claire chanel

R. Kelly's Closet, 2005

The Closet provides an opportunity for visitors to record themselves singing the lyrics to the first chapter of R. Kelly's serial drama, Trapped In The Closet (2005). Recordings collected from this installation will be encoded as MPEG Layer-3 (mp3) digital audio files and archived on a publicly accessible World Wide Web site. Along with the vocal edits, web site users will be encouraged to further engage with the material through the creation of derivative works (i.e. "mash-ups", remixes, edits, or versions.)

Despite the proliferation of affordable music production and audio recording tools, there persists a significant gulf between the select class of pop culture producers and the under-class of consumers. In recent years, one may observe several instances in which a piece of pop cultural ephemera has caused a blurring in the aforementioned divide. Like the Grey Album in 2004, Trapped in the Closet is rapidly becoming a common starting point for derivative works of parody, tribute, and transformation. R. Kelly's Closet is the first in a series of efforts by Claire Chanel to engage viewers as active participants in pop culture rather than passive consumers. The audio artifacts of this installation cycle back to the existing community of autonomous creators by providing new raw materials for use in future transformative works.

In addition to providing visitors an opportunity to experience the democratizing potential of a creative act, R. Kelly's Closet is an unassuming act of civil disobedience. The lyrics and mechanically reproduced audio recording of Trapped In The Closet are expressions protected by copyright and used herein without permission of the owner. The seemingly harmless act of using a karaoke booth or performing a cover song takes on a greater socio-political meaning when one considers the growing disparity between the existing legal structure supporting intellectual property and the increasingly accessible creative opportunities available to the pop cultural audience. To highlight the need for rethinking copyright, patent, and trademark, R. Kelly's Closet invites visitors to experience directly the positive aspects of producing transformative creative work without the express legal consideration of the original author/owner.

Now you're opening the closet, closet, closet .

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