During our on again-off again monitoring of Richard Prince‘s blogging birding activity, we’ve learned that he isn’t very fond of Twitter — even though he’s a prolific user of it — partly because he claims the idea for the micro-blogging site was stolen from him. But during a recent perusal of his blog Birdtalk we learned that he’s quite fond of Tumblr, partly because its appropriation-like reblogging function is very much in keeping with his own aesthetic tendencies.
In a brief “birding” session that begins with an endearing anecdote about his daughter first introducing him to Tumblr, Prince explains how users’ general disregard for images’ sources and creators resembles his artistic practice:
Tumblr reminds a little bit of some of the “gangs” I use to make in ’85. When I taped together nine “slides” and gave them to my lab. (They’d make an inter-negative and print it up into a huge photograph… 50X86″). I could have nine photographs on one piece of paper instead of nine photographs hanging on a wall. I could have a whole show in one frame.
The first time I saw Tumblr I saw it on my daughter’s computer. I said, “what’s that”? She had organized a bunch of photos according to color. As she scrolled down I was reminded about how I use to look at hundreds of slides on my custom made giant light box. What I was looking at and what I was remembering wasn’t that different. The next question I asked her was, “whose images were those and did you have to ask “permission” to use them”. She looked at me like I was the “man from Mars”. “Permission”? “For what”? (That’s my girl)… Her looking at me sideways for asking about “copyright” backed-up my position about published photographs… there’s “no right, no wrong” when it comes to copying from the wide wide world of photolandia…………..Just like I’ve always said… “It’s a free concert from now on”.
While we suspect that the Second Circuit Court of Appeals might have a different take on this particular type of appropriation and redistribution of copyrighted images, we’ll leave that issue for another day (in court). In the meantime we look forward to the launch of Prince’s Tumblr blog.
— Benjamin Sutton