• Warriors & Rebels

    • Phil Thompson reflects on copyright laws during the creative process, recreating famous paintings that Google has made unrecognisable into oil paint ghosts made in China.

    Artist transforms Google Art Project copyright infringing images into abstract paintings / 

    It would be far from risqué to say that presently, artistic creativity is most commonly found in the reappropriation or in assigning a new meaning to already existing material. From mash-ups, to remakes, the quote, the hyperlink and the remix of course, the artistic form recreates and reinvents in networks and swarms of collective transformation. This represents a moderately ecstatic exploitation of the vast amount of information that has become easily available. Simultaneously, one of the most interesting artistic movements of the last lustrum is undoubtedly The New Aesthetique, which in few words, announces the fusion between the digital and the material, resulting in augmented reality, pixel art and glitch art.

     A recent display that surmises all the latter is the “Copyrights” project by Phil Thompson. This British artist has taken the paintings Google has added a filter to make them unrecognisable due to copyright laws —creating their own glitch art in the process— and reproduces them on a large scale with oils. The very elaboration process is a reflection on how classic art can be iterated, recycled and distorted by technology. Thompson takes blurry photographs from Google and orders they be reproduced in oil paints by a company in China, which has also been involved in censure litigations with Google —a type of Ouroboros copyleft ring.

    The result of this process is a ghostly image that at times reminds us of Rothko —the spectres of distortion allow for a wide range of interpretational possibilities, while the original painting is reduced to a vague memory.

    Thompson has dealt with copyrights in previous projects by “Getty Oil Paintings”, in which he used images with the Getty Images watermark to reproduce them in oil paintings that portrayed the pathos of prohibition. His work stands out as one of the most conscious ones among those at the intersection between technology and art, celebrating the possibilities bestowed by the freedom of information in terms of collaborative creation.

    Also in Sphere: Kenneth Goldsmith and his Ubu Web revolutionise copyright laws

    Tagged: copyright, Warriors & Rebels, Google, inspiration, digital art