When I was a kid, Lego was all… little blocks. They were all oblong, and they were made out of wattle and daub. We used to have to make our own thatch out of straw etc and the lego people all looked a bit like Baldrick.
I looked a bit like Baldrick. I still do look a bit like Baldrick – and I miss the days when Lego was only blocks, because you could make absolutely anything out of it… because your imagination could smooth the curves, and television wasn’t invented yet so everything you did make, did actually come directly from your own imagination, with a little help from ergot, amanita and the hectic bit at the back of the bible.
So it worries me when I see modern Lego – which seems to be set up with lots of “shaped” bricks that basically allow you to only make one thing. I saw a great example of this recently… some massive space-ship that made me think… “Well, Yea, that’s pretty impressive, but… you could only make that space-ship… all the parts are too application-specific to make a house or a dragon or whatever”.
It’s absolutely huge.
And upon closer inspection, I was totally wrong – it isn’t one of those “set piece” ones like this,
It’s original… kindof… I mean it does come from photos from a film, bit it isn’t… um… a pre-designed thing a bit like a 3d jigsaw puzzle.
So then I thought… yea, ok… so it’s not exactly “made-to-measure”… but the design comes from a movie… so it’s not purely imaginative… it is still sort of “copied”… like people have internalised a load of lego-boxes etc…
… but then I lost the site for a couple of days, and when I was googling just now, found that there are literally thousands of Lego spaceships out there – whole galaxies of them.
And my own personal favourite, the prints of which are available on deviantart
Entire galaxies of them. Amazing – some are original, others are note-perfect copies… with every shade of originality in between… although there is this tendency to borrow heavily from movies – which borrow (I suppose) in turn from Sci-Fi authors and artists.
This is kindof an illustration (I think) of the way that human culture is a process of copying and morphing, copying and morphing. I think it’s impossible, and entirely undesirable to try to isolate the “copying” part of culture as something that “you’re not allowed to do”.
Attribution where attribution is due… that’s kindof a moral duty – but the idea that you can control the progeny of your creations is insane. Have you seen how much of it’s out there? It’s not so much a case of “there’s quite a lot of copying in the culture” as “the culture is almost entirely a construction of different shades of copying”… or ‘influence’, as it’s more euphemistically known.
That’s what it’s made out of. Copying is the lego of human culture. It’s how we get the bits to fit together. It provides the raw-materials for experimentation. To try to cut future generations out of the loop (because for a brief period in the 20th century, conditions existed where you could) is a bit dismal really.