When Less Isn't More: Illustrating the Appeal of a Moral Rights Model of Copyright through a Study of Minimalist Art

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WHEN LESS ISN'T MORE: ILLUSTRATING THE APPEAL OF A MORAL RIGHTS MODEL OF COPYRIGHT THROUGH A STUDY OF MINIMALIST ART

RIKKI SAPOLICH* 1. INTRODUCTION

What do the Apple iPod, Ikea, nouvelle cuisine, and Seinfield have in common? All four are popular examples of the minimalist movement's immense influence on modem culture. Due to its sleek stylization, it is easy to see that minimalism is a guiding principle in the design of Apple products. Consider as an example the iPod Shuffle, the most minimalist of MP3 players. Its interface contains only the items absolutely necessary to play music: a play/pause button, a rocker-ring for moving through songs, a power switch, and a battery check.' Even the USB plug is cleverly hidden.2 In stark contrast to other MP3 players, there is no display and, there are no playlists or adjustable settings.3 The influence of minimalism is clear. The popular furniture store Ikea has built an empire selling inexpensive copies of Moderne designer furniture conveniently packaged to easily fit in a station wagon. In design and architecture, Modernism, with its commitment to integrity of materials and "utter simplicity" of design, embraced the mantra "less is more." 4 Modernist design elements grew out of the minimalist design J.D., Franklin Pierce Law Center, (Expected 2007); B.S. in Science, The Pennsylvania State University, Schreyer Honors College, 2006. Warmest thanks to my parents, Richard and Denise Sapolich, for their unconditional encouragement and support. Bill Machrone, iPod Shuffle, PC MAGAZINE, May 2005, http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi-zdpcm/is_200505/ai_n 13638254#continue. Id. Id. Furniture.com, The Many Paths to Modern Design para. 8, http://www.fumiture.com/Common/magazine/style/ModernDesign.asp?xs=312834E81A-C529-4D2B-B24569F52F9EB45 &se=632757150484218750&CookieFlag-disabled (last visited Nov. 22, 2006) (quoting the famous words of designer and architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe that "less is more").

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IDEA-The Intellectual Property Law Review

aesthetics of International Style that developed in Europe, particularly at the Bauhaus School of Art and Design.' Modernism became popular in the United States following the development of the minimalist movement in the 1950s and 1960s, as the aesthetics encouraged by minimalism took hold in popular culture.6 This influence continues today, as evident in the mass appeal of Ikea's furniture, which showcases raw materials such as metal and wood, that is stripped of unnecessary adornments. Nouvelle cuisine is another of the many areas where minimalism's influence is evident. In the 1970s, nouvelle cuisine developed as a rejection of the overly-complex and overly-sauced classic French cuisine that had been popular until that time.7 Like the minimalist movement before it, nouvelle cuisine rejected the time consuming and complicated food preparation methods used in classic French cooking in favor of simple preparations as chefs sought to maintain the integrity of the ingredients.8 Nouvelle cuisine embraced "the 'aesthetics of simplicity' which developed into austere minimalism, with chefs presenting large, nearly bare plates showcasing a few morsels of select ingredients.9 Finally, even the television show Seinfield can trace its roots to the minimalist movement. Although Seinfield does not visually...
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