Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Use of Infrared Imagery Technology: An Ethical Question

I've already commented on 'Tim's Veneer' & the slight creepiness I felt about the process of trying to recreate a masterpiece, no matter what 'assistive technology' Vemeer may have chosen to use during his career. What WAS created were nearly photographic images that jumped from the canvas & added to the thrill of viewing his works. Did he 'cheat' somehow? Or was he just way ahead of his time?

It seems that more & more often we're being confronted with trying to 'prove' if a Michelangelo or a DaVinci are the 'real' things by measuring noses or digging up (Mona) Lisa's bones to assess her facial structure. The mystery or intrigue of an art piece is half the fun of viewing it, for me anyway.

So, now we have...."It's a mystery that is fueling new research about the 1901 painting created early in Picasso's career while he was working in Paris at the start of his distinctive blue period of melancholy subjects. Curators & conservators revealed their findings for the first time last week. Over the past five years, experts from the Phillips Collection, National Gallery of Art, Cornell University and Delaware's Winterthur Museum have developed a clearer image of the mystery picture under the surface. It is a portrait of an unknown man painted in a vertical composition by one of the 20th century's great artists."

Really? Experts have spent five years on this? Perhaps there was a simple reason why the painting was painted over. I would assume it was because Picasso found something newer to express, while never imagining that over a hundred years later someone would be checking out a portrait under a painting that wasn't worth enough to the artist to save, or at the very least, didn't intend for others to see. I'm an artist & I have abandoned, torn down or reused parts of assemblages because they didn't feel right to me, didn't quite represent what I was trying to get across, or were experiments & not meant to be finished. Maybe Picasso thought it was a crappy painting or it wasn't relative anymore. Or maybe he just painted over it.

So the question for me here is, is Infrared Imagery when used in this way, ethical or a possible infringement on privacy or perhaps even copyright? Do artists give up their rights upon death, or otherwise, for others to utilize newly created technologies for public consumption? Let's say I have a number of assemblages in my studio, some that have been shown in galleries because I wished for them to viewed, while others are sitting in the dust, waiting to be thrown out or remade. Should I have the right to decide whether or not the discarded are dragged out, scrutinized, or for that matter, sold because they are just sitting there collecting dust?

I doubt myself or my family will ever have to grapple with this dilemma, but there is something here that is leaving a bit of 'bad taste.'

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