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Ai Weiwei refused a bulk Lego order

2

Comments

  • cheshirecatcheshirecat Member Posts: 5,332
    To be honest, it makes a nice change from immigration, David Bowie, reshuffles, sexual assault and crazy US based tycoons. 

    As much as Ai Weiwei has become a self publicising media lovey tart this was inevitable after LEGOs incredibly naive response originally. Instead of another forgettable art installation LEGO allowed it to become a news item.
    Zacherano
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,495
    There is a stark contrast between the lego shown on the BBC page and on Lego's press release. Dirty, old, faded and dusty on the BBC, nice pastel colours and bright and clean on lego.
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,495
    Instead of another forgettable art installation LEGO allowed it to become a news item.
    And of course now it is another free advert news item.
  • cheshirecatcheshirecat Member Posts: 5,332
    ^ indeed two news items. This ones even making the BBC radio headlines and probably the TV too.
  • dougtsdougts Oregon, USAMember Posts: 4,114
    At that time we’ll also make a small change to our large order (bulk) guidelines. If you want to place an order for a large quantity of bricks, we won’t ask what you’re planning to build;

    Where does one even go to make this kind of request anyway?  I know this large bulk order program exists, but how does one use it?  (and no, I'm not talking about LUGBulk, this program is different and is geared towards individuals, not LUGs)

  • paul_mertonpaul_merton UKMember Posts: 2,947
    They've posted another article at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-35305605, although it seems to contain a lot of the same text!
  • AndyPolAndyPol UKMember Posts: 355
    edited January 2016
    Just seen a brand "expert" talking about this on BBC News channel and whilst she was talking about how important it is to protect a brand, she slipped up and amongst many LEGO items she mentioned was LEGO minions!  Whoops  (I know there are minifigs.me and other specially adapted LEGO) but no official LEGO minions that I know of? Obviously not a LEGO expert!
    LostInTranslationkiki180703
  • TigerMothTigerMoth Member Posts: 2,343
    AndyPol said:

    Obviously not a LEGO expert!
    ex = has-been
    spurt = drip under pressure
    AndyPolkiki180703
  • KingAlanIKingAlanI Rochester, NYMember Posts: 1,829
    Making a request that you expect to be refused is often useful to get attention or as a pretext to do some other thing.
    I totally understand how this was a practical move for TLG and an impractical one for Weiwei. Sometimes reality gets ignored in the name of ideals, which annoys me to no end.
    VorpalRyukiki180703
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,088
    edited January 2016
    For those many of you who were either not around or were too young to remember... TLG got burned big time back in 1996 by a Polish artist.  TLGs mistake was not asking enough questions about his intended use of the LEGO bricks that they were supplying him for his artwork.... 7 LEGO Concentration Camp Sets!!  This included the box art as well as the parts and how to put it together.



    http://raster.art.pl/gallery/artists/libera/libera_lego.htm

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/culturemonster/2012/01/lego-concentration-camp-warsaw-museum.html

    TLG got burned big time on the controversy from artist Zbiegnew Libera's "artwork"... and he even had the nerve to say that his work was sponsored by TLG, when all they did was supply the bricks.  TLG opted not to pursue legal action... they just wanted the controversy to just go away.

    So yes.... TLG will supply bricks for exhibition type work.... BUT... they will only do so under strict guidelines.

    They're not going to repeat the mistakes of 1996 anytime soon.  
    CCCVorpalRyukiki18070377ncaachampsRsa33
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,088
    nicc said:
    Anyone who claims that Lego's stance is non-political is embarrassingly naive or arguing in bad faith. 

    This affair is just another reminder not to let our love of a toy drive us to offer obsequious apologia of the nonmoral company that makes it.
    Before you start calling others embarrassingly naive... perhaps you should do your homework on LEGO history, and how they got burned by artists in the past, as with the Concentration Camp artists sets I just mentioned....
    VorpalRyukiki180703SumoLego
  • snowhitiesnowhitie BelgiumMember Posts: 2,806
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,354
    snowhitie said:
    They changed their mind again?
  • snowhitiesnowhitie BelgiumMember Posts: 2,806
    ^well, I meant that they obviously first wanted to pretend to change their stance whereas now they are blaming the 'mista up on a mistake of the lower level (CS - their words not mine). I think CS did a marvellous job starting calm after all these angry AFOL's call them when the site didn't work! ;)
  • willobee498willobee498 CanadalandMember Posts: 349
    Maybe I just don't understand art, but a Lego concentration camp? Geez.

    Also (having not read many of the comments here), a company not wanting to give you a sweet deal on a childrens toy because they didn't want to be associated with certain politics... isn't really taking away your freedom of speech. 

    What a world we live in :p
    monkeyhanger
  • VorpalRyuVorpalRyu AustraliaMember Posts: 2,225
    @SprinkleOtter EXACTLY!!! I can't like that post enough.
    SprinkleOtterSumoLego
  • plasmodiumplasmodium UKMember Posts: 1,936
    xkcd on the money. Like virtually always.
    SprinkleOtterTufted_duckLegoKip
  • Tufted_duckTufted_duck Edinburgh Member Posts: 77
    ^^Go go Randall Munroe!

    So Lego are going back to their original policy I'm guessing? The new policy is to not ask any questions on usage which seems to be how Libera got the pieces for his camp set way back when. 
    The difference now being that if you build it you have to say it's nothing to do with Lego so they have deniability and seperation from any project.

    That seems fair enough as we dont hold paint manfacturers responsible for artwork

    But will exhibitors at conventions have to do the same? 

    Not up on whether some conventions are sponsored or sanctioned by TLG but does anyone know if there will have to be a change to include that sort of announcement more generally? 

    catwrangler
  • SprinkleOtterSprinkleOtter Member Posts: 2,731
    On serious note... How does one order bulk bricks from LEGO?
  • Tufted_duckTufted_duck Edinburgh Member Posts: 77
    Isn't there a notice on Bricks and pieces that says to get in touch with cs for bulk ordering? 
  • davee123davee123 USAMember Posts: 808
    Maybe I just don't understand art, but a Lego concentration camp? Geez.
    As I see it, art isn't always about making everyone say "Oooo, what a wonderful piece!"  Art is about expression and about evoking emotion and contemplation in others.  This piece is about seeing one of the darkest incidents in modern history through the eyes of children.

    Think about it this way-- how would you feel if your 6-year-old started building things like concentration camps and swastikas?  Or what would it be like if the Nazis remained in power and won the war, and toys started being released featuring concentration camps?  How do you explain tragedy and horror to children?

    That's (I believe) the purpose of this artwork.  Getting you to think about it.  It's not happy, it's not cheery.  And it's not the sort of artwork that you want to put in your living room.  But it's art nonetheless.  And it's easy to see why LEGO would want to distance itself from the piece.

    Personally, I think saying "sponsored by LEGO" was a huge mistake on Libera's part.  But I do think it's good art.  It's just very heavy stuff.  And I wouldn't want it in my house.

    DaveE
    cheshirecatTheBigLegoskicatwrangler
  • cheshirecatcheshirecat Member Posts: 5,332
    And at $71,800 is it the most expensive LEGO on the aftermarket?
  • AllBrickAllBrick UKMember Posts: 1,404
    edited April 2016
    I don't get it, Lego make an object that promotes creativity.
    Much like paint, it can be used to create art.
    By Legos logic, crayola shouldn't sell their products to many artists.
    Surely people will see the sculpture for what it is and not focus on the fact that it's made of Lego and that TLG are a terrible company.
  • VorpalRyuVorpalRyu AustraliaMember Posts: 2,225
    @AllBrick, comparing Lego to Crayola? Sorry, but artists don't normally "promote" a brand when they display their artwork, let alone claim that it was sponsored by said company. Also, being that it is a child's toy, not art supplies does create a different mindset, which thanks to @Istokg example, Zbiegnew Libera's "artwork," proves that this kind of thing will cause a backlash again companies like TLG, because they perceived to have supported said "artwork."
  • AllBrickAllBrick UKMember Posts: 1,404
    edited April 2016
    @VorpalRyu - The concentration camps were made when Lego was the only option of that kind of brick, now there are many many clone brands his sculpture is just a sculpture made of interlocking bricks, much like a drawing is just drawn with `a pencil` without any brand attachment.

    Lego has got the point where it could be considered to be an artists medium, take a look at some of the MOCs out there, I would consider those to be art and many an art piece has been created and exhibited already.

    It's time for TLG to let go, I don't know one person that would criticise or boycott them because someone used their brain to form a controversial something.
  • Tufted_duckTufted_duck Edinburgh Member Posts: 77
    ^ But isn't that what they are doing- stepping back as much as they can? 

    If they're allowing bulk orders without question around use and only requiring a statement of non involvement thats as much as they can do for not getting involved.

    And unlike pencils using lego bricks means a work having 'lego' literally written all over it. So they need that clarity because there's always going to be brand attachment with your brand on every stud
    VorpalRyucatwrangler
  • cheshirecatcheshirecat Member Posts: 5,332
    ^ I think that's wrong, the mocked up lego boxes are as much a part of the art as the models. At that point it isn't unreasonable for lego to get annoyed, with that and the use of the lego name the brick isn't just an artistic medium. That said, and for the reasons DaveE states above, I think it's actually a pretty powerful piece of art. As powerful as the 5000 or something shoes that were (are?) on display at the imperial war museum in London. That floored me when I first saw it. This makes you think about the normalisation of the appalling atrocities committed by the Germans at least within populations local to camps if not more widespread and how that could have gone had the war turned out differently.

    However, as soon as the lego name was used they were right to be pissed and understandably regretted cooperating. I don't believe that was ever to be the case here and interestingly by supplying the bricks with a contract it's possible to ensure the same doesn't happen again with fake lego boxes being used as 'art'. By not supplying the bricks they have zero control and an artist could make models and fake lego boxes depicting whatever they want. Their new approach makes complete sense.


    catwrangler
  • VorpalRyuVorpalRyu AustraliaMember Posts: 2,225
    @AllBrick, I'm not saying that Lego bricks aren't a viable medium for artwork, trust me, I have several people I'm following on Flickr that I would definitely consider artists (including fellow forum member @vitreolum). Even now, it's completely naive to think that not a single person on this planet would take issue with controversial creations using Lego bricks. I've had first hand experience with a few individuals who are boycotting Lego until they stop making more realistic minifig guns, Libera's "artwork" if done today would be regarded by them as more ammunition to go public with their boycott.
  • AllBrickAllBrick UKMember Posts: 1,404
    edited April 2016
    I wouldn't consider Libera's work to be art though, it's like a strange homage or a wish that he made come true. There's too much love involved for such a dark subject it becomes offensive on many levels to the majority. Theres no meaning to it either, it is what it is.

    It's all a matter of opinion really. If he made it out of MB or Cobi etc, your average persons knee jerk would be to say it was Lego anyway. Maybe a Lego art line would help ease TLG into a direction where it can shrug off such complaints.
    Lego can only ever be as offensive as the person building with it.
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,495
    Or as offensive as the person viewing it. People are offended by different things. It wasn't that long ago someone was displaying collapsing Twin Towers made out of Lego. Art? Statement? Offensive?
    SumoLego
  • ZacheranoZacherano Member Posts: 59
    edited April 2016
    http://mashable.com/2016/04/28/weiwei-mistake-lego/?utm_cid=mash-com-fb-main-link#Uv9On7Krm8qM


    Seriously, people - being against political activism is, by definition, being against freedom of speech rights. Also, only an individual who feels offended has the right to declare what is offensive *to them* - that's inalienable. I don't have time to say more right now, though I might come back to this. Some of these comments, at first glance, really worry me - though I enjoy the discussion of apologia (having studied a fair bit of the Classics myself!).
  • TigerMothTigerMoth Member Posts: 2,343
    Zacherano said:

    Seriously, people - being against political activism is, by definition, being against freedom of speech rights.
    But "freedom of speech" doesn't trump other rights.

    It doesn't mean that someone can use the name of another in a way that could be taken as implying support. Or, indeed, in any way.

    Nor does it mean than someone should try to capitalise on a company refusing to support them, particularly when it's that company's policy not to comment on anything outside their line of business.

    And, for what it's worth, criticising people who object to particular political activists and aspects of their behaviour they see as inappropriate, is itself being against the freedom of speech.
    JudgeChuckVorpalRyupharmjodSumoLegoBumblepantsgmonkey76
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,495
    Zacherano said:
    http://mashable.com/2016/04/28/weiwei-mistake-lego/?utm_cid=mash-com-fb-main-link#Uv9On7Krm8qM


    Seriously, people - being against political activism is, by definition, being against freedom of speech rights. Also, only an individual who feels offended has the right to declare what is offensive *to them* - that's inalienable. I don't have time to say more right now, though I might come back to this. Some of these comments, at first glance, really worry me - though I enjoy the discussion of apologia (having studied a fair bit of the Classics myself!).
    Proof right there then that Ai Weiwei is offensive.
    JudgeChuckplasmodium
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,088
    There's a big world of difference between the mid 1990s and today in so many ways, as far as the concentration camp sets are concerned.  First of all... bulk LEGO was just not available to just anyone back then.  Those concentration camp sets could likely not have been built (multiple copies of each were built) without the help of TLG.  No Bricklink or Ebay back then to buy your secondary market LEGO, the internet was just getting started, so the media attention was more limited.

    Today is a different story... with bulk LEGO sales available to just about anyone.  The mosaic fellow got his from other hobbyists and the general public.  Also, in 1995 there were only about 7 or 8 LEGO colors available, today it's a whole new world of colors.

    TLG was so embarrassed by the concentration camp set fiasco, that it just decided to let the story die down, and therefore did nothing, except change their corporate policy.  If you tried that today, and put the LEGO logo on your boxes (some of these sold to other museums), I bet TLG lawyers would come knocking at your door.
    VorpalRyuAllBrickTufted_duckpharmjodSumoLego
  • cheshirecatcheshirecat Member Posts: 5,332
    ...except that they were asking what bulk LEGO was for - in other words bulk ordering was available but LEGO decided whether they wanted to supply the bricks or not based on what you were doing with it. Personally I have no problem with that but it certainly sounds like censorship if they let one artist order bulk LEGO and another not if it happens to upset China.
  • TigerMothTigerMoth Member Posts: 2,343
    cheshirecat said:
    it certainly sounds like censorship if they let one artist order bulk LEGO and another not if it happens to upset China.
    It's not censorship, which is about suppression. TLG aren't trying to suppress Wei Wei's views. They simply want to avoid being associated with anybody else's arguments - or anything else contentious. There's nothing wrong with that.
    FurrysaurusMattDawsondatsunrobbieSumoLegopharmjodVorpalRyugmonkey76
  • MattDawsonMattDawson Solihull, UKMember Posts: 1,202
    ...except that they were asking what bulk LEGO was for - in other words bulk ordering was available but LEGO decided whether they wanted to supply the bricks or not based on what you were doing with it. Personally I have no problem with that but it certainly sounds like censorship if they let one artist order bulk LEGO and another not if it happens to upset China.
    If I say I'm creating a copy of a historic building, and another person a model of a tank/dictator/other political issue, who do you think Lego is going to prefer? :P
  • cheshirecatcheshirecat Member Posts: 5,332
    ^^ I also have no problem with it and think it should be up to Lego to decide who they supply bricks to.  But in a similar way to if you consider how the UK govt treated Sinn Fein (and others) by not allowing their voices to be broadcast, they weren't prevented from speaking but actors voices were used to relay the message, as a crude form of censorship then this would be very similar. They are making it harder for him to produce the work, not a complete suppression but making it harder to put the message across, based (imo understandably) on their view of his message. Its not much but the severest action they could take. And again I agree it's their right to do that.

    And not to get in to the rights, wrongs or effectiveness of it (or banning Gerry Adams), as I said I think it's fine for lego to choose and they certainly didn't break any rules. Of course Lego have since decided they handled it badly which I would agree with from a pr perspective, and think I said from the beginning.
  • datsunrobbiedatsunrobbie West Haven , CTMember Posts: 1,436
    ^ I see it more as LEGO choosing whether or not to support an artist by selling bricks at a discount than as censorship, or even supression. It is not like there are not lots of other manufacturers of similar media available to the artist. LEGO's refusal to sell discount bricks is censorship on the same level as Krylon refusing to sell spray paint at a discount to an individual. If they gave every person who asked for it a discount except for Ai Weiwei, that would be censorship. And we all know that LEGO does not give discounts to just anybody who asks for them.
    MattDawsonVorpalRyuTufted_duck
  • TigerMothTigerMoth Member Posts: 2,343
    They are making it harder for him to produce the work, not a complete suppression but making it harder to put the message across, based (imo understandably) on their view of his message.
    No they're not. They're just not making it easier. TLG are not in the business of assisting anybody in putting ANY messages across. There is nothing to suggest that they have taken any view of his message other than it is A message and one that is likely to be contentious.
    datsunrobbie said:
    It is not like there are not lots of other manufacturers of similar media available to the artist.
    Yep. So why didn't he? Most people, when faced with the unavailability of one brand, simply move on to another - not, of course, that it was unavailable anyway. No, he wanted to use the most well-known brand name to draw attention to himself and when one method didn't work, he used another.

    If anything, the fuss he has made over this has detracted from his cause. The Chinese authorities label him a troublemaker. Well, he's proved that and lost credibility. If he has anything else to say, it doesn't interest me. There are plenty of other people in the world that are labelled as troublemakers by governments and other organisations, some of whom may even be saying much the same as he is. I'm more inclined to listen to them.
    SumoLegopharmjodVorpalRyuFurrysaurus
  • SumoLegoSumoLego New YorkMember Posts: 11,710
    ^ Personal Ego versus the Public Message.

    Many noble causes have been lost in the (perceived) self-importance of the one delivering the message. 

    I have to say I always find it amusing when folks fundamentally do not understand free speech.  Free speech is not free of consequences.
    pharmjodVorpalRyugmonkey76Tufted_duck
  • pharmjodpharmjod 1,170 miles to Wall Drug, USAMember Posts: 2,871
    Most people (American's especially) don't understand free speech largely because they have never truly seen what censorship or "not free" speech is. 
    VorpalRyuSumoLego
  • Legopassion8Legopassion8 North CarolinaMember Posts: 1,180
    edited May 2016
    This about freedom of speech or $$$$$$$.

    If China made my toys I wouldn't back some joker with a Messiah complex either who the Chinese government has labled a "trouble maker".



    (I tried really really hard to AVOID this thread....)
  • Legopassion8Legopassion8 North CarolinaMember Posts: 1,180
    I don't think there was any mistake...
  • Legopassion8Legopassion8 North CarolinaMember Posts: 1,180
    Well feel free to put me in my place.
  • VorpalRyuVorpalRyu AustraliaMember Posts: 2,225
    edited May 2016
    Long story short: Weiwei chose Lego, knowing that he (a) was not a Lego certified artist, so would likely be refused & (b) demanded discount so it would guarantee that refusal. TLG has manufacturing in China, so he could cite that as the "real" reason, collusion with the Chinese government, plus make use of most peoples' poor understanding of 'Freedom of Speech' rights, citing his was being violated, to create public outcry (& more interest in his project).

    Some points to ponder:

    Everyone who has attended the event in Melbourne (including those on OzLug on FB) stated that he used some cheap chinese clone bricks, after asking for & getting large donations of genuine Lego bricks. Where did all the real Lego bricks go? Weiwei has refused to answer several people on Twitter who asked...

    Both Mattel & Hasbro (who have competing products, M*gaBl*ks and Kr*-o respectively) also have some manufacturing of their products in China, when TLG refused his 'request,' why didn't he approach either of these companies? Because they quite possibly would have granted his request, which would have nullified much of the controversy over TLG's decision.
    MattDawsongmonkey76SprinkleOtterTufted_duckpharmjod
  • SumoLegoSumoLego New YorkMember Posts: 11,710
    pharmjod said:
    Most people (American's especially) don't understand free speech largely because they have never truly seen what censorship or "not free" speech is. 
    This is very true.  I recall watching protesters awhile back screaming about their free speech rights whilst turning over a burning automobile.

    I could only reflect on how proud Thomas Paine would be.  Although, he would be blown away by the automobile.
    VorpalRyuMattDawsonpharmjod
  • MrShinyAndNewMrShinyAndNew Member Posts: 240
    ...except that they were asking what bulk LEGO was for - in other words bulk ordering was available but LEGO decided whether they wanted to supply the bricks or not based on what you were doing with it. Personally I have no problem with that but it certainly sounds like censorship if they let one artist order bulk LEGO and another not if it happens to upset China.
    It would be closer to censorship if they tried to stop him from buying Lego at all. They didn't do that (and couldn't, really). It would be censorship if they tried to sue him or otherwise get the government to shut down his exhibition, but they didn't do that either. Choosing who they give a discount to is discriminatory (by definition), it may be wrong (depending on your morals), but it clearly isn't censorship.
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