Exercise 2.4: Is appropriation appropriate?

Geoff Dyer’s article was thought-provoking and I found the work of the artists he mentions reletively interesting. I was, however, left with the feeling ‘so what’s new?’

Lucie-Smith (2003 p17) defines appropriation as a “Term used when an artist takes over pre-existing images to re-employ them unchanged in a different context or with a different purpose in mind”. Harris (2006) talks of Warhol appropriating soup cans and boxes of brillo pads, also of Rauschenberg appropriating existing images into his own work. Magada-Ward (2009) describes the work of Sherrie Levine who photographed photographs taken by, among others, Walker Evans and Edward Weston and then (re)presents them as her own in the series After Walker Evans and After Edward Weston. Langford (2008) describes the work of Christy Johnson who acquires photographs in the marketplace and uses them to construct a narrative around religious themes.

In this respect the appropriation of Google street view images follows in a similar tradition, the use of images produced by someone (or something) else in a different context or different way from their original use. I am, personally, quite comfortable with the use of images in this way (provided they don’t breach copyright laws. As far as I am concerned it is the final image and how it is viewed that is important not how it was obtained.

In fact appropriation of Google Street View images can have a very positive effect, Google itself has published a film of a person with severe agorophobia who used Street View images. The Agoraphobic Traveller tells the story of how Jacqui Kenny found what she considered to be fascinating images when using Street View. Quoted on the Stories for Good website  she says that “Over a span of a year and a half I have taken over 27,000 screen grabs, yet just over 200 have made the cut”. She has now had an exhibition at a Manhattan Gallery. A selection of her images can be seen at http://theagoraphobictraveller.bigcartel.com/#_ga=2.229138972.1285651648.1509885515-2070799425.1509885515 




HARRIS, J. (2006) Art history: the key concepts. London: Routledge.

LANGFORD, M. (2008) ‘Strange Bedfellows: Appropriations of the Vernacular by Photographic Artists’ In: Photography and Culture 1 (1) pp.73–93. [online] At: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/175145108784861400 [Accessed 02/11/2017]

LUCIE-SMITH, E. (2003) The Thames & Hudson dictionary of art terms. London: Thames & Hudson.

MAGADA-WARD, M. (2009). On Wanting to Write This as Rose Selavy: Reflections on Sherrie Levine and Peircian Semiotic. The Journal of Speculative Philosophy, 23(1), new series, 28-39. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/20721541 [Accessed 04/11/2007]

STORIES FOR GOOD https://www.storiesforgood.org/the-agoraphobic-traveller/#_ga=2.229138972.1285651648.1509885515-2070799425.1509885515 [Accessed 03/11/2017]