It’s barely Wednesday and everyone at the internet got their panties all a-tither, myself included. If your fingers are on the pulse or near the pulse, you probably heard that Instagram released a vaguely worded user-agreement yesterday that may or may not have given them the explicit right to sell your photos to whomever without your permission. The internet united in a way that it’s not known for and collectively shook its head and said no.
Amid the uproar, blogs wrote on both sides, some to the extreme and some like TheVerge that tried to naysay the conspiracy buffs based on what Facebook does with its image licensing and data mining. All of this prompted Instagram to finally release a statement explaining: JK. LOLOL!!! Let’s not go apeshit, we are still the mustachioed hip kids with big glasses and not evil billionaires who want to become even billioner-aires!
There are three really important things to take away from this experience. Probably more than three, but we’ll start there.
Advertising is changing rapidly, not always for the better, and we are all part of a big experiment.
One of the new agreements was IG’s right to make ads that don’t say they are ads. (Slimy!) Another option for them was to possibly sell the usage of your photos, not the ownership, to advertisers who would then exploit them for their own ends. They may have changed this at some point and the legality of this is dubious, but the general message is the same. Traditional ways of thinking in advertising are less and less effective, the public is smarter than it used to be, and we are all guinea pigs until they figure out what works again.
Facebook still lets advertisers creep your photos and advertise with them, but I feel like collectively we know this and it makes us all feel a little queasy to see someone obviously plucked from their “Spring Break” folder trying to get you to click on an auto insurance ad. It’s sloppy, ultimately, and shows a general contempt for the consumer, both on the part of the advertiser and Facebook for turning a blind eye.
Advertising can’t figure out what it is in relation to social media. Corporations really want to be our friends and hang out on FB and IG, but they’re still the old guys at the club. Until they work that out, we’re going to get more scenarios like this.
When an entity gets too big and doesn’t have to struggle, they stop caring.
This is the problem with billion dollar companies, American Apparel, and The Beatles. When you’ve “made it” there’s no real impetus to keep trying to be relevant and awesome. When you’re too big to fail, there’s no urgency or sense of caring about how you’re going to make rent next month. Bank of America: High fees, lousy customer service, wanted to charge a monthly fee on debit cards. American Apparel: Makes amazing clothes for 4 years, gets a following, and then tries to invent cool with fanny packs and onesies with heinous prints. Instagram, now a part of Facebook and worth a billion dollars, decides that your photos are worth money…just not to you.
Point is, you get too popular or too rich and then you make bad decisions. When you have to struggle to create a meaningful product, there’s a lot more on the line and it shows. You don’t swing around a loosely worded legal document that makes you look like a complete asshole when you’re still struggling to be relevant.
Free is a lie.
When I download IG for my Android a window pops up telling me the permissions to which I am agreeing. With IG, it wants to know where I am, who calls me and the frequency, and to alter/read phone storage. Why would it need to do that? To sell that info to advertisers. Your app is “free” in the sense that you didn’t pay money for it, but you paid with your data. Facebook works this way. Words With Friends works this way. But then it gets confusing. When we post our photos or poems or recipes to whatever hosting platform, we, in essence, are all co-authors in a giant digital book. We didn’t make the book, but we made the words/images that everyone enjoys reading. We’ve all got emotional investments in the content and we feel like it’s ours. So when the book maker says “We’ve changed our minds and we’re going to sell your words to another bookmaker (for our ultimate profit)…” it’s understandable that we all feel like we’ve gotten the shaft.
Many people argued that we don’t own Instagram and we should just make another service and go there. Yes-fantastic point, but the psychology is always going to be the same. As long as social media creates a place for us to put things that are dear to us, we will feel like part of it is ours.
Admittedly, I am kind of proud to be a witness to the debate and excited that in times of corporate weirdness, the internet can band together and get a little pissed off in between cat videos and Philosoraptor memes. Even Anonymous took a time out from making the Westboro Baptist people miserable and tweeted in support of posters. It’s not over, and this isn’t the last we’ll hear about it, but I’m interested to see it all unfold.
Are you staying? Are you leaving? Let me know below.
A buddy of mine posted this the other day and I’ve been thinking it about it for about a week so I thought you might want to check it out as well. Before I post a link, I’ll say a few words of preface/warning.
If you are one of those sentimental people that tears up every time you see one of those “I took a photo of myself every day for 45 years and here it is in 30 seconds” then this is definitely for you or not for you. This prompted one educated chap to write: “Protest art like this is just another form of self indulgent pedantic snobbery.”
Well, Mr. Opinions, all art is self indulgent. There’s no other way to make it. If you’re not making self-indulgent art, then why fucking bother? And, B) I’m not sure pedantic is the right word here.
To the point: We’ve been having a jaunty argument about a piece of work by Will Vincent who for 2,191 days took a photo of himself with the lens cap on.
This has been haunting me for days to be honest and I can’t give you any definitive reasons why, exactly. The immediate response I have is to the protesting nature of it, although he doesn’t specifically mention that in his notes. After living through what seemed to be an entire six months of people posting videos of themselves doing this, or doing this to their kids, I began to wonder if I was just the dumbest person alive for NOT having done it. This kind of art, even if we take the sentimentality out of it, is difficult for me. It’s too close to Identity Art, which has got to be the most masturbatory genre of art, ever, except for the guy who mixes his sperm and blood to make Metallica record covers.
Secondly, I’m distrustful of anything that makes such a huge mark on the internet consciousness, spanning generations, that becomes so instantly popular. If it’s too accessible it makes me worried. Everyone on the planet likes McDonald’s french fries. And they are entirely made of salt and garbage.
Thirdly, and lastly, I’ve been staunchly against artist statements ever since school. Vincent wrote a couple lines at the end which succinctly outline his reasons for doing this in plain words that I can understand that were no doubt harder to write than two paragraphs of nonsense.
I keep coming back to this line: The sheer futility of human endeavour.
Then why make anything at all? Why build a statue? A building? An internet? Why make a physical thing that exists and turn it into a thing that doesn’t? (Like putting things online, for example.) Why run marathons? Why fight cancer?
Because what else would we do, really?
Would love to hear everyone’s opinion of this!
Andres Serrano is a boss, btw.
We spent an afternoon with LA garage/punk hooligans, FIDLAR, in which a sword, antlers and a kiddie pool were are incorporated, somehow, into the shoot. Click the image for the whole set.
How was everyone’s Thanksgiving? I survived a trip to Little Rock unscathed, and a little surprised at the 78 degree weather. In my bag I’d thrown gloves and jackets and long sleeve shirts for the assumed wintry Armageddon that is North Arkansas in November. Not so much, as it turns out.
I flew through Houston and had an hour layover, and there’s not much you need to know about the Houston airport, besides the fact that there is a Bass Pro Shop inside the airport. Like, PAST the security. You would have to be a traveler to access the store. Secondly, they were playing a video of three women in chest high lake water catching catfish with their bare hands. More importantly, I was the only one who thought this was disturbing. No one else even looked at the screen. I’ll take the gangs, mudslides, riots and earthquakes in LA any day. Just keep me away from those terrifying fisherwomen.
This weekend we cruised on over to Bergamot Station and checked out a few of the openings, ran between buildings in the rain, and tried not to get bummed out because none of the galleries were serving beer. Normally, Bergamot has some great galleries with more than enough thoughtful and impressive work to really make me excited about contemporary art. But Saturday night, this was not the case. A few months ago I asked that we put a moratorium on some photographic trends (like naked girls in animal masks) so I thought we might do the same for the other disciplines. Strap in, this is going to hurt.
I know, I know…Disney represents a slow whitewashing of history, the corporate-ization of art and culture, pop culture in general, blissful ignorance on a grand scale, loss of innocence, and on and on. But holy hell, you’d think that Mickey Mouse was the ONLY thing that was metaphorically representative of these ideas. Disney is a cheap and easy target. Everyone knows Disney takes a good idea and runs them through a computer to make a bad idea. You’re not even trying! Make me work for it! Stop looking at SoCal art and go to an actual honest to god museum.
Making a word/phrase in neon lights does not A) Make your uninteresting thought interesting, B) Replace your flaccid concept with substance or C) Deserve a place on a wall. Somewhere there is a Coors Light sign that can’t be made because you needed to make a sign that says “Asshole.” True story.
POEMS ON PHOTOS.
Not to attack photography again, but there was an entire show of photos on canvas (which is obscene to begin with) with stanzas of poems or journal entries imposed over them. A picture, my friend, is worth a thousand words. Not a thousand and thirty four. This is kind of a rookie move and I think it was a vanity show, so I’m not going to go apeshit, but if I wanted to read your diary I’d subscribe to your blog.
MARK RYDEN RIP OFFS.
Still, despite the fact that this is 2012 and there is the internet and phones that let you look up Yelp reviews of things and libraries and AOL and Wikipedia, people are still insisting that the only way they can paint is to make Mark Ryden rip offs. Mark Ryden, however copied and imitated and worshiped, is actually a damn fine painter with an incredible catalog of work. If you’ve stood in front of one, you know they are seriously incredible. I could totally get on board with this 14 years ago when Ryden was blowing people’s minds and freaking out Christina Ricci, but now, unless you’re 16 years old and drawing on your Trapper Keeper, leave the big-eyed ferrets to Mr. Ryden.
Ugh. I’ve been conflicted about writing this part since two weeks ago. Kickstarter itself is a pretty amazing idea and I’m glad to be around in a time when it’s widely used and, for the most part, used well. I’ve seen a lot of good ideas get money and things brought to light that might not have ever existed had it not been crowd-funded. However, the emergence of sites like Kickstarter and others have allowed some artists to get lazy. Every artist has an overhead. Paint is expensive, cameras, film, computers, guitars, really good kitchen knives…all expensive. Even you, kooky conceptual artist, who wanted the internet to pay all her expenses related to a performance piece, you have expenses and I expect you to foot the bill. Or at least the bigger portion of it. What I hear when I’m asked for money is that you don’t have faith in your own art, and that you’re not ready to do the hard work it takes to manifest it. Art is risky. Sell your blood. Get a roommate. Ride the bus more. Beg your parents. PUT YOUR OWN NUTS ON THE LINE FIRST. And don’t let a lack of funding get in the way of anything. Art is solving problems. Your first problem is that you are lazy and broke. Fix those problems, come back to your idea.
I’ll see you guys Thursday.. maybe. If I’m not recovering from a wicked food coma while watching a stream of Disney movies on the couch in my Mark Ryden underpants.
It has been a beautiful grey day in Santa Monica. Of the things I miss about Memphis, cloudy days and thunderstorms are pretty high on the list. Cloudy days are like leap years around here and you really have to enjoy them while they are around. But good lord, don’t ever tell anyone from SoCal that you miss clouds. I did that once and was nearly physically removed from the restaurant I was in.
This is Darcy from Industry Model Group.
There’s a few more of her on the site so you should go check those out if you’re not too busy. Click any photo for a redirect.
About a month ago a model whose work I really love contacted me to shoot with her while she was in town. I cannot honestly tell you how excited I was about the prospect of working with her. She’s something of an internet star in the tumblr world, and I had some great ideas with her in mind. We emailed back and forth, sent each other photos as inspiration, the whole nine. A few days before she arrived she asked me about availability over a couple of days and I emailed her what worked. And then nothing. She completely left me hanging. Didn’t hear from her again. I sent another email but never got a response.
To be frank, I was crushed. So much build up, so much anticipation. Being in LA has meant it’s been easier to find people who run along my same wavelength, but it’s always exciting when you feel like you’re really going to connect with the person in front of your camera, and there’s chemistry from the onset. I was bummed for a couple days for sure, and, in the true art-nerd way, internalized the whole thing, ultimately taking it completely personally. Two weeks ago, I was approached by someone in town that I was pretty excited to work with. Same story, really. Back and forth, exchange of ideas, happy anticipation. We set a tentative date and she bailed last minute. We set a solid date and she flaked completely. Meanwhile, as a special kind of “fuck you,” she’s popping up in my FB feed every ten minutes with updates about this and that.
Two in a row! WTF, bro? So this is my question: How do you other artists deal with this kind of thing? What is the secret to not getting some completely wrapped up in the shittiness of all of it? How do you avoid getting all butthurt at the people in the world who are most likely not bad people, but a little careless with communication? I would love to hear your solutions.
To calm my nerves, I’ve posted some photos of clouds that happened in Santa Monica this weekend. Calming, soothing clouds. Pinks and yellows. Let the puffy puffiness wrap around you. In all seriousness, it was pretty spectacular. It’s completely true about LA, there’s rarely a cloud in the sky, so when it happens, people freak out and stop traffic and everyone gets out of there car like that REM video “Everybody Hurts.”
Shooting stills for a movie was really cool work. A bit of a departure for me, but overall a fantastic experience. I got a lot out of watching the director interact with the cast and seeing how he was able to inspire cohesive and convincing performances. As a photographer who works with people both commercially and in my personal work I’m very interested in other people’s methods of direction and how they are able to motivate others in relation to their concept. These are photos from one of the last days of filming. People were dying left and right. It wasn’t a terribly violent movie, per se, but the last two days were a crescendo of blood fountains and bullet holes. (Also my new goth band, Blood Fountains And Bullet Holes. We are playing the Hot Topic Grand Opening at the South Springs Mall next week.)
How the hell was your Halloween? I woke up, surfed, and didn’t get eaten by a shark. So that’s always a plus. No worse for the wear over here, but not a single kid came to our door begging for diabetes. Where do all the kids go for Halloween these days?
I’ve been all about some low-light stuff lately, as you can see from the top photo. Digital grain is just not as sexy as film grain, I’m afraid.
Two things for you to check out if you haven’t already. One is the Leveled Magazine (NSFW) photo shoot with the freaking adorable Chebo. Or, as the internet says: “dorbz.” Hit the FB “Like” button while you’re there.
Here’s a couple shots from a shoot with Leveled Magazine a few weeks ago. Go see the whole set on their site and hit the “Like” button if you don’t mind. (Some maybe NSFW.)