For this latest Typewriter Experiment, I wondered what would happen if I did some subtraction before my addition. I did not realize I would be coming up against copyright, ownership issues and infringement on personal space.
I recalled from some elementary art project that I could erase glossy printed photographs to a plain white finish and thereby retrieve a canvas of sorts. So I thought to erase some spaces on a printed image to make space for my typing. I frequent the junk and donation shops for likely suspects in the form of glossy printed books or magazines. I fully understand that these works are most often copyrighted. And I still question the value of these works, if they are being given away for free to charity shops. Does the copyright extend beyond the original sale? Once a work has been printed, bound, sold and then given away, what value does it still have? I am sure there are plenty of scholarly works on the subject. Here’s how it worked for this Typewriter Experiment #34.
The book of photographs was purchased for $1 at a local donation shop. Much later I pulled an image from the book and started to erase portions for typing. I typed the experiment. Afterward, I realized I wanted to share the work in public in addition to the private letter I was enclosing it in. So I did a few searches and found the artist who published the work and used an online form at their website to ask if I might re-use a page from the book. Any re-use of the work was declined. (see email exchange below) Further searches revealed that the book has a resale value of $1.77 on a popular online store. The new value is listed at over $30. It caused me to question the closed ended response and my own motivations for using the work.
I share the image of only my portion of the work, with the original photographic print obscured in darkness. It was originally a captivating black and white photographic print. I share this to question the nature of copyright and ownership in a media saturated environment. I share this to wonder about when one work becomes a new original. What constitutes original artistic production or commentary? Looking forward to looking more deeply at these issues as I truly enjoyed the subtractive additive process and surely will feature it in future experiments.
TYPEWRITER EXPERIMENT #34
“Time and timelessness compete for purchase
while experts rise and fall
Once art is abandoned to the dollar bin.
Talent is lockered and numbered,
those left over innocently play along.
Imagination succumbs to justice
like so many cocoons into butterflies.”
Email exchange with the original photographer.
To: The Artist
“Hoping this message finds you well. I recently came across one of your photography books, “—-“. The work is captivating. During my own artist process I gather images from many sources. They sometimes end up in my work. I am interested to use a page from the book for my own, “Typewriter Experiment #34 ‘——— Rescue’ “. Of course I doubt that you need any rescue, however this copy of the book did. Please let me know your thoughts on the idea. Much appreciate your consideration, and hope that you are enjoying the week.
From: The Artist
No, I do not approve. Do not violate the copyright.