Abu Dhabi Louvre and the US-patent for islamic arts
The visual patterns that we see in Islamic art is older tham the patent system. Is a commom pattern in a special kind of solid state in the Nature, the quasicrystals, and Islamic geometric patterns, from 14th century to the nowadays, in the so called Zellige tilework and many other cultural manifestations.
There are many classic architectural works, mainlly at mausoleum and mosque domes, with the same pattern: see e.g. Lotfollah Mosque and Hafez Tomb internal domes, Saha mausoleum external dome, and many others.
All of them was handmade, with no computer algorithm helping architects and artists to do the glorious work.
Today, nov. 11, 2017, the public will be able to enter in a modern dome with the same Islamic visual art, the largest structure covered by this pattern, and the first famous one that was made with intense use of computers.
Louvre Abu Dhabi design wouldn’t be possible without parametric design tools, and the assistance of aperiodic tiling algorithms.
Now we have a modern reference icon for “islamic art aperiodic tiling”…
So, the question: as cultural work and cultural reference for many communities and nations, we need to pay royaltis for it?
The design will be reproduced, adapted and mixed, with old and new ideais, with old and new algorithms.
The artist need to pay for the computer-assisted design that result in something that seems a “patented design”? Of anything, from toilet paper to domes?
As David Bradley, the toilet paper maker, said when surprised by the patent existence:
When it comes to the population of Great Britain being invited by a multinational to wipe their bottoms on what appears to be a work of a knight of the realm without his permission, then a last stand must be made.
Notes about the royalties of the Nature
The same aperiodic pattern is not only a cultural heritage, is also a pattern of the Nature (!). Quasicrystals are quasiperiodic atomic structures, exhibiting symmetries forbidden to ordinary periodic crystals, as the crystalographic “5-fold symmetry axes”. So, to draw a timeline… The proof of laboratory-quasicrystals existence started with Mackay’s works about aperiodic tilings, from 1962 (5-fold symmetry) to 1982 (relationship with aperiodic geometry). The first evidence for the existence of natural mineral quasicrystals was only in 2009 (Bindi et al.).
As in the genome sequence patents, some people are looking for to opportunistic use of a natural manifestation (that they claim to “look first”). The first patent of the natural aperiodic-schema to tiling surfaces was publicated in 1979, and there are dozens of similar ones, as this one publicated in 2017.
PS: the islamic Louvre was the “desire by the leaders of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi”, not a result of a democratic vision of “education investment”, and wasn’t a democratic decision about how to a nation spend its money. The final cost of the construction is estimated as ~ €100 million. In addition, US$525 million was paid by Abu Dhabi to use the Louvre name, and an additional $747 million will be paid in exchange for art loans and services.