31 May 2009

Announcing 7.7

7.7 is a Project of the collective of photographers RUIDO Photo, and it is developed independently and voluntarily, with the goal of creating a meeting point and a debate space about the role of documentary photography.

This is a bet for the creation, use and publication of a new channel that is meant to became a reference of an independent, social, critic and committed photojournalism, proposing a photography as a tool to generate reflection and social change.

The team of 7.7 is a group of professionals that works as a collective, sharing the work and the decisions, searching for and horizontality that helps creation and debate.

I've received an email announcing the second issue of a new magazine 7.7. I've lifted their editorial statement above. Best of luck to the collective! You can find the magazine here.

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"Stories About the Invisibles" ~ An Interview with Eduardo Galeano

... is here at Democracy Now! Galeano was recently thrust into the public eye when Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez made a gift of one of his earlier books to Barack Obama. This interview focuses more on Galeano's most recent offering Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone (Nation Books, May 2009).

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28 May 2009

Best Shots (73) ~ Sebastião Salgado

(100) Sebastião Salgado ~ Kuwait, 1991. (28 May 2009).
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P.S.: In The New York Times today (31 May) there is a story on Salgado as well. It is, I suspect, just a matter of time before the tired complaints about his work start to resurface. That will provide fodder for future posts.

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26 May 2009

Passings (4)

There are obituaries of Dutch photojournalist Hugh van Es (1941-2009) here at The Guardian and here at The New York Times.

You can find an obituary of Benjamin Chin (1921-2009) here in The Los Angeles Times.

With the exception of one photo by van Es - of the evacuation of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon in advance of the Viet Cong victory April 1975 - I had not heard of either photographer. Again, it is amazing how many accomplished photographers there are out there.

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24 May 2009

Cute Pink Boxers in Korengal

Zachary Boyd of the US Army First Battalion, 26th Infantry, in
the Korengal Valley
. Photograph: David Guttenfelder/AP


It has been a busy couple of weeks. I've had to move house, navigate the end of semester, oversee the editorial transition at the journal I've run for the past four years, and plan my attempt to go to Oregon to collect my son August and bring him back here for a visit. I will explain the business about moving and the reasons why August lives across the continent some time since the dramatis personae - especially the bad guys - in both are the same. Not now though; no need to dwell on such things on a holiday. So while I had seen this image by David Guttenfelder, I had not had a chance to really think let alone write about it.

Daryl Lang offers a smart, concise commentary on the image - and, especially, its popular reception - here at the PDN blog. His conclusion?
"In other words, it's a white-washed version of a complicated war. This picture is like a Norman Rockwell painting. It assures us things are as they should be. This observation is not meant to diminish Guttenfelder's work; obviously this is not his only picture from Afghanistan. But it does reveal why war journalism is so tricky. It's easier to summon an audience when you show people what they want to see."
Indeed. What the photo brought to mind for me is a passage from Homage to Catalonia in which, as I vaguely recall, Orwell describes chancing upon a nationalist soldier squatting with his drawers down and, because of that posture, being unable to shoot him. The difference, of course, is that Orwell and his indisposed adversary were face-to-face - hence the perplexity - while Zach Boyd's enemies remain, as this commentary from The Guardian notes, invisible. Indeed.
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PS: In a comment below, David Campbell linked to this post at his blog - it is, as is usual smart and on point.

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Release All the Abu Ghraib Photos

I disagree with Phillip Gourevitch about whether the Obama Administration should release what remain of the unseen photos from Abu Ghraib, but he has written this thoughtful Op-Ed in The New York Times today. Why do I disagree? In large part because Cheney and the other storm troopers - in both politics and the media - who are trying to sanitize the Bush Administration's policies have too easy a job if all is simply left to the imagination. Let them explain the brutality and the blood. Let them try to define what the photos depict as something other than what it is - torture. And then let sensible people decide whether the Bush crowd and their minions are at all credible. And let those same sensible people see precisely the practices for which Cheney, et. al. now hope to define as something for which they can take political credit instead of being something for which they should be held legally accountable.

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23 May 2009

Libertarians on Vacation



Dani Rodrik has a wry post up here in the course of which he links to a number of interesting and entertaining items. I lifted the link to this funny youTube clip from him.

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22 May 2009

Assessing How The National Business Press "Covered" the Financial Crisis

The short answer is "pretty poorly." You can find a systematic assessment here at the Columbia Journalism Review.

"It struck us that it is impossible to avoid trying to assess the business press’s performance in the run-up to the meltdown. The business press is the sole means by which normal citizens would know of goings-on in the lending industry and on Wall Street. It is the vital connection between the public on one side and regulators and financial institutions on the other. It is the only instrument capable of catalyzing the virtuous cycle of reform that emerges when dangers and abuses come under the public gaze. If readers screwed up, so be it. But if it is the business press, readers are going to have to insist on identifying weak points, cultural problems, skewed priorities, and areas in which the business press’s institutional interests might be out of alignment with those of the broader public. If members of the public must go elsewhere for warnings, they need to know that, too.

It is true that few sectors of journalism, with the possible exception of the Washington press corps, are as infected with the extreme form of know-it-all-ism as the business press, which wields the complexities of its subject area like a cudgel against non-cognoscenti. But readers should not shrink from asking relevant questions merely because they don’t know the precise mechanics of a credit default swap and don’t read Fortune as closely as they might, say, the Torah.

The fact is, you don’t need to be a media critic or a quant to assess whether proper warnings were provided. What’s more, I suspect most rank-and-file reporters would welcome scrutiny, as long as it’s fair. And so we undertook a project with a simple goal: to assess whether the business press, as it claims, provided the public with fair warning of looming dangers during the years when it could have made a difference.

I’m going to provide a sneak preview of our findings: the answer is no. The record shows that the press published its hardest-hitting investigations of lenders and Wall Street between 2000–2003, for reasons I will attempt to explain below, then lapsed into useful-but-not-sufficient consumer- and investor-oriented stories during the critical years of 2004–2006. Missing are investigative stories that confront directly powerful institutions about basic business practices while those institutions were still powerful. This is not a detail. This is the watchdog that didn’t bark.

To the contrary, the record is clogged with feature stories about banks (“Countrywide Writes Mortgages for the Masses,” WSJ, 12/21/04) and Wall Street firms (“Distinct Culture at Bear Stearns Helps It Surmount a Grim Market,” The New York Times, 3/28/03) that covered the central players in this drama but wrote about anything but abusive lending and how it was funded. Far from warnings, the message here was: “All clear.”

Finally, the press scrambled in late 2006 and especially early 2007 as the consequences of the institutionalized corruption of the financial system became apparent to one and all.

So the idea that the press did all it could, and the public just missed it, is not just untenable. It is also untrue."

There are (at least) a couple of points that I think are worth noting. First, as the CJR piece makes clear the press is trying pretty vigorously to shift blame for their own failure to note the impending collapse onto readers who allegedly neglected to pay sufficient attention. This is sort of like blaming poor people (via the Community Reinvestment Act and ACORN) for the sub prime mortgage boondoggle that bankers and mortgage companies created. In short, it is preposterous. Te point is not that the folks at Bloomburg or the Wall Street Journal or wherever were themselves out peddling securitized debt obligations. No, it is just that they failed abysmally to say much about those who were engaged in such practices. The converse point is that while they'd now like to blame their readers, they are unwilling to challenge the powerful financial institutions on which they rely and report. Hence the name of the article - "Power Problem." Having failed to do that, the press failed in its central task. Ooops!

Here we seem to have an analogy to the Washington Press Corps, which, because it relies on government sources for information, can only be so critical. I recommend Tim Cook's terrific book Governing With the News: The News Media as a Political Institution, 2nd Edition (Chicago, 2005). The business press relies on connections in the finance industry and surely no reporter or outlet would ant to be cut off from access to information by - gasp! - criticizing corrupt or venal or duplicitous practices.

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21 May 2009

Best Shots (72) ~ Hellen Van Meene

(99) Hellen van Meene ~ Louisiana, 2007 (21 May 09)

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18 May 2009

Lens ~ New Photo Blog at The New York Times

This new photo blog should be interesting .... the first few posts are OK, but that simply means we can expcct a positive trajectory. Right?

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15 May 2009

Posner on the Collapse of American Conservatism

"My theme is the intellectual decline of conservatism, and it is notable that the policies of the new conservatism are powered largely by emotion and religion and have for the most part weak intellectual groundings. That the policies are weak in conception, have largely failed in execution, and are political flops is therefore unsurprising. The major blows to conservatism, culminating in the election and programs of Obama, have been fourfold: the failure of military force to achieve U.S. foreign policy objectives; the inanity of trying to substitute will for intellect, as in the denial of global warming, the use of religious criteria in the selection of public officials, the neglect of management and expertise in government; a continued preoccupation with abortion; and fiscal incontinence in the form of massive budget deficits, the Medicare drug plan, excessive foreign borrowing, and asset-price inflation."

Posner is a conservative/libertarian leaning pragmatist whom I admire even as I disagree with him about a lot of things. He posted this on the blog he keeps jointly with Gary Becker. Posner is no liberal and not a big fan of the current administration. What he bemoans is the craven anti-intellectualism of many American conservatives. On this I could hardly agree more. I suspect his broadside will meet with apoplexy and charges of apostasy from the very folks who most fully embody the brand of conservatism he sketches. Point made.
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Update: In The New York Times today we find this report - detailing the 'strategy' conservatives are formulating to oppose anyone Obama nominates to fill the upcoming vacancy on the supreme court - that confirms the mindlessness Posner identifies. What they apparently are planning is more slogans of precisely the same sort that brought them to disaster. (16 May 2009).

Update 2: And here you can find an exchange of sorts between Posner & former Federal Reserve Head Alan Greenspan (Added 25 May 09).

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14 May 2009

Best Shots (71) ~ Stuart Franklin

(98) Stuart Franklin ~ Tanks in Tiananmen Square, 1989
(14 May 09).

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13 May 2009

Cheney wins

Well, according tot this post at The New York Times, Obama has fallen into the trap Cheney has laid. The issue is no longer legal (let alone moral) commitments and whether we have been systematically violating them. It is no longer culpability for sanctioning despicable policies and practices. The issue is now whether we are somehow fanning the flames of fanaticism that will endanger our troops.
"President Obama said on Wednesday that he is seeking to block the release of photographs that depict American military personnel abusing captives in Iraq and Afghanistan, worrying that the images could “further inflame anti-American opinion.”

As he left the White House to fly to Arizona for an evening commencement address, Mr. Obama briefly explained his abrupt reversal on releasing the photographs. He said the pictures, which he has reviewed, “are not particularly sensational, but the conduct did not conform with the Army manual.” He did not take questions from reporters, but said disclosing the photos would have “a chilling effect” on future attempts to investigate detainee abuse."

Nice try Mr. President! You have no intention of investigating "abuses" (let alone systematic military policies). And we know from whom you is taking your cue:
"The release of these detainee photographs, Pentagon and military officials said, would only serve to provoke outrage and, in particular, might be used by violent extremists to stoke attacks and recruit suicide bombers. Military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan were said to be particular targets of such attacks, but officials said that civilian targets might be chosen by extremists, as well."
Here is the problem: It is not the photographs that will enrage people; it is the illegal, immoral behavior that they depict that will do so. And it is not photographs that will provoke attacks on American troops it is there continued (and escalating) presence in places where they don't belong combined with strategies that place civilians at risk of injury and death.

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Milestone (2)

~~~ 300 K ~~~

It has been just over three and a half years since I started keeping the blog. It took more than two years to reach 100K, but we easily cleared 200K early last September. While I wasn't watching the sitemeter in the sidebar decided that three hundred thousand visitors have passed through. A lot has happened since I started out here. Writing has, as I've said before, been a life saver in many respects. I truly appreciate you readers and your comments and your emails behind the scenes. Thanks.

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12 May 2009

Our Propagandists (4) - Even the DoD is admitting this is Bad News

A little over a year ago The New York Times published a story by David Barstow about how the Bush Administration had been seeding various news outlets with "expert" talking heads in the form of retired military officers. These fine gentlemen, having been briefed by the administration, would go out and praise its policies. This was especially crucial in the propaganda camapign BusCo waged to rationalize the war in Iraq [1] [2] [3]. Oh, and did I mention that these same gentlmen had lots of financial ties to the contractors and corporaitons who were making gobs of money from the Iraq fiasco?

Barstow won a Pulitzer Prize for his work. The news outlets who emplyed these experts have mostly been shamefully silent. Over at Demcoracy Now! Amy Goodman has this follow up story/interview with Barstow. She points out that while in January the DoD had issued a report defending the propaganda program, this past week the Pentagon quitely withdrew that report, characterizing it as "flawed." Ooops!

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The Nut Doesn't Fall Far From the Tree

So, according to a report by the Inspector General of the CIA that is discussed in this story from The Washington Post, the torture policies that Dick Cheney desperately is trying to defend as both legally defensible and efficacious (in terms of generating 'intelligence' that proved useful in making Americans more secure - whatever that means) turn out to have been neither. No surprise there.

Cheney has been seeking to aggrandize executive power, circumvent the law, and basically spread deception and bullshit since before he became Vice President in 200. Why should we expect him to turn into an honest, insightful person now that he is out of office? Of course, it is important to note that the report in question was issued (and classified) in 2004 so we all have known that torture is illegal and ineffective since at least then! All the more reason to be astonished that Cheney has not a single regret about how he violated the U.S. Constitution and International Law while in office.

Now it seems that mendacity and obtuseness are heritable traits. Cheney's daughter Liz is making the rounds on the right wing talk circuit whining that her father is a true patriot and that the Obama administration is coddling terrorists by showing American military personnel in a bad light. This is typical BushCo mis-perception. Obama is releasing document's and images. If those items show the military personnel to have engaged in bad (read immoral or illegal) behavior, the problem resides not in the documents/images, not in the fact they are being released, but in the behavior that occasioned all this in the first place.

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11 May 2009

Havel ~ "A Table for Tyrants"

"Governments seem to have forgotten the commitment made only three short years ago to create an organization able to protect victims and confront human rights abuses wherever they occur." ~ Vaclav Havel
In the essay from which I lifted this passage is lifted Havel is commenting on the election today of member nations to occupy seats in the new United Nations Human Rights Council. The problem? It appears as though countries with dreadful records on respecting the rights of their own citizens are likely to be elected to seats. Havel is correct to point out the self-defeating nature of that outcome. After all, as he points out, a similar pattern led to the demise of the precursor to this Council - the U.N.H.C.R. - in 2006. The paradox is deeper than simple organizational politics and intrigue, however. As Hannah Arendt pointed out long ago, "human rights" are only as useful as the political structures (namely states) that must must enforce them will allow them to be. Rights claims can be a useful tool for protecting individuals and groups from predations of various sorts, but they are political all the way down.

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09 May 2009

Outrage

This is a film about closted gay politicians (mostly Republicans) who push anti-gay political agendas. On the one hand, I am disgusted by the cruelty and hypocrisy that these fellows peddle. On the other hand, I simply do not care how consenting adults live their lives. So, I am pretty thoroughly ambivalent about the practice of "outing." From what I can figure the movie does not actually tell us anything we don't already know. It seems instead to provide evidence for what everyone knows already.

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08 May 2009

Thinking With Photographs: Punishment & Humiliation

Wang Shouxin refuses to kneel down but the soldiers force her
by kicking her knee. Photograph © Li Zhensheng.

Wang Shouxin prepares for death. Photograph © Li Zhensheng.

Journalists take pictures over Wang Shouxin's body.
Photograph © Li Zhensheng.

I have, on several occasions, posted on the mis-uses of capital punishment in the U.S. [1] [2] [3]; in general I find the practice reprehensible. Among the things I believe is that we are very good at hiding state sanctioned murder away and that Americans ought to be susceptible to being selected at random to serve as witnesses at executions. Think jury duty with some bite to it. The premise of that argument if we had to actually witness 'cruel and unusual' punishment we might well re-consider our enthusiasm for killing.

This morning Mike Budd* emailed me a link to this story in The Telegraph regarding the response to the photos I've lifted above. It turns out that Wang Shouxin, a government official, was executed in 1980 for corruption. The recent appearance of the images of her final moments has had a thought-provoking effect. Not only have they been viewed more than a million times, but they seem to have encouraged popular enthusiasm for executing corrupt officials. This brought to mind this story I heard last night on npr about corruption and lack of accountability in the aftermath of last year's earthquake in southwest China. It also raised questions about the premise of my thinking about compelling people to witness executions. Would this simply have the effect of encouraging greater support for cruel punishment?

Interestingly, I recalled this essay by Susie Linfield on the slightly earlier work of the photographer Li Zhensheng who made the images above. Li has recently published a book containing his images of the cultural revolution (1966-76) about which Linfield remarks:
"In any case, photographs are terrible at making sense of history. They are adept, however, at showing us how things looked, and at conveying the feeling of events—or, rather, at clarifying the viewer’s feelings as she contemplates those events. (The feelings of the characters in any photograph are never decisively known.) And the feeling that emerges when I look at Li’s photos is one of almost unbearable discomfort verging on shame: discomfort that I am viewing the humiliation of others, and shame that I belong to the human race that inflicts such cruelty. (This may mark the beginnings of the misanthropy that, the political philosopher Judith Shklar warns, can result from hating cruelty.) The key question, though, that Li’s photos present for me (as opposed to the feelings they evoke) is this: how does it happen that the deliberate infliction of humiliation develops from a private, personal form of pathology into an organized, public tool of political change?"
The distinction that Linfield highlights - between accountability or responsibility on the one hand and humiliation or cruelty on the other - seems to be crucially important for politics generally and for state sponsored punishment in particular. And, in some fashion, this is the sort of distinction that I would want to compel witnesses to executions to confront. Witnessing, as I see it, is not the same as spectacle or prurient, voyeuristic looking. Instead, it would involve looking at the consequences of our legal practices, seeing that we are implicated in them, and that the cruelty is ours and reflects back on us.
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* Thanks Mike!

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07 May 2009

Best Shots (70 ) ~ Chris Killip

(97) Chris Killip ~ "Little Boy Looking Away ..." (7 May 2009).

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05 May 2009

Sexting ... "and it Rhymes with P"

"Trouble, oh we got trouble,
Right here in River City!
With a capital 'T'"




At The Nation is this smart essay - "Through a Lens Starkly" - by Joann Wypijewski on the insanity of prosecuting kids for making and receiving child pornography because they are "sexting" - taking and sending putatively sexual or provocative pictures of themselves over cell phones to their friends. Scandalized, moralistic town fathers and mothers abetted by draconian laws are prosecuting (or threatening to) teenagers for the heinous crime. As Wypijewski notes:
"The recent attention to teen "sexting" has focused quite a lot on the presumed self-exploitation of kids, not so much on the prurient reflex of grown-ups who spy on and punish them. It has dwelt quite a lot on the traps of technology, not so much on the desires that precede picking up a camera. Quite a lot on the question of whether the teens are sex offenders or merely stupid, sluttish or mean, not so much on the freedom to see and be. Quite a lot on the legal meaning of images, not so much on the ways in which making them might delight, or on the cultural freakout that colors law, images and how they are perceived."
As a result, kids in many states are facing prison and years (lifetimes?) as registered sex offenders for the "crime" of being kids. If they were not going to ruin lives, the antics of the prosecutors and teachers and politicians and other authorities would be as pompously silly as Harold Hill.

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04 May 2009

When 4th Graders See through You

Well, Condoleeza Rice is facing reality. Unlike Dick Cheney, who seems utterly unrepentant about having been among the prime advocates and architects of U.S. torture policy, Rice is trying to get out of the right wing bubble and talk to the public. Good for her. Unfortunately, she is confronting the fact that many people are expressing views that range grave qualms to outright repugnance. So now, according to this Washington Post report, she has had to peddle a line of bullshit to a 4th grade student who wanted to know about torture and her role in sanctioning it. Earlier in the week it was a Stanford undergrad to whom she offered the 'if the President says its OK, it is OK' rationale. Now she is repeating that canard to a 10 year old and his classmates, adding that 'everything is allowed so long as life is scary enough.' Well, Misha, the truth is that Ms. Rice is making excuses and her excuses are not terribly persuasive. Of course, you already know that.

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03 May 2009

Pragmatic Contradiction (or, None Dare Call it Hypocrisy!)

These are the sorts of situations that arise when one defends a particular theoretical position that one then belies in one's actual life. My favorite example is how, in the mid-1980s, libertarian philosopher Robert Nozick went to court to protect his rent-controlled Cambridge apartment - after voluntarily signing a lease agreeing to pay rent above the rent-controlled rate. (See "Anarchy, State, and Rent Control," The New Republic Dec. 22 1986 pages 20-21.)

Currently we are witnessing a similar sort of contradiction. This time the perpetrator is Supreme Court Justice Anontin Scalia. It turns out that Scalia, who has expressed rather cavalier views about the privacy of personal information that might be gathered from the Internet, is perturbed that students in a course on Information Privacy Law at Fordham Law School have completed a class assignment that produced a 15 page "dossier" on Scalia gathered from information freely available on the Internet. The dossier (which has not been made public) allegedly contains information ranging from the Justice's home address and phone number to pictures of his grandchildren to details of his food preferences. A report from the ABA Journal is here; you can find various other blog discussions here and here and here and here. Scalia is complaining that the course instructor - who came up with the assignment in response to public comments the Justice has made about the privacy of personal information - has been irresponsible and shown "abominably poor judgement."

I simply do not see that Scalia has any complaint. Some of Scaliia's admirers, however, apparently think that he has shown great consistency and character because he has not taken legal action against the professor. But if it is, as Scalia publicly stated, "silly" to worry about others gathering any information about oneself from the Internet - unless the information somehow is embarrassing - he really ought to have shrugged this off completely. Silly is as silly does.

Although Nozick remained something of a libertarian, he eventually came to admit that the arguments he presented in Anarchy State & Utopia are "seriously inadequate." Unfortunately, Nozick reconsidered too late for all those whose lives have been impacted by free-market policies gleefully implemented by ideologues influenced by his "inadequate" arguments. Perhaps Scalia will reflect just a tiny bit and see that his views on privacy are problematic for others not just for himself.

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02 May 2009

Annals of Fair Use: Douglas Crimp

"Q: How does this show relate to the Shepard Fairey controversy?

A: These were among the artists who tested the copyright laws and the whole notion of appropriating images became a kind of discourse, so younger artists could pick up on it very easily.

Q: Do you think the Fairey controversy is making a mountain out of a molehill, because we've already established the appropriateness of this type of use by artists?

A: No, because copyright is still a huge legal issue. I myself have huge issues with the notion of "fair use"---whether or not a critic should be able to publish an image without having to pay huge rights fees or, for that matter, to clear the text with the estate of the artist to make sure that they control what can be said. I think that copyright comes into conflict with critical discourse."
This exchange comes from an interview Douglas gave at the opening of a current exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The exhibition The "Pictures Generation, 1974-1984" focusing on artists who "worked in all mediums—photography chief among them—to explore how images shape our perceptions of ourselves and the world." Douglas was the curator of the early (1977) exhibition of this work mentioned in the Met press release. I think he is right on point in his qualms regarding "fair use."

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Swine flu

So, as The Guardian and The New York Times each report, the White House has planted a new organic garden, to be tended, not by the President, but by his wife - well, actually, by the White House staff. The Times report claims the garden is fraught with "political and environmental symbolism." And The Guardian report likewise insists that food activists see this move as a "victory" in the campaign to get people to see local or home-based food production as important and feasible. All that sounds good to me, I supposes. But what I wonder is if the President will make the connection between pathologies in our industrialized food production system and the flu epidemic we are witnessing and obsessing about? Consider this essay from The Guardian that links the current outbreak to the evolution of flu viruses facilitated by massive pig farms. It has become distinctly non-PC to refer to the current outbreak as "swine flu" because the multi-national food industry doesn't like it. In some sense the word-smiths are correct - the culprits are not the pigs, the culprits are the companies who raise them in industrialized farms. That said, this is swine flu and everyone knows it. Changing the name won't change the underlying causes. We don't need symbolism here. We need agricultural policies that do not subsidize massive production processes at the expense of decentralized alternatives.* As the President has repeatedly indicated - apparently at some political risk - washing your hands is an important measure to control spread of disease. What is more important, though, is that he move beyond dispensing advice on personal hygiene and address the sources of disease. How about that for a pragmatist response to the flu?
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* Coincidentally, I just came across this segment of a series Antonin Kratochvil is doing on "The New Jobless" - Norlin Gutz and his family and their farm are among the victims - and that is the correct word - of industrialized food production.

Norlin Gutz, 55, a pig farmer for 36 years, with his wife, Becky, and son Ryan, went from a net worth of $1.3 million to bankruptcy in just 18 months, seen on their farm in Storm Lake, Iowa. "I grew up in this business," says Gutz, "I don't have anything else I can do. You feel like you've let your wife down, your family, you parents, you know?" For 36 years Gutz raised 50,000 piglets annually on a farm first settled in the 19th century by his great-grandfather. But on Jan. 11 2009, Gutz, one of the few remaining independent pig farmers, loaded his last 1,500 pigs onto a truck. Photograph © Antonin Kratchvil/VII.

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