On the 6th of August I posted my Video Cities of Smoke to You Tube :http://youtu.be/23WlnF3S4Ko. In this video, I used techniques I have used and developed before in my digital art, and because the video was meant to arouse global sympathy for the Syrian Revolution I began to use images of ruined cities posted to Facebook in a new and novel context, manipulating them artistically with quotations from world art, but mainly from my own art. The video and the individual frames used for the video were posted to Facebook. My ideas began to be copied without any reference to me and in a changed context. This pained me as an artist who respects and believes in intellectual honesty and the right of the artist to own his or her ideas. I protested several times, but was not listened to. Many people used the idea and some of the techniques in a chain of treatments, prominent among them, Tammam Azzam, without any reference to me so that some of them were not aware of the person who inspired the original idea because they were imitating others.I do not mind artists getting influenced by me and developing my ideas in their own way as long as they pay me credit. I think I have created a school of art in the Syrian Revolution, a school which uses art to come to terms with the terrible trail of destruction and death the regime left behind. An artist usually feels proud to have influenced other artists, but when he or she are marginalized and ignored when it comes to paying credit to their ideas, then issues get muddled and many problems arise. When I mentioned all that yesterday in comments on an art page on Facebook, I was insulted, attacked, ridiculed and accused of not being a Syrian, therefore unable to sympathize with the Syrian people and using the tragedy of the Syrian people for commercial gain. This is artistic Tashbih and intimidation I had to block 3 people on Facebook because their remarks, especially one of them, were extremely rude, ignorant even harassing . When are some of the so called writers and artists of Facebook, who do not deserve to be called either, going to respect intellectual property and copyrights?
When people appropriate our ideas and treat them as their own, they care nothing for the fact that we might feel bereft and anguished because our ideas are manipulated differently in ways that might distort and twist our original vision and the message we wish to convey to the world. Moreover, there is the problem of exhibiting because galleries might not treat our works as original in view of the fact the the imitators usually get there before us.
The issue of copyrights and intellectual honesty and integrity must be defended and upheld by all those who believe in the integrity of art and literature. Alas, in the Arab world we have a very lax and ambivalent attitude towards such issues.