The latest from our team at South by Southwest in Austin

SXSW: 'Steal Like An Artist'

“Good artists copy; great artists steal.” – Pablo Picasso, via Steve Jobs

Austin Kleon - 'Steal Like An Artist'Where do artists draw the line between creation and theft? Does there really need to be a line at all?

These questions formed the basis of an intriguing conversation Saturday morning at SXSW Interactive between Kirby Ferguson, a Brooklyn filmmaker whose “Everything Is a Remix” web video series explores how mashup culture has been around for much longer than some might think, and Austin Kleon, an author from Austin whose new book Steal Like An Artist covers similar themes.

Ferguson contends that the creation of art is surrounded by near-epic myths about divine inspiration, mad genius and magic, when in fact it’s often a messy process of learning by imitation. He breaks down the process into three basic elements: Copy, transform and combine. History is chockablock with great creators who started by simply repeating works that inspired them; through this repetition they gained the vocabulary to begin transforming these imitations into something more unique, and then finally mastered the domain enough to try combinations with other concepts or ideas.

Klein, who admits to being forgetful enough about artistic inspirations that he keeps an AquaNotes pad in his shower to get ideas written down before they disappear, takes a similar view: Good work can be derivative, as long as it still retains the power to be transformative (and comes from a single individual or co-collaboration rather than committee).

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SXSW: Finding Like Minds, Via an App

@vlucio (via Twitter)

The KERA/Art and Seek crew has hit the road – some of us, anyway – and headed to Austin for the next week or so, just in time for the annual South by Southwest confab. First up is SXSW Interactive, kicking off this afternoon with panels, roundtable sessions and a ridiculous registration backup (right) likely due to the rush into the Austin Convention Center after rain and hail began pelting central Austin during the late-morning hours.

Every year, pundits make their picks for the piece of technology that will be the breakout of that year’s conference. In 2007, it was Twitter, and two years later, it was Foursquare that got much of the buzz – and both have proved their staying power among mobile users in the ensuing years.

This year, Mashable took a look at which new product might be this year’s hit, and one of their picks could have cultural impact: Highlight allows mobile users to detect who around them has similar interests, by using GPS and Facebook connectivity to find like matches. At a music festival like 35 Denton, users could easily find people near them who love certain bands or singers; at an visual arts symposium, artists could more easily be able to identify others in attendance who dabble in their chosen medium. Another app called Sonar that is being talked about at this year’s SXSW works in a similar fashion.

Is the concept invasive? Maybe. Will this auto-generated connector supplant traditional ways people come together over shared interests? Probably not. However, the apps that explore this concept have been generating interest online, and you may soon hear more about them from connected friends.

Check Art&Seek throughout the coming week for plenty of SXSW coverage, including film dispatches from Stephen Becker and much more.

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The Big Screen: 'Friends With Kids,' Previewing SXSW

This week, Art&Seek’s Stephen Becker and Dallas Morning News movie critic Chris Vognar discuss Friends With Kids, which stars Adam Scott and Jennifer Westfeldt as platonic friends who decide to have a baby together. Also, we preview the film portion of SXSW. Be sure to subscribe to The Big Screen podcast on iTunes. Stream this week’s podcast below or download it.

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Monday Morning Roundup

A GENEROUS GUEST: On Friday, Alec Baldwin stopped by the Winspear Opera House to talk about his life and career. And as any well-mannered guest knows, when you’re invited somewhere, you don’t show up empty-handed. So Baldwin announced that he is issuing a challenge grant – for every dollar up to $25,000 donated to the AT&T Performing Arts Center, he will match it. Got your checkbook out? Here are the details.

BEHIND THE MUSIC: Million Dollar Quartet opens Tuesday night at the Music Hall at Fair Park. The musical recounts the famed night when Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis hung out at Memphis’ Sun Studios, producing an iconic picture. The man running the boards in that studio was Sam Phillips, who is played in the show by Denton native Chris Grant. He talks about Phillips’ place in music history and what it was like performing the show in Memphis in an interview with theaterjones.com.

HEADING SOUTH: I’m just getting around to picking through the SXSW music lineup, which begins in, oh, about 10 days. But our local music writers are on top of it, offering 10 North Texas acts to catch and an update on a Fort Worth booking agency that will be highly visible.

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Thursday Morning Roundup

PACKING ‘EM IN: When I visited the Dallas Museum of Art the other day for a lunch meeting, I saw something at the museum I’d never seen before in all my trips there: the very end of the parking garage. And this was at noon. On a Tuesday. The reason, of course, is that people are still turning out in droves for “The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk.” The show closes this next weekend, so the crowds will probably only increase. But there is good news – the museum has extended the exhibition’s hours, keeping it open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. next Friday-Sunday (Feb. 10-12).

SXSW FILM: The complete lineup for the film portion of SXSW has been released. Predictably, the revamped 21 Jump Street will premiere there, as will documentaries about everyone from Jeffrey Dahmer to Ginger Baker. But I’m already lining up for America’s Parking Lot, which follows two die-hard Cowboys fans in the last year of Texas Stadium.

FORT WORTH’S NEW STUDIO: Downtown Fort Worth is getting a cool new addition – a recording studio. The space is the brainchild of Will Hunt, a producer who’s worked with everyone from Evanescence to Burning Hotels. Hunt tells fwweekly.com the decision was pretty simple – he and his wife have lived in the city since 2004, and this just another way of putting down deeper roots. The space should be open this summer.

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Friday Morning Roundup

THINKING BIG: Stage West’s New Jerusalem looks back to 17th Century Amsterdam, where Jews were allowed to live but were not allowed to talk about religion. At all. And that stipulation proves to be too stifling for philosopher Baruch de Spinoza, who discusses That Which Shall Not Be Talked About with anyone who will listen. And those discussions offer plenty of mind vitamins for the audience. “If you go to New Jerusalem, and you should, be prepared to have your assumptions about God, man and nature challenged,” David Novinski writes on theaterjones.com. Not to worry, though. “Aggravating, circular religious debates are not inherently entertaining,” Punch Shaw writes on dfw.com. “But this show works, thanks to some deft direction by Jerry Russell that prevents things from becoming stagnant.” Catch it through Jan. 29.

SWING, SWING, SWING: The Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo begins on Saturday and, this being Fort Worth, you can expect to hear some Western Swing coming from the stage. But Western Swing’s survival hasn’t always been a sure thing. As Erik Swanson of Dallas band Shoot Low Sheriff tells dfw.com, “We’re too country for jazz and too jazz for country.” Give the story a read for a good introduction into how the genre got its start in Cowtown and a primer on the bands keeping it alive today.

FIRST SXSW FILMS ANNOUNCED: The Cabin in the Woods, the Joss Whedon-produced horror film, will open the film portion of South by Southwest on March 9. It’s directed by Drew Goddard, who directed Cloverfield. Other notable films announced by the festival include Small Apartments, which brings Billy Crystal back to the screen, and Marley, a Bob Marley documentary.

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VIDEO: On the Road with Sarah Jaffe

The last installment from SXSW in our On the Road video series finds Sarah Jaffe singing “Before You Go” in an Austin hotel room.  Many thanks to all the artists who participated. And special big ups to  April Kinser and Dane Walters for their work on this series, which we hope to continue. For more from Sarah, check out her q/a below.  And here’s where you can hear NPR’s recording of Sarah’s performance at SXSW.\

What bands are you looking forward to seeing?

Well I missed out yesterday because I had too much to drink, but I really wanted to see the Kills and I wanted to see the Strokes. But I’m looking forward to seeing Chromeo tonight.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?

I’m a pretty closed-mouth person, but I tend to become even more so. I try to mentally let go of any pre-show anxiety and also let go of any apprehension. And I also enjoy every once in a while partaking in a toast with my bandmates. I like cheap champagne.

What’s been your most embarrassing moment on stage?

I’m pretty sure when I first started playing that I mispronounced the last name of a guitarist I played with a while ago. It was incredibly awkward because we were fairly good friends. Any sort of word flub is always kind of embarrassing, but I always try to play it off a little bit.

What’s the ultimate road trip song?

ELO’s “Telephone Line” is really good. Also, you know, I’m kind of a sucker for Top 40 radio. I enjoy a lot of that and a lot of older stuff as well. I always try to compromise with those things because I think when I put on something that’s Top 40, my bandmates are dying in the back.

What’s been your biggest career highlight?

Touring with Midlake in Europe last year was pretty phenomenal. I turned 24 in Amsterdam, which you couldn’t have timed it better. It was just being with friends and playing in these very ethereal places. It was pretty miraculous. Every night was a dream. It’s all been really great. Dallas has been so supportive and a very big launching pad for m

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Flickr Photo of the Week

Congratulations to Ian Aberle of Allen, the winner of the Flickr Photo of the Week contest! This is Ian’s second win in the contest; he previously won almost exactly a year ago with this photo. He follows last week’s winner, Lyn Caudle.

If you would like to participate in the Flickr Photo of the Week contest, all you need to do is upload your photo to our Flickr group page. It’s fine to submit a photo you took earlier than the current week, but we are hoping that the contest will inspire you to go out and shoot something fantastic this week to share with Art&Seek users. If the picture you take involves a facet of the arts, even better. The contest week will run from Monday to Sunday, and the Art&Seek staff will pick a winner on Monday afternoon. We’ll notify the winner through FlickrMail (so be sure to check those inboxes) and ask you to fill out a short survey to tell us a little more about yourself and the photo you took. We’ll post the winners’ photo on Wednesday.

There’s actually an apt story behind Lyn’s shot this week:

Name: Ian Aberle

City of residence: Allen

Title of photo: SXSW on 6th Street

Equipment: Canon 7D, a steady arm, and the willingness to stand in the crosswalk a little longer than I should.

Tell us more about your photo: The photo was taken during a photowalk organized by travel blog photographer Trey Ratcliff. During SXSW, over 200 photographers showed up to walk around and photograph downtown Austin. Upon returning to the hotel, I was taken by the lights and people on the famed 6th Street. This image was from my third attempt crossing the street to capture it. The actual image is a combination of three exposures combined into one to create the intense neon effect.

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VIDEO: On The Road with Middle Brother

Super group Middle Brother takes a break from SXSW to sing “Million Dollar Bill” for the next installment of  On the Road series.

What bands are you looking forward to seeing?

John McCauley: Odd Future

Matt Vasquez: Old 97’s

Taylor Goldsmith: Bright Eyes

What was your most embarrassing moment on stage?

Taylor: I went on stage once and my fly was down. On the third verse the song really broke down and got really quiet with just guitar and vocal. The whole room was quiet and this dude in the fourth row yelled “Your fly is down!” The whole venue started laughing at me. It was awful.

What has been the band’s career highlight so far?

Matt: We (Delta Spirit) missed 10 flights one time on our way to Bonnaroo. Our booking agent Jackie and our PR dude Ken helped get us the last night at Bonaroo and it was one of the most insane shows we’ve ever played. When we started to play, it rained and it was the headiest, craziest experience.

What’s the ultimate road trip song?

Taylor: King of the Road, by Roger Miller.

Any pre-show rituals?

Matt: Drink beer.

John: A lot of it’s illegal.

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SXSW VIDEO: Ramble Creek-ShowLush Day Show

My favorite thing about SXSW are the day shows.  I love enjoying several of my favorite bands and still home by dark.  The Ramble Creek-ShowLush day party was the perfect setting and chock full of my favorite bands.

Callie Snyder aka ShowLush joined forces with Britton Beisenherz (Ramble Creek Studio and Monahans) for a five year commitment to stage backyard shows that are welcoming, relaxing and family friendly.  Most of the bands consist of the excellent roster of artists who have recorded at Beisenherz’s Ramble Creek Studio.

The crowd that packed Callie’s backyard this past Friday were a lovely eclectic mix, that ranged from 3-month old babies, to one couple well into their 90’s.  As the music filled the air, show-goers enjoyed complimentary Tito’s Homemade Vodka drinks, Lone Star Beer and Waialua Sodas, all Texas-based sponsors.

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