Creative Repurposing

“Find things that don’t belong on a wall, and hang them. Whether it’s a broken guitar or a three-legged chair, hanging it up makes it art.” Josh Hughes, Punk Shui

It might help to start by explaining what creative repurposing is. I can think of two ways to do this.

Somewhat unexpectedly, one way is with dictionary definitions, supported by various texts. The OED  identifies repurpose as a transitive verb meaning, ‘convert or adapt for a different purpose or for use in a different way’, and notes early use in relation to compilation or reworking of audio, video, text and graphic materials, and in the pharmaceutical industry (aka drug repositioning). Examples include Nicholas Negroponte’s (Being Digital, 1995) use of the word in relation to the entertainment industry repackaging film as video or videodisc, and his description of the book as having been created from repurposed magazine articles. This early meaning about the assemblage of existing materials seems more akin to collage than to the deliberate change of purpose implied by repurposing. In short, the OED definition and early use don’t get at more recent meanings.

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