Seeing Through Photographs
Current time:0:00Total duration:3:46
David Horvitz | Mood Disorder
I would like to start with the very beginning about your work in the exhibition Mood Disorder, and ask you perhaps to describe the work. Mood Disorder is an artist book and it shows basically what happens when I put a photograph of myself kind of like this in this kind of generic stock pose of what depression would look like, and I put that onto the Wikipedia page for Mood disorder. I was kind of playing these stereotypes of how depression looks in stock imagery. That's what influenced me to make that image. Websites, journalists, bloggers began to use it because they could legally use these copyright-free images. They don't have to pay royalties. And they began to use it to illustrate mental health issues, depression, sadness, anti-depressant pill articles. And then what I did was I used Google reverse image, or I took the image and did the reverse image search and re-found all of these articles that had used my image. The Mood Disorder piece is the image in – I don't like to say circulation because it's not really. It's more like propagation. So it's the image propagating over the internet maybe changing the black-and-white, changing color, getting cropped going into different languages. Danish, Norwegian, German, Arabic and Thai I think I found. And then using Google, I collected all of these sites and then made this artist book. So what does it mean for an artist to actually claim ownership for something that is so widely distributed? I think authorship, to author a work, is to kind of delineate an artwork and say like this is an artwork that I'm entering into a kind of public discourse on photography or art making. And it's just a way of defining an artwork. For me, I don't really believe in maybe what the author meant a hundred years ago, that the author is the sole creator, because lots of people helped in the production of this work that aren't being credited. How do you feel that photography has changed in the 21st century with this further increase both in the production but also circulation of images? It’s so complicated because photography is everywhere. People today almost use photography to almost perform themselves for the public. So when people are on Instagram or on Twitter, the images they make are like an extension of their sensibility that they're sharing with the worldwide web. It's like saying who they are, which I don't think that was the case before. Like for me, I'm using Wikipedia, and that's specifically a copyright-free website, so these are images that can freely circulate. And so in my project, I'm playing with that space of open circulation. I'm actually participating with Wikipedia how like a normal user would. You upload images, which I think is relevant. But in this process a lot of Wikipedia editors caught on to what I was doing, and over a course of a few years there were these discussions, conversations which ended up with me being officially banned. And after that ban became official the Mood Disorder image was taken off of the Mood disorder web page and so it no longer circulates from Wikipedia but it still will circulate from the internet, hopefully, maybe.