Essays

My Chuck Close Problem

by Scott Blake on July 9, 2012

Scott Blake self-portrait

Scott Blake self-portrait made with color tiles (2008) (click to enlarge) (all images courtesy the artist)

When one of the world’s richest living artists orders you to stop making art, you do it. Or do you? That is what Chuck Close has done to me. In response, I have developed a 100-year plan that will allow my digital art to outlive any threats of legal action.

I started working on my Chuck Close Filter in September of 2001. The idea came to me the month prior, when I flew to Los Angeles for the Adobe Design Achievement Awards. The creators of Photoshop gave me first place in the Creative Illustration category for my “Barcode Jesus” portrait. I felt that my creative efforts had finally been validated, even though most people still considered computer art to be a lesser medium. One person in particular, an artist whom I really admired, seemed to have a big problem with computers as vehicles for art. He referred to them as “labor-saving devices.” This was Chuck Close.

I have been working with computers (both artistically and otherwise) since 1988, when I was 12 years old. At the time, I was living in Tampa, and my uncle gave me a Tandy computer with Print Shop software. I was always driven to tinker, to figure things out, to challenge myself and make work I loved. As I got older, I started to feel an obligation to stand up for this artistic medium that I believed in. I wanted to prove all the naysayers wrong.

Allow me to explain how the Chuck Close Filter works: I start by using Photoshop to dissect Close’s portraits into hundreds of tiles. I find the original images in art books and scan them at a resolution high enough to capture the halftone dots used in the printing of color plates. Due to camera lens distortion, the portraits are never perfectly square. I then search for the faint pencil marks that Close made to define the underlying grid. Finally, I select each tile using the rectangle marquee tool in Photoshop. It takes me approximately eight hours to disassemble each portrait.

From left to right: Chuck Close’s painting of Lucas; Blake dissecting the mosaic in Photoshop; 847 mosaic tiles (click to enlarge)

Once I have all the tiles separated into individual files, I use an action script that arranges the blocks into any image I want. This automatic process took me six months to figure out. To make the portrait my own, I use the magic wand tool in Photoshop, which allows me to select a single shade of gray and then replace the pixels with my designer tiles.

From left to right: Scott Blake’s version of Lucas, version of Phillip made with Lucas tiles, self-portrait with Lucas tiles (click to enlarge)

In 2001, the speed of the internet was still very slow, and I knew I would have to wait a couple of years for the technology to catch up to my imagination. In the meantime, I experimented with creating animations using my Chuck Close Filter.

In the fall of 2002, I had the opportunity to show my work on a giant, 10-foot video wall at the Savannah College of Art and Design. Seeing a Chuck Close painting talking in real time was awesome. I began to wonder how long it would take for Moore’s Law to speed up and make it possible to create a “Chuck Close Mirror” — meaning a mirror that could render you reflecting instantly into the artist’s recognizable style.

Finally, in 2008, the internet became fast enough to accommodate the Chuck Close Filter. I registered freechuckcloseart.com in February 2008, hired a programmer to help me with the interface and made the site available to the public the next month. People could upload their own images, and in 30 seconds, the filter would render a high-resolution digital mosaic. The final images were 8 x 10 inches at 300 dpi, around 2 megabytes per file. The program was stable, but it still crashed some browsers in the beginning. These days, most people eat 2MB files before breakfast.

I have been following Close’s work for over 13 years. In 1998, I drove ten hours to see an exhibit of his at the Seattle Art Museum, and I was completely blown away. I’ve seen videos of him painting and photos of his work in progress, so I understand how he creates his images. I believe my digital mosaics were not copying his art but rather a logical extension of the creative process.

*   *   *

“Creation requires influence.” —Kirby Ferguson, Everything Is a Remix

Chuck Close Filter animation tests, aka "Chuck Close TV"

Chuck Close Filter animation tests, aka “Chuck Close TV”

I take offense when my art is labeled derivative, even if the opinions are well-intentioned. I know it’s just a word, but my art transforms the original into something different, adding new expression over and above the earlier work. I prefer the term “appropriation,” which refers to the use of borrowed elements in the creation of a new piece.

There are other appropriation artists making a living, for instance, Sherrie Levine: she created copies of Walker Evans photographs that were identical to the originals but conceptually very different. Shepard Fairey, on the other hand, has been accused of plagiarism, and not just in regards to the the Obama “Hope” image. My favorite part of this article examining his source materials discusses Roy Lichtenstein and the distinction between appropriation and plagiarism:

When Lichtenstein painted “Look Mickey,” a 1961 oil on canvas portrait of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, everyone was cognizant of the artist’s source material — they were in on the joke. By contrast, Fairey simply filches artworks and hopes that no one notices — the joke is on you.

I never intended to rip off Chuck Close, so when he emailed me in November 2010 threatening legal action, I did exactly what he said and took my filter offline immediately. Still, I feel obligated to point out that Close is the 14th richest living artist, worth a staggering $25 million. I really don’t think any work I make is going to “jeopardize” his career or his livelihood.

Here is what he wrote (in all caps):

YOU DO NOT HAVE PERMISSION TO USE MY WORK WHICH IS COPYRIGHTED. NOR DO  WISH TO BE ASSOCIATED WITH YOUR PROJECT. YOU MUST SHUT DOWN YOUR WEBSITE IMMEDIATELY OR I WILL BE FORCED TO TAKE LEGAL ACTION.

I replied:

I have attempted to get in touch with you. I think your art is great. I drove 10 hours to see your exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum in 1998 and was blown away. I wish we had met under better circumstances. I understand you do not want me to continue my Free Chuck Close Filter, but I would like the opportunity to talk with you before you take any legal action. I believe my website is not copying your art, but rather is a logical extension of the creative process. Please consider talking with me before you make legal decision, from one artist to another.

Close wrote back:

Even if your motives are not bad, I still do not want my work trivialized. I must fight you because if I know of your project, and do nothing to exercise my legal rights, that will put me in a position where I can’t fight the next, even more egregious usage of my copyrighted image and use of my name. It may be an amusing project and many people might like it, but it is MY art that is trivialized, MY career you are jeopardizing, MY legacy, which I have to think about for my children, and MY livelihood. I must fight to protect it. I hope you will realize the harm you are doing me and my work that you claim you admire and voluntarily shut down the site so as to avoid a law-suit.

I responded:

I respect your decision, and I have shut my free online filter down. I feel obligated to help stop this from happening again. I believe it is better to respond to the situation than delete the project without any explanation. Please review http://www.freechuckcloseart.com.

He wrote:

Thank you so much for your decision. I must say I didn’t expect it. It means a lot to me that you were able to understand my point of view. Thank you. Im in Germany till the end of December, but after I’m back and if you are in New York City, come by and say hello.

The last thing I said to him was:

Thank you for accepting my sincere apology, and especially for inviting me to your New York City studio. I live in Omaha, Nebraska, but I might make a special trip just to see you.

Deep inside, I knew I had a plan; however, I wanted to give Close time to calm down and myself time to figure out a legal strategy. Luckily, I am friends with an intellectual property lawyer here in Omaha. He is very sympathetic to visual artists, and he generously gave me some excellent feedback on my situation.

Right around that time, in October 2010, CBS Sunday Morning aired a segment about Mark Twain’s autobiography.  The book was released 100 years after Twain’s death. I asked my lawyer friend if I could release my Chuck Close Filter 100 years after Close dies and his copyright runs out; my lawyer assured me that I could do so without fear of reprisal. I have not made Close aware of my plans, but if he finds out, I would be surprised if he wasn’t insulted. Don’t get me wrong, I know we will both be dead in 100 years, but the point is that our art will live on, and that is what matters to me most. We all have a legacy to think about; Chuck Close isn’t the only one.

Close is known to be very adamant about not accepting portrait commissions, so if you are not lucky enough to be one of his chosen sitters, you will never get to see your face immortalized in his signature style. I simply wanted to make his art accessible to the masses in a new and exciting way. Close is all about “process,” and I feel what I’m doing is the next logical step in that process. He makes work that looks like pixels, so why not make it out of pixels?

Writing all this down makes me feel like a wimp for not standing up to him when he first emailed me, but I took his threats seriously, and I really cannot afford to fight him in court. I respect him as an artist, but this experience has begun to make me lose respect for him as a person. I did a little research into his history and found some interesting quotes.

*   *   *

“The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.” —Albert Einstein

Stephen Colbert interviewed Close in August 2010. When Colbert jokingly asked, “Do you ever run out of toner?” in reference to Close’s painting “Mark,” completed in 1979, Close replied, “I was there before computer-generated imagery.” This statement is categorically untrue.

In 1963, three years before Chuck Close started painting from photographs, Ken Knowlton developed the BEFLIX programming language for bitmap computer-produced movies. Each frame of Knowlton’s animations contained eight shades of grey at a resolution of 252 x 184 pixels.

Leon Harmon & Ken Knowlton, "Studies in Perception #1"

Leon Harmon & Ken Knowlton, “Studies in Perception #1″ (1966), computer-produced mural, as shown in the 1968 MoMA “Machine” show, 5 x 10 feet (© Leon Harmon & Ken Knowlton)

In 1966, Leon Harmon and Ken Knowlton began experimenting with computer-generated photomosaics, creating large prints from collections of small symbols. One of their images was printed in the New York Times on October 11, 1967. It was also exhibited at one of the earliest computer art exhibitions, The Machine as Seen at the End of the Mechanical Age, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City from November 25, 1968 through February 9, 1969.

Chuck Close, "Big Nude"

Chuck Close, “Big Nude” (1967), acrylic on canvas, 9’9” x 21’1” (image via “Chuck Close” book published by Museum of Modern Art, September 2002)

Amazingly, Close painted a reclining female nude in the fall of 1967, right around the time when Harmon and Knowlton’s nude was published in the Times. Talk about synchronicity! I am shocked no one has ever made this connection before. I’m not trying to say that Close copied Harmon and Knowlton’s work; I’m trying to say that Close was not the first of his kind. The art world is an ever-evolving community. With all the art being made around the world, there are bound to be similarities. I just want to underscore that Close was not “there” before computer-generated imagery.

1973 cover of "Scientific American"

1973 cover of “Scientific American” on the left and Leon Harmon’s “Abraham Lincoln” (1973) on the right.

Close and the art historians that were paid to write his books like to talk about the 1973 cover of Scientific American as the first appearance of pixelated imagery. I find it hard to believe that Close never saw Harmon and Knowlton’s art or heard about the computer art show at MoMA in 1968. Close moved to New York City in the fall of 1967; his studio on 27 Greene Street was a few miles from the museum.

*   *   *

“Only those with no memory insist on their originality.” —Coco Chanel

I found another great video clip, from the Sundance Channel series Iconoclast. When Close was asked, “What is an iconoclast?” he replied, “I don’t think about the past, and I don’t think about tomorrow.” His lack of perspective and boasting about ignoring the past disgusts me. He needs a history lesson, starting with the famous quote by George Santayana: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Close needs to stop perpetuating the illusion that his work is totally original.

In the same interview, Close proudly admitted that he didn’t even know what the word “iconoclast” meant. I assume the TV producer gave him the definition, to which he responded, “If it means smash your icons, I think they should be smashed with love and affection.” With my work, I am doing just that: I am smashing my icon with love and affection. Unfortunately, as a result, our work has collided.

I believe my art is fair use, but I don’t have a war chest to back up that assertion in a courtroom, so the wealthy bully wins by default. My only recourse is to publicize my defeat in order to shine a light on these types of situations. My hope is that Chuck Close develops a sense of shame and regret, realizes his mistake and offers up an apology. I want this article to serve as a point of reference for current and future artists. The worst part about this whole mess is that it makes established visual artists like Close seem petty. By not embracing new and interesting ways of making art, he is contributing to the widening of the generation gap. His irrational fear of computers has made him wildly out of touch with my generation and generations to come. I feel he singled me out because I choose to work in a medium that he finds inferior.

I think Close is confusing enterprise with creativity; they are not the same and in some cases can work against one another. In the end, I believe Close’s misguided and hypocritical actions will do more harm to his legacy than any so-called “derivative art” could ever do. His behavior has left me no choice but to carry out my 100-year plan.

This project started off as a simple college assignment and has quickly turned into a battle for visual artists’ rights. I’m fighting for creative freedom and battling against an antiquated way of thinking that is stifling a new form of artistic expression. It is inevitable, and artists like Chuck Close need to be willing to pass the torch to the next generation.

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  • http://twitter.com/ScottBlake Scott Blake

    The only problem I see with using Chuck Close’s name is I’m the only artist he’s going after for using his name.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=700408486 Adam Lipstadt

    What strikes me about this whole post is that even when (seemingly) pissed, even in his initial response, Chuck Close gave this guy an opportunity to desist without cost, reasons for his reaction (not wanting to be associated, etc), and didn’t immediately – or apparently at any point – refer the matter to counsel or staff. Others have pointed out that the offer to visit his studio was the act of a class act. All the more reason for him to protect his name – cause it’s a good one.

    So yeah Blake, I don’t care much for the style of Mr. Close’s art, but, well, I do have quite a bit of respect for the *man* now. There’s a reason no one here gives a damn about your excuse that “he has money.” He has money and isn’t a dick. He has plenty basis to sue (and win) over your past actions. A suit would bleed you dry. He’s not doing that. He given you an invitation to his space, a rare opportunity for /anyone/ and one of the most gracious acts an artist of any – but especially his – stature can proffer. You could have gone, visited, maybe interviewed him, LEARNED SOMETHING, written a piece about that, and then sold *that* story as a freelancer and gotten a cool anecdote, thanking him, apologizing for using his name, and maybe even getting some positive press and connections.

    Instead, you respond by publicly presenting a private email exchange, demonizing him, presenting your “brilliant” legal plan for a filter no one really cares about and invoking dubious precedents; while accusing /him/ of needing a history lesson – which you are (self)qualified to teach. Well, let me tell you something historical. You have created a reverse Streisand Effect.

    I suggest we call it a Blake Blunder.

    When it comes to putting email exchanges into the public forum, you better be legally right and morally right and not a dick. To sum up:

    Chuck Close: 3
    You, a zero.

    No one is stopping you from making your “art.” Just stop attaching his name to everything you do.

    Write a fucking apology before it gets worse, you twit.

    WTF hyperallergic?

  • http://www.facebook.com/darien.bird.3 Darien Bird

    what a silly little ego you have

  • Chris Pauson

    Perhaps in 100 years your absurd article will be cited at the bottom of the Wikipedia entry for Objectivism.

  • mariuswatz

    Whoa, there really is a whole lotta hatin’ going on in here.

    it almost makes my heart go pitter-patter. People still care about art? Awesome. Just too bad that most of the commentary smells like misplaced moral indignation: “Reproduce the work of a famous artist? How dare you!”

    Did 20th century art history not happen? Was Pop Art just a parlor game with hedge fund byproducts? What about sampling and remixing – or are those tools still only for illicit street use? Copying the master(s) hardly seems very novel, many famous (and cash-generating) examples copied very literally indeed. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appropriation_%28art%29 for some examples, not all are pertinent to this case but it’s still a useful refresher if you think Originality and Unique Authorship survived the End of Modernism. (I know reading Wikipedia is some people’s idea of living dangerously, but apply some critical thinking and you should be safe from contamination.)

    If you want to be angry about appropriation, go and hate on Rob Pruitt for stealing from artists poorer than him and – yes – inarguably being a prick about it. Isn’t that a little more worthy of your scorn? Link:http://cotygonzales.com/2010/09/19/when-pandas-attack-ripped-by-new-york-based-artist/

    —-

    Moving on: Since it is self-evident that Scott Blake’s project falls into a tradition with numerous precedents, what is the crux of the present debate? Filtering out the more knee-jerk flames the criticism offered here can be loosely summarized thus:

    A: Photoshop filters and computer programs are banal and can’t possibly be called art.
    B: Scott Blake is a cocky prick looking for attention.
    C: Respect my Copyright, mortals. Or else.

    Point C has already been addressed. Point B is a subjective assessment that is valid as an arguable position, but going by the yardstick of the average NYC artist Scott is coming across as pretty tame and un-prick-like. He seems earnest, even – a character trait that might well be to his detriment in this debate. Honesty is icky and unlikely to win you many friends in an art world where insincerity and tactical dismissiveness seems de rigeur (or at least a time-honored way to get laid.)

    So we’re left with point A, a reactionary argument that sounds all too familiar. To be honest I haven’t rarely heard it argued since the dark ages of the pre-Web 1990’s receded into the rearview mirror of my Delorean. I would have thought the recent Age of Smart Phone Enlightenment would’ve nailed that particular coffin shut, even David Hockney is making cute playing with his iPhone these days. (Using a smart piece of software, I might add.) But let’s run through this thing one more time, shall we?

    I make a living as an artist who creates visuals and objects by writing computer code. I don’t sketch, I don’t make models, I writ code. Some of my pieces are pure software -computational animations that evolve endlessly without interaction, displayed on screens, as projections or giant public LED facades. (You’re right – a self-generating computational animation does sound just like the functional description of a screensaver slash iTunes visualizer. Much the same way that a Chuck Close masterpiece is functionally identical to kitsch paintings of puppies.)

    But virtuality has its limits, pixels are only so interesting and the feeling of observing a form evolving through a mediating membrane is ultimately somewhat alienating. So I also use computer-controlled machines (laser cutters, 3D printers, plotters etc.) to produce physical works and drawings – without ever touching the material directly. Look Ma, no hands. Once completed, the software systems I create are capable of semi-autonomous producion of endless series of unique forms and images based on seed rules I’ve encoded into the software along with carefully modulated random parameters.

    Admittedly, this kind of work is not everybody’s cup of tea. Scepticism and prejudice abounds, often concerned with the horrors of automated art machines and the non-presence of the artist’s hand. Some people – technophobes and technocrats alike – simply don’t like it, which is their inalienable right in any society based on the notion individual freedom. And that’s fine with me. As the curator of Frankfurter Kunstverein said when faced with a sumptuously rendered virtual landscape: generator: “I don’t even know what I’m looking at.”

    But whatever your personal preference, I dare you to challenge the validity of code-based formalism as an artistic practice. Not only does algorithmic art go back over 40 years, it comes with more theory than you can shake a stick at. It might not be mainstream (esp. not in the US), but it has a long history of milestone moments such as the Cybernetic Serendipity exhibition at ICA, 1968, the afore-mentioned MoMA show and the New Tendencies movement in the former Jugoslavia. Followed of course, by the evolution of contemporary media art through the 1990’s until today along with cameos and walk-on appearances in mainstream art practices. Lately this kind of work is cropping up in unexpected places. Did you know Anthony Gormley uses software tools developed in-house to articulate and plan many of his pieces? If you’re thinking as big as Anish Kapoor you’d do well to enlist a horde of structural engineers from Arup.

    In the light of this tradition, Scott’s work takes on a quite different reading than the dismissive critique so prevalent here. Firstly: Scott is just one of many artists to recreate existing artworks and artistic styles by encoding them as a set of generative rules – usually as a double-edged comment on the reduction of human creativity to mechanical process but sometimes also just because it can be a fun thing to do. Michael Knoll’s interpretation of Mondrian’s “Composition With Lines” is a classic example, a little googling will yield plenty of others.

    Secondly: Viewed from a perspective that includes an awareness of software processes as creative material, what Scott has done is anything but trivial. The task of creating an algorithm like the Chuck Close filter requires significant analysis, a lot of trial-and-error and a fair amount of skill. (Mondrian would be much easier.) Computer Science and math only gets you so far, you also need the ability to identify the artistic principles involved in Close’s grid process. How is the form produced, what is the secret sauce that makes it stand out? How can an intuitive process of creation be translated to a manageable chain of parametric operations?

    Then follows the challenge of describing a generative system that will simulate those artistic processes in a manner that produces output that appears “natural” and organic. You’ll be staring down the Uncanny Valley of human perception, which will instantly recognize and dismiss a simplistic approach as mechanical and unworthy of a second look. You might be a master of the arcane art of computational geometry, without artistic instinct and formal flair your undoubtedly clever algorithm will still look like a Science Show exhibit.

    Developing an intuitive and fluid approach to creating form through parametric systems takes time. It could be argued that the process of selecting, exploring and modifying rule-based processes requires an understanding of code as a malleable material, requiring a virtuosity very much like that admired in more conventional art forms. Your paint stroke style is my customized triangle subdivision, different tools applied towards a surprisingly similar outcome.

    But returning to the topic at hand:

    Photoshop filters do come with a heavy stigma attached – and not without reason. In a hypothetical battle for art’s soul mindless filters are the golem servants of The Enthusiast, that most-feared vanguard of gibbering madness. But if you read Scott’s description you’ll see that he’s not actually talking about a Photoshop filter – he’s just using the term “filter” to describe a software system that takes an input image and produces a transformed copy through the application of an algorithm.

    This is a completely accurate description, technically speaking. But whether using “filter” was a good move is debatable. A filter sounds like a passive mechanism with no creative input, unlikely to move the imagination of art audiences. Worse, it goes a long way towards justifying the perception that the creation of such a system is a straight-forward by-the-numbers task, rather than a creative process requiring skill and intution with plenty of pitfalls and the ever-present potential of failure.

    If the work was titled “The Chuck Close Machine” it might imbue it with a little more flair, implying a standalone work rather than a subservient mechanical device. It would even justify the co-opting of Conceptual Art as a framework, always a win-win scenario for most purposes. Think Tinguely, Lewitt and Systems Art mixed with Haraway’s cyborg narratives and some anti-Modernist pixie dust and you might just have a decent artist statement.

    ———

    In conclusion I think we can all agree that dismissing Scott’s work as a banal Photoshop filter and implying that requires no skill is A: Culturally regressive, B: Ignorant and C: Behavior not becoming of a citizen of the 21st Century. The copyright critique holds little water, so that just leaves whether you think he’s a prick. I can’t help you with that one, it seems unlikely but who knows. Knowing Scott only as an online presence, I can’t even rule out the possibility that he is a dog with freakishly prehensile paws.

    Still, I would like to posit some questions for your consideration, questions that in my mind are a little more to the point than “Was Scott nice to Chuck?”:

    – Is the reproduction of another artist’s work a great time to spend your time? (Life is short, remember.) Even if you do so with success, is it as satisfying (for artist and viewer both) as creating a completely original work? What is the motivation – hommage, name-checking or simple fascination?

    – If an artist does decide to walk this path, is it wise or naive to present it as an earnest hommage? Would a witty pomo narrative of mechanical reproduction be the smarter move?

    – Would it help if Scott had spent five years painstakingly painting copies of Close’s work? Would that earn him some monomaniacal street cred that writing a piece of software does not?

    – Does Blake’s Chuck Close Machine reach its full potential, or is it too respectful of its source? The YouTube videos (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4YN_sr2GrE) hint at taking the process beyond the scope of Close’s own work, but would such expanded use risk making it seem banal?

    – Opinions about intention aside, is Scott Blake’s algorithm successful in recreating Chuck Close’s grid paintings? Does this have any critical significance in discussing Close’s work? Surely Close himself must have been accused of painting by numbers at one point or another?

    – Is it acceptable for Chuck Close to be ignorant of digital media culture? Does this make him a noble old man or a relic of an age soon to be forgotten? Or does he in fact have a smart-but-underpaid staff of social media kids slash drones waiting in the wings, ready to preach the gospel across the fractal topology and complex networks of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest? Have they already infiltrated the, er, blogosphere?

    – Is it ok for A-list artists to be dicks just so that they can avoid being “trivialized” and – more importantly – to protect their wealth and their “legacy”? Is Close’s legacy really that fragile – and if so – doesn’t that imply an inherent weakness?

    – Bonus level: For shits and giggles, discuss similarities and dissimilarities of this case and Damien Hirst’s confiscating the work of a teenage street artist who copied his infernal skull?. Link: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1094139/Damien-Hirst-threatened-sue-teenager-alleged-copyright-theft.html

    • http://hragv.com Hrag Vartanian

      I find the moral indignation of some of the commenters bizarre. I think most of it comes from this strange cult people have for artists they like. That aside, I’m very happy you chimed in. Soo many great points. Btw, I vote “relic of an age soon to be forgotten.”

      • mariuswatz

        Glad to hear it, that helps justify the two hours it took to write it. I don’t care very much about Close’s work either way, but some of the attitudes expressed in the comments deserve rebuttal.

        • http://twitter.com/jilnotjill Jillian Steinhauer

          Agreed 100%. The outrage and anger directed at Scott seem entirely disproportionate with the essay and the situation.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000405617907 Cat Weaver

        Nah: I laugh my ass off when Jeff Koons sues over balloon dogs, or when Shep’s gang attacks some poor guy with a sports mascot that says “OBEY” — and I like both of those artists. So, no, I don’t think it’s about fandom.

        Look: the guy leveraged Close’s name. Created a filter that implies a criticism of Close’s art but claimed to be a fan. ANd then pretended to back down and be freindly when confronted. And then wrote a bashing screed online. Some of us just see this as ugly behavior.

        How this can be controversial is just mind-bending to me.

        What if the filter king here had responded to Close by saying the things he published here? And what if he didn’t simultaneously claim to be a big fan and a mocking hater but instead made his artist’s statement consistent and intellgent? Or what if he’d discussed the issue with Close and worked out a deal (or, in the end, failed to)? Or what if he’d pivoted, called the site Free “Chuck Close-style Simulator”…

        There are many ways this guy could have presented a better face.

      • http://visceralresponse.com Dina dV

        A little late to this party, but I can explain at least my own distaste at this article. Blake presents very few facts about the situation. All he says is that he created a filter, put it up on line calling it “free Chuck Close art,” got a non-legally-binding request from Close, albeit in all caps, asking him to pull it down or he will seek legal action and then, after a little back and forth, decided to take the site down without forcing any legal action.

        Now, is he right in this situation? Maybe, we don’t know because he chose not to pursue any legal recourse to decide on whether or not what he did constituted fair use. If anything, the one time he references seeking legal advice it muddies the water and even gave the slightest implicit acknowledgement that it wasn’t a cut and dried case of the big, bad, rich and famous artist quashing the little guy’s rights.

        From there, it just became a character attack on Close, basically calling him a hypocrite and a bully. Which, again, may very well be the case but Blake never forced the matter, and no mention was made of whether or not Close was contacted for comment. If you believe that there are three sides to this argument, Blake’s, Close’s and the truth, we don’t get the other two.

        Instead we get a plea from a disgruntled alleged former fan for pity. And Blake didn’t present his case for pity strongly enough for me. If he’d focused more on the facts of why Close was wrong in this situation instead of saying he’s a hypocrite and liar who should be ashamed of his actions and apologize, I’d be more interested in what he has to say.

        • http://hragv.com Hrag Vartanian

          I think Blake is still a fan of the art, not necessarily the man. Not sure where you’re getting the pity part? I think a lot of people think Close is arcane in his understanding of new media and our remix culture. Blake’s article does a good job IMHO of pointing out that claims of “originality” are fictions that artists often create to justify their achievements. I don’t think Close did anything all that original but that’s not to say many of his works aren’t strong.

          And the post is a first-person narrative, and anyone reading this will understand the subjectivity that represents.

          Your reading is as subjective as Blake’s narrative. I hope you see that.

          • http://visceralresponse.com Dina dV

            I do. But I just felt that without a counterpoint from Close’s camp, and with few facts regarding the crux of Blake’s complaint presented, it came off to me more as an appeal for pity than a call to justice.

            I wasn’t going to reply, but when I saw you questioning why people were having such a visceral response against Blake’s account, I thought I’d present a viewpoint that neither lauds nor condemns Close, since neither he nor a proxy was able to respond.

            As I said, and believe because no one is above reproach, Blake’s account may very well be accurate and Close may very well have overstepped his legal rights in this situation to protect this vague thing called his “brand.” I just didn’t see enough hard evidence to support it, so all the subsequent points about how Close himself may be disingenuous about his own influences came off as petty rather than illuminating to me.

          • http://hragv.com Hrag Vartanian

            All good points. I’m glad you did comment.

    • Klarpor

      “Point C has already been addressed.” Sorry, but copyright is the whole story here, as Close explained in his messages. Calling him a dick or dismissing other posts as misplaced moral indignation is beside the point.

      • mariuswatz

        I beg to differ. Not only are there many existing precedents and common sense arguments for what Blake has done, his software clearly falls under the rubric of being a transformative work. Unlike Mr.Prince he didn’t just blank out faces and add electric guitars, he created a very different piece altogether: It’s in a different medium (pixels vs. paint), produced by a completely different process (algorithms vs. the painter’s hand.) and – excepting the cases where Blake has created his own versions of specific Close paintings – the images his mechanism produces are dictated by the input material, which is arbitrary but likely to differ from Close’s.

        His mechanism also does not reproduce significant portions of any existing work – Blake describes sampling “tiles” from Close’s work, but the tiles are tiny compared to the overall image surface. I’m not sure why he decided to create his own versions of specific works, but even in those cases his images are verifiably different (and transformed) from the original.

        And guess what? A strong case could be made for freechuckcloseart.com being a work of satire (it sure sounds like one), for which fair use is strongly protected under law.

        Finally, as other commenters have pointed out, styles and artistic ideas are not yet protected by copyright. If they were, we would only ever have one Cubist painter, one Pointillist and one Color Field painter (or rather the future equivalents of similarly distinct styles – interpolate creatively.)

        Apple style litigation would hand the crown to whatever artist has the biggest litigation war chest.

        Wouldn’t that be a fun art world to live in? “Your painting is rectangular with slightly rounded edges, thus it is clearly a derivative of my own rectangular painting with slightly rounded edges”.

        The real legal issue here is David vs. Goliath: Even if Close has no case, Blake can’t afford the lawyers to argue his case in court or have his life disrupted by endless motions filed by Close’s lawyers. Cease and desist is a bitch. Even if you’re right you’re wrong, unless you have a cool $1M defense fund to back you up.

        So can we now agree that the mention of copyright here really is just a thinly veiled justification for saying “I no likey”?

        • Klarpor

          No, we can’t agree. Close has merely done what is legally required to protect his copyright in his work.

          • http://hragv.com Hrag Vartanian

            The odd thing is that Close has enforced his copyright irregularly. There are many other projects that use his “style” to create works. A simple Google search will reveal them.

          • mariuswatz

            I just did a quick google and was amazed, though it’s hardly surprising. The argument of having to enforce copyright seems even weaker in the light of what a simple Google Image search turns up, especially when it includes plenty of
            appropriations slash imitations created for clearly commercial purposes.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000405617907 Cat Weaver

            Not really, Hrag: google Koons and you’ll find a bazillion balloon dog things; but his legal team choses what to pursue; some slips through the cracks and some is just too inconsequential to pursue.

          • http://hragv.com Hrag Vartanian

            Unfortunately that doesn’t guarantee you can keep your copyright as the Koons balloon dog case proved. This project was no more well known than the other ones.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=745642310 Bernard HP Gilroy

            You can’t copyright a style, so he doesn’t really have a choice.

          • mariuswatz

            Oh, right, that. You’re absolutely correct, no two ways about it. Copyright law does require copyright owners to be unreasonable, paranoiac and borderline mean. “I couldn’t possibly allow you to create a Chuck Close pinata for your precocious 10 yr old’s birthday party, I might lose the right to defend my copyright.”

            That still does not mean copyright law would actually prohibit Blake from creating his piece, it merely justifies Close playing it lawyer safe and sending a cease-and-desist. That the net result is the stifling of artistic expression through legal bullying is just the way things should be, right?

          • Klarpor

            Sarcasm and more far-fetched and mostly irrelevant examples don’t make your case any stronger. But since you apparently have more time on your hands than I do, I’ll let you have the last word.

          • mariuswatz

            There’s nothing far-fetched about cease-and-desist letters over unlicensed pinatas. Disney issues them regularly, for exactly the reason you outline. http://articles.latimes.com/2005/jun/19/local/me-pinata19.

            Of course, I rather doubt there’s much call for Chuck Close pinatas, but if there was he’d have to crack down on that too.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000405617907 Cat Weaver

            I’m sure the courts would allow the silly pinata. Come now.
            What Close argued was entirely correct.
            And the fact that some silly stuff has slipped through the cracks does not preclude his right nor his need to pursue the issue when it looks important.

          • Klarpor

            If I’m not mistaken, you meant to reply to mariuswatz. You and I seem to agree generally.

      • http://twitter.com/heaveymellow Dean Belder

        And the chuck close filter has copyright ground to stand on. It’s fair use. And that is the whole story here.

        • Klarpor

          A claim of fair use by Blake might stand, but the law is unsettled and this particular case is complicated and differs from the precedents mentioned here in important ways. There are four criteria that govern fair use and nothing in this article suggests that the author considered how they might apply to his project before putting it online. On the contrary, he has done a number of things that would probably undermine his case for fair use, including calling his Website “freechuckcloseart.com.”

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000405617907 Cat Weaver

      Point D: Nothing wrong with derivative art, but something wrong with subterfuge, cowardice, and spite. He never once approached Mr. Close with an honest assessment of his art, his copyright claims, his concerns. Instead he lied, avoided confrontation — not JUST on a legal front, but also on a theoretical one, then he took his secreted aggression out by writing an insulting and hypocritical (given his former praise and FAN art) screed agains the man who had just invited him for a chat.
      I don’t understand how anyone could support such weak, cowardly behavior.
      How’s that for outrage?
      Fuck the author’s pathetic attempt to call his filter “art”: a court of law, and even an art snob might forgive that.
      It’s the sad success-bashing mentality and lame spite that I find so disgusting.

      • mariuswatz

        The problem with asking for permission is you often won’t get it. Blake does mention unsuccessfully trying to contact Close prior to the desist letter.

        I’m impressed that you hold artists to such high moral standards. Most of the artists I know are just like most people – flawed and imperfect.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000405617907 Cat Weaver

          It’s not “such a high moral standard” to ask that one be upfront and not lie about one’s intentions and not pretend to be freindly while secretly planning to slander your good name. That’s not a strict demand: it’s simple human decency. I even respect hypocrisy when it isn’t craven and duplicitous and coming from someone who seems to have a mad sense of entitlement.

          • mariuswatz

            I just realized I have no idea what you are talking about. Cowardice, slander and subterfuge sounds exciting indeed, unfortunately I fail to find any such tasty morsels in Blake’s article.

            Ok, so he has made public a discussion that was presumed to be private. I can see how that looks borderline unethical and I’m sure Chuck would be dismayed to see it. But faced with a cease-and-desist he has also run out of other options, and taking his quandary public at least allows Blake to talk about his plight.

            If you’re offended by the above text I’d love to introduce you to some net art friends of mine. Their entire practice consists of baiting their audience, the media and random institutions of authority into a frenzy of moral outrage, generally leading to very serious-sounding legal action that ends up going nowhere. They then exhibit a complete documentation of the provocation, often building sculptures out of the mountains of legal documents they’ve received in the course of the project.

            Now that’s slander and duplicity for you. (I wouldn’t recommend calling them cowards, though, they might be amused.)

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000405617907 Cat Weaver

            Cowardice: when confronted he backed down immediately, did not voice his objections (except to claim to be a fan), and then began to scheme (fortunately coming up with a lamo 100 year plan!)

            Slander: he presents initially as a fan but then goes on to debate Close by proxy through this article, making claims that Close has had no chance to answer and which attempt to sully his name and his process.

            Lying: He told Close he was a fan, told him he was backing off, pretened to be keeping it friendly.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000405617907 Cat Weaver

            I’m going to quote Todd Levin here, just because he puts it WAY better than I do:
            [The author] titles something “Free Chuck Close Filter,” then takes ‘offense’ when [his] art is labeled derivative, says he ‘never intended to rip off
            Chuck Close(!)’, claims Close is basically lying about his
            early/original sources, and to topic all off, says Close needs to
            develop “…a sense of shame and regret…and offers up an apology…”
            in addition to calling him “petty” and irrationally fearful.

    • http://www.facebook.com/steven.ketchum Steven Ketchum

      It looks as if you’re making an argument more for new media than talking about copyrights.

      Does changing the media from paint to pixels give enough room to be considered an original work? Probably not, but it’s an interesting question to ask how many degrees of separation it takes to be safe. If I take a picture of a contemporary painter’s work and start selling prints of it I would be in trouble.

      There’s no media that has greater ownership of “art” than any others. Whenever a material is declared too-new or dead you immediately find counter-evidence. In such a time where things are easily duplicated (“look ma, no hands” as you mentioned), it can’t be surprising that certain artists want to maintain the sacred originality of their work…and I’m sure that can apply to digital work as much as paint.

      • mariuswatz

        You’re right, my comment was 90% soapboxing about media art. I apologize, it’s a spinal reflex when faced with clueless and xenophobic commentary about digital work like that seen in this thread. Nowhere do I argue that Blake should get special treatment because the work is digital, but I did try to explain the finer points of what’s involved in making such a piece – details that can be arcane even to the techno-savvy.

        But ultimately I don’t consider this a copyright matter at all, it seems more like a veiled excuse for expressing disapproval. (See my extended copyright comment above: http://hyperallergic.com/54104/my-chuck-close-problem/#comment-585751550). I’m particularly confused by the expressed enthusiasm for a draconian interpretation of copyright law that would protect every detail of an artist’s style – that’s a slippery slope that could lead to artists having to defend the originality of their works against just about anybody whose copyrighted works bear even the slightest resemblance to theirs.

        Keep in mind that copyright rarely benefits the average artist – who can’t afford to enforce it even in clear-cut cases. In practice copyright is primarily a tool of institutions and the 1% of artists who have made it to Close’s level. I know that sounds like a class-based argument, but talk to any non-bluechip artist whose work was ripped off by an ad agency and see how many of them have been successful in even getting a licensing compensation.

        I can’t help but wonder where the indignant commenters stand in regards to Pop Art, hip-hop and street art? In a scenario with zero-tolerance for appropriation (often far more shameless than Blake’s) these art forms might as well not exist. Campbell would’ve sued Warhol, the Amen breakbeat would not have become the origin of thousands of songs and street artists (most of whom are already on the run from the law) would likely be hunted by private investigators on the behalf of powerful copyright holders.

        People are free to hate Blake’s project all they like, but surely it would be better to own that antipathy upfront than dressing up as a legal issue?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rj-Preece-At-Artdesigncafe/100000819916549 R.j. Preece At Artdesigncafe

    an interview concerning copyright with unique detailed discussion with a top trademark lawyer may be of interest: http://www.artdesigncafe.com/lawyer-appropriation-copyright-infringement-Damien-Hirst-John-LeKay-Cartrain-ADP-1-1-2009

  • http://www.facebook.com/karen.h.melton Karen H. Melton

    You got a personal invite to Chuck Close’s house and you’re whining?! Geeze. Not only is it dishonest and unethical to communicate your willingness to cooperate with the artist then publicly announce your “schemes” to do the exact opposite to his legacy after he’s dead but its bad form, tasteless. I actually got pretty interested and excited when you feigned understanding and rationality in the letter exchange between you two. I saw a real opportunity for you. What happened? A few beers and resentful discussions with an attorney friend? Do you know anything about Chuck Close’s experience? Too bad for you that you probably destroyed any opportunity for it first hand with this ridiculous “blame” article. Oil painting is a visual medium that has the contextual reverence of history. Your article left a bad taste in my mouth. Its seems youve been reading the dictionary (your affinity with the word derivative) so now spend some time building an awareness and relationship with those words youre throwing around. I suggest some research and study in the visual arts. In the end, your actions have shown us your true intentions; not to commune with years of historical visual dialogue about art and its making, but instead shameless attention gluttony and immediate gratification of your ego. YAWN…..

  • Carly Martin

    Appropriation is one thing- to use his name in a website called “free chuck close art” where you are certainly jeopardizing his career by allowing people to rip off his iconic paintings in a cheap shortcut version, without his consent- is quite another.

  • bradblackman

    Didn’t Salvador Dalì also do a pixelated Abraham Lincoln?

  • http://twitter.com/joncoffelt Jon Coffelt

    Responsibility and ethics rear their heads here.
    Because your art education never exposed you to Chuck Close doesn’t mean it is OK for you to make work that is so close to his footprint without dealing with the consequences. You should not be angry with Chuck Close. Actually, the people you should be angry with were your art instructors who didn’t bother to educate properly especially if they say saw that you were treading on a thin ice such as copyright infringement.

    Too many art schools today allow their students to all but copy work and techniques of other artists and many never bother to have a discussion about this with these students. What alarms me most about this is the copyright infringement that may well happen due to this overlook of something I feel is so basic. Why are the art schools not teaching basic art history nowadays? Living in New York, I see derivative constantly now. Used to be it was a rarity to see derivative work. Galleries, too, are in collusion especially if they show questionable work with a wink and a nod. Art shouldn’t always be what one can get away with. Just because an artist has a MFA doesn’t mean they know more about art history. This is growing more and more apparent. Artist should understand that they should not copy another more prominent artist’s work. Besides, who wants their art identity tied up with another artists work. Its almost lazy. Too bad these young artists paid so much money to higher education only to be shafted by these same institutions who was supposed to teach them the correct way.

    Even if the artist is self-taught, this is by no means an excuse, especially in our saavy world with very easy access to learn about others work.

    Intellectually, if an artist finds out his work is derivative of an artist who came before, he should work harder and make sure his work becomes more uniquely his own. This takes time. Many Unfortunately, most younger artists are just not ready intellectually and don’t have the resolve nor the technique to understand. This still doesn’t make the situation right and vilifying artists is still the norm rather than a free pass with a wink and a nod so tread lightly or pay dearly.

    • http://www.facebook.com/clarychristopher Christopher Clary

      Hey Jon. It’s been a while since we had a chance to catch up. It’s rare to banter back and forth with someone you know. And unfortunately I have to disagree. The fact that it may be derivative might be exactly the point of the art? I wasn’t liking it personally after reading this article but going to his site made me think that there is a bigger issue that this piece speaks to that I’m not even sure Scott understands. Which is… what is derivative? And that qualifies it as art for me. And therefore transformative. Is it good? Doesn’t matter because it deserves protection under the law. Cheers, Chris.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MY6UVNPUOP5RWRQU5ZYJIGTYIU tom s

    I’ve always thought Close’s work was vapid and mechanical. Your filter confirms that. Thank you.

  • http://twitter.com/LolaScarpitta Lola Scarpitta

    There is a great quote by Picasso that says it all “Good artists borrow, great artists steal”. And what that means is you take what has struck you and put a flame in your brain and you make it all yours, completely yours. How? By putting your own transformation to it. There are no original ideas, it’s all been done. But what you do to transform and make your own, is what makes great art worthy of consideration.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000405617907 Cat Weaver

    Just because it says “APPROPRIATE” on the label, doesn’t mean you HAVE to buy it.
    In this case, I’m just not buying it.
    When it was Richard Prince’s Marlborough Man, I bought it.
    When it was Warhol’s poppies, I bought it.
    When it was Shep’s HOPE poster, even: I bought it.
    Even when graphic artists snatch huge portions of photos, I feel just dandy about it.

    But when there’s a childish blindness to simple human decency, as I and Todd Levin have pointed out below, then I cant help but NOT buy it.

    Btw : the caps, for those of you with accute sensitivity, are replacing the lack of italics.

  • http://www.facebook.com/clarychristopher Christopher Clary

    Scott, I wish you had talked a bit more about your art practice beyond this project. Your articles makes it seem this has been your only preoccupation since college. Only after going to your website did I see that you’ve done much more than this Chuck Close series. It’s important, and unfortunately a necessity, as appropriation artists (for which I am one christopherclary.com) to show a history of using other source material and technologies to create something new (a strategy used in the Cariou vs. Prince case). Maybe you can find a law firm that can take this on pro bono because it would be interesting to challenge the idea that art has to be original. Why can’t it be “derivative” and transformative at the same time. Very interesting.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=5025318 Stacey Stormes

    Someone should make similar portraits composed of tiny extreme close ups of anal-sphincters and call it “freescottblakeart.”

    But seriously, this entire article is insulting and ludicrous. It’s a new level of disrespect that you think Close should feel shamed for attempting to protect his copyrighted work and then being extremely gracious to you in follow up emails.

    And by very definition this work is derivative as you directly derived it from Close’s actual images. It doesn’t matter if you like the word.
    (from the OED: “derivative …originating from, based on, or influenced by”)

    You, sir, are a tool, and as a new media artist I am offended at you trying to paint us all with your brush. Most of us have far more respect for other artists.

    • http://hragv.com Hrag Vartanian

      Elsewhere in the comments Scott has said he’d be honored if someone did that to his art.

  • http://twitter.com/sub_silentio marina press

    I totally agree with you but..as one great art dealer just said to me “it’s too close to Close”…I understand how you are re-appropriating his process…and his process is his art.

    You can always look back at the Sherry Levine case for any qualms about appropriation. The jury was on your side.

    The only problem here, for me, is that your subjects are extremely similar to Close’s. The animation works because it is so different but the faces – well, that’s almost indistinguishable. 100 years from now – no one will know the difference between Chuck’s “Leslie” and HotBlondeBabe47 who uploaded her profile pic to the Free Chuck Close Filter in 2008 …and finally – you are so using his name! That’s got to be more confusing to some people than ever!

    Also – his meticulously painted portraits are a step more meticulous than yours in one MAJOR way. Chuck suffers from face blindness.

  • http://twitter.com/gerwitz hans.gerwitz

    When I read this earlier, I was aghast that Close would feel so threatened by generative art, having declared “I absolutely hate technology, and I’m computer illiterate, and I never use any labor-saving devices although I’m not convinced that a computer is a labor-saving device.”

    He has clearly decided, I thought, they pose a sort of threat. This amusingly led to two possible conclusions: Chuck Close has either decided that software is creative, or if he’s sticking to his derision of technology, that his work is merely a matter of labor.

    But all of my smug amusement was borne of a mistake in interpretation. On re-reading the email exchange as recounted, it seems that Close is only defending the use of his name and image. It’s not the sanctity of his work that seems to be driving his objection, but the dilution of his brand.

    If the “website name is part of the art” then it would seem that playing with his brand was intentional. And if you wanted to stand by a statement of that sort, you’d be declaring “fuck you, Chuck Close, your name is not art and this is fair use.”

    But that’s not what I read here. Instead, you’re in a defensive posture about the legitimacy of your art and the tradition of “remixing”, when it’s not even clear that Close has questioned these. Perhaps you’re talking past each other and it would have been constructive to continue the dialogue.

    • http://www.facebook.com/clarychristopher Christopher Clary

      NIce point!

  • http://www.ianseancross.com/ Jasper

    Just call a spade a spade. The work is derivative and would not exist in its present form without Chuck Close first making his own stylized technique of mosaic paintings. If Chuck Close does not paint these pictures then the work by Scott would not exist. You can apply this formula to most every appropriated creative invention. Just go back to the idea of the tabla rasa. Your are a blank slate until you have an experience that you can build upon or in this case copy. It is pretty simple.

  • Pablo Mayrgundter

    Only because I used to care about art, and this is such a trainwreck, and I was lucky enough to get the linkage.. I can’t resist…

    This whole discussion. The original article. The (supposed?) email from an important modern artist. But most of all, the vitriol! My heart is fluttering almost as much as my eyes are rolling. This is what’s going on in the “art world”? Rhetorical question. Do you understand what’s going on in the rest of the creative world? Rhetorical question.

    Oh man. It doesn’t matter who wins this argument (though Blake, hats off for causing it, and neat filter! :).

    Kids aren’t running around with iPods full of huge troves of paintings and they don’t know who Chuck Close is; in the music part of the creative world, the livelihood and legacy arguments were safely sequestered to a courtroom while everyone got on with downloading tons of free music and learning what all of the Beatles albums actually sounded like instead of just hearing about them as Important Works that once happened.
    Or consider film (which notably is making it onto the iPods, even though the space for storing 1 film could equally well get you all of the painting in the Met). A single notable “motion” picture employs, is seen by and drives more economic production and conversations than.. oh, the last decade of all gallery paintings together? Am I underestimating?
    And the visual graphic art that actually matters — graffiti — (m-dash? haha, j/k) makes almost no reference to anything in our galleries.

    Now think, How does a graffiti artist feel when their work gets chopped up, remixed and broadcast to the interwebz? If you actually contemplated that, go outside and play right now :) A: Nobody knows or cares 99% of the time because the whole scene is too fast, exciting and PRODUCTIVE to waste cycles asking academic questions or waiting to hear their answers. The rare exception, such as Leave through the Gift Shop, is self-deprecating, ironic, and itself a work of art, by let’s say the equivalent of a Chuck Close in that world.

    Same applies for music. Have you heard of Girl Talk? Rhetorical question. I mean, just think about the music scene. It’s exploding. There’s like what, hundreds of music fests around the country every year and new subgenres developing in your favorite subgenre before you even catch up to what was going on last year. There’s Pandora! Er wait.. there’s a whole sub-dot-com industry copying Pandora now. I went to SXSW this year and it could very well have been the epicenter of the Mayan prophesied 2012 apocalypse. I think I saw a few paintings on the wall somewhere, between the 750 bands that came from all over the world to > 20-30k revelers (underestimating again?).

    copyrights, trademark, blah blah: http://blog.ted.com/2010/05/25/lessons_from_fa/

    Of course there’s a role for the Academy, and higher learning, and traditions and context and.. but look, the art scene is a dead scene. You get to have the Academy back once you return from the land of the living dead.

    (I was curious and decided to see if there were any facts supporting this and found Art New’s Top 30 Exhibitions of the year, 2010: http://www.theartnewspaper.com/attfig/attfig10.pdf; is anyone on this list even living? A: Tim Burton. That kinda says it all, eh ;?)

    Now everyone send Chuck Close some all-caps for involving lawyers, get off their keyboards and go do something creative … or at least derivative!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=760814707 Jerry Ketel

    I’m with Chuck.

  • Superpower

    If you are truly and original artist I’m sure you’ll evolve to create something other than Chuck Close facsimiles. -But you determining what’s good or not good for Mr. Close’s financial standings shows your ignorance. While you may be “cool” with an artist creating Scott Blake
    look-alikes, Chuck Close isn’t cool with you projecting his name or intellectual property without consent. Chuck Close and the name “Chuck Close” is an icon in American art, in fact he played a huge role in the founding of and art movement during the 70’s which I’m sure you’re already aware. To you it’s a class project, to Chuck Close it’s his name…his identity and livelihood. Remember, Chuck Close was minding his own business before YOU made him YOUR problem.

  • mariuswatz
    • http://veken.org Veken

      I’ve always loved that site!

    • JosephYoung

      mine turn out more like motherwell??

  • http://www.memo.tv Memo Akten

    Regarding the naming of the site, if the name or context ignored the Chuck Close connection he would’ve been accused of ripping Chuck off. By shouting out that these are ‘chucks’, he’s being honest and more importantly, making a statement.

    If the value in chucks work is in the fact that it takes him forever to make one of these paintings, surely its very relevant that it can now be automated by a computer. Instead of trying to ignore this fact he should accept it and adapt.

    If the value in chucks work is at a conceptual level, he has nothing to worry about. You can’t build the shell of a car out of polystyrene and expect it to run.

    Desperately fighting to cling on to royalties losing value in a changing world is a little bit sad.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.w.shepard Jennifer Shepard

    Wow, so many interesting comments. If nothing else, I think this article has spurned a really interesting debate. I am a fan of appropriation art. Always have been. I have been known to appropriate tons of imagery in my own work. I am influenced by pop artists, and I am a believer in expressing what you experience. If what you experience happens to at times involve the work of others, put in in there. The same way a writer might talk about what brand of Vodka or soda he/or she was drinking, I think artists should be able to visually “talk” about what they are experiencing.

    2 points that I haven’t heard articulated here (although I admit I didn’t read through the entire thread):

    1: I do think the real issue here is the use of Chuck Close’s name in the project. Obviously, at this point he is is own brand, and in that sense should have some sort of ownership of how his name is used in any commercial affair (although this point is kind of moot considering the the project is a *free image generator).

    2: I’m glad that someone brought up Jeff Koons. Funny how he is sue-happy, yet a large portion of his art is directly about appropriation. i.e. the “banality” series?? C’mon, so you cast a porcelain mold of the pink panther. It’s STILL the pink panther and hence someone else’s idea/drawing/character. In fact, this project is really similar to that project in a way. It is just reproducting someone else’s work in another medium, and that medium change is part of what the message is about. This is a reverse discrimination about the same subject matter, in fact. That is, the formal, museum-ready, artisnal porcelain reproduction of a “banal” cartoon image is deemed fine, but the reverse (Chuck Close’s idiosyncratic original paintings represented in a “banal” medium) is apparently inappropriate. The question is: by whose standards?

    3: I do think Chuck Close is being a little overdramatic. Legally, I think he definitely has grounds to stand on, but the point is Chuck Close is a legendary living icon and a household name, and honestly I think his concern that this will somehow devalue his contribution to the world is beyond ridiculous. Do we devalue Van Gogh or Da Vinci because representations of their work now exist on umbrellas, tote bags, and posters? I think not. They are still hailed as singularly original and worship-worthy masters who are in every artist history book across the planet. Close has nothing to worry about. His work has been canonized to the anals of history.

  • http://twitter.com/golan Golan Levin

    Scott Blake has done a nice job with his Chuck Close homage project: aesthetically, computationally and conceptually. It’s a pity that Close isn’t big enough to appreciate it. It’s downright pitiful that Close actually feels threatened by Blake’s project.

    I also think that Blake has done a nice job drawing connections between Close’s work and that of the (contemporaneous) early computer artists, such as Ed Manning (http://www.atariarchives.org/artist/sec17.php). Clearly pixellization was “in the air”. It’s too bad, again, that Close is too small to acknowledge the stew of related ideas from which his own work emerged in the late 60’s and early 70’s.

    For more than a decade, I’ve taught a “Make Your Own Custom Pixel” assignment in my Processing courses which is — take your pick — an homage to Close, or a trivialization of his work. For example, here’s 2005: http://artscool.cfa.cmu.edu/~levin/courses/dmc/iig_05s/ejercicio_persona.php?e_id=53. Close needs to get over himself and see his work in a context of influence and continually evolving ideas. Blake certainly does.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mixmasterdsr Sean Ross

    Scott Blake, enjoy your 15 minutes

  • http://www.facebook.com/salowa.salzer Salowa Skiredj-Salzer

    I am a visual artist who likes computers but I have spent a great deal of time learning how to make art without using that tool. Chuck Close is the only person that should be allowed to use his own name and visual works. It is different to work with the artist in your wonderful creations. It stinks that you spent so much time on your project without him, but that is not the way it is done. You have the greatest vehicle for your own art here. Or…find an artist who wants to work with you and use this as an in to get in some galleries with more original mosaic pieces to make the images. Then release it to the masses. The point is, using a living artist to make your work a successes is only ok if they know you are part of the creative process and want to work with you. I cant wait to see what you come up with.

  • http://twitter.com/ekapros Evangelos Kapros

    You two could meet in NY and watch “Carnage” together. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnage_%282011_film%29

  • http://www.facebook.com/diane.mantzaris Diane Mantzaris

    I have read so many articles by programmers in Photoshop and Macworld magazine that sound just like this, a step by step description of a process on how to imitate an artists style. And sorry but that is where this article belongs! I’m not anti digital arts at all, it’s been part of my practice for over 3 decades, but I can understand why Close might be with nerds like this on his back, even with a freaking microscope on hand- no depth of understanding!
    ‘Appropriation’ is often brought up by ‘designers’ who ‘use’ artists work inappropriately as a way of excusing what they do. Yes there is more to Close’s work than pixelisation, and anyone who has looked at his work in any detail would know. Scott Blakes filter is as stupid as an Andy Warhol filter- double stupid, an animated Warhol filter.
    I don’t see Scotts point on Close’s nude, or any similarity, – and yes the article should have stopped after his written apology when Close invited him to his studio (which was nice!). The rest is Evil and belongs in the trash!

    • http://www.facebook.com/diane.mantzaris Diane Mantzaris

      Educated artists know what appropriation is about and it does not mean stepping all over anothers life’s work in this way without permission or having collaborated in any way. Scott: Is there an “appropriation for dummies” book? If so READ IT! Saying you didn’t intend to rip him off is just bullshit when you have sat down examining his work to the grid, with intention of capitalising on his hard work and name which is the only dedication you have applied. Shame on you!

      • http://www.facebook.com/matt.gardiner.5680 Matt Gardiner

        I agree with you! Scott Blake’s filter is derivative and would not exist in its present form without Chuck Close. Scott Blake’s methodology, as he explains it himself (!) is based on copying Chuck Close’s work with aim to imitate his style. Copyright belongs to the originating source which is Chuck Close. Chuck Close owns his name obviously, you cannot use a persons name in this way and get away with it . But most of all, copying another artists work is unethical art practice, you just don’t go there. I’m not buying Scott Blake- he isn’t particularly controversial but publication of this here is, it’s stupidity at its highest form, it’s not doing the art and technology community any favours that’s for sure!
        In NO other industry, could you create (a substandard) mechanised version of someone else’s produce, use their name, with aim to benefit commercially, and get away with it! I’d like to see this go to court just to see this calculating lying jerk called Scott Blake boasting all over his Facebook put in his rightful place!

        • http://www.facebook.com/matt.gardiner.5680 Matt Gardiner

          This post is good- albeit too kind for the jerk you are. listen up dude!
          Andy Diaz Hope • 3 days ago

          Scott, I doubt Chuck Close knew he was going to become part of the “art world establishment” and believe he has worked diligently his entire life on his creative passion and his success is a by product of this effort. I hope this happens to you and I one day. It doesn’t make him any different than you or I when he defends his work from being copied and trivialized. I think you need to stop presenting this as little guy being picked on by big, rich guy. Exuberance gets us all in trouble at some point. I think you over stepped and would be best served acknowledging this and moving on rather than trying to rally a bunch of people to support your “cause”. The only thing that your filter seems to do is make anyone’s face available in Close’s “Signature Style”. Since when has that been a god given right? The images lack the depth and interest of the original work. It’s like saying you’ve seen Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” because you bought the mug from Starbucks. I think Chuck Close has every right to protect his work. You may feel it is a homage, but from here it seems misguided and insulting. I agree with some of the previous posts. Take your talent and do something original.2 •Reply•

      • http://www.chrismillerwebsite.wordpress.com/ ChristopherM

        Lots of salient points there, Diane. I like your comment, even if I wouldn’t jump all the way to terms like ‘evil’ or ‘thief’ with a capital T (since credit is openly given to the source, at least). Personally, I have the same feeling as you about many of the appropriation arguments I’ve heard in passing: more opportunism under the surface than creative heft and balls/ovaries/wild brains. I kind of feel like this is a hot POV these days, owing to some uncritical enthusiasm for a new medium. I hope it’s just a temporary shift that finds some equilibrium eventually, because I think the effect is one that lowers the bar for quality demands on cultural expression overall. Mediocrity is still just mediocrity and it’s boring, no matter the media. No matter how much steam gets blown along the lines of overly literal ‘there is no originality’ arguments or ‘imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’ or broad interpretations on that Picasso quote about stealing. Dragging that dusty old Picasso placard out of the closet is the new Hitler reference, whether it fits the case or not.

        Analytical nerds with microscopes? I like that. Of course ideas always have sprung from previous ideas since the first think was thunk, duh — but some of those ideas have always tasted more stale and less profoundly electric than others, too.

        I hope I’m wrong, but it bothers me to see what looks like cockfighting for crumbs and inches of useless turf. I don’t mean this discussion board per se, I mean the bigger picture regarding creative expectations and demands of ourselves as artists and what the point of being an artist is for each of us …. I think that is supposed to be a hard-fought existential question that ought to drive us forward. How often, and how much time, is spent on that wrasslin’ match in art schools? Why the professional art world relies so heavily on art schools is entirely different debate. Way off the topic of this article, I guess.

        Anyway. Criticism, satire, disagreements, whatnot – even some shenanigans outside the letter of the law – all can be super awesome and critical to keeping it all fresh and real. Even if some of those battles are lost, they may need to happen. But doing something to death for nothing is still just doing something to death for nothing. Artists pissing on each other just for crusts of bread and brief attention is not awesome. Screw that. The birds never win the fights in the long run, and they only retire when they’ve been torn to shreds. The money gets exchanged on the other side of the plywood barriers, every single time. Boooo!! to that

        Good to see this article, if only for the discussion and dust it kicked up …. obviously, it touches a lot of nerves in a lot of different ways to have lasted this long. Sorry if this comment wandered a bit.

  • Jan Kather

    Your defense of how you and all artists are influenced and inspired by others is brilliant. Bravo!

  • http://www.facebook.com/gardner.ae Andrew E. Gardner

    Yes, it’s been said that all art is in some way derivative. And I don’t diminish Mr. Blake’s idea to reappropriate some of those ideas in his digital art project. But it’s very clear that using Chuck Close’s name was entirely the point of this project.

    By referencing a specific artist’s work and practice, regardless of whether or not that practice was itself a derivation of other works from the past, Mr. Blake clearly stood to gain. Sure, the filter was free, but recognition and fame are priceless. When Chuck Close is interviewed and suggests that he doesn’t know of other artistic practices that are similar to his own, he may be lying. But at least he is not using another artists’ name to further his own work and gain praise or acknowledgement.

    Chuck Close doesn’t want you using his name on work that he did not produce for good reason. Stand up and call this work your own–it’s already derivative, and anyone who knows anything about art in the 20th century will recognize the “Chuck Close-ness” of it without ever it ever being labeled with his name,

  • http://benjaminvalentine.com/ Ben Valentine

    Right now there is a shift underway where art that once required a hand to make, might only require a computer, and take a fraction of the time to make. If the artists dont evolve with the times, their traditional livelihood will be place in jeopardy. Chuck close hasn’t changed his practice in decades, and I’d guess he is so threatened because this piece shows the technology catching up. Not that Close will ever be replace by programmatic art in his life-time, he has a market for his works, he is considered an amazingly influential painter, and will always be in art history.

    BUT, artists are never unique or acting in a vacum, Chuck Close shouldn’t pretend he ‘invented’ this style and it is insulting that he tries to ‘own’ it. This is the claim of someone living in the past, from a pre-internet era. Someone with too big of an ego to recognize that the art is more important that him. Close sounds like the music industry or encyclopedia publishers, un-willing to accept that times have changed, maybe too old to adapt, and fighting increasingly petty fights while still being millionaires. You can’t stop technology.

    I do think it would great to print one of the chuck close filters out and display it next to a chuck close painting. I am sure it wouldn’t compare, again, yet. So although I think Chuck Close sounds like a paranoid old man, some younger artists must consider where technology is going, and if their work is threatened by it. The internet is changing ideas of ownership and production, and the art market will never be the same, Chuck Close is fine, but younger artists must adapt.

    • http://www.chrismillerwebsite.wordpress.com/ ChristopherM

      Maybe I’m nitpicking, but statements like “The internet is changing ideas of ownership and production” have to be examined closely before they are swallowed whole. It might apply better in some cases than others. Take it case by case. After all … people are changing their minds, the tech and the tools don’t actually do that for them. We are still sentient and responsible for the ethics behind our actions, like it or not. I think the idea that all cultural changes follow some sort of automatic updraft that equals progress is a bit blind. What are the new ideas of ownership and production, and how broadly do they apply, and what/who is the driving force behind it?

      Some of the consumptive habits of kids who have only ever known a post-internet world might actually demand that creators just deal with zero/unsustainable compensation from the demands of consumption. Period. They want more, but they want it free. Rent? Medical bills? Kids to feed? Too bad, artists and writers and musicians — the art and culture is just so much bigger than you. If you feel like complaining about the deal, somebody less bitchy about such compensatory details will do it for free. Forget celebrity millionaires and record companies for a second. It could turn out that the new even-more-easily-faceless audience (and not just big faceless corporate interests — wait… they are considered ‘people’ now too, right?) is just as comfortable steamrolling and screwing independent artists and little guys. Personally, that’s what I think the new deal is. As an artist, I have actual concerns that maybe someone who wants me to toil away for “exposure” (which is also a word for something that kills you) and goodwill so that they can live in a world of boundless free entertainment choices might not share. When do we get the “free food and shelter and medicine” world? Why do I have a sinking feeling the pace of change regarding a “free for all” ethos might struggle to keep pace with the demand for entertainment? It is worth paying attention to. Seriously and sincerely, best of luck to younger artists.

      I hope I’m just being cranky and paranoid there. I’ll admit that’s super possible. I hope I’m wrong. On good days, I’m more optimistic. I’m the same age as Scott Blake, and my life has basically been a 50/50 straddle of the pre- and post-internet world. I think the internet is an amazing tool with tons of potential …. both good and bad, honestly.

      • http://benjaminvalentine.com/ Ben Valentine

        I’m not so sure, did we decide to let the printing press radically shift how knowledge was spread throughout the world? No, it just was there, and could do it better than ever before, so it naturally happened. There were scribes who protested the printing press, because it made their work obsolete, and that is what Chuck Close is afraid of, although it hasn’t happened yet.
        Also, I would be willing to bet there are more musicians and artists making a living then ever before, even with “the consumptive habits of kids who have only ever known a post-internet world” but the ways those artists are making a living is changing. attendance of live events has sky rocketed. As an artist/art writer/curator I am worried about our demands to free up art and knowledge, but I demand it too, it is democratic and fair. I trust that there will be new ways to make money. hell, I am getting paid to blog, a job that didn’t exist two decades ago.

        • http://www.chrismillerwebsite.wordpress.com/ ChristopherM

          Well, the printing press didn’t operate itself. I’m also not really convinced that the internet can somehow replace the role of human creative endeavors. Creative people still need to make the content for it, as far as I can tell. I guess I think it’s different than the scribes of old. For the record, I think Close doesn’t really need to be worried in this specific case, whether or not he is within his legal rights. It’s hard to say, copyright rulings are hard to predict with certainty. Not that I think this would even go that far.

          I wouldn’t bet my OWN money that there are more artists and musicians making a living than ever before (as in making enough from their art/music itself), but maybe there is. I don’t have any numbers to back it up. I also think that there might even be a few different ways to measure the skyrocketing attendance of live events. Does this attendance translate directly into artists/performers/whatever getting paid? Is it enough to offset overhead costs or make up for losses of old revenue streams? I don’t know those answers, I’m just throwing those two out there. However, I totally agree that the ways artists are making a living is changing. I just wonder how many will get burned or shut out (not even on the merit of their art, either … just on savviness in promoting themselves) in the process, and if it’s so necessary.

          Freedom and democratic access to knowledge is awesome. Art and knowledge has been free for my entire life! Aside from an internet connection at home I have a library card, and most libraries have connections too. I think public libraries are one of humanity’s greatest ideas, hands down. For what I don’t find online, I find on the shelves and whatnot. And I only need the card if I want to bring the materials home with me. Even most gallery exhibits where I live (aside from museums) have no cover charge. The imediately pre-internet world wasn’t exactly analogous to the pre-printing press world. Democratic access to info is how I bypassed going to art school! For the record, I buy books too sometimes.

          Between you and me … I even make whatever art I want. No one stops me, and I doubt I’d let them. It’s when it comes to choices about exhibiting or profiting (whether or not that means $$$) where I make an extra set of judgement calls. Not so different from curating in a way, come to think of it. Sort of? Actually, I don’t really know. And I also have no doubt there will be new ways to make money …. I’m just not how much it will have to do with making art. I can’t predict the future though.

          I really wouldn’t call blogging a job that didn’t exist two decades ago. Just the word ‘blogging’ didn’t. I’d definitely say you sound like a good writer though.

          • http://benjaminvalentine.com/ Ben Valentine

            Creative People do still feed the content to online or programmatic artwork, but the speed and potential audience that these works can achieve are greater than ever before. Whether they are as good is an impossible conversation that I don’t know how to begin.

            I think that you make a really good point that artists now must act as promoters too. I am sure there are tons of great artists that never got known because they were shy, or the market was unfair to them, I honestly really hate to think about it. Sad.

            I think that major arts institutions like the New Museum have a great role in deciding futures of artists, and if they have hidden agendas that can be more destructive than any appropriation artist or new technology to other artists’ careers (I am thinking about this http://www.artfagcity.com/2009/11/03/how-the-new-museum-committed-suicide-with-banality/) I am glad you brought up libraries, I love them too. YOU HAVE TO WATCH THIS: it blew my mind, especially around the conversation we’re having. Basically it is how the NYPL and Bibliothèque Nationale de France are re-imagining their place in an internet world as a more public space, as a community space, and not simply a storage for books. I was thinking about this lecture while writing earlier, I think you would enjoy it.

          • http://www.chrismillerwebsite.wordpress.com/ ChristopherM

            Sweet – loved that link to artfagcity. Thumbs up to William Powhida! And concerning your point about major art institutions and hidden agendas and how all that can be even more destructive than any appropriation artist or new tech: nothing but an enthusiastic high five from me about that, for real. Oh, I could just rail about that sort of thing for days…
            I looked up NYPL/Bibliotheque Nationale and came across some ‘Utopia’ programming, but didn’t find any links to any video lectures … it looked like some choice cuts though (I’m skeptical about utopian ideas – surprise! – but love reading up on them for the vitamins). Was there supposed to be another link up there?
            Cheers Ben, pleasure to read your comments.

          • http://benjaminvalentine.com/ Ben Valentine

            HAHA! sorry, forgot the crucial link: http://www.nypl.org/audiovideo/future-libraries-bruno-racine-paul-leclerc-moderated-paul-holdengr%C3%A4ber
            likewise! Someone needs to keep my idealism about the internet in check.
            enjoy

  • http://twitter.com/sressler Sandy Ressler

    You have simply produced some computer art that deals with Chuck Close’s “style”. The capturing of artistic style is not a duplication of another artist but is, in my humble opinion, a pure form of “computer art”. This has existed since the 80’s in the work of people dealing with a set technologies derived from “shape grammars”. Take a look at my simple effort trying to capture the process of Diebenkorn in “Computers Viewing Artist’s at Work”: http://ovrt.nist.gov/people/sressler/compt_view.pdf. More intrestingly this comes from the architecture domain where the paper “The language of the prairie: Frank Lloyd Wright’s prairie houses” http://dcom.arch.gatech.edu/ellen/secured/flw-sg.pdf presents work to create synthenic houses in that same style. I think Chuck Close is totally off-base and misunderstands your work which if anything is a complement to his. Good luck!

  • Den Hickey

    So, part of what we are supposed to buy here is that Close is rich (from his artwork) and so its okay to rip off his work and try to make a profit on it. Bullshit.

  • http://www.facebook.com/JohnBreiner John Breiner

    i agree with chuck, developing a program to make anyone be able to emulate whats he’s worked a life time to develop by hand.. is well not very interesting, original or flattering. Its a watering down of the Art you seem excited about and intent on preserving. You can site who ever you want for copying or bitting in the past or present..But its about what your doing now, and sitting all those examples just makes it seem like your defending your self, which is probably because on some level you understand what he’s saying. I’m sure your smart and get that so create your own art or technology thats not stepping on anyones toes (especially when dude now matter how rich he is, is asking you not to do this) you respect him and his art but kind want to say fuck you after your… well both dead. I don’t know man..

  • http://www.facebook.com/justin.c.black Justin Black

    This comes down to Mr. Blake’s statement that, “I simply wanted to make his art accessible to the masses.”

    “I wanted”

    “his art”

    Close had no obligation to allow his art to be made available to the masses in a way that advanced the career and livelihood of someone whom he had not authorized to do so. Close’s name and reputation were leveraged without his permission, and he has rights of publicity to his own name and work. He was right that his work was being trivialized.

    “I think he singled me out because I choose to work in a medium that he finds inferior.” No, Mr. Blake, he singled you out because you were using his name and reputation to promote your product (which trivialized his work) and to advance your own career.

    • http://www.facebook.com/diane.mantzaris Diane Mantzaris

      it’s copyright infringement, (moral rights legislation in most countries part of copyright law as it applies to visual artists) If copyright infringement, wasn’t obvious enough from Scott’s produce it is obvious in this descriptive article/ his own words.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=763885095 Daniel Carter

    Hi Scott, I think the reason Close sees this as trivializing his work (and I’d agree) is because you made it available to the public. If you had used the filter to create your own art then he’d have no case against you…or else all artists that use appropriation and copy a style would be in the same situation. I think he’d only be able to claim you were copying his style, digitally. Tough for him at that point because a style can’t be copyrighted. Use the filter today by making your own work, write an article for a digital magazine and explore your research, development, and possible future options in the digital realm. If you can make art like Close in a digital format, then do so, but don’t make the filter available to others so they can flood the world with Chuck Close “look alikes”.

    • http://www.facebook.com/diane.mantzaris Diane Mantzaris

      the copyright holder is the originating source, it cannot be copied. mutilated or altered against their wishes.
      Artists Authorship Rights Act (New York) and the Visual Artists Right Act (VARA)elsewhere is called moral rights,- it is part of copyright law, It includes The right to prevent use of one’s name on any work that has been distorted, mutilated, or modified in a way that would be prejudicial to the author’s honor or reputation. The right to prevent distortion, mutilation, or modification that would prejudice the author’s honor or reputation

      Blake has no case whatsoever because this written piece spells it out, has used anothers artwork inappropriately AND used his name without seeking permissions. Copying styles, might be common place amongst designers, is not ethical practice in any visual arts community. this kind of behaviour conjures up associations of unethical practice for every other artist working with technology. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artists_Authorship_Rights_Act_(New_York)
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visual_Artists_Rights_Act

  • http://www.facebook.com/josh.peterson.395 Josh Peterson

    Actually, what you’re saying is wrong.

    There are many, many artists who use photo-collage in their work.
    John Baldessari is just one example.
    http://cmulrooney.tripod.com/baldessari4.jpg

  • http://www.facebook.com/angela.d.burris Angela Dominguez Burris

    I agree with Steven Ketchum, I don’t see Blake using Close as an inspiration or following some personal work in which he uses Close as a source of research, as much as he is trying to say it differently. Having a website called “free chuck close art” as an artist is pretty risky and honestly it speaks badly about Blake’s work. I see some personal work that Blake can develop, like his work with bar codes and mosaic etc but not what he is doing with Close work. I just see a computer program that makes bad copies of Close work, with no historic value. And one can see it with the Lucas portrait, the one Close did is alive whether the Blake one doesn’t say anything, that’s it, Blake’s work based on Close doesn’t say anything, the other stuff he is working does say something.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mcroman Michael Roman

    Without reading all the comments below, I think the simplest solution would be to name your filter something else, like Nathon Near. The only real copyright infringement you made was to use Chuck Close’s name. That is his right and property. I would be willing to bet there are other filters out there doing the same thing, just not using Close’s name. If I created a technique called the Picasso brush stoke, would I not be feeding off Picasso’s fame instead of my own? I like the idea for the filter and you should continue to work on it. Just give it another name. Cheers.

  • Heidi Jensen

    Claiming the strategy of appropriation is a weak argument. Basically, you have reduced Close’s work to a thin style. Applying the filter to thoughtfully selected subjects might have taken the
    idea a step further; but simply making the style available on the internet for any image, even with the intention of making it “accessible to the masses” just isn’t particularly interesting. The choice of Close’s photographs are part of the content of his work. If you made a Van Gogh filter, for example, it would at best be a weak homage, commercialization, or shallow gesture regarding the artist’s body of work, no different than producing a line of mugs with Starry Night on them. I agree with Close in that it is a trivialization of his work. This is not a good nor compelling use of the tactic of appropriation, in that the entire concept is easily arrived at, lacks depth, and does not result in meaningful recontextualization of the appropriated work. I think you’re using Close’s correspondence to seek publicity and attention for an idea that lacks the complexity to be interesting on its own merit. As an artist, I would not wish anyone to take it upon themselves to make my work more accessible — and this statement does not help your argument, by the way. It sounds like you are hoping to distribute something that is supposed to represent a Chuck Close work.
    Claiming the strategy of appropriation is a weak argument. Basically, you have reduced Close’s work to a thin style. Applying the filter to thoughtfully selected subjects might have taken the idea a step further; but simply making the style available on the internet for any image, even with the intention of making it “accessible to the masses” just isn’t particularly interesting. The choice of Close’s photographs are part of the content of his work. If you made a Van Gogh filter, for example, it would at best be a weak homage, commercialization, or shallow gesture regarding the artist’s body of work, no different than producing a line of mugs with Starry Night on them. I agree with Close in that it is a trivialization of his work. This is not a good nor compelling use of the tactic of appropriation, in that the entire concept is easily arrived at, lacks depth, and does not result in meaningful recontextualization of the appropriated work. I think you’re using Close’s correspondence to seek publicity and attention for an idea that lacks the complexity to be interesting on its own merit. As an artist, I would not wish anyone to take it upon themselves to make my work more accessible — and this statement does not help your argument, by the way. It sounds like you are hoping to distribute something that is supposed to represent a Chuck Close work.

  • Heidi Jensen

    Claiming the strategy of appropriation is a weak argument. Basically, you have reduced Close’s work to a thin style. Applying the filter to thoughtfully selected subjects might have taken the idea a step further; but simply making the style available on the internet for any image, even with the intention of making it “accessible to the masses” just isn’t particularly interesting. The choice of Close’s photographs are part of the content of his work. If you made a Van Gogh filter, for example, it would at best be a weak homage, commercialization, or shallow gesture regarding the artist’s body of work, no different than producing a line of mugs with Starry Night on them. I agree with Close in that it is a trivialization of his work. This is not a good nor compelling use of the tactic of appropriation, in that the entire concept is easily arrived at, lacks depth, and does not result in meaningful recontextualization of the appropriated work. I think you’re using Close’s correspondence to seek publicity and attention for an idea that lacks the complexity to be interesting on its own merit. As an artist, I would not wish anyone to take it upon themselves to make my work more accessible — and this statement does not help your argument, by the way. It sounds like you are hoping to distribute something that is supposed to mistaken for a Chuck Close work.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jes-Rybak/1350810108 Jes Rybak

    Being inspired by another artist does not mean ripping them off and just modernizing their work and calling it yours…This article really does nothing more than reflect poorly on the integrity and creativity of the “artist” who wrote this piece.

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