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Art, Design, and Copyright Between the Two.


The Way Things Go by Fischi and Weiss

The Way Things Go by Fischi and Weiss

The previous post wasn’t for nothing, I wanted to point out that in thinking about function as a factor in determining the differences between art and design, I would reconsider the charges presented in the Fischli and Weiss vs Honda (Copyright Dispute), where The artist Fischi and Weiss claimed that Honda stole their art film, The Way Things Go (Der Lauf der Dinge), to make this Honda car ad. Honestly, I would say that the film and the Ad are totally different, primarily for the fact that in the Fischi and Weiss film, all the chain reactions, in the end, have no function, that is there is no final purpose to the way things go (art); while in the VW Ad the chain reactions have a function contributing to the building of a VW (design). This clarity of function is probably the reason why the urinal designer didn’t sue Marcel Duchamp.

Fountain by Marcel Duchamp, 1917

Fountain by Marcel Duchamp, 1917

In the end Honda did admit to stealing the tire sequence, but is that enough?  Can Fischli and Weiss copyright a chain reaction involving a tire? Have Fischli and Weiss ever seen Rube Goldberg’s work? I bet if you look long enough you can probably find a similarity or two. I guess they could argue they’ve never seen his work before.

The Hema's website version of the Way Things Go

The Hema's website version of the Way Things Go

Finally, take a look at this cause and effect website sequence by the Dutch department store Hema before it’s take down. There’s more video examples out there just do a search. (HEMA site read from provocat blog post “The Rube Goldberg Effect”)

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