Part 2 Exercise 2.4 Appropriation and Fair Use.

The exercise is to read the articles indicated, to investigate the work of the artists mentioned and note thoughts on not only the work but the practices of these artists within the concept of fair use, transformative works and the near boundaries of copyright.

Michael Wolf moved from Hong Kong to Paris but found that the city lacked the rapid change of architecture which he was used to in Hong Kong. He also felt that the city had already been documented by Atchet through his street photography. Wolf then used Google Street View to start to look at the outlying areas of Paris, he was able to quickly explore whole suburbs and banlieues without having to physically visit the areas. By using street view he was able to see an unemotional and nonjudgmental view of these locations which had been captured by the mostly unacknowledged cameras. These views are a microcosmic view of the location, examining microcosmic events; events which will have no effect on causality. No big historical events will be caused by the actions captured by street view.

Google street view could be considered a highlight in machine age photography. Cameras mounted on cars, bikes or backpacks automatically capture images around them without human intervention and for the most part, these images are uploaded and displayed with little to no editing. Wolf examines, selects and crops these captured images and through appropriation creates a different scene and narrative. As these images are machine captured, Google has chosen to release the content for fair use and attribution on a non-commercial basis, thus allowing artists to create works based on these images.

Doug Rickard uses street view to examine the edges of society, on the perimeter of suburban and industrial borders, the wastelands left behind by the American Dream, the subjects of these images are people who have fallen while trying to grasp the “Brass Ring” and have landed in a broken landscape filled with broken dreams and broken people. Unlike the subjects of Robert Franks’ “The Americans”, these people are unrepresented in society, their road trips unseen part from in Mike Brodie’s “A period of juvenile prosperity’, and Emily Kasks’ “Dirty Kids”.

Marc Quin, after purchasing the rights to the iconic image of a rioter and by fair use has reinterpreted the image in tapestry. Quin using threads to create a one knot to one pixel translation. This has allowed Quin to reinterpret the image and present it in a less confrontational surrounding. The tapestry has softened the image and by his appropriation created a new work where the rioter is presented in an older, softer format.

Richard Prince is a self-titled “Appropriation Artist” who uses the courts as an extension of his works. Prince could be seen as using the appropriation to push the boundaries on the understanding of copyright in the digital age, where images are taken, presented and forgotten about. Prince takes these images as transformed works of art. Prince pushes these boundaries of fair use, copyright law and appropriation in an attempt to clarify what is and what is not fair use. Through the last three court rulings, Prince has been found not to have transformed some of his works enough and the original copyright holder has won against Prince. From these rulings, it can be seen that Prince continues to appropriate works and that he has become a professional copyright troll. It can also be viewed that he is trying to find the outer limit in a digital society and that he is questioning whether there is a difference between digital and physical versions of the same image.

The main points of the exercise are to examine the differences between fair use and transformation and to get a sense of the good and the bad practices and where the boundaries exist and to be aware of the movements of these boundaries.


The Guardian. 2012. Mike Brodie Juvenile Train Riders. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 9 July 2018].

#weareoca. 2018. Who’s Afraid of Appropriation? – #weareoca. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 11 July 2018].

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