appropriately appropriated / by Jeff Herrity Artist

Sorry for my absence on the blogging. Much like I would expect, my hard drive crashed again on my Mac Book and I had to get a new one. I'm normally pretty good about doing regular system back-ups and all that - but of course for the past few weeks I've been working 'rogue' at home and bouncing around...NOT connected to my monitor and thus my external hard drive. Fast-forward to my new hard drive and a computer that doesn't remember my blog account password, and a password that is outside of my normal password structure..thus, no blog post. until now, in a stroke of genius, I remembered my 'this is brilliant' NEW password structure. And, now I can blog again. Back to my story... ...I was excited that they could fix the computer, however still a bit worried that this is the second time this has happened, or third even, so I'm now in a constant state of worry. All that said, with my new hard drive, I had to do a back-up from my most recent back-up, which was several weeks ago. I also recently upgraded to Lion and was concerned that my new hard drive was formatted for Snow Leopard and my back-ups would not work. Luckily, the Apple Genius said he had an image of Lion that he could put on my machine. That seems to work for me, but I immediately got concerned that this 'image' of Lion wasn't the real version that I purchased. Could I still use this? Would I be stealing work that was protected under copyrights?

Much like in art, we collect images that we use in our art, be it just a simple notion that we visually revisit at some point, not a copy but a nod to the idea. This is absolutely fine, as is the use or appropriating images for use in work as long as they do not represent what they originally represented. Or, even further, the IDEA that was represented.Once this topic is usually openly discussed, the subsequent discussion on plagiarism must also occur. I suppose because I also 'own' the software, I could use the image freely.

In some of my own work, I have appropriated images. For a piece I did last year in CORE studio, I downloaded and reprinted 50 images that were taken during The Artist is Present with Marina Abramovic, a retrospective of her work at the MoMA last year. She is a favorite of mine and I wanted to sit with her so badly, instead I just watched people watching each other. The work that I created from someone else's images - photos on a flickr stream - were all modified in such a way that they had new meaning and were different than the intended purpose of them (which was most likely just for documenting each person). Had I called the images 'mine' would have been problematic...they aren't mine.

I think that I appropriately appropriated images in this case. But a bigger question is always out there - when are images not used correctly and what can happen? The most recent and important image stealing case has to be that of Shepherd Fairey and his famous Obama HOPE poster image. The actual piece is a collage of newspaper articles, but the image is that of an AP photographer. This all probably would have gone away, after all, they were fighting over the use of the image of the President (which once elected, the POTUS image is the MOST protected visual asset we have as Americans and you can't use it for any purpose) The issue got uglier once Shepherd started lying under oath. Oops.

Last year during the ARTS 101 lessons that Sussannah, Hannah and I created, we used images of artists work. Clearly we didn't modify it's use, or make new art work from it, but we made informational posters with images from Mondrian, OKeeffe, and some others along with images of posters that were actual reproductions of works of art from the Corcoran Collection. Clearly multiple offenses of inappropriate appropriation happening here. Well, not really. The Corcoran most likely owns the rights to the images of their collection (and why you can usually take photos of museum's permanent collections, but rarely for travelling exhibits) so they can do with them what they want - like make posters for art educators (like ME) - who can then make posters from the posters. A clearly clever negotiating the legal side of artwork reproduction. Never did these posters make any financial gain, only educational gain.

I think that as an artist and future art educator, it is ok to appropriate images when used .... errrrr.... appropriately. Obviously we all have enough ethics to know that we don't pass off another's work as our own. As teachers, we have just be be aware of the current laws and make sure that we don't intentionally break them.