When two massive superstars like David Guetta and Nicki Minaj join forces on a single stage, the amount of thumping beats, choreographed twerking and scandalous outfit choices are only a few of the many facets that are sure to grab the attention of the musical masses. But the most head turning feature of their performance that took place in Las Vegas this past weekend at the Billboard Music Awards wasn’t the music, the outfits or any other expected aspect of a live show. It was their very particularly crafted stage production. During the performance of the duo’s tune, ‘Hey Mama’ at the award ceremony, a striking stage design was revealed to the crowd, a stage design that was nearly identical to that seen at this year’s Burning Man festival; the art installation known as the HYBYCOZO, or Hyperspace Bypass Construction Zone, which has now prompted accusations that the DJ and rapper stole someone else’s work.
Thump was able to sit down with one of the HYBYCOZO series designers, Filipchuck, to discuss the apparent creative theft. She explained, “We received several calls in the evening telling on Sunday telling us to turn on the TV to watch the David Guetta performance because our design was popping up all over the stage.” “It was so egregious that people who weren’t even that familiar with the project sent us messages asking us if we did the stage design!”
The HYBYCOZO series consists of beautifully crafted, “steel-wrought, laser-cut, light-emitting geometrical structures that features a number of very specifically placed geometric permutations placed in conjunction”, in particular, boasting a 12 sided, 5 panel design. The series became one of the most photographed and talked about installations at this year’s Burning Man festival, and enjoyed follow-up appearances at Treasure Island festival in San Francisco and Further Future outside of Las Vegas earlier this month. The knock-off version taken for Guetta and Minaj’s set bore striking similarities to the original design in its height, shape, creative nuances, number of sides, panels and composition patterns of circles and pentagons. Filipchunk explained, “The pattern attempts to be a copy, we zoomed in and the composition of the pattern matched exactly [a circle in a pentagon] on a grid of lines coming out of the corners. The shape itself even had the same thicker darker edges, glowing from the inside and matched the distinctive laser-cut repeating patterns that we are known for.”
Filipchunk admitted, “the part that hurts the most is that we are young artists doing festival art and stage design. Now it feels like anything we do will just be copied by one of these huge corporate teams,” Filipchuck adds. “If they wanted this aesthetic they should have contacted us to discuss the options rather than [create] what a appears to be blatant rip off of our art without our permission.”
And, of course, Guetta has yet to respond to a request for comment regarding these accusation.