‘Luminosity’ artists exploring options in copyright issues with Disney and IBM

Calgary-based artists Caitlind r.c. Brown and Wayne Garrett are creating an interactive outdoor light sculpture that will be exhibited at Triangle Park Feb. 21-March 31 as part of the Lexington Art League's exhibit of light-based art, "Luminosity." This photo was taken at Bluegrass Community and Technical College, where the sculpture is being assembled, Jan. 17, 2014. Photo by Rich Copley | staff.

Calgary-based artists Caitlind r.c. Brown and Wayne Garrett are creating an interactive outdoor light sculpture that will be exhibited at Triangle Park Feb. 21-March 31 as part of the Lexington Art League’s exhibit of light-based art, “Luminosity.” Herald-Leader staff photo by Rich Copley.

Calgary artists Caitlind r.c. Brown and Wayne Garrett, who have created the New Moon sculpture that will go on display at Triangle Park next Friday, are making headlines back home in Canada for copyright concerns with Disney and IBM.

At issue is the similarity between new advertisements for the multinational corporations and an iconic photograph by David Wong of the original Cloud sculpture that launched the couple’s work with incandescent light bulbs. The photo shows people standing under Cloud looking up in wonder at the light bulbs and pulling on the strings that turn lights in portions of the sculpture on and off.

'Cloud' on display at the Nuit Blanche Calgary festival in 2012. Photo by Doug Wong.

‘Cloud’ on display at the Nuit Blanche Calgary festival in 2012. Photo by Doug Wong.

It looks a lot like an image atop the website for the Disney Institute, that features people pulling strings on a lightbulb sculpture that spells out “D’Think” and a New Year’s video greeting from IBM (below) that features people pulling strings to illuminate a light bulb sculpture of a logo.

In each instance, the similarities to Cloud and Wong’s photograph are inescapable.

The situation has been covered by the Canadian Broadcasting Company and Canada’s Metro newspapers. Garrett and Brown say they would like to think the duplicates are honest mistakes but say that the images of Cloud, which has also been displayed in Moscow, Prague and the Netherlands, are fairly pervasive on the Internet, particularly if you Google “light bulb art.”

“Right now what we’re most interested in is discovering what sorts of rights we have and exploring this issue a little bit further,” Brown said to the CBC from Lexington, where they are working on another sculpture for the indoor portion of the Lexington Art League‘s  Luminosity exhibit, which will open Feb. 28 at the Loudoun House.

“More than anything, we feel like we have a responsibility to our community and to ourselves as artists to just sort of discover what sort of action we could take if this were to happen again or if for some reason this were to escalate.”

Metro quoted an IBM spokesperson saying the company has used light bulb art in its “Smarter Cities” campaign since 2008 and the light bulb as a marketing element since the 1940s. Disney did not comment.

New Moon is a 20-foot sculpture of metal and incandescent bulbs that will go on display in Triangle Park Feb. 21. Its interactive element will be a turnstile that viewers can use to create various phases of the moon. A portion of the sculpture was unveiled last month at the Lexington Art League’s annual Art Ball.

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