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.