Prior Art

Can Colours be Plagiarized? Colour as “Prior Art”

Gavin Keeney + OOI-MTA

9th October 2021
6:00pm IST


The presentation concerns the concept of “prior art” in intellectual property rights law and whether colours can be copyrighted and therefore plagiarized.

Colour will be considered as a universal gift (asset) and held in “escrow” – i.e., not belonging to anyone. As common property, varieties of incorporation into marketable and thus copyrighted products and wares, inclusive of art, will be considered as subtle but nonetheless permissible means of theft and plunder. International Klein Blue (IKB) will be utilized as Exhibit A, plus all of its various appropriations since French artist Yves Klein first pretended to create and trademark it in 1960. The performative presentation will include a reading of a passage from Works for Works: Book 1, Useless Beauty (due for publication in Winter 2022) on Derek Jarman’s last film Blue (1993), in which he appropriates IKB as continuous screen colour, utilizing no other images.

Gavin Keeney is Director of Agence ‘X’, founded in New York, New York, in 2007. He completed a research doctorate in Architecture at Deakin University, Australia, in 2014, on the subject of “Visual Agency in Art and Architecture.” His most recent publications include Knowledge, Spirit, Law, Book 1: Radical Scholarship (2015), and Knowledge, Spirit, Law, Book 2: The Anti-capitalist Sublime (2017), both published open access with punctum books. He has taught and lectured in architecture schools in the US, England, Slovenia, Australia, and India.

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