Posted in 09 Mapping and other technologies, Coursework

Exercise 2.4: Is appropriation appropriate?

Have a look at the artists mentioned who appropriate images taken by other people and write around 300 words describing your response to artists and photographers working in this way.

A person walks into an art exhbition showing original photographs of Ansel Adams. They capture macro images, walk next door and hold their own exhbition of these macro photos passing it off as their own.They argue that they found this new viewpoint. Do people flock to see these images and praise them of their talent and vision…no they are arrested in violation of copyright and sued millions. The latter is of course truth so I don’t understand why someone can make profit taking screenshots of the images that Google Earth streetview provides.

It’s simple black and white thinking, ‘Do these images belong to you?” “No.” “Then they’re not yours.” The appropriator didn’t trek around the world with a camera mounted on a car winding down all the back streets No, they sat in their home scrolling tirelessly with a mouse. While Google Earth were recording images in dangerous places, they were sat taking screenshots. Yes the effort was theirs to go around these places, there is a commendation that they discovered such unusual, striking or shocking images that woud have otherwise remained undiscovered; for personal use it’s interesting but for profit it’s completely copyright infringement. If that is allowed then I believe that artists who create fan art (such as creating Harry Potter wands and other props) should be allowed to sell their products instead of being tracked down and having their shops closed.

Yes the appropriator made the effort but they didn’t make the initial effort which enables the images to be there. Without that there would be nothing.

Perhaps the Google Earth appropriator would argue that an artist or in the case of Marc Quinn is allowed to create an image from another image so why shouldn’t they, yet it’s quite different. The artist is creating something from scatch, starting with a blank canvas. I don’t see an issue with obtaining the rights and creating a tapestry based on a photo. Just as an artist may use a photo reference, there is no less skill, in fact there may even be more creating it from scratch.

I struggle to think of an argument against this; perhaps some would believe that these images raise awarness of a world where everyone is being watched, where the word privacy is a myth and we see the realistion of 1984 in our everyday. For instance ‘Mishka Henner’ whos disturbing images taken from google images show prosititutes waiting by roads on the outskirts of cities, he infuses those images into a clip to create the feeling that you are glancing at the women as you drive by.

So it may be argued, should these people be allowed to steal these images to raise awareness of exploitation? Perhaps if Google were to allow them, but in all honesty they could just go out and take the same images. I understand what they’re doing and why and it is imporant to raise issues but is this really the way?

I recently watched the Netflix movie, ‘The Circle’ with Emma Watson which gave quite a chilling insight into a world ruled by technology which we are rapidly shunted into. It feels more like this is a reality than whether or not it will happen.

Some would believe that Google Earth is just a documentation of the earth, anyone could go searching for these images…but they didn’t go out and create those images. They appropriated someone elses.

Edit –

A fellow course mate, Emma Pocock and I engaged in a friendly debate of appropriation which you can read in the comments. She brought up the use of people creating music parodies and as that is permissable should Google photography be too? I didn’t feel so as the Street view ‘photographers’ are taking an  image of an image, a direct copy just like Mishka Henner, he didn’t even create the journey himself, purely using the scrolling function. It should be allowed, just not for profit. A parody however is creating something new based on something else, it isn’t a direct copy as with the photo as the artist recreates it adding their own style and unique flair to it,