Appropriation is the act of taking possession of something, typically without the owner’s permission. Appropriation artists purposefully copy images and incorporate them into their work. These artists are not attempting to pass off these images as their own. The artist’s objective is to have the viewer recognize the images, and bring up any associations they have with these images within the artist’s new context.
One of my favorite appropriation artists is Paper Rad, an art collective from Pittsburgh/Providence that takes recognizable material from television, video games, and advertising and synthesizes them into lo-fi video art, net art, comics, and zines. The Paper Rad website explains that “In the ’70s and ’80s cartoons and consumer electronics were bigger and trashier than ever and freaked kids out… Now these kids are getting older and are freaking everybody else out by using this same throw-away trash.”paperrad.org
Paper Rad’s founding members, Benjamin Jones, Jessica Ciocci, and Jacob Ciocci, began working together in 2000. As Paper Rad they have performed and exhibited their art around the country, including The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the New York Underground Film Festival; the Boston Underground Film Festival; Tate Britain, and the Contemporary Museum, Honolulu.
The members of Paper Rad have collaborated with various other artists/art collectives. Jacob Ciocci along with fellow artists Ben Jones and Eric Mast (E*ROCK) created Wyld File, which produces lo-fi music videos for bands like Islands, The Gossip, and BECK.