Monday, September 22, 2008

On Image Manipulation, Creative Integrity, and the age old question...

Is anything truly original?

I've been editing photos lately and having a lot of fun doing so. It's oddly therapeutic and addictive. My visual world is becoming more and more important to me. Design and meaning behind design are constantly on my mind.

But as I play with images, I start to question what is mine. What did I create?

For example, my heel clicks image from a few days ago, was from a photo I took in Vancouver. It was from a poster. I didn't even care about the content of the poster. The "boys" had been doing heel clicks, as they oft do when crawling between establishments. I find it amusing, and the heel click image triggers that feeling in me.

So I took the photo and I played with it. On several levels. Tweaking it so it no longer resembles a photograph at all, but instead an icon. I like its imperfections that add texture and depth and make it seem more like graffiti than just another piece of clip art.

I like what I created. It has history as an image. A story from where I saw it originally to the three versions I have of it up on flickr now:

Heel Click One

Heel Click II

Heel Click III

Another example... which comes up on several different examples. When I take a digital picture of something a graffiti artist has done (which, by nature, puts that image in the public realm) - and then I manipulate it - at what point is it my creation and not just an image I "stole" and edited? You can also take into account that many graffiti images have layers by different artists.

Some examples:

Girlien Face

Warrior Face

And at what point is what I create simply the means of having the right tools? Without a computer and some set of editing software (of which there are many options) - I couldn't do these without this software. I could create these with just my hands - they need to touch a mouse and connect to a product at some level.

Is it mine because I know when to say no? Because I stop editing at a certain point? Like the painter who knows her last brush stroke? Like the photographer who was in the right place at the right time and knew to press the button?

I could go on, but I'm curious what other think.

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