Monday, March 9, 2009

Trial balloon down

I've abandoned this idea. The legal issues were too uncertain for me to pursue it comfortably.

Beyond the legal question was the issue of appropriating others' images. To the extent possible I think each photographer should decide what happens to his/her work, and I realized that by putting entire books on my blog I would be taking that decision away from people.

The obvious way around all of this would be to get permission before publishing. This is the path being pursued by Google in their effort to digitize every book ever published (presumably including photobooks?). Toward this end I tried to contact Nancy Rexroth, whose book Iowa was to have been the first in my series, but I was unable to reach her through her gallery.

Too bad. Rexroth wrote the book on Diana, literally, and her project Iowa is a wonderful collection which I don't think many people have seen in its entirety. If I show a few images here, does everyone promise not to sue me?

Wrapping Trees, Washington, DC, 1972

Complexity, Pomeroy, Ohio, 1976

Albany Fair, Albany, Ohio, 1974

Marty and His 8 x 10 View Camera, Hewitt, Minnesota, 1972

Cola Machine, Pomeroy, Ohio, 1971


Jeff Ladd said...


Just for your info, as I have been negotiating rights issues for my series you should be very careful. What I am discovering in my own process is that many artists don't like having work even on the internet in bulk.

Blogs can often get away with a lot of infringement and at worst, someone will just ask you to remove the content.

I would ask though, Do we really need to digitize every human experience, even something as simple as looking at a book? Do we need to mediate everything through a computer? I believe books should remain books. I know they are not accessible but this fetish to digitize everything is a disturbing trend for me.

The Decisive Moment is online i its looks so bad and nothing like what one experiences looking at the real object that I can't believe it is there without complaint. Eggleston was influenced by that book and supposedly when he saw actual prints at MoMA he was terribly unimpressed with the same photos. It was the book that he responded to.

Just some thoughts...

Blake Andrews said...

All great points, Jeff.

The main issue for me is accessibility. The only books I'd be interested in seeing on the web are ones I would not have access to otherwise, such as the Rexroth book or some of the ones Errata Editions is reissuing. For a book like The Decisive Moment digitizing might actually make sense because not many people have access to that book. By looking online they can examine the sequencing and layout. It's a conduit for information, not a gallery. I don't think anyone is under any illusion that a screen image captures the real essence of any photo. A tangible object is almost always more enlightening to look at.

But for books still in print, I agree reading them on a screen is ridiculous. And as for the copyright issues, I'm steering clear entirely.

MP said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MP said...

I've always wanted to see this book. I'm sure real pages are better, but I'll take what I can get. Thanks for the handful of images.