This is our original image:
This is what we got after two rounds:
And this is after removing some excessive elements and adjusting the size.
I found myself giggling as I turned the pages of this surprisingly entertaining read. Most pieces assigned in academic writing are not the epitome of fascinating, but I think the unique representation of hard facts was perfect to convey what a comic really is about.
I never thought about panel sizes in comics. How some blocks are smaller than others. But, now it really makes sense. One of my favorite quotes in the piece was in the very beginning on page 7.
“Space does for comics what time does for film!”
The pauses between characters in movies create tremendous tension that is palpable to the audience chewing popcorn. In a comic, the size of the panel, the arrangement of words, the text size, are the mediums by which emotion is conveyed. A particularly sized panel, helps the reader understand the emotion of the character.
^ The varying sizes of the panels allow us to understand the sense of emotion the artist wants us to experience. It is represented through SPACE.
^ Whereas the gif of a show, utilizes TIME. The repetitive word choice, and time spent yelling is the way the television show conveys its emotion and intention.
i can say that i was a big fan of Japanese comics. i really enjoyed reading it and loved the characters in it. I haven’t realize that I was influenced so much by comic and be tricked by the artists until I read this book.
First, what I think is very interesting is that this book on comic is expressed by comic! For example, let’s just take a look on the introduction. it’s only one page long, but it contains all about the main idea of this book by telling us the conversation between the author and his friend. Also, Scott often used himself as an example in this book. like in the chapter of icon and cartoon, he used his own glasses to tell us that the simpler the icon is, the more information it can bring and be sent to us.
What’s more, I just found the connection between comics and interactive media. Because both of them are about interaction! In comic, i start to understand that why i was so excited when i was reading a comic book like One Piece.(a famous Japanese comic) It’s because I put myself into the character, imagining that this character is me and I was experiencing the whole story. This time, i was actually communicating with the author of the comic book.
Also, as a person who like drawing so much and even planned to be a comic drawer, this book really gives me a lot of professional guides, such as time frames, the invisible of comics and so on. i still have a feeling that this book will be so helpful on my later filming project!:P
I really enjoyed reading the Comic book as it was a theory/history book on comics written in comic format. Therefore, I appreciated his theory more because of this. I felt that him employing the comic book format while discussing the art of comics allowed the reader/viewer to not only see what his theory was but also see it in action and understand what he was saying. This, I think, was particularly apparent when he discussed the things our mind takes for granted or ‘accepts’ in a comic, such as the circle with two dots and a line is accepted, without question, as a person’s face. Moreover, I liked how he pointed out the power of the reader’s imagination and how one trick is to leave out details that the reader can fill in to their own personal wants.
As I was reading this, I felt a growing appreciation that a comic book such as this has been produced and has been widely appreciated around the world. The reason for this is that this book accomplishes something that is very important, and that is legitimizing comics as a form of art in today”s rapidly modernizing society. It wasn’t too long ago where comics were seen as something that would simply pass the time of kids, and soldiers that were being shipped off to war. It wasn’t seen as something that was to be widely appreciated by all ages and genders everywhere, but as the art form evolved, it’s demographic also started to widen as well. When comparing the first comics, you see simple panels and stories, things that would be easy to understand to the young reader. Nowadays comics utilize the techniques that are presented in Scott McCloud’s book, and even more techniques that aren’t even presented in his book. Of course I am slightly biased because I like comic books as well, and I would sit in the library for hours reading all the comic books that they had available.
I really enjoyed this weeks reading. I found it interesting how McCloud really analyzed each aspect of comics in depth, even the ones I often take for granted- like the spacing between the panels themselves. It really made me think about comics I’ve read and think about breaking down each aspect- artistically and psychologically. He goes into detail with both explanations and examples, both from previous art and through his comic himself. I thought his examples were particularly helpful in explaining his points- for example, when he changes the style in which he draws “himself” to show how realistic styles can take the reader out of the comic.
Something I found particularly interesting was how he said that the simplified style helps the reader self project themselves onto the character. What I thought was just the artist’s personal style actually plays a key role in immersing the reader in the work. I’ve noticed this in debates on comic character’s race- when a character is simple enough it’s easy for someone to assume they are the character is their race. This lead to the simplified style of characters and the detailed backgrounds. It’s not something I’ve paid particular attention to, but looking back on the comics I’ve read I notice the same pattern. I also took a lot of comic effects for granted, when a lot of them were introduced by Jack Kirby or other prominent comic artists.
I thought that when he explained how one could master writing or art and not comics, because they are not just a combination of the two, but rather an art all their own. I think his book really helps to establish comics as such and to dispel other popular stigma against comics.
Comics have never been something to which I reach for entertainment—presently or as a child. I would consider the drawings in comics art, but never considered the comic as a whole as an art form. I feel like I am exactly the target audience Scott McCloud has in mind when he calls comics an “invisible art.”
There is much complexity to comics that I honestly never thought of. The idea of closure—observing the parts but perceiving the whole—for instance. Like McCloud says, I depend on closure everyday (McCloud, 63), but it is not something I ever gave conscious thought to, and certainly did not know that some storytellers intentionally use closure to “produce suspense or to challenge audiences” (McCloud, 63).
Furthermore, panels in a comic are connected by the reader through closure. This is an idea that, again, makes sense, but is not something I think about. The ability the storyteller has to choose how to jump in the story between panels is really interesting, because with this decision he is giving a particular level of freedom to the reader in how they interpret every transition.
The entire art of comics is, I think, much more intricate than I ever imagined. Reading Understanding Comics has made me reconsider other mediums that I may have not truly regarded as art in the past.
This is our first original image
This is our first final photoshopped image
This is our revised image:
In this image we made the swimmer much smaller to match the scale of the rest of the picture, as well as added shading to the hot air balloon to match the bright light contrasts present in the original image.
One problem that makes me feel uncomfortable when reading is the sequence of the comics. I always got lost and had no idea from which side I should start reading, left or right. Most of cases, I can kind figure the sequence out after finishing reading the whole row. The similar problem is mentioned in this comic, but McCloud seems to fail to do it well, from my perspective at least.
Set that problem aside, the book is amazing and humorous. It is easy to read. However, it avoids being superficial. One moment that I like most is when McCloud tries to change his cartoon face to a more realistic one, and says “You won’t listen to me if I stand here with this face”. I found it pretty reasonable and plausible after giggling for a while because of his sudden humor.
I find that human’s participation when reading comic plays a crucial role when deciding whether the comic is a qualified one—does the comic leave adequate space for readers to “put” themselves into cartoon character? Does it use possibly least pieces of panels to let readers use closure to complete the un-drew scenes? These all depends on OUR senses. Reader’s participation is crucial since it gives different people different feeling when reading comic—they can have various cognitions of one cartoon character. Similarly, the panels that they imagine between two actual panels may vary.
I was reading Understanding Comics in the library when a friend of mine approached and said “ Hahaha are you really reading comics in the library?” I didn’t know how to respond, but at that moment I realized how lucky I was to get access to this book. McCloud breaks many misunderstandings I had towards comics, and gives me a whole new perspective on comics instead.
One of my main misunderstandings of comics is its definition. I wasn’t a big comic fan, so I have always thought that comics equals cartoon equals anime. However, McCloud is saying that this may be considered as comics (Gérard Rancinan, Broken or the Dance of the Fool, 2011),
but this is not.
I realized how narrowly I used to define comics and how I confused it with other concepts. It also impressed to see how McCloud describes the difference between film and comics as “Space does for comics what time does for film.” This idea accurately reveals the sequential essence of both film and comics as well as pointing out the difference.
One of my other misunderstandings of comics is its complexity. I used to think that comics is simpler than paintings or writings because it basically guides your mind and leaves you with no imagination space. However, after reading the book I realised how people give icons life and fill up the gutter according to their own understanding. Thus if “there are a thousand Hamlets in a thousand people’s eyes”, there are a thousand Batman in a thousand people’s eyes.
The concepts such as film, comics, cartoon, and icon touched in the book are not easy to define, but I love how McCloud explains concepts and definitions using a more interesting and comprehensible way – comics.
Scott McCloud’s brilliantly insightful look at the medium of comics redefined my notion of comics to be simple story lines and drawings. As a kid I would read the comic section of the newspaper out of boredom (aka I didn’t have a smartphone to stare at while eating my cereal in the morning). However, I never fully appreciated the artistry that went into the comics.
McCloud’s book is a visual marvel and portrays the complex world of art and the relationship between art and communication. McCloud dissects human perception in his book and I was fascinated with his explanation of why we prefer stylized characters to photorealistic characters. This is because we tend to think of ourselves as stylized. He explains that when you talk to another individual, you see their face in great detail, but your own face is just an abstract image in your head. Hence our identification with these stylized images of cartoons and comics.
Understanding Comics is more than a comic book. Scott McCloud uses simple and illustrative comics to demonstrate the history and characteristic of comics as a form of art. At first I do not understand why he would have the subtitle as The Invisible Art. In my knowledge, comics may not be receiving the same acclaim of traditional paintings, it is still an accepted art form. While I read the “struggle” of McCloud trying to give a definition of comics, I see the reason why he calls comics as “the invisible art”. We have confused comics with other forms of art, and we have encountered with comics almost anywhere in life thus losing the clear mind of what comics actually is. The invisibility is not that comics is not being realized as a form of art, but the fact that it is almost everywhere.
McCloud uses the main character, the boy with glasses, to demonstrate the skills of comic painting, story-telling, layout, etc. As a reader, it is extremely easy to accept all the professional knowledge of comic drawing because McCloud writes/draws in a way that he seems to be talking directly to readers.
I find it really amazing that McCloud puts forward the notion of universality of comics in his work. He claims that by abstracting the specific characteristics of a character, people will tend to connect more to the character. Also I think the universality of comics also lies in the fact that anyone can pick up a pen to draw, however well or bad. This universal act of drawing contributes to the wide-spread understanding and resonation of comics. Also, he relates our childhood appreciation of cartoon: “I believe this is the primary cause of our childhood fascination with cartoons. Though other factors such as universal identification, simplicity and the childlike features also play a part. (McCloud 36)”
Although I am not a fan of comics and extremely disliked the cartoon drawing when I learned to paint in my childhood, I think McCloud has shed new lights on the understanding of comics. Indeed, he has led me into the understanding and appreciation of comics. Comics is more than drawing, it is a concept. Behind the comics there are a world to be discovered.
I’ve never really considered myself to be a “comic book person.” In grade school I didn’t know a single person who read comics, nor did my parents read them growing up. Basically, I had zero exposure to comics and knew them only through Marvel movies and Japanese manga. McCloud’s book has been a great introduction to comics and has given me a greater appreciation for the art form, certainly, but I was most intrigued by the analysis of east-vs-west style.
My four years of high school Japanese class were filled with self-proclaimed “otaku,” or people with obsessive interest in Japanese anime, manga, and general culture. I was never able to understand the infatuation and had mentally condemned it as a form of cultural appropriation. After being required to read manga and watch anime for class, I did get a certain feeling from consuming the material. I didn’t know what it was- apart from calming vibes- and it definitely didn’t constitute an obsession, but the feeling I was getting put me a little closer to grasping the passion of my classmates.
McCloud’s description of the aspect to aspect panel transitions- namely how they define Japanese comics- explained the vibes I was receiving. I immediately realized that this seemingly arbitrary “scene setup” was the reason manga had given me such a distinct sensation. A manga reader has a very thorough understanding of the environment in which the story takes place. As manga is Japanese, this environment is often Japan. Perhaps this is why manga obsession so frequently goes hand-in-hand with cultural infatuation, while western comics (which lack aspect to aspect transition) rarely achieve this effect.
This is a rare and exciting work that ingeniously uses comics to examine the medium itself. McCloud conducts a genial, well-researched and funny tour of virtually every historical and perceptual aspect of comics, which he calls “sequential art” that is, art that consists of sequences of words and pictures.
Beginning in the 11th century with the Bayeux tapestry, he examines pre-Columbian picture languages and the printing press, presenting a quick survey of the historical development of early sequential pictures into the specialized visual language of comics. But it’s McCloud’s accessible and quite amusing discussion of realism, abstraction and visual perception that forms the heart of this survey. He dissects the vocabulary of the medium, cheerfully analyzing the psychological power of comics and their central role in our ultra-visual culture. McCloud attempts to place comics within the tradition of serious western art. His black-and-white drawings are a delight, ranging from simplified cartoons to parodies of classic comics and fine art, all the while manifesting every theory and comics trend discussed.
One thing attracts me most is McCloud interprets Mayan and Egyptian fresco as one kind of comic,which is far beyond my expectation. For all I know about comics is Marvel, DC or Jump….McCloud exactly gives me a wider definition about comics.
McCloud not only conveys his message of what comics is through what he is saying, but he also breaks down the stereotypes of comics by presenting his material in comic form. He explains comics first by exploring the explicit definition of comics and secondly, by exhibiting what comics is through the medium of his book.
I found McCloud’s explanation of time in comics really interesting because there is a lot more between the panels of comics than one thinks. Artists actually put so much effort into constructing a sequence of panels each containing a specific amount of time and depicting something that is happening in this specific amount of time. There is the time in which the reader is reading or looking at the panel and the time in which is actually being depicted. This makes me think about time depiction in comics versus time depiction in movies. I’ve always wondered how much of the story is missing from the movie simply because the movie cannot possibly be long enough to capture every moment the characters experience. Even though I think time can be more controlled in comics, time is always missing.
Scott McCloud provides a fun expository and descriptive explanation about comics, since he essentially uses a comic format to simply expand our limited knowledge about the same (very interesting!). Before reading Understanding Comics, I thought that comics were simply frame by frame pictures that tells a story that is particularly fictional and sometimes childish. The pictures are expected to be cartoony, and the sequences of these pictures “move” through our imagination. I have read a few comic books during my childhood, but I have never permeated deeper into the historical and artistic factors that constitute modern comics. After reading McCloud’s comic book about comics, I learned that comics are not simple to make, because they require ample of human intuition and few standards to make them worthwhile to read.
What I find interesting is the historical and categorical applications that McCloud use to define comics. I never knew that ancient Mayan and Egyptians hieroglyphs and some carvings could be categorized as comics; his explanation about these ancient artifacts unveils that comics spanned thousands of years ago rather than few decades. His interpretation of one of the ancient Egyptian pictorial sequences — depicting the labor laws of ancient Egypt — is one of these examples. McCloud also categorized comics into a triangular taxonomy of comic styles (realistic, figural, and fictional), which I found most interesting. His taxonomy of comics probably fill the entire world of created comics until the present.
McCloud also implicitly provides another form of teaching. Rather than using a long prose to explain his ideas, he uses sequential imaging to do the same. However, the effects to the reader are widely different. If he would have written his ideas in prose, then we might get easily bored simply because imagining words into pictures takes a toll in our brains. Through the usage of comics format, we are free of this labor, and we can easily enjoy the “reading” while effectively learning from his creation.
This book has renewed my knowledge of comics, which needs more respects and passion from the public. Before I read this book, I would treat comic books as reading materials mostly for children, which has an implicit derogatory sense. However, now I would treat comics as one type of art, equal to music, drawing, etc. Though it’s still difficult to define what is comics, it is a way that artists create their world.
One of the points that interest me is about the self-refelection in comics. McLOUD claims that comics is simplifying the reality, and since human beings are self-centred creatures, we would reflect ourselves on the icons, comics become more charming. When we are reading the comics, all the icons of human beings as well as their extensions are treated as ourselves. Less information in the comics, more reflections in our mind. In this sense, comics seem to free our mind for imagination and self-reflection.
However, McLOUD also points out that even if room is left for the readers, our brain will understand the comics in a certain way. Just as we cannot interpret the combination of one circle, two dots and a line into anything else than a face, our mind has already restrict the vocabulary of comics to a “general” way. With this limitation, comics is also created by the artists particularly for human beings in the way that human beings can understand.
Another point is about the time in comics. Comics provide various ways of expression for the artists. Actions happened at the same time can be displayed in different part, change happened at different time can also be drawn in the some image. The length and width of separate images can represent the different length of time, and the lines referring to a sequential action can also give a sense of time. What is the most amazing thing is that our mind can understand all of the expressions and we love them!
Comics is an art full of changes and designed specifically for human beings. I love this book.
I have been a fan of Japanese comic since I was 8 years old. However, before reading this comic book on comic, I have never seriously thought about comic as a form of serious art. In my mind, it’s true that comic can convey thoughtful and deep ideas, but after all it’s a way of recreation. It is after I entered NYU shanghai that I knew Marvel and more about western comics. This time, “Understanding Comics” really opened a universe for me, as is shown in the book.
The author artfully introduced the meaningful form of art “comic” to us in the form of comic itself, which made his ideas more convincing, and transmitted more efficiently. Also, he truly brings “comic” to a lot more than recreational pictures to read. He upheaved it to academic level.
In Chapter 1, at the bottom of page 3, when McCloud mentioned that “the potential of comics is LIMITLESS and EXCITING!”, in the same panel he drew the limitless and exciting universe to illustrate this idea of potential of comics. In a second, he dragged us into the picture, looking at the endless and unknown place, which evokes our curiosity and fascinates us. Later in this chapter, McCloud covers the topics and history of comics, generating a high-up starting point of comics, where those comic were not so much thought as comics but other forms of art. I remember clearly when I saw William Hogarth’s satire series in National Museum, Tate Britain and Sir John’s house in London that I could not quickly fully understand what was the story in the pictures unless there was someone telling me the details as there were so many things happening in one scene and I was not professional enough to catch the main points.
Chapter 2 talks about the vocabulary of comics, I saw a lot of familiar stuff as we were talking about icons last semester in GPC. I think it very interesting that artists can lead people to mask themselves in a comic by making the surroundings more objective and realistic and the main characters more subjective and iconic. Though I did not agree with McCloud’s drawing of a simplified face on the middle of page 39, when he mentioned “And just as our awareness of our biological selves are simplified conceptualised images”. When we think ourselves, certainly a lot of details will be ignored, but surely not to that extent. Here he used a too much simplified image of face, perhaps because he wants to universalise the icon. Yet when I was reading this, the effect does not seem good.
Chapter 3 focused on the effect of gutter and Chapter 4 discussed time and space. Gutter, time and space are very unique in the form of comic, compared to other forms of art. There are so many meanings and techniques under the usage of space and gutter that I never thought before. Now I am wondering would contributes more to a good comic, a good story or good drawing techniques, as they are both so important to comic. Before, I thought the artists who devote their life to comics should practice drawing in the first place and then go on to deepen their thought, now I realize that learning these theories are also crucial. Yet when people take the theories for granted, will there be less innovation when creating comics as people use the already existing techniques?
Through his comic book “Understanding comics”, Scott McCloud is taking us on a tour of everything about comics including its historical evolution.
After reading those first four chapters, my reaction was “woah”. I thought it was impressive and fascinating how McCloud is able to convey the essence of comics and at the same time have us experience the effects of it. For example, while addressing all the elements that make up comic including gutters, panels, sounds, words, spacing, shape of panes, frames, time, and so much more, he explains and makes use of it at the same time which is really useful for the reader. I also think it is very well done because after reading those chapters, I now grasp that comics is just more than ‘just that’, it is a world so intricate and there is a lot of work and thinking that goes into each page, each panel, each blob of ink that I feel that putting it all together in a book like “Understanding comics” is just beautifully done.
I read comics and yet I never realised everything that goes on behind the scene or never took notice of the effects of long rectangular panels for time lengthening rather than small panels but just experienced the effects of it as a reader. McCloud says that comics rely on the reader, it all depends on the reader and the imagination of the reader which gives life to the comic and even to his character in the book, and I quite agree because with a push from the author of the comic, there is a world that unfolds upon us. Even when reading the first four chapters, I guess I give life to his character in the book, the McCloud because in my head, he has a distinct voice which I attributed to him or at least “imagine” how he would be speaking to me, and this also points to the deep relationship between reader and author as experienced in comic books.
I really enjoy reading this book because somehow, I feel that it provides a huge amount of information in a way that I don’t feel like it is a pain to read or to understand or absorb as it would have been if it was an essay of information or documentary or something else. The journey takes me through things that I will now be able to spot when I read comics and it was interesting to learn about the differences and overlaps of Western culture and Eastern culture.
I found it amusing how he builds up to the definition of comics and the humour behind all the panels, and I thought that this definition was broad enough to incorporate lots of things beneath the category and literally I was surprised by how many things can be classified as comics. Even things that I draw falls under comics without my knowing and I find this really interesting and fascinating this world of comics. McCloud’s work has completely changed the way I now view comics.
I worked with Maggie and Yu on a photo of the Shanghai Skyline and it turned out as quite a scene. My first edit was the warped color of the sky. I played with the idea of the famous pollution in Shanghai. At first I switched the color of the sky from blue to grey but then I decided to make it a little less realistic considering there was also an Eiffel Tower plopped in the middle of the skyline. I played with the color of the sky with the curves tool in image adjustments. For my next edit, I carried over the theme of unhealthy environmental conditions (ha ha) and put a swimmer in the Huangpu river. I pasted the swimmer into the river and adjusted the color of the water directly surrounding him. So along with King Kong and the Eiffel Tower, we now have rainbow skies and swimmers in Shanghai.
Our group started with an image of a monkey jumping off of a snowy overhang. We had an initial idea to photoshop the image into the monkey skydiving, but I was the fourth in the cycle and by the time the image got to me it was filled with bananas.
There was already a lot going on in the image so I didn’t want to add to much and ruin it. The bananas in the back of the basket were all green, so I turned them yellow to make things look a little smoother, as the bright green was adding to the distracting background. When the image go to me the second time, I cleaned up some of the selection lines and also added a little motion blur to the monkey, bananas, and skateboard to enhance the visuals of them falling out of the basket.
Unfortunately, I think the motion blur made the image look worse overall. I didn’t realize that blurring the monkey would ruin the realism, as subjects closer to the lens are supposed to be more focused. I’m still super proud of my group and think our final product turned out well.
We went a little bit off the deep end in terms of absurdity. In this photo we have tweaked some Chinese propaganda to make it Super Lehman propaganda instead. Chairman Mao’s face was cut from the middle and then expanded to become an omnipresent figure in the background, with further pictures of Mao praising his people. But we also have superman with Lehman’s face that we placed in the middle, wearing a queen Elizabeth hat for further added absurdity.
Dani: While editing and creating the image on Photoshop, I found several tools to be very useful and more used than the others. I found the magnetic lasso tool to be the best for selecting and cropping as well as the eraser tool to be the best for smoothing over mistakes or unwanted sections. In regards to the group editing/passing along process, I found the Layers feature to be extremely helpful. Being able to see exactly what layer was created and which layer came before another aided in adding in other images and details and editing. Personally, I think I would need a lot more practice to even begin to understand Photoshop because there is just so much to the program.
Nan: On my part, since on the original picture, the family fills almost all the space, i think it is hard to add things on it, so i cut the family and moved it to another big and beautiful view. Also, i think it is quite interesting to put them on the water. I made the reflection on the water. What’s more, I thought the sky was pale, so I changed the whole sky with a more interesting and more blue sky. I also make the tree more red because the original ones gave a feeling that they were so grey. At last, I added a boat on the picture, since the family should use something to get the heart of the lake. 🙂 It’s quite fun!
Nicholas: My Reflection with photoshop
After playing “exquisite corpse” using photoshop, I realized just how much work this medium required merely to alter any image. I have divided this experience thus into three quantitative groups: issues, triumphs, and an overall conclusion of what I learned.
Well, despite the training, Photoshop is still a challenge when one has a specific task in mind. For me, this task was replacing the water with lava. Not only was this challenging because I had to discover a method to make the lava fit into the image, but also because I didn’t understand how to make a solid layer of lava.
Triumphs; In the end, in my opinion at least, the lava looked magnificent. I say this because I was very happy with the lava’s end result
What I learned: I still have a way to go with photoshop; I have much to learn yet. I say this because I realize that in order to become better at photoshop, I need to practice more. Moreover, I am convinced that doing so would greatly improve my skill and knowledge.
Documentation by Maggie and Yu Zhou only.
Yu Zhou First Turn:
When I got the first round from Madeleine, I found her added a baby into a seagull’s mouth, which was really funny. Thus I added an ice-cream onto the crying baby’s hand. I first used pencil as the instrument to cut the ice-cream from the original photo, and then I put it onto the baby’s hand. Because the ice-cream floated onto the baby’s hand, which did not fit the physical law, I used clone stamp to paint the baby’s hand on the ice-cream to make it look more real. Then I added the same filter as Madeleine did to make the changes as a whole.
The second time I got the photo, I found some more interesting changes on the photo, because in addition to a man being chased by a shark, the background of the photo became mirror symmetry. I first polished the background a bit, because there were some parts were not well cut. Then I added a shark warning sign onto the photo and put a crow onto it. And then I added the same filter.
Inez Yuxin Tong
For the first round, I’m kind of annoyed about the too much information in this photo. There are two many birds! After consideration, I make the background symmetrically so that people can focus on the middle part, where my two partners made changes.
For the second round, I’m unsatisfied when I’m done with this change. Since the whole photo is still crowded with many birds, I decided to remove some extra birds. Also, according to the changes my partners made, I decided to add a red mask on the photo so that the photo will look more solemn.
After receiving suggestions, I clean up the picture again and remove many extra birds. Also, after consideration, I’ve removed the adjustment to the background colour and keep it as the original.
I am working with Kelsey and Baaria on the photoshop assignment.
What we’ve been doing for the two rounds is photoshopping a nice beach
into an all-creature party.
In the first round I put in one rabbit, one cat, one panda and one drawing dog. I got them from the original images using the pen tool. I copied them in to the beach image and tried adjusting their sizes. Adding shadows was pretty tough and I may still need to figure that out.
In the second round I put in an rescuing dog and a fish under water. It was difficult dealing with the part under water, but the healing tool helped a lot. I also used adjusted the edge of the bush by using the stamp and the healing tool.
Reading this article in this specific week resounded quite well with what we had been discussing not only in the Communications Lab classes, but also in the GPC classes about the reproduction (or as I like to call it, the recreation) of art. In GPC, we examined Caravaggio and Rembrandt’s painting responses to the sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham in Genesis 22. Both artists depicted their interpretation, or maybe you’d call it their response, to the scene when the angel stops Abraham just before he slits Isaac’s throat. Rembrandt’s painting, by virtue of it being done years after Caravaggio’s, could be seen as his response to Caravaggio’s work. However, we saw both works as different despite of their similarities because we examined both as the artists’ personal depiction.
Similarly, Joy Garnett’s image is considered a separate legal entity from the image by Susan Meiselas because it was not only produced in a different context from the original photograph, but also it was done with a different intention aimed at depicting the emotion rather than the individual or uniqueness of the subject. In my opinion, this is an example of a recreation of a work of art in such a way that it by itself is a complete new entity on its own. I believe Joy’s audience would still sense the feeling of “riot” she wanted to proffer had she used another image, or had Meiselas not asked for the original to be referenced each time the image is used by Joy.
And for that, unless an image is reproduced in its entirety (and even then, there’s a possibility of some creative process being employed in the process) for the sole purpose of making the original artist’s work available to an even greater audience, I think that the mere difference in time and intention makes whatever is being used a completely new piece of art, and thus the property of the one who created it.
I do not yet know exactly where I stand on the issue of copyrights when it comes to adaptations, remixes, and the like. While reading this, I found myself both agreeing and disagreeing with both of the sides presented. On one hand, there is a multitude of art that is inspired or created from another piece of art. These can easily evolve and grow into their own, and inspire even more new pieces. On the other hand, this takes away ownership of the original piece to the original artist. In the case of the Molotov Man, it seems that Susan, the original photographer, had her photo stolen from her in several different ways. Some, to create new art, and others, to sell products or advertise or stand for something different than the original intentions. In many of these cases, it seems she is not given credit. In fact, the painter, Joy, wasn’t even aware of the original source of the photograph when she first found it.
I feel that to support remixes, recreations, etc., one must believe that art belongs to the public, rather than a sole artist. However, economically, if an artist doesn’t have ownership over their work, they can’t sustain themselves on art alone. The economic problem likely doesn’t bother bigger artists, but for smaller, independent artists, it can steer them away from art as a career. It also brings to issue on where the line is drawn between a recreation of art, and the production of a new piece of art based on a previous one. Susan believed some of the recreations took away the context of the original, and changed the meaning. Does changing the meaning make it a new piece of art? Or does it detract from the original? If a recreation gets more attention than the original, is it better?
I feel like the complexity of copyright laws reflect the grey area that is creative reproduction of art. There is a legal way to reproduce art, and an illegal way. However, even then, sometimes producers will choose to risk a lawsuit rather than to go about the legal ways to include someone else’s work in their own. This ongoing, open ended debate, seems to hurt artists either way, one in that an artist can lose credit for their work, and another, in that artists whose focus is remixes don’t get the credit they deserve, or they face endless legal troubles.
Susan Meiselas, the owner of the original photograph of molotov man, says that no one can “control” art, but what she cares is decontextualisation of re-creation. “Indeed, it seems to me that if history is working against context, then we must, as artists, work all the harder to reclaim that context.” But if all re-creations follow the same context of the original piece of artwork, are they still re-creations? Or, can we call them revision on the original work?
The re-creation on Marilyn Monroe must be one of the most wide-spreaded artworks of Andy Warhol. The context of this re-production does not necessarily fit with the original photograph. Actually, I even wonder if there is any context in this re-creation. But this piece of artwork does make Andy Warhol and pop art popular. The value of Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe is no longer its context. People, instead, value the unusual printing method and rich contrast of colors.
Thus, does the context really matter in an artwork? I think that a good context will give artworks much more meaning sometimes, but it is not a must. This topic reminds me of Walter Benjamin’s “kultwert” in his book The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. As for me, context just plays a role that makes a piece of artwork kultwert. An artist has the freedom to choose to recreate the artwork tending to become more kultwert or more ausstellungswert.
This text’s significance lies in how it contributes to the ongoing conversations regarding intellectual property in the digital age. What the conclusion yields is that to every story, there are multiple sides, each with a specific point of view. This was made evident as I found myself overwhelmingly inclined to side with Joy Garnett, who in this case, appeared a bastion of freedom of expression and champion of the intellectual property debate that rages in the digital age. Expressly, when confronted by Susan Meisalas, who opposed the use of her image “Molotov Man,” Garnett’s resolution to defy this demand appealed to my own sentiments. Thus, within the first two pages, I was already on Garnett’s side, and against Meisalas.
But just as I was firm in my convictions of Garnett’s righteousness, Meisalas too was firm that her initial picture contained was a very specific “essence”. That is to say, the original “Molotov Man” image was more than a mere photograph, as it embodied a specific moment in time, a plethora of unique emotions, and a symbolic presence; Meisalas felt such sentiments were represented only by the original photograph. In her opinion, all of the reduplications were to her mere bastardizations, copies that not only “decontextualized,” the image, but also stripped it of its significance. Furthermore, the more this picture is recreated, the actual man depicted along with the reality of that event, lose the reality.
After considering this side of the story, I was no longer sure that Garnett was right and Meisalas wrong. Rather, I appreciated bot sides, and understand that such discussions must be heard and considered in today’s digital age, where the already fine line that separates originality form copyright infringement has become finer. Moreover, I believe both parties are correct. It will be interesting to see how this conversation evolves within the next few years.
The article”On The Rights Of Molotovman: Appropriation and the art of context By Joy Garnett and Susan Meiselas” arouses a simple but crucial question to the contemporary art, that is how to define the ownership of the art work? What kind of reproduction can be treated as a legal and new creation rather than the interpretation to the original artwork?
On one hand, the conservative artists have found enough references from Walter Benjamin’s book “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. Benjamin defines the existence of an “aura” when the artists is creating artwork from the certain place and specific time. This “aura” endows the artists with the uniqueness of their artwork, and blames the loss of “aura” when advanced technologies such as photography and film threaten the copyright of the existing artwork. Unlike the respect shown to the recreation of copy all over the years, when artists tend to call the behavior as “recreation”, fights and arguments are made.
On the other hand, I would keep the sense of “aura” while in a totally different way although it’s understandable that people get annoyed when they find their photography has been “turned” into a painting by someone else and meanwhile this person calls it as recreation, like what happened in this “Molotovman” case. Now that we’ve entered the times of science and technology, the obstacles of recreation of art has been decreased. When people can easily edit an artwork, what is the essence remained for the special talent of an artist? I would treat the skills and ideas of reproduction also a must for an artist. Everyone now has an “aura” when creating the art, since with different perspectives, the interpretation of an artwork must be distinct. Then the ability of creating a wonderful artwork based on the original one is the distinction between normal people and an artist.
Then why will there be all these arguments of the equality of reproduction and copy? I regard this conflict as a result of the sense of ownership. “Aura” is not enough to show the ownership of the artwork. The artists often treat their work as their little babies, and yet they forget that even if the babies seems to belong to them forever, they will always turn out to go for their soulmates when they grow up.
Instead of ownership, I would rather treat artwork as independent pieces. The artwork will have their own destiny, no matter there is an “aura” or not, no matter how many people tries to threaten the ownership of the original creators. After the artworks have been created, they have their own life, regardless of the change of the world. In this sense, technology will become the enlightenment and hope of the end of a monopoly applied on the artwork.
My initial reaction to this article was to agree with the photographer wholeheartedly and to write a post about why the photographer is definitely in the right for going against the decontextualizing of her photograph. However, thinking more about it I realized that what the artist did was definitely not something that was in the wrong. What drove her to create her painting was not some obscene goal to decontexualize an important movement, but a jolt of inspiration that caused her paintbrush to move across her canvas.
The photograph itself holds much historical relevance and it’s context and social and political goals are definitely important, but what the photographer, Susan Meiselas, seems to forget is that art has the effect of inspiring other people, whether this is the original artist’s intention or not. Susan’s photograph was moving enough to cause another artist, specifically Joy Garnett, to be inspired and to try to recreate and recapture the feel of the original piece. Joy’s new piece should be seen as a brand new work of art, with a different set of goals and intentions that it hopes to achieve and Meiselas should know that once a piece of art is out in the public, whether it be a photograph or painting, that it is now free to inspire and move the public to build off of that work.
Shakespeare once wrote that “there are a thousand Hamlet in a thousand people’s eye.” As I interpret this line, I would tend to think the reason for a thousand Hamlet is because a thousand people have different perception, different perspective, different background in seeing the same thing, and these difference can greatly influence the outcome, in other words, the characteristic of Hamlet.
In On the Rights of Molotov Man, though it mainly focuses on two forms of art of Molotov Man – the original photo from Susan Meiselas and the painting inspired by the photo by Joy Garnett, I cannot stop noticing that there are also other forms of adaption of the Molotov Man. It is truly a thousand possibilities. Typing in “Molotov Man” in Google Images, I find countless images of Molotov Man, or its adaption. In the digital age as we are in right now, it is inevitable that there may be more than one form of a single art work. People may say that art work does not have a nationality boundary, thus we can see the Molotov Man in Latin American appear in different countries with different purposes, even as a commercial.
I do think Joy Garnett violates the copyright of Susan Meiselas, and I think that he does not view himself wrong, in fact, he tries to justify himself by causing further reactions from other people’s further adaption of Molotov Man. He may be thinking that the more adaption from different people may lay the pressure on Susan Meiselas that she may decide quitting suing him. And he seems to compromise by putting Susan Meiselas name beside his painting. But as a painter, he seems to lack the understanding and awareness of copyright, and lack the respect of other people’s work. He seems to be taking the talents of other people when his is exhausted.
However, the problem Joy Garnett reflects is more than the lack of awareness of copyright, it is the uprising trend of decontextualization and dislocation of art work. When an art work is done, it has its uniqueness in time and space, just as Walter Benjamin mentions in his The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, the “aura” of the art work is the essence. I do not want to discuss whether or not photography can be viewed as a category of art, but I do think the replicas of the art work lack the “aura”, which means the uniqueness in time and space. Just as the Molotov Man, the original photograph is famous in its Nicaraguan context as a symbol of the Sandanista revolution. The replicas lack the context of the original photograph, and what they emphasize and portrait are the rage, regardless of what cause this action. This is the reason why there will be a thousand version, or more than a thousand version of one art piece. It is not because different people have different perception, perspective and background, but the context of the art piece has been decontextualized, thus people can put the art work in any given context as long as they are comfortable with. As a result, we see a Molotov Man in a Chinese soldier uniform protesting against America in Viet Nam War. We see a Molotov Man on the MacBook throwing an apple instead of a molotov cocktail. They are part of the many possibilities of one single art work.
Art is not only about impulsive emotion and feeling. The greatest works all reflect the context of a certain time. Artists like Joy Garnett using other people’s work as inspiration and not respecting the copyright should not justify himself as innocent in the Molotov Man issue. Copyright of one artist’s work should be paid attention to, but there are other things we need to be aware of as well. In a digital time like this, we are indifferent to the decontextualization and dislocation of art works. Even some people view this as their inspiration. However, in the process of decontextualization and dislocation, what still remain, what have been removed, what have been emphasized, what have been neglected, can all change the meaning and value of a certain object. Does context of an art work matter? Should people copyright their context? In a thousand possibilities, there are many remained questions to be thought of and discussed.
The most interesting quote in the piece was,
There is no denying in this digital age that images are increasingly dislocated and far more easily decontextualized [….] Indeed, it seems to me that if history is working against context, then we must, as artists, work all the harder to reclaim that context.
How does one just “reclaim context?” And even if you can reclaim such context, is it your right to limit the contexts in which your “subject” can be placed?
It leads me to ask, what constitutes art? Is any picture posted on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr considered “art.” Do we all have the rights to make sure no one goes on to reproduce nor tamper with the context of every selfie we have ever taken?
I believe true art can be placed into many contexts, and it can lead to many interpretations. Art is a dialectic of sorts, and with everyone in communication with each other, to limit the ability of one artist to re-contextualize another artist’s piece, is limiting the communicable abilities of art.
This piece was not exactly the most riveting piece I have ever read, but it definitely had its points. I had an interesting time designing the webpage to accompany my reflection.
I would like to point out how I used a particularly distracting gif, so that the reader had to concentrate on the information I put on the webpage. It was a symbolic metaphor, referring to Benjamin’s quote,
“Masses seek distraction, art demands concentration.”
If my website was meant for masses, they could very well become distracted by my mesmerizing gif. But, if they found the true “art” which, in this case would be my written interpretation of Benjamin’s text, they would have to truly “concentrate.”
It’s a bit of a stretch, but I found an abstract interpretation was easiest under the circumstances of limited coding ability.
One question pop up to my mind after I finished reading this piece. Where is the voice of the Molotov Man? Since the topic is on the right of “Molotov Man”, why there are only the original photographer’s and a painter’s voices heard?
When Susan tried to defend the Molotov Man’s position, trying to contextualize her photography, did she even ask what his attitude towards his image being reproduced again and again? Perhaps she is right, but chances are that this man does not hate what people are doing to turn him to a iconic figure. On the other hand, when all those artists symbolizes this Molotov Man, have they every thought of the feelings of this man?Or probably they did not even know where this originally come from.
Basically I am for all those artists(decontexualizing), because in my opinion that every time this figure was reproduced, it was no longer the original piece. In art, especially painting and photography, imitation seems everywhere. My view here is kind of passive since I think if this is a trend that one could not stop and I don’t see much injustice here, then what’s wrong with decontextualisation? Here’s an example of a Chinese figure, which does not reconcile with the Molotov Man in the professional art category and in that the figure has been dead for so long. There are very popular kuso pictures of Du Fu(a Chinese ancient poet) on the internet. The poet who appears in textbooks has been put on weird clothes and forced to make funny postures. (I made a screen shot here) It’s true that one might say this person no longer lives, so how could we know if he cares to be made fun of in this way.
The example of the various version of Dufu is made on purpose. Creators knew where the original figure came from. Yet in the Molotov Man’s case, there’s another problem with this painter. He tried decontextualisation, to forget about the original photography. He did not put the photo in front of him when he made his own art. In other words, this figure is printed deeply in his mind. One of my friend once told me that every time she tried to write a song and recorded the melody, she was afraid that what she thought was her original creation is actually some existing tune buried deep in her head. My writing teacher(Chinese) once told me that one first had to read, to memorize, to accumulate to a certain amount, then one could create and write stuff. Knowledge is passed on between our brains that many times an idea poping into our mind does not really have originality. Same applies to the category of art works. An artist should be prepared to see fragments of his/her work to be captured and recreated by others.
If Susan really wants to defend the original intend of this photograph, she should probably first ask herself that has she ever done the same thing to other people’s work? Has she asked the opinion of the man in the photo?
In this magazine, Joy agreed to give Susan credit for the photograph, but was unwilling to seek Susan’s approval for any further reproductions, which inspires many potential questions for us to think about: At what point could a derivative work be considered an original piece? What kind of freedom do artists have as far as adapting works of others?
Joy contends that a photographer’s job is, in part, “to provide the public with a record of events of social and history value,” which, in a way, strips away the connection between a photographer and his/her work.
How we define the role which photographers play in this society? Do professional ethics to them is really much more important than their human nature? What ethical parameters are embedded in capturing photos and sharing them with the public? If we think of photographers in the way Joy defined, we could think of photographers as reporters – who present the news and often raise awareness to various issues and ideas. Reporters are artists too, and have their own styles of presenting the material, just as photographers are mindful of their inspiration, photo composition, post-production, and a myriad of other nuances that contribute to their work. But perhaps we could just appreciate the pieces that derive from others’ — especially when the intentions are good.
This short story provokes the question of the relationship between human beings and machines. The Machine in the story seems to represent all those machines we human beings created. It allocates all the functions that we could possibly imagine. All those little buttons ideally makes our life easier and better. However, I did not feel a tiny bit of joy but only fear.
At first I believe the machine was created to provide convenient life for people, as our computers and other electronic devices did. Later it evolved into controlling human’s life. At the end it becomes the god. With such a machine playing the most important role in her life, I don’t think Vashti is a human being any more. Also thousands of others who enjoys the life in their suit, praying to the machine, they claim that they are busy and ideas are so important. But why? what’s their ideas for? I did not see a little bit of happiness in their words and deeds. They are like parts of the machine, working according to a certain pattern. As they approach “spiritual”, they are actually pushing themselves away from humanity. Without happiness and difficulties, without the joy of family and friends actually gathering together, what’s the meaning of life? I cannot imagine. The only thing that gives me the sense of life is Kuna, who bravely breaks the rules and believes in that age.
At the very end, I must say luckily the machine stops and all those weird “humans” are going to die. This weird joy of mine may come from the fear of a future underground like this. Perhaps I holds the fall-behind thought. Still I don’t want to see a future like this, where people are turning into cold machines. What’s our initiation for creating all those machines? To master them to give us a happy life or to let them master us and assimilate us? Clearly the first one. So we should never forget our wishes at the very beginning. While starting to learn some technologies, we should always bare in mind that the core is human not the technology itself. We shall never lost ourselves in tracing fancier and fancier techs.
In the article the confliction between the originality of an art piece and the freedom to adapt an art piece was intense. To justify her right to adapt the photo, Joy Garnett in the beginning of the article stressed the point that she created her paintings after deliberately forgetting the context. I personally feel that this argument was flawed because even though Joy intended to adapt the photo solely on her understanding, it was her responsibility to credit the photographer Susan Meiselas before publishing. After all, the audience has the right to track back to the originality of the art piece and form their own understanding of the context.
On the other hand, I believe that if credit appropriately, Joy Garnett has every right to add her understanding into the adaption of the photography. Every artist has the right to express his or her opinions in their artworks, but no one can force the audience to interpret the writings according to the artist’s original desire. Differences and distance exist between the artist’s mind and the audience’s interpretation, which reveals the possibility that the audience are actually the ones who “create” the art work. So there are adaptions that the original artists would like to see, like the animated classic paintings below:
And there are also adaptions that the original artists may not like..
Anyway, the originality of an art piece and the freedom to adapt an art piece are not always in odd, especially when artists are more careful in crediting.
In this article, we can see the problems related to reproduction of artworks. Copyright infringement is a serious issue. From all the talks at school about properly sourcing data and not plagiarise, it becomes almost scary to even dare look for information anywhere when you know that you have to do all the work in afterwards sourcing it appropriately. Although I understand that Garnett did not intend to infringe on Meiselas’s image and that she was inspired by a fragment of it, I think she could have at least mentioned Meiselas in her exhibition as an inspiration. I found it a bit funny however that Meiselas engaged a lawyer and asked for a pay for Garnett’s action which I think maybe was a little too much. I was pleasantly surprised by the reactions of the online artists all around the world who stood in “solidarity” with Garnett to fight for her right to use the image in her painting. By then, it seems that the whole story seemed to take even greater proportions because people all around the world understood the image differently and reproduced the image differently, and maybe due to language barrier did not quite understand what was happening to Garnett, and as a result their reinterpretations of Molotov man and appropriations stirred the image even further from its original meaning.
On the topic of original meaning, one of the important points the article touches upon is about how contextualising and decontextualising images affect their meaning and value. Meiselas wants to protect her piece of art and preserve the specific story it is telling of the time and place that particular image was taken in. I believe it is her right to know what other people want to use her image for, but at the same time I think that if she published her image out there herself, even without wanting it to be spoilt by someone decontextualising it, she is still sharing it to the public. In sharing this knowledge to the public by publishing it, she also gives way and freedom for people to interpret the image and to a certain extent using it to form their own ideas. Thus I feel that if she didn’t want it to be decontextualised and preserve its meaning, then she should not have published the photo. At the same time, I understand the strong feelings she has for her representative photo that she tells us at the end of the article.
One of the other key points of the article is the question raised by the online artist, “Who owns the rights to this man’s struggle?” and the previous questions raised by Garnett in the article. This is an important question because it drives back the issue of copyright back at Meiselas. Neither Meiselas, Garnett, nor the internet users who reproduced the photo personally knew Mr Pablo Arauz and thus I don’t think that anyone asked his permission for the photo. Meiselas did not ask Arauz if it was okay to photograph him nor if he liked the photo nor if he would appreciate the photo to be published. As such, all of this just becomes more tangled and complicated and sheds light on questions and connections about art and copyright issues. We all take pictures, even random ones of our surroundings and people without asking for a direct permission, and this I think raises interesting questions because even when you take a picture of your friend for example, and people ‘happen’ to be in the background, should you ask their permission before taking the picture of your friend? Without people taking pictures and recording things, we would not have historical data or evidence, and if every historian had to ask for permission before taking a picture, we would not know how for example: the happenings at a sight of war or how the castle of an ancient King looked like. This connection between art and copyright seems very complicated to me but also interesting to consider.
After reading On The Rights of Molotov Man, I feel like it is related to what we have just read this week, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. The latter tells us that mechanical reproduction is about the creation, the great user experience brought to us, which is good as well as exciting. However, this reading tells us a story which is also about reproduction, but bring problems and questions.
First, to a piece of work, it is easy to have a reproduction on it, thanks to the technology and amazing internet. Also, there are also many ways to do it. In the reading, we can see that the original work has been transferred into several styles with photoshop, such as the mirror style, Joywar and so on. Therefore, it is also difficult for us to define whether a piece of work actually violent another’s copyright, since maybe the work is different from the original one not only in ways but also in the emotion it brings.
Further, what I have just discussed lead to another problem. Just as Susan has said, “Joy’s practice of decontextualizing an image as a painter is precisely the opposite of my own hope as a photographer to contextualize an image.”, because her expectation is to do what she can to respect the individuality of the people she photographs, who owns the rights to this man’s struggle? This question is also raised by in the reading for us to think about. Therefore, it is not just about the painter and the photographer, but also the people in the work we should consider about.
To me, I think if we think too sticky on this question, it will be hard for us to create something. Creation itself is about put something together and create a new one. Honestly, everything in the world is on the basis of the previous ones, so it is difficult for us to tell whether an artist is creating something according to an original one. I think the meaning can even be destroyed, like the aura can be destroyed to create a new style. It all depends on our mind and imagination. Maybe sometimes the law will not allow us to do it, so it brings another question, which is also raised in this reading—can copyright law, as it stands, function in any way except as a gag order?
“The Rights of the Molotov” made me feel very conflicted about my stance on copyright laws and how the ownership of one’s work should be handled, and if anyone really can like the blogger nmazca says, “own the rights of this man’s struggle”.
Initially, when I read Joy Garnett’s point of view, I fully agreed with his choice to reproduce the photograph, and the public’s choice to further reproduce it. Today, originality and authenticity isn’t as something that is as confined as it used to be in terms of art. Artists can appropriate and copy and still produce original work.
However, when I read Susan Meiselas’s portion of the article, I realized her stance in addressing copyright and originality issues were entirely justified, and something I didn’t even consider. When an image becomes iconic, its story almost becomes lost in its over-reproduction. Like the Scarface example that Kelsey used in her webpage: most of us in class have never seen the movie, and we only recognize the one iconic line, we don’t know the meaning or context of it, but we all know this empty phrase. This is what Meisela is trying to prevent from happening; for the subject of her photograph to lose meaning.
“On the Rights of Molotov Man” addresses an issue that seems like it will never be fully solved: what is classified as plagiarism and copyright violation where art is involved? This issue can be broken down into several questions regarding copyright and appropriation, and is especially relevant in this era as technology, both current and that which is being developed, allows artists to easily manipulate current works in many ways. At what point in this manipulation does the original work of one artist become original work of a second artist?
Furthermore, is anything really original anymore? Who is to determine what is original and what has been “copied”? New art is generally inspired by other art, whether this inspiration was consciously observed by the artist or not should not make a difference; the new work of art has been developed from an old work nonetheless. If an artist pays homage to another artist by recreating their work, is this an infringement on the original artist’s rights, or should this be accepted as an original work of art?
There are countless questions that stem from this article that can be argued, and I don’t think that everyone will ever come to an agreement on any of them. When an artist creates something themselves, whether it is inspired by or based on another work of art, it is difficult to tell them that what they have produced is not original, since it is technically their creation. For now, we must rely on laws that are explicitly in place to solve artistic disputes, but also hope that artists realize that they are all alike in that they are simply trying to create.
The case of the Molotov Man reflects the difficulty of establishing the rights of artists to express their artwork without copyright infringement. On one side, artists want to freely express their own ideas with their work on certain events, things, or other’s work; while, on the other side, artists want to preserve the idea behind their work and avoid others changing this notion. The case of Joy Garnett and Susan Meiselas captures this dilemma.
Conservative ideals hide behind the curtains of freedom of expression. When artists can freely express their artwork about a certain subject, other artists can easily change the original artist’s ideas through the reproduction of the original work. Joy wanted to capture the extreme human emotions by re-painting an original photograph (The Molotov Man) with a different context; however, she was liable for copyright infringement, because she did not credited nor asked permission to the artist of the photograph, Susan. Susan’s lawyer requested a sum of money from Joy for licensing the work afterwards, giving incentive for Joy to delete his work from the internet. Given this scene, we can observe that freedom of expression (when used inappropriately) can ultimately change the original expression of others; thus, conservative ideals kick in to protect this original expression.
The preservation of an original work is a difficult process for modern artists of this era. After Joy’s case, many other artists started to use Susan’s work for their own ends. For example, Pepsi Co. used a different version of the photograph to advertise its products as a “revolution”. However, the original idea of the photo conveyed the Sandinistas movement in Nicaragua against Somoza’s power — not just any revolution. Even though Susan did not sue Joy nor collected Joy’s fees, Susan needed to bear her outrage stemming from other people that uses her work for other purposes.
I personally think that both sides – Joy and Susan – did the right thing for such matter, for finding a solution for such problem proves somewhat complex and difficult. If we fully support on Joy’s viewpoint, then Susan’s original idea is unjustly thrown in the sea of interpretations. If we support on Susan’s viewpoint, then other’s freedom of expression is partially breached. Joy did give credit to Susan but did not ask for her permission simply because no one can control art and his viewpoint of the picture differs from Susan’s. I think Susan would agree with this reasoning but would disagree with the ideas behind other’s reproduction of her work.
My initial reading of Joy Garnett’s half of this piece made me feel very strongly about blogger nmazca’s question: “who owns the rights of this man’s struggle?” While many photographers of revolutions, slums, hidden cultural traditions, and other areas of intense human vulnerability or uniqueness do truly just want to educate the public on their subjects’ stories, still some are more focused on their own portfolios and fame, or have less selfish but equally harmful effects by disregarding the message the subject wants to be relayed.
In the second half of the piece, it was, of course, clear that Susan Meiselas was not one of such photographers, and was simply concerned that Bareta’s mission not be separated from his image. When an artist takes a photo (captures and reproduces an image from reality) that carries a specific message, I believe it is his or her responsibility to see that photo is not misinterpreted. Susan Meiselas was certainly justified in her attempt to maintain the story behind her image.
I do also understand Garnett’s desire to separate the context of the Molotov Man from the emotion in the photograph, but it is so, so wrong of us to demean and another human being’s struggles and their origins- so much that they’re not of enough worth to even mention- for our own benefit (in this case, an art project to “portray frustration and anger”). Perhaps this is quite a radical stance, but I cannot imagine how I would feel if a time of immense turmoil in my life was warped into the complete opposite of what it really was.
“The Rights of the Molotov Man” brings up some very important questions to consider, and especially those that are more and more being an issue. Copyright laws have become blurry in the age of the internet and the question of originality of thought is always at play. At which point is something exclusively yours and at which point is it public domain, free for all to use?
I do believe that copyright laws are over- exaggerated. For some reason, American laws regarding plagiarism spin a confusing web of do’s and dont’s that leave a person always afraid of whether they are violating copyright. Students live in fear that they accidently misquote someone out of ignorance (see: complexity of what IS plagiarism) and end up with a zero. For example, there is a neuroscientist and writer named Jonah Lehrer, who, a few years ago, came under fire for copying much of his latest book, Imagine (whcih is about the brain and creative thought). Where was he copying much of the passages of this book? From his OWN articles written for Wired magazine. The issue was that the magazine held the rights to his article not him, but then again can we really judge a person for repeating his OWN thoughts? [Lehrer also fabricated some Bob Dylan quotes, but first he was under fire for copying his own writings]. Half the time when we talk of one topic repeatedly, we ourselves repeat much of same argument over and over again–eventually it becomes like a speech: we use the same words, same sentences. There is a technique. In this sense, I think that copyright laws are somewhat ridiculous in their scope. If you wrote something, you should not get into trouble for copying your own words. The magazine might have rights over your written word but your brain still retains them.
On the other hand, I do believe originality should be given due credit. For example, many people have altered the Mona Lisa in various art forms to make various statements but everyone knows the original creator was Da Vinci and the work belongs to him.
“The Machine Stops” by E.M. Forster conveys a powerful message to the avid users of technology: beware. In the short story, people begin to live in their own little bubbles, literally unmoving, relying on technology for every need to the point of worship. Technology becomes omnipresent in people’s lives in this futuristic society–like how God was ominpresent in the lives of people before.
One of the intriguing points this piece makes is how our reliance on technology makes us extremely lazy. Since the beginning of time, it has been civilization’s goal to innovate and create new ways to make life simpler. All technology is created for the purpose of ease. However, Forster warns us that there is such a thing as too much ease. For example, in the story, people begin to deny the validity of “first-hand ideas” and begin to encourage “second-hand” or “tenth-hand” ideas. Ideas that have been ideas for centuries are better than new ideas that challenge the old ideas–the same way how challenging the Machine is considered blasphemy.
While I do appreciate E.M. Forster’s point and the overall entertainment factor in her writing, I don’t think that this laziness or this complete faith in the Machine will happen in actuality. What drives technology further and further is precisely the human quest for knowledge, to be inquisitive and to challenge. The human capacity to think: “well, this is fairly decent now. But how can I make it better?” If what is continually bring new technology to the forefront is the human desire to challenge and to improve, how can we possibly regress into such a state of helplessness and blind faith? There will always be people like Kuno who will challenge and make improvements on the system. We won’t be totally lazy – we will make improvements. While our reliance on technology is ever-increasing, we won’t be become lazy because of it. True, our bodies might become blobs of flesh, but our minds will always be at work.