Saturday, 31 March 2007


Back In 1987 Swiss contemporary artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss constructed a large and precarious artwork more than 30 metres long. The structure was made out of everyday materials. They artists used fire, water, gravity, and chemistry to create an amazing chain reaction called The Way Things Go.

The whole video of the chain reaction is actually 30 minutes long. I really like this segment where fire is the main feature:

If you don't know of these artists' work, but the work seems quite familiar to you, it's probably because a very similar concept was used in this well known Honda Accord Commercial, Cog.

What do you think of advertising that borrows so heavily from contemporary art like this, or any other field of creativity for that matter? Do you think this is okay, or only if it's done in collaboration with the original creators? In this case, I don't know whether it was done with the consent of the artists or not.


Anonymous said...

that idea isnt new, ever play MOUSE TRAP?

jj said...

No I haven't played it, but I take your point.

If you following that thought further, Wikipedia says that Moustrap was inspired by the work of Rube Goldberg, one of the most famous cartoonists in history:

So now we have a cartoonist influencing a board game, influencing contemporary artists, influencing advertising creatives.

Anonymous said...

while the idea of a chain reaction like this aren't new and there are many examples out there, I do agree that some of the ad does seem to be a direct rip-off of the artist. Particularly the tires moving up the plank. That's too similar to dismiss.

And no, I don't think advertising agencies should be plagiarizing artists' works.

Anonymous said...

Every idea has been done before. nothing is ever "new" If i wanted to I can sit down and trace back every single peace of communication ever developed to something the came before it. It does not mean that this person" copied "It simply illustrates the small world we live in. However fine art has blatlantly been ripped off for years, its happens because art is only seen by a very small, select group of people. Where is advertising is presented to the masses. Only if you follow art, would you be able to say hey, someone just got jacked!

Jonathan said...

What about imitation being the highest form of flattery? Using the chain-reaction method newly interpreted with car parts, just seems like a somewhat different (and good) interpretation of the original idea. I don't think anyone's intending to rip off Fischli and Weiss. Same goes for some great Pink Floyd cover bands who affectionately "cover" their favorite artist. The same relationship even more subtly applied: Almost every rock band today may have Hendrix, Beatles, or Dead influences for instance. So let's not reach too far for conspiracy theory, okay?

Bob said...

The Advertising industry (it is run by ruthless business men) will always steal from the leftfield edges of the art world, be it music, film, photography or any art form for that matter.

Peter Fischli and David Weiss's work is incredible !!

Maybe now with all this easy access to all these amazing videos, blogs, that are springing up everyday, from all over this planet, expect to see a lot more of this !

As long as you are inspired but do not copy, then that's OK in my books.

It's what mankind has been doing for years.

jj said...

Thanks for all your different opinions on this, much appreciated.

Yep, there are a lot of different examples of creative ideas influencing other creative ideas, especially in music, art and advertising.

With the advent of YouTube (and web video in general), blogs and online social networking it is becoming much easier to track the path of various creative ideas – and the spread of ideas is of course going into overdrive.

I guess it's up to the individual (and sometimes intellectual property lawyers) to decide whether people are being lazy and just stealing ideas, or whether they are adding something new and unique.