Copy & Paste: Design in the Era of Postproduction

By Lorenzo Imbesi.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The rise of knowledge society along with the diffusion of new technologies and software, has opened a form of “democratization” of the creative professions, at the same time allowing an easier management of each stage of the project. While increasing its creative capabilities and enlarging its community, design is spreading as a “mass profession” and at the same time lowering its authorship role in society. The designer cannot act anymore the role of the hero for creating unique artworks just by manipulating raw materials, moreover he works as a DJ or a VJ, remixing and reprogramming preexisting shapes and languages already circulating into new contexts.
While starting the era of postproduction, technologies give the chance of recording/sampling/reproducing/elaborating parts of images, shapes, languages, texts, sounds already existing after an action of creative manipulation which gives a free reorganization and interpretation and creates copies altering the first original.
Notions of production and reproduction, master and copy, same and different, originality and replica are blurred through the concept of postproduction, which summarizes and overcomes them all. The paper will focus postproduction as a cultural shift which works through a process of “copy and paste” on recorded materials far from boundaries of copyright and methodologically brings closer the activities of production and consumption.
Through a transdisciplinary theory-based and design-based approach, linking design, social and communication sciences, anthropology, cultural studies, the paper will display how new technologies and their accessibility and ease of use make the designer create new products informed from preceding products through an act of consumption. Therefore designers, due to an act of productive consumption, enrol a new social role by selecting cultural artifacts and giving them new contexts (of elaboration/production/use) and opening to ever new catalogues of shapes which can be collectively shared.

Keywords: Postproduction, Knowledge Society, Media Technologies, Post-Fordism, Social Innovation, Digital Democratization, Self-Production, Empowerment, Participation, Remix, Sample, Détournement, Collective Work, Copyright, Copy & Paste, DJ, VJ

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 3, Issue 6, pp.235-246. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.143MB).

Dr. Lorenzo Imbesi

Architect, Researcher, Lecturer, Design and New Technologies Section, ITACA Department, Arts, University of Rome, Roma, Italy

Architect, Phd degree in “Environmental Design”, postDoc, lecturer since 1998, at the moment he teaches Theories of Design and Design Studio at “Sapienza” University of Rome, while researching at ITACA University Department on the relationship between design and behaviours connected to their theoretical and material implications, privileging border topics of the contemporary, as the new patterns for living and dwelling, to the topics of nomadism, while inquiring on social and artificial transformations connected with mobility and globalization. Visiting lecturer in many Universities around the world, he has been invited giving lectures and attending at conferences at the national and international level, he is curator and coordinator of international design workshops, while collaborating with a number of research projects promoted from European Community and Italian Research Council. Member of the Design History Society, currently he is Co-Director of the magazine “DIID – Disegno Industriale” and co-editor of many interdisciplinary theoretical and design reviews, while regularly contributing to some newspaper for the culture section.


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