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April 6, 2005

A walk in Asheville with Negativland


colin and mark hosler from negativland
Originally uploaded by activefree.
During my two days in Asheville, I drove out and visited Mark Hosler of Negativland. It was the most beautiful weather of the tour, and we headed out for a walk up his winding road and had an interesting conversation. He had just come back from Iowa for an amazing conference on collage, and shared some about that, and I shared about my work.

It was interesting because even though he and Negativland has been doing work/play for almost 30 years, there's part of him that feels like there job is done. Back in the day, mashups were cutting edge, now they're mainstream, and it seems like part of what compels Negativland to make art is the legal and cultural edge. He even said that sometimes he doesn't really like Creative Commons because the licenses are somehow legalizing art in a way that takes some of the fun out of it.

It seems like everyone has their role to play. Lessig and Creative Commons are doing the legal, official thing, and Negativland and Downhill Battle and Illegal Art are doing their thing. We need both the cutting edge civil disobedience and the mainstream organizations in order to push forward. Walking and talking through the fresh air and sunshine of Asheville with this veteran building of free culture, I wondered about my own role, and what it would become.

In some ways, I've felt that this tour has been slightly underwhelming. For all the pre-tour hype, mostly I've been driving, showing up at places, doing my show, having a few conversations and getting some folks to sign my mailing list, and then moving on. With all the technical difficulties, like the lack of comments on this blog, I've been disappointed and questioning whether this is making a difference.

But maybe a few years from now, I'll look back on these five weeks in a different way. Maybe the relationships that I'm creating in towns like Jackson, MS and Nashville, TN will evolve to become important building blocks in the evolution of the free culture space. I have to remind myself that so many people have yet to even hear about these issues, and that I am paving new ground. Of course it's going to be hard, of course I'm going to get a little sick along the way, and feel a little down sometimes.

That's the cost of what it's going to take to create breakthrough's and make it to other side, where the software will work, the systems are in place, and the people will participate. Anyway, I may have just gotten a little cheesy, but it feels to good to write a little bit.

Posted by Colin at April 6, 2005 9:11 PM

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