Human perception is a finicky beast. Overstimulation can cause our perceptions to become fragile, and if that didn’t quite sink in you should already restart this article. I think it’s safe to say that today our population absorbs more communication than ever before. We are reacting to this, and our minds are rapidly adapting to try and keep up. It seems the world is saturated with culture and we’re all inhaling and exhaling in chaotic rhythm. It’s a collective of influences, brushing against each other and morphing the current landscape.
People are so interesting. We all desperately need to communicate something, and once we do we become innately possessive of it. Quickly we forget that these things we’re so proud to share wouldn’t have been created without some external influence. We can sense inspiration, yet our brains are high-functioning selective organs that do their best to be efficient, it’s no surprise that our subconscious does most of the work without us ever noticing. Yet, we continue to create, and thrive, and absorb, and influence the world around us. So, the lines become blurred when a trait such as integrity comes into play, and we’re quick to call each other out for it in a particularly shameful manner.
We are all creators. We each consume language and digest it and reform it into new ideas and structures. It’s a cycle we are all partaking in at this moment, and I think all art forms follow a similar pattern. There is an explosive accessibility of content, a fact that is a double edged sword when it comes to perception. In any form of art, whether it be music, literature, or visual creations, there is so much to be learned and digested that we don’t always register how we came to know about it. If you really want to dive deep, we can go back in time and try to decipher how any form of communication was even conceived into human culture. Where did language come from, or melody, or rhythm? Maybe it just dawned on a caveman one day or perhaps even some aliens helped us out. It even could be ingrained within the fabric of our biology.
Throughout history these elements of communication have morphed continuously, and they continue to do so. And every day a new argument breaks out over who ‘owns’ what content. Humans are also excellent at recognizing patterns; it's a primal instinct that reinforces our perceptions. And we really like to point out similarities. This reflex causes artistic integrity to be a point of dispute in all forms of art, and I think its time we stop shaming expression just because multiple artists may have been on the same wavelength, or even partnered on the same projects.
I wrote this because I felt compelled to defend the artistic process. I wrote this because shame induced guilt is stifling to every person who ever wanted to express anything about themselves. Creators are being shamed for their expression every day. Led Zeppelin underwent a lawsuit for the composition of a song that came out over forty years ago. Bassnectar has been accused of ripping off others’ music and visuals. And meanwhile, Shia LaBeouf has turned plagiarism into a performance art. All of these scenarios are being scrutinized to the point where the intent of critics is to cause the artist shame for putting their name to a piece of their personal expression. For not giving credit where it’s perceived to be due.
Instead of dissecting the credit, I believe there is far more value in assessing the intent of the artist. It's not all black and white. Art is subjective, and expression is a beautiful thing that can turn ugly if it is over analyzed. Call me naive, but I believe the majority of artists have genuine, passionate intentions to create and share and inspire. No matter how their personal experiences meld together to create something new, no matter whose influence may rise closer to the surface than others, the outcome was something unique. That is art. And if you want to criticize it beyond the artistic level, you are stripping it of it’s intent. I urge you to appreciate all art forms from all angles, with a sense of optimism. The vitality of the artistic community depends on it.
If this made you think, I thank you for allowing my own expression to influence your perception.
*This blog post was paraphrased from my lifetime of experiences, and most definitely includes phrases and information that I heard somewhere else*