Common Creativity

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Found Image

Recently I have become increasingly interested in relationships between art in digital space and art in “real” (physical) space.  As the contemporary concept of open source seems to relate primarily to ideas and actions that are oriented around participation in a digital space, I thought it would be interesting to apply a conceptual model that lives in the digital world and to a physical structure, to see how interactions differ within the physical landscape.  

For this project I have worked loosely with the idea of Copy Left, particularly as it exists within Creative Commons, to test open-image practices within the confines of a singular physical structure in a singular physical space.  Right away it becomes apparent that there are some constraints that develop when pulling an open-source database from the digital to the physical: infinitely more limited access; infinitely more limited supply of physical materials available for use; and an increase in the difficulty of maintenance of the physical structure and the image database it holds without often visiting the site.  As a result of these differences, the terms of use of the physical database necessarily need to differ from that of the model digital database. 

The rules of engagement and stated purpose of this physical structure/database can be broken down into two categories: how the images are allowed to be used; and who is able to take an image to use.  For this project, the question of image use is fairly straightforward.  An image from the collection can either be taken by somebody, or can simply be used to rearrange display of the structure right there.  While all the interested people are able to rearrange the images as much and as often as they wish, the question of who is allowed to take an image is slightly more limited.  As a result of the limitation on quantity, each image removed from the structure needs to be replaced with an image that can take its place within the database.  The likeness of the replacement image to the original is profoundly unimportant---all that matters is that the overall collection of the images can be maintained. 

This brings me to the stated purpose of the structure, which seeks simultaneously to offer a physical model for the comprehension of found images in an open source culture, and to demonstrate the inability of the physical structure to ever really mirror the function of the digital structure and database.  Furthermore, the project is designed to further highlight questions and boundaries set by notions of authorial control.  The original display represents my own personal aesthetic, as produced through the use of many other people’s created images, but, after finishing the project, the power (and perhaps even the right) to rearrange the display falls to anyone who comes into contact with the structure.  Thus, once I have ‘signed the painting,’ so to speak, the work of art that I have created really is in the hands of its audience to determine the future significance (via content and form) of the work. 

In regard to my original process, I had three main steps I needed to take in order to complete the project.  First, I needed to find or create a structure to hold my images.  For this, I converted a small, white cupboard that had come with my apartment through the use of spray paint, acrylic paint, newspaper, string, nails, hooks, and metal clips.  The second step consisted of collecting the images I wanted to constitute the core of my database.  I was interested in the element of chance, and decided to spend no more than one dollar on any single thing (this included books, individual images, and magazines).  In the end, I bought almost exclusively books, and had managed to spend only a dollar on each one of them, and found in my apartment and in my neighborhood a number of free images, as well.  The third step was then to collect from these sources the images which I wanted to include in my database and organize and display them within the structure.  Overall, from this point forward, there was no particular method to my choice beyond the determination of my own aesthetic vision of the project as whole.  I left empty clips and many “unused” images for people to look through and perhaps use, to reimagine a part of this project or perhaps as a component for their own, unrelated projects.              

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