Photography studio, gallery and training complex

Authorship: Appropriation Of Your Images

A couple of weeks ago, The Telegraph magazine ran a piece called “Looks Familiar” (thanks to Deborah Pardoe for bringing this to my attention) about a series of images by Corinne Vionnet.

Image by Corinne Vionnet

The images are all very familiar views of very familiar landmarks – Rome’s Colosseum, the Taj Mahal, the Leaning Tower of Pisa etc – but with a difference. Vionnet’s images are actually digital composites, assembled from up to a hundred separate images of each scene, layered to create a final picture which resembles an impressionist sketch or worn oil painting.

Image by Corinne Vionnet

This work gained considerable attention at this year’s Arles photographic festival, where it appeared as part of an exhibition entitled “From Here On“. The exhibition comprised contributions by 36 artists, all using vernacular (or “lifted from the internet”) images as their main source.

Image by Corinne Vionnet

Vionnet’s project was inspired, she explains, by the realisation, while on holiday and photographing the Leaning Tower of Pisa, that many other images were being taken simultaneously by other tourists of almost exactly the same scene. And so Vionnet set about acquiring as many similar, tourist-taken, images as she could from the internet and layering these to produce the undeniably beautiful images that she has.

So here’s your thought for the day: To what extent is Vionnet the author of these images, consisting as they do, of a great many anonymous “found” images? For instance, should credit be given to all of the photographers whose images were used? Or doesn’t it matter, when the images are brought together in such a way that individual photographs can’t be identified? And what is Vionnet’s role here? Photographer? Artist? Compiler? Curator? Technician? Editor?

For what it’s worth I love these images. I think Vionnet has achieved something very unique and beautifully realised. But, I do wonder about the questions this raises about authorship and the rights of the photographer especially regarding appropriation of images without consent (although I should say it isn’t made clear that no consent was sought/obtained in Vionnet’s case).

What do you think?

See more of these lovely images at


5 responses

  1. looks a little like Idris khan’s “Every” series but less abstract. The art here is in the end product, which would not be possible with out each individual image.

    July 29, 2011 at 10:55 pm

    • Hi Jon, so do you reckon credit should be given to the authors of those individual images?

      July 30, 2011 at 9:58 am

      • That;s probably not possible but The final image is the artists vision. Taking other views and making something new is not ripping peoples work off as long as you inform people that these are appropriated images.

        July 30, 2011 at 8:35 pm

      • …which Vionnet has done, I guess.

        What if there is only one or two images that have been appropriated (and so more possible)? Should credit be given then?

        July 31, 2011 at 10:07 am

  2. those are gorgeous, gives me ideas for some multiple exposure shots 🙂

    July 30, 2011 at 12:39 pm

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