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Christian Marclay’s new iPhone ad?

In his 1995 film Telephones, artist Christian Marclay spliced together snippets of actors from Hollywood films answering phones. Apple contacted Marclay, he says, to get permission to use the concept for a new iPhone ad (above) that debuted during the Oscars. He refused. They took the idea anyway. “The way they dealt with the whole […]


In his 1995 film Telephones, artist Christian Marclay spliced together snippets of actors from Hollywood films answering phones. Apple contacted Marclay, he says, to get permission to use the concept for a new iPhone ad (above) that debuted during the Oscars.

He refused. They took the idea anyway.

The way they dealt with the whole thing is pretty sleazy,” Marclay says. He talked to a lawyer about taking legal action over the ripoff, but was told “there’s nothing I can do about it. They have the right to get inspired.”

Contemporary art, of course, is often about appropriation and recontextualizing material, but the brazenness of Apple’s move is disappointing. Still, Marclay isn’t keen on going to court.

“This culture’s so much about suing each other that if we want to have anything that’s more of an open exchange of ideas, one has to stop this mentality. I’m just honored that they thought my work was interesting enough that they felt they could just rip it off.”

The following mini-documentary on Marclay’s work included Telephones about 3:40 in.


Via Kottke.

  • kathleen says:

    Wow. depressing. The corporate world taking one more artistic endeavor and making it there own. This is way beyond “inspiration” more like robbery. I understand the artist not wanting to take legal action…but maybe there could be some artistic response. A “goodbye” video to Apple?

  • jb says:

    The whole thing is ridiculous. Marclay deserves no credit for his “art” which is basically recontextualizing other people’s creative work and claiming it as his own. Well, guess what, Marclay, Apple recontextualized your work.

    If he sues Apple, then all companies whose work he appropriated should sue him.

    I’d be willing to bet Apple paid royalties to all the actors featured in their ad. Did Marclay? Oh right, it’s “art.”

  • bill says:

    So recontextualizing isn’t art? Ever heard of Warhol? (Or “fair use”?)

  • Ray Rolfe says:

    Kathleen, BRILLIANT idea! I’d have that done today, but I’m not equipped at this moment.

  • pressed ingine says:

    …and what exactly was Marclay marketing when he created his Telephones piece?

  • davidh says:

    himself, of course.

  • Everett says:

    Apple should be embarrassed.

    This shows that Christian Marclay came into his work honestly. Apple came to their piece on his coattails.

    “Recontextualizing” is no different than a collage. What Marclay did is a collage with film. The techniques and methods Marclay uses are just as important to his work as the final piece itself. Apple did not “recontextualize” Marclay’s work; it was not mixed in with techniques of other artist’s work to form a greater whole or send a different message.

    Eventually, artistic technique will also be covered by copyright laws. I do commend Apple for paying usage fees, while I doubt that Marclay did.

  • Jacob Lee says:

    I can’t stand all the i-phone hype, the phone looks great seems great but is on the worst network in the country. When will we see i-Phones on real networks like Sprint?

    JL

  • Christian marclays new iphone ad.. Awesome :)