The text was written as a contribution to the workshop “Quotes & Appropriation” (2015) at the Akademie Schloss Solitude in the context of the program art, science & business. The contribtion is completely available at: http://www.quotes-and-appropriation.de/speaker/holger-lund
The text shows how Den Sorte Skole’s Lektion III (2013) is questioning sampling and its legal situation in a provocative way. Lektion III is a „gobal village“ ghost orchestra, using samples through time and space, attempting to be aural concept art. Material commons have been privatized with the first enclosure movement in the 17th century. The second enclosure movement in the 18th century concerned immaterial, intellectual properties, starting with William Hogarth’s ideas about authorship and copyright law.
With Duchamp’s Ready-Made and Dada and Surrealism’s idea of collage the author changed from a creator to a “personnalité du choix” (Louis Aragon), and to a “personnalité de la combinaison” one may add. A whole set of new practices in different media and different genres was developed around this idea. After the Dadaist and Surrealist movements, the notions of originality and authorship changed, the question, however, remains: how are we allowed to deal with the past and its cultural artifacts? The recent FBI driven shutdown of exchange platforms in the internet and sampling costs up to $ 141.666,00 per sampled second made clear: technically you can do want you want, so easily and cheap with any sampler, but doing it, publishing and distributing it, may not be the best idea. Free musical expression has become a black market practice, which leads to the situation the Danish Producer/DJ-Duo Den Sorte Skole is dealing with in their Album Lektion III. They built an archive of 10.000 samples and lifted up more than 250 samples from 51 different countries on six continents for their album. Mixing sounds and sequences from all over the world and from different times, they used these samples to create something entirely new. The more, the unofficial “release” comes with a booklet, explaining in great detail which samples from which records have been used. None of the samples has been cleared. Thus, the project also becomes a statement on copyright issues and an attempt to push further the discussion on how we deal with our past – our archives, our material. Den Sorte Skole suggests new rules for sampling, turning the black market into a legal one: they think “sampling should be legal, but […] you should register what you have done and have a system for distributing the earnings.” Actually, they regard Lektion III as “a true grey area.” They argue: “We have created a unique composition to such a degree that we would fall under the “fair use” transformation rule under American copyright law […].”
Holger Lund is a professor for media design at the DHBW Ravensburg (Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University Ravensburg) and a curator and dj living in Berlin. He has finished his PhD on Max Ernst’s collage novels in 2000. From 2008 to 2011 he was a visiting professor for theories of design at Pforzheim University of Applied Sciences, School of Design. Together with Cornelia Lund he runs the media art and media design platform fluctuating images, Berlin.
He is the co-editor of “Audio.Visual – On Visual Music and Related Media” (2009) and “Design der Zukunft” (2014) as well as a compiler of hybrid music with the vinyl label Global Pop First Wave (http://www.corvorecords.de/releases_gpfw.html).