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Irish Artist Turns Google Maps Screen Grabs Into Pricey Art

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the eye-of-the-beholder dept.

Google 65

jackandtoby writes "Rappers sample prior works to turn out new tunes. This artist snatches satellite imagery of environmentally savaged sites from Google Maps to create gorgeous imagery reminiscent of Persian carpets. From the article: 'Using centuries-old patterns from Persian rug makers, with a nod to Afghan weavers who use tapestry to record vivid pictorial histories, this artist uses digital photography to create fabric that plays with fact and fiction, surveillance and invisibility. Thomas Smith reproduces classic motifs with Photoshop, at a level of detail one can only really experience in person, or (aptly for his medium) through point-and-click enlargement on his website.'"

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Nice looking but... (3, Insightful)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#43392837)

It's like looking at Google maps through a kaleidoscope.

Re:Nice looking but... (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year and a half ago | (#43393135)

I bet some patent troll will find a way to patent digital kaleidoscopes. Just you watch. After all, Apple patented digital slide-locks that have been around in analogue form for centuries.

Re:Nice looking but... (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#43393185)

I wouldn't know [adobe.com]

Re:Nice looking but... (4, Interesting)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year and a half ago | (#43393233)

"It's like looking at Google maps through a kaleidoscope."

For practical purposes, it IS looking at Google maps through a kaleidoscope.

I wonder where this falls in the copyright infringement / fair use spectrum.

Re:Nice looking but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43394059)

Well, I think if he is just using the satellite images (and nothing that Google adds to them) as the picture seems to show, they are provided by NASA, and thus are public domain.

Re:Nice looking but... (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a year and a half ago | (#43394087)

I wonder where this falls in the copyright infringement / fair use spectrum.

It doesn't. The artist is not selling his work as maps, or as advertising, or as a way to synergize advertising and mapping. He's not giving directions.

Collage artists have been around for over a century. Their work has been protected by courts on numerous occasions.

And of course, Andy Warhol directly used trademarks and CocaCola or Campbell's is not entitled to license fees from the Warhol estate.

I hope Google tries to crush this artist, just so we can hasten the public's perception that any corporation that big is a toxic influence on society and the economy and the culture.

Re:Nice looking but... (1)

thoughtlover (83833) | about a year and a half ago | (#43396411)

I wonder where this falls in the copyright infringement / fair use spectrum.

It doesn't. The artist is not selling his work as maps, or as advertising, or as a way to synergize advertising and mapping. He's not giving directions.

It has to fall in-between one or the other... and I'd say it's probably on the fair-use side.

I hope Google tries to crush this artist, just so we can hasten the public's perception that any corporation that big is a toxic influence on society and the economy and the culture.

I don't think that will happen as they've been on the other end of the stick scolding companies for abusing the DMCA tools on YouTube. I think they realize how frivolous lawsuits not only taint profits, but public perception. And no, I'm not talking about patents, even though I disagree with software patents.

Re:Nice looking but... (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year and a half ago | (#43402915)

"It doesn't. The artist is not selling his work as maps, or as advertising, or as a way to synergize advertising and mapping. He's not giving directions."

Yes, it does. The maps are copyrighted works belonging to Google. His work is provably derivative of those copyrighted works. And it is a trivial derivation... quite literally, just about anyone could do it. Maybe not as well, or as attractively... but maybe even more so.

So the question is: is the derivation process enough to protect him from copyright infringement? Highly questionable.

Trademarks are not copyrights. And Warhol's works are paintings. There are some rather huge differences there.

Using your logic, you are saying I could take an Ansel Adams photograph, turn it upside down, and call it art of my own? Just asking.

Re:Nice looking but... (2)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a year and a half ago | (#43404461)

Using your logic, you are saying I could take an Ansel Adams photograph, turn it upside down, and call it art of my own?

If he cut the Ansel Adams work into little pieces and used them to create a mosaic, absolutely yes.

Remember Warhol?

Re:Nice looking but... (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year and a half ago | (#43408961)

That isn't what I asked. What this artist is doing is a lot closer to what I described than what you have described.

Making a mosaic is arguably non-trivial. What this guy is doing is pretty trivial.

Re:Nice looking but... (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year and a half ago | (#43402983)

"Collage artists have been around for over a century."

See my point above. But to clarify that point a bit:

I was not referring to whether the photographs that Google uses in its maps should be copyrighted. That is a completely separate issue. And it would be interesting to watch the proceedings if someone were to challenge that.

But my earlier point was: *IF* we take it as a given that they are copyrighted, then does this work infringe? I think there are some great arguments that it does.

Re:Nice looking but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43393491)

I am shocked Google has not sued this Irish artist for copyright infringement or misappropriation of a copyrighted work. Just sayin'.

Re:Nice looking but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43393747)

Nice looking? They are fugly, and as much a "piece of art" as the unwashed pants of a webcam porn queen. Also, nothing nerdworthy in the article.

Re:Nice looking but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43393925)

this

Re:Nice looking but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43395895)

They are [...] as much a "piece of art" as the unwashed pants of a webcam porn queen.Brown eye of the beholder, dude. Some people would pay money to sniff... erm, own those pants. As art, of course.

Can't do that. (4, Informative)

queazocotal (915608) | about a year and a half ago | (#43392895)

This is a derivative work, and is not permitted under the google maps terms of service.
You can do it with openstreetmap.

Re:Can't do that. (2)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year and a half ago | (#43393033)

This is a derivative work, and is not permitted under the google maps terms of service.

I was just thinking the same thing ... you can't take copyrighted images and turn them into 'art' unless the people who you got it from say OK.

I can't see how taking these images from Google Maps could even come close to something he's allowed to do.

Re:Can't do that. (2)

dragon-file (2241656) | about a year and a half ago | (#43393239)

Nah, google will let it slide. Then once he's made millions they will sue. No use suing a broke nobody right?

Re:Can't do that. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43393571)

I'd guess Google knows how to play the publicity game better than that. Suing an artist who shows the product in positive light is not exactly good publicity. More likely, the action would be something along the lines "Let us help you make your art more known, we'll just take a cut of the profits. By the way, your use of our images wasn't really permitted, but let's not worry about that, just side with us.". And that's if they don't decide to just skip it, it's pretty much pocket money for them.

Re:Can't do that. (1)

TsuruchiBrian (2731979) | about a year and a half ago | (#43393727)

I don't think google will sue him. But if it was truly evil, it wouldn't just wait until this one artist was rich. It would wait for a whole genre of art to develop before suing whole industry.

Re: Can't do that. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43393987)

Other than mpaa

Re:Can't do that. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43393655)

No, you're wrong.

1) I use google maps all the time and never once have I agreed to a terms of service. I've never even seen any such terms, nor been asked to agree to them.

2) You can make whatever you want from copyrighted works, the law only concerns itself when you try to commercially re-distribute the work.

3) A derivative work, especially one for aritsitic purposes, is expressedly permitted under copyright law. Even a derivative work for profit!

I no longer expert regular people to know the law. Hell, even PBS got it wrong in a recent report on some guy who level a huge phonograph collection, as well as a collection of tapes he recorded off the air, and the "journalist" said that the taping was "so illegal" and that trying to reselll the records would be a "massive violation of copyright law." I'm no expert, but I know recording for personal use is protected and explicitly upheld by the Supreme Court, and that the First Sale doctrine allows him to resell anything he bought, not just record albums.

But seriously, don't comment on a discussion board for smart people if you're going to sound like an idiot.

Re:Can't do that. (4, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | about a year and a half ago | (#43393989)

I know you're trolling but...

1) I use google maps all the time and never once have I agreed to a terms of service. I've never even seen any such terms, nor been asked to agree to them.

Doesn't matter, it's copyrighted (not the subject of the photo, but the photograph of it - that's how nature photography is copyrighted). Google's terms of service grants you right beyond copyright law, if you don't accept them you don't have them - like the GPL.

2) You can make whatever you want from copyrighted works, the law only concerns itself when you try to commercially re-distribute the work.

Nope:

the owner of copyright under this title has the exclusive rights to do and to authorize any of the following:
(1) to reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords;
(2) to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work;
(3) to distribute copies (...)

And finally:

3) A derivative work, especially one for aritsitic purposes, is expressedly permitted under copyright law. Even a derivative work for profit!

Nothing is "expressedly permitted" as fair use, the factors will merely be taken into consideration and one is "the purpose and character of the use", where being transformative means it's more likely to be legal, merely derivative less. Also being for profit makes it less likely.

That's three for three with total drivel, well done.

Re:Can't do that. (1)

Nemyst (1383049) | about a year and a half ago | (#43393345)

OSM has satellite images?

Re:Can't do that. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43393457)

This is a derivative work, and is not permitted under the google maps terms of service.
You can do it with openstreetmap.

Does google have the copyright to these image? I know a lot of the satellite and areal image come from public repositories published by government agencies (NASA, USGS, etc).

Re:Can't do that. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43393965)

They license them, but not in a fashion to make them public domain.

Re:Can't do that. (2)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year and a half ago | (#43394097)

Worse, it's not even artistic.

Is this really how far the art world has fallen? He wasn't even able to BS any interesting explanation about the topic.

Re:Can't do that. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43394125)

That's a load of BS

Have you ever heard of a camera obscura? Think about it next time you look at the work of a Dutch Master.

If you think art is about creating everything from scratch you have a lot to learn about art.

If you think art is "about anything in particular (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43394383)

If you think art is "about anything in particular,

you have a lot to learn about art.

IOW: His opinion if fine, and is just his opinion. There is no objective measure of whether anything is art or not.

If you think there is an objective measure ... (well, you see where this is going)

ironic captcha: counters

Re:Can't do that. (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year and a half ago | (#43396875)

Sure, it's still not very impressive.

The unimpressiveness doesn't come from the method of creation, it comes from the dearth of creativity in the execution, and its execution. There is nothing there, it's all technique.

Re:Can't do that. (1)

gravis777 (123605) | about a year and a half ago | (#43400127)

Shoot, you can't even use Google Street View images on a Wikipedia page (I've tried, images were pulled for copyright violations). The Google Maps Terms of Service is not a fun read, but in a nutshell, you cannot do anything other than view their images without some type of contract with them.

The fact that he is selling this artwork - this is a huge lawsuit waiting to happen. This is not the same as a rapper sampling works, the images show that these modified images are the majority of his work. That is way different than sampling a couple of seconds to use in a song. This is blantant copyright violation, unless he has a license from Google.

Re:Can't do that. (1)

Vitriol+Angst (458300) | about a year and a half ago | (#43401629)

No but you see; "Google has promised NOT TO SUE FIRST, and the artist lives in a country that respects creative works and doesn't blindly fall at the feet of big money and the ownership society."

No, no. I've got to stop. I think I might pee myself if I make any more of these jokes.

Slashdotted already? (1)

Novogrudok (2486718) | about a year and a half ago | (#43392915)

Error establishing a database connection

Re:Slashdotted already? (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year and a half ago | (#43392927)

Error establishing a database connection

Slashdotted already. Must be a mom & pop ISP.

Derivation for remuneration (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year and a half ago | (#43392919)

1. Copy
2. Paste
3. ...
4. Prophet!

Re:Derivation for remuneration (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43392949)

5. Check prophecies for accuracy!

Re:Derivation for remuneration (1)

GrumpySteen (1250194) | about a year and a half ago | (#43393577)

No need. The prophecies will be so vague that they could match anything. The only inaccuracies are in the people who obviously misinterpreted the prophecy.

Re:Derivation for remuneration (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year and a half ago | (#43393641)

I thought it was:
1. Prophet
2. Get a bunch of followers.
3. ????
4. Profit!!!

Mirror (1)

terbeaux (2579575) | about a year and a half ago | (#43392981)

I wonder if I will get a DMCA take down for this PDF snapshot? http://db.tt/Y9GCT7N4 [db.tt]

I don't get the big deal (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43392983)

He just mirrors a screenshot horizontally then vertically. It takes a minute to do. Why are people going "oooh!" over this?

Re:I don't get the big deal (1)

GrumpySteen (1250194) | about a year and a half ago | (#43393627)

The same reason they ooh and ahh over a canvas painted white or a plain, unmodified urinal hanging in an art gallery: Some people are dumb enough to believe whatever bullshit the 'artist' comes up with and will delude themselves into thinking it's great art.

Re:I don't get the big deal (2)

CyberGrandad (1852572) | about a year and a half ago | (#43393699)

Not quite. Taking one Google Maps screenshot on most monitors could get you an image on the order of 1000 pixels wide. Photographers generally print their works at 300 ppi. So a single screenshot mirrored around would get you something roughly 6 to 7 inches squared. The gallery photo shows a print at least 5 feet tall. So it would take multiple screenshots pasted together. Maybe not thousands ... but more than one.

Re:I don't get the big deal (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43394223)

Yeah I guess you didn't know that you can export views from Google Earth at resolutions native to the map images - you aren't forced to screenshot the application or the website.

Release the dogs DMCA! (1)

AndyKron (937105) | about a year and a half ago | (#43393031)

DMCA! DMCA! Release the dogs DMCA!

modern art (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43393043)

This is really nothing special. He takes a city, flips it once or twice in photoshop and calls it art?

I am always amazed when walking through art museums how artists of the past centuries created such amazing work - the detail, the grandeur. I especially enjoyed walking through Rome; Such marvelous sculptures chiseled with rudimentary tools. Then one happens upon the "modern artists" of today. They were too fucking lazy to take more than a few whacks and call it art. Same goes for the paintings - modern artists really know how to capture the laziness of the 21st century, this guy included.

Re:modern art (2)

anagama (611277) | about a year and a half ago | (#43394479)

Modern art is a conspiracy between artists and rich people to make poor people feel stupid.

Kurt Vonnegut

Re:modern art (3, Informative)

SolitaryMan (538416) | about a year and a half ago | (#43395023)

You confuse the raw skill with an art.

If you don't actually study art history, it is very unlikely you will understand what is so great about Mona Lisa and why it is considered a masterpiece, while many art works of the time, painted as skillfully are not.

The art itself, first of all, is about conveying an *idea* and/or *emotion*. The medium and the implementation is always secondary. Some ideas are best expressed as sculptures, some as realistic paintings, some as buildings (cathedrals) and some as just a couple of brush strokes on a canvas. I've seen plenty of photo-realistic paintings, done with a great amount of skill, but which nevertheless were dull and boring as far as art is concerned. I've also seen a lot of cases where the painter should have written a short story, but instead he chose to create a painting, because this is where his/her skill lies (example of wrong medium).

You don't have to feel stupid, but you do have to make some effort to actually understand some piece of art.

In other words, skill is about the *artist*, while the art has to be about ... art itself. If you are looking at the painting and you think "hey, this guy is pretty good", it draws the focus from the *art* to the *artist*. It is just a show off. You you look at it and you think "this is really interesting (inspiring, pleasant -- whatever)", then this is a real art.

I suggest you, when looking at the painting, think of it this way: if you had the raw skill to paint something like this, would you actually want to do it?

Re:modern art (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43397837)

I did study art history for a year and found it to be the biggest pile of bullshit going. I'm a sculptor and painter, but trying to tell me a painting of an orange is some how a message on the human condition is just blowing smoke up my ass and watching static too hard.

Re:modern art (1)

SolitaryMan (538416) | about a year and a half ago | (#43407853)

Who tried to tell you that?

Re:modern art (1)

Craefter (71540) | about a year and a half ago | (#43399835)

I'm sorry, but could you please get off your artsy high horse and just see art for what it really is? I would be more impressed if artists would promote the creation of new art to the common people instead of telling them that they need a university degree to understand the bullshit some artists make. I mean, if only a small group of people understand your art you have missed your point. Art should not be an elite thing, it should be something of the common people. To amuse, convey a story or to apreciate the skill of an artist. Modern artists are more like: Provoke, convey some etherial BS which can be read in the appropriate catalog, spit on skill and to earn money. They like to earn money because a 'real' artists don't have a proper job. (Else they can't concentrate fully on the BS they are producing).

To come back to skill, if you listen to an unskilled guitarist just wacking away in random order on his guitar over a high gain amp, do you still appreciate he is trying to express emotion and is not focusing on skill? Buy a CD from him? I thought so.

Re:modern art (1)

SolitaryMan (538416) | about a year and a half ago | (#43403321)

I'm sorry, but could you please get off your artsy high horse and just see art for what it really is?

Well, this is exactly what I'm saying -- look at the art and not at how hard it is to make it (skill) or who makes it (artist) or how (medium).

I would be more impressed if artists would promote the creation of new art to the common people instead of telling them that they need a university degree to understand the bullshit some artists make. I mean, if only a small group of people understand your art you have missed your point. Art should not be an elite thing, it should be something of the common people.

Dude, *modern* art is all about common people! University degree is required to understand the art of the Renaissance, when it *was* an elite thing. Look at this particular example (rugs from maps): the idea actually empowers *everybody* to go and make their own! You can do it! I can do it! It looks great! No university degree required! As a side effect, in the process you'll discover that it is not that easy to make a picture as visually appealing as the ones listed in the article -- go try it.

To come back to skill, if you listen to an unskilled guitarist just wacking away in random order on his guitar over a high gain amp, do you still appreciate he is trying to express emotion and is not focusing on skill? Buy a CD from him? I thought so.

I also don't buy CDs from many very skillful guitarists, because the music they play is total BS and fails to convey any emotion (other then, "look ma, I'm so cool"). Your point?

Now, getting back to you complaining about how you need a "university" degree to appreciate art. Do you also complain that you have to learn to read in order to appreciate literature? Or that you have to learn foreign language in order to... you know... understand it? Does software engineer complains that it takes MS CS +10yrs of industrial experience to understand and appreciate the beauty of some software architecture?

Anyway, there is zero chance that you'll understand what I'm talking about, unless you go and try to actually learn something about art. I know because I used to think the same as you.

obligatory XKCD (1)

jankoh (2547488) | about a year and a half ago | (#43393081)

Re:obligatory XKCD (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about a year and a half ago | (#43394165)

lol! nice.

Someone mod this man (or woman) up.

Re:obligatory XKCD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43402623)

The first recognisable place I found was Copenhagen.

That was fun, enjoy mod points.

Ugh (1)

forrie (695122) | about a year and a half ago | (#43393387)

Looks like something the Borg Queen would have in her boudoir.

Better that than... (1)

Type44Q (1233630) | about a year and a half ago | (#43393451)

Better that than a rotting shark in a glass box... :p

Earth as Art (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43393471)

Re:Earth as Art (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43394875)

The descriptions look interesting, but I get a "Login Required" when I try any of them :(

Eye of the beholder (1)

tech.kyle (2800087) | about a year and a half ago | (#43393785)

Seems like a highly subjective article. Maybe I just work/play with Google Maps too much, but I don't see anything special here. The closest thing I can think of would be that it appears fairly high resolution, but that's nothing to write home (or Slashdot) about.

Re:Eye of the beholder (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43393859)

Seems like a highly subjective article. Maybe I just work/play with Google Maps too much, but I don't see anything special here. The closest thing I can think of would be that it appears fairly high resolution, but that's nothing to write home (or Slashdot) about.

I am the editor of Green Prophet where this article was published. I loved this article because it's covering art that's not looking at a straight Google Map, but the mirrored work displaying patterns, some obviously very specific to a place, that when you squint, you can envision a Persian carpet. The weaving traditions of the past told stories about a place, family, tribe, and culture. In this specific project the back-end story is the sad beauty in environmental destruction.

Re:Eye of the beholder (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43398253)

You can only "envision" a Persian carpet if you've never seen a real one. The article shows only your ignorance and awful taste. Even the talentless hack you promote is better than you, he has a purpose -- a salesman pushing a hopeless product. What's your excuse?

How underwhelming (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43394111)

Sorry but it is.

Art is..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43398299)

Whatever you get get away with.

Art shmart (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43398629)

I still think we should ban art.
Not the works, just the term.
Then we could just focus on talking about whether stuff is good or crap.
Making boring mirror images of google maps? Crap.

Good artists copy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43399359)

Great artists steal
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