organisers.
“We think CC is great – there seems to have been a really good uptake from artists submitting works to DF so it obviously is attractive to artists as well” (Simeon, Digital Fringe Coordinator)
It is estimated that around 75% of works have been published under Creative Commons (with 10% selecting all rights reserved copyright and 15% no rights reserved public domain). The positive response has encouraged the Digital Fringe team to develop future exhibitions to include remix activities, and take advantage of the creative potential facilitated by the CC licences.
When it came to licensing this project, the Digital Fringe team believed Creative Commons licences were the most appropriate and flexible option, considering the ethos behind Digital Fringe and its innovative use of digital technology and art. From an ideological standpoint, they were keen to push the concept of open source and shared culture, knowledge and expertise, but also understood the need for culture creators to reserve some of their rights in certain situations. For this reason artists were encouraged to licence their works with any form of CC licensing that suited their particular needs. Creative Commons licences could then both facilitate the exhibition and help keep Digital Fringe content open for alternate creative uses.
Digital Fringe is a fantastic example of how contemporary arts practice can operate in synch with copyright law.
“Nice work CC – given current technological environment, a lot of arts practice involves remix and cut and paste methodologies and happens anyway - regardless of copyright issues. CC seems to be helping to move the legal structures along in the direction of cultural practice that will continue anyway, and to be formalising a resistance to everything being completely locked down by all rights reserved copyright monopoly. Hooray for the commons! All culture cant be owned for profit. We are all standing on the shoulders of giants...Keep up the good work!” (Simeon, Digital Fringe coordinator)