26 Weeks Camera Challenge #21: Readymade / by Simeon Smith

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I don’t know what photography is.

I mean, I know what a camera is. I know how it makes images. But photography as a whole? I’m not sure.

Is it, and if so when is it, art? Chemistry? Documentation? Media? Self-indulgence?

There’s more to it triggering a shutter and capturing some light, and at the same time, surely that’s all there is to it?

In my opinion, art reached it’s most self-referential point with Dadaism and Duchamp’s ready-mades. A urinal, on it’s back, in a gallery, with Duchamp’s signature on it was the most relevant “what is art?” moment.

In a similar way, Daido Moriyama’s photos of glossy magazine photographs and garish billboards in my opinion ask some of the most important contemporary questions about photography, authorship, creativity and media. By capturing an image of an image we end up with a feedback loop where one type of media shines light on another.

Richard Prince took this one step further by blowing up and selling (for tens of thousands of dollars!) large screenshots of other people’s Instagram posts, without the original instagrammer’s permission.

This week, explore ownership, appropriation and the visual public space by taking pictures of other people’s pictures. Ads in bus stops, stock images in books, things you find on the screen of your phone, whatever.

Questions:

1.       When is appropriation in art good?

2.       Where is the line between inspiration and theft?

3.       Are images in the public domain fair game?