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Irish Artist Turns Google Maps Screen Grabs Into Pricey Art 65

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

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  • by fustakrakich (1673220) on Monday April 08, 2013 @01:06PM (#43392837) Journal

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

    • by Tablizer (95088)

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

    • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Monday April 08, 2013 @01:39PM (#43393233)

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

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

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

      • by PopeRatzo (965947)

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

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

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

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

        I hope Google tries to crush thi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

          Usin

          • by PopeRatzo (965947)

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

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

            Remember Warhol?

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

              Making a mosaic is arguably non-trivial. What this guy is doing is pretty trivial.
        • "Collage artists have been around for over a century."

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

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

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

  • Can't do that. (Score:5, Informative)

    by queazocotal (915608) on Monday April 08, 2013 @01:10PM (#43392895)

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

    • by gstoddart (321705)

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

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

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

      • Nah, google will let it slide. Then once he's made millions they will sue. No use suing a broke nobody right?
        • I don't think google will sue him. But if it was truly evil, it wouldn't just wait until this one artist was rich. It would wait for a whole genre of art to develop before suing whole industry.
    • by Nemyst (1383049)
      OSM has satellite images?
    • Worse, it's not even artistic.

      Is this really how far the art world has fallen? He wasn't even able to BS any interesting explanation about the topic.
    • by gravis777 (123605)

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

      The fact that he is selling this artwork - this is a huge lawsuit waiting to happen. This is not the same as a rapper sampling works, the images show that these modified images are the majority of his work. That is way

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

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

  • Error establishing a database connection

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      Error establishing a database connection

      Slashdotted already. Must be a mom & pop ISP.

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

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • DMCA! DMCA! Release the dogs DMCA!
  • modern art (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

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

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

    • by anagama (611277)

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

      Kurt Vonnegut

      • Re:modern art (Score:4, Informative)

        by SolitaryMan (538416) on Monday April 08, 2013 @04:57PM (#43395023) Homepage Journal

        You confuse the raw skill with an art.

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

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

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

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

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

        • by Craefter (71540)

          I'm sorry, but could you please get off your artsy high horse and just see art for what it really is? I would be more impressed if artists would promote the creation of new art to the common people instead of telling them that they need a university degree to understand the bullshit some artists make. I mean, if only a small group of people understand your art you have missed your point. Art should not be an elite thing, it should be something of the common people. To amuse, convey a story or to apreciate t

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

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

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

            Dude, *modern* art is all about common people! University degree is required to understand the art of the Renaissance, when it *was* an elite thing. Look at this particular example (rugs from maps): the idea actually empowers *everybody* to go and make their own! You can do it! I can do it! It looks great! No university degree required! As a side effect, in the proce

  • by forrie (695122) *

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

  • Better that than a rotting shark in a glass box... :p
  • Seems like a highly subjective article. Maybe I just work/play with Google Maps too much, but I don't see anything special here. The closest thing I can think of would be that it appears fairly high resolution, but that's nothing to write home (or Slashdot) about.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Sorry but it is.

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