Appropriation and Re-mixing as a strategy for making art.

Appropriation in art is the use of pre-existing objects or images with little or no transformation applied to them. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appropriation_(art)

Re-mixing. A remix is a piece of media which has been altered from its original state by adding, removing, and/or changing pieces of the item. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remix

I have been quite upset this week with appropriation and remixing. I suppose it strikes a chord somewhere in my own work where I have felt nothing more than a bad copy of everything I have read, studied, seen or experienced. Particularly of photographers and artists who’s work I have studied and enjoyed.

In reality and actuality, I am attaining the conclusion that my life and work are, at best, appropriations and remixes of those who have already made the journey.  I have spent decades attempting to be ‘original’ however, once again, Divine writings come to mind especially the quote. “Nothing in the world is new. Everything that is, was already and everything that is to come, was already.”

I have always regarded myself as a mere transformer, not a creator, because I do not form or make something out of nothing.  I merely transform everything I make from something else, be it using a camera, film, chemicals, paint, or metal . . . The list goes on and on. I’m not even sure if my ideas are original. Are they merely based on what I have seen, heard or experienced?

No matter how hard I have thought about it, I cannot get past the point of being a transformer, maybe that’s the best I will ever be. However, this does not stop me from being the most transformative appropriator or remixer, should I choose to embrace them?  Maybe I have no choice?  I say ‘maybe’ because in my mind, there are no absolutes.


Think about:

  • What approaches were of most relevance to your practice.
  • Where your original contribution may be, especially if all mediation can be considered remediation.
  • How authorship might differ from intent.
  • What constructive approaches could be taken if someone remixed your work.

In your CRJ, write a short summary about:

  • What you did during the week, feedback received and how you will respond to that.
  • Any reconsiderations to the core methodology of your practice.
  • The forms your project / photographs could take moving forward.

This week I’m still playing catchup, it’s Friday, week 2 and I’m still attempting to complete this weeks work.  I will be going down to a local museum that has old photographs of the area in the 30’s. I’m going to re-photograph the location of an old hotel that was up here in the 30’s and see if I can find the ridge line.

Im am considering experimenting with appropriations and remixing, I feel that I have to embrace that which I have at least thought about avoiding in my work, but which I have not been able to do in actuality.

The more I think about it, it seems impossible to avoid photographing anything that does not belong to another. Even if I photograph an egg, it belongs to some chicken somewhere. So, just because I cannot locate that chicken, speak chicken, or ask that chicken for permission, does it give me permission to use her egg? In actuality it does not. I’m using someone else’s property for my gain and not for it’s intended use.   I’m having some fun here, but I am sure the point is made.

Moving forward, the question is: To appropriate or not to appropriate. I’m more confused than ever.

I went to the museum and obtained photographs of the Lebec Hotel built in 1921 and a Gas station that was moved up to the area in 1950. I made images of the hotel and the gas station.  Finding exact spot where original image was made is quite the challenge in numerous ways from a position and focal length, film format and accessibility standpoint.

Lebec Hotel, Lebec CA. 1930’s
Lebec Hotel site June 2018 © Pierre Chemaly


Hancock Gas Station 1950’s


Hancock Gas Station site today June 2018 © Pierre Chemaly

As can be seen by the above two sets, in re-photography of the images some 90 and 70 years later respectively, there is substantial change in the content of the image. Also in the case of the Lebec Hotel location, there has been major changes in the ridge line and land formations, due to tree growth and land collapse. However some of the ridge line on the left and land formations of the right are still recognisable.

Thinking about methodology in my practice. The more  look at other people works, the more I see remixing and appropriation, sometimes I wonder if there is anything original anymore, then maybe I should approach  the ghost directly, and use some appropriation and re-mixing in my own work? Maybe that’s how others do it….steal under a nice name. Appropriate!




















Continue reading Week_2_Coursework_Reflections.

WEEK 7: Reflection.

This week I have reflected on chance, serendipity and creative restraint. All these ‘techniques’ have been used by myself at one point or another. It is interesting to find out through critical theory that these ‘techniques’ have been used by many other photographers. I would like to add one more. Synchronicity.

In the end, it all boils down to the fact, that every artistic photographer is looking for a way to have their work stand out, or to use a colloquial term: Find their own voice. As the course goes on, I am learning to find a way that is unique from the rest.

Chance may bring a one off, restraint can bring about a series. Synchronicity, is where nature or the universe and the mind come to-gether and will be able to produce a body of work that is more than chance, serendipity or creative restraint.

WEEK 6: Project Development. Point Lobos/Weston Gallery/Wildcat Hill

I went up to Carmel California, to visit the Weston Gallery and to visit Point Lobos. I stopped in at Wildcat Hill and met with Kim Weston to find out if he knows where I could find out about a statement I had heard about Ed Weston back in 1982 when I went to Point Lobos for the first time. I was in Carmel and heard that Weston said, the he could photograph in Point Lobos his whole life. Kim told me that it is in fact written some where, and that Point Lobos was Ed’s “Go to place” plus he had bought that property: “Wild Cat Hill” that was less than a mile away. I also went to the reserve and made a few images.I also dropped in at the gallery so see an original of Pepper 30, but there was not a single original copy to be seen. There where a few images printed by Bret Weston, but no originals. It was nice to visit the gallery, where I had met Ansel back in 1982 at his last retrospective.

WEEK 4: Reflections (Coursework)

The colab this week turned out to be a bit of a disaster, I left it too late in coming back from the F2F in Falmouth and by the time I tried to start one or get involved, most of the teams had been established.

The F2F was a tremendous experience, got to meet the professors in person, did a few workshops and had a few drinks and eats with fellow cohorts.  Also managed to squeeze in a few portfolio reviews. Did not actually plan any portfolio reviews, I thought this was only for advanced students (BIG MISTAKE) but later discovered that one can show any works and discuss present and future practice.  I powered out a portfolio, managed to get to see five of the tutors, if I had known I could have got to see a few more, so it was the school of Hard Knocks

This really helped me understand my direction much better. I would advise any new students: ATTEND the F2F.  Get a portfolio review, have something ready to show and get to see as many tutors as you can. Ask questions, don’t be afraid to ask if you don’t know, this is what this time is for, to screw up, experiment, try out, find your way around in the dark, because believe me you will have to do this, everyone is in such a frenzy, but if I look back, I would have so many unanswered questions.

WEEK 3: The Filters of Citizen Journalism (Coursework)

Identify one or two questions or challenges that citizen journalism and its related aesthetics raise, and critically articulate your own conclusions.


Link (Links to an external site.)  Orginal vs Digital enhancement. Advantage of current technology.

In the hands of the few:

Technological advances have always been a challenge, whether buggy to car, coal stove to electric, or silent film to talkies, the list goes on. All along the way there are individuals who are set in there ways and don’t change with the times (Amish, no electric,cars,tv) some who change with the times, and then of course there are the younger generation who know no other way, and in so pave the way for the future.

My grandmother went through a lot of change; from primus to microwave, from oil lamps to lightbulbs. The progression is the same in photography from Bitman of Judea to CMOS enabling us to record,entertain,sell,convince and persuade through imaging.

I think we live in the most marvellous times EVER! Even a poor person of today has more than a king had a mere century and a half ago. We can throw pictures and voices through the air, turn night into day with the flick of a switch, walk to the kitchen open a box and there is a selection of foods from all over the country, just waiting to be consumed and enjoyed when ever wanted. Not even having to go out to hunt and gather. If this is not magic, I don’t know what is?

Gone are the days where knowledge and equipment is in the hands of the few, it is finally available to everyone. When I started as a film maker, I had to rent a  35mm camera and lenses, these cost upwards of a $150,000.00 for a “PRO” camera setup. This is till true today, a basic set of Leica Cinema Lenses https://leicastoremiami.com/collections/leica-cine-lenses can cost over $250,000.00 for a set.

Leica Summilux 16mm T1.4 +/- $40,000.00

(today I have a choice, back then I did not) Film was expensive, in the hands of three companies; Kodak, Fuji and Agfa. Today I can buy DILM (my name for digital film/CF cards) anywhere, even at 7-11convience store So was post production, costing $400 an hour thirty years ago.  All this stuff was in the hands of the FEW.

The iPhone and Canon5D (among the many brands) changed all that, by allowing everyone to photograph and make a movie. This is what scares the old “Pros” here is that word again. No longer does anyone have to be a scientist+engineer+professor+ wealthy to make a film, any Joe or Joe-ess on the street can do it with just a few hundred dollars, a few friends and a digital camera and software. Just like the daguerreotype, one no longer needed to be a Queen or a King to have their likeness made. Hurrah for technology.  The old must make way for the new.

Shakespeare said it best:

“The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself—
Yea, all which it inherit—shall dissolve,
And like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind.”
– The Tempest Act IV Scene 1-

WEEK3: Re-Thinking Photographers (Coursework)

This weeks forum: The Amateur (Non) vs the Pro Photographer:

Write a brief post to the forum describing what you think non-photographers make of professional photographers: what are the conceptions and misconceptions?

There is a big difference between an Amateur and a Professional photographer.

The amateur has always been discriminated against, sometimes referred to as a ‘non’ photographer, as listed above in the heading. It has been argued, debated, categorised and defined.

However there are two distinct categories. The amateur (NON) photographer and the(PRO) photographer. Below is the actual difference between the two that the pro photographer often denies, or skirts.

An amateur does it for love and a pro (pro-stitute) for money, it’s that simple at it’s core. From the French: Amateur: “one who loves.”  Link (Links to an external site.)  Once you make a ‘living’ solely from your photography you become a Pro by default, it is no longer a choice, you are no longer considered an amateur any more.

I have been an amateur photographer all my life.  However, my insecurities, fear, perceived failure, peer pressure, and pressure to perform has finally won out; I’m ashamed to say, i’m being cajoled into becoming a ‘pro’  But hey. . . I’m game for something new. I’m a pro in my current occupation. I’m there, doing that, so at least I will have some past experience to guide me in my future endeavours, albeit at the time I need to draw from that experience, it may be useless,out dated or not apply. There is always the chance that it may be better the second time around.

Instead of trying to erase lines between amateur and pro, (it cannot be done, because the pro thinks with the head, and the amateur with the heart and ne’er the twain shall meet) Consider who makes the more amorous image. Get rid of the discrimination here.  Base it on the work not the label.

MagrittePipe (1).jpg

©Magritte. “This is not a Pipe.”

This is where it got real for me. I have never as yet seen an amateurs work at the Tate, Moma, Pompidou or any of the greats. (nothing for me is an absolute, there is always the exception, but for arguments sake let me give a hypothetical statistic of 99.999999999999% never.)

All works there are from seasoned pro’s with brand, pedigree and provenance. Some are so seasoned, they are no longer with us. As I would like to exhibit at one of these, I sadly have to give up being an amateur, I don’t see any way around it.

I went to a prominent museum here in Los Angeles, to figure how to get an exhibit. Knowing no-one, in shear desperation, I asked the cleaning lady mopping the floors what I should do. She was about 65 and had worked there for 40 years, I figured she knew a thing or two.

She told me to go to Christie’s in Beverly Hills and have my work appraised. And, if it was valuable enough I can get it exhibited. . . Enough said.


WEEK 2: Reflections (Coursework)

I work both in film and photography, and have felt that neither discipline has been satisfying for me in it’s own right and could not seem to get to the core of the problem. Now that I am reading and reserching the material, and doing course tasks, it is becoming clear what the problem is, and what I have been encountering, I’ve understood it conceptually, but not practically.

Continue reading WEEK 2: Reflections (Coursework)

WEEK 1: Reflections (Coursework)

Question:  What did I find challenging?

Answer:  I felt every minute of my first week challenging. Trying to figure it all out, like starting a blog, I have never done one before, so that is quite the challenge. However,  I feel I finally have a fairly good understanding of it now (referring to form only) Content and structure is a whole other matter! Continue reading WEEK 1: Reflections (Coursework)