This painting, shown in progress, has an interesting history. Over seven and a half years ago I took a photo of a girl through a restaurant window and posted it on flickr. In the summer of '08, while looking online at an artist's work in a New York gallery, I had a vague sense of familiarity with one of his images. Upon closer inspection, it hit me: the print was my photograph. While pixelated almost beyond recognition, the subject and pose were unmistakably the same. Reading about the artist revealed that he did, in fact, cull images from the web for his works.
It was a surreal experience for me to see my work manipulated and presented as fine art for sale. I pondered whether to contact him, but I let the impulse go, as my reaction was not one of indignation but rather befuddled amusement. Yes, he had violated copyright by using my photo for commercial purposes, but I was swept up in philosophical thoughts about what constitutes original content. The image hadn't been selected for its own appeal, I felt, but as a starting point for random manipulation. Mine was a lovely but rather unremarkable photo, and certainly not edgy enough for a hip New York gallery. I did laugh at the thought that he never would have guessed I'd have an interest in contemporary art or come across his work. It was very unlikely, he may have thought, that the photographer would ever know of his appropriation.
Instead of contacting him, I decided to reinterpret his image, and reclaim mine at the same time. I started to paint a version of his photo, taping and painting the pixels and dripping paint over carefully rendered areas. The painting is rather large, 40x60 inches, bigger than my photo or his print. But is it original? If not, which version is? My huge signature runs across the bottom right of the painting, but it's broken up, illegible.
The gallery has since closed and I don't know what the artist, Sean Dack, is doing today. Most likely he'll never know what I'm doing, either. Or maybe, against all odds...he'll come across this.