Faith Moosang is a photo graphic artist who has amassed a large collection of vernacular photography that includes photo albums numbering in the hundreds, numerous home movies, slide collections and other ephemera related to the domestic sphere and the remembrance of family. She is currently creating a work about the empire of media, dirty money and the amassing of classical statuary which is based on a slide collection created by an unknown tourist who visited Hearst Castle in the 1960s.
Our Interview with Faith about her work to be displayed at the Exhibition:
Q: Can you tell me about the work(s) of yours that will be included in the ARO exhibition/event?
A: The excerpts from the bigger piece entitled “March To May” are depicting the televisual event of the Iraq War from inception March 20, 2003 to the May 1st, 2003 declaration by President Bush that major combat was over. A friend of mine during that time had made round-the-clock video tapes of the news coverage of the war. These video tapes were the source of the piece. The piece is primarily concerned with compression/expansion of time and space. I have attached a one-pager that delineates the major thrust behind the work. I also have a forty page Masters Thesis about the work as well if Martha wants some great reading about Foucault and Virilio and Gerhard Richter. (I think the thesis is great of course, but understand that people have limited time)
Q: How do you connect to copyright or the law?
A: My approach to copyright and/or the law has been to basically bust on through with my artistic vision with little thought to consequence. Or to be more precise:
1. In my curatorial work with abandoned photo albums – that the chances of the published work being noticed by someone with a legal or moral right to the work would in some ways be beneficial – i.e. the undertow of collecting these albums is the latent hope of their reconnection to their originators. I know that the opposite could be true, but have always felt that I could deal with it when it happened.
2. In my artistic work the thought is that these behemoth corporations won’t give a shit about what I’m doing on the West Coast of Canada and most likely won’t really notice. That has been the case so far. I am somewhat to somewhat more of a belligerent in relation to people telling me what to do and if I want to make artistic comment on corporations and their social, economical and political impact I will do so. Prior to working as an artist I had a career in developing alternative forestry protocol. Prior to that I had a degree in International Development. Which is to say that I come from a highly politicized place. I have been arrested for my beliefs a number of times. I hope not to be in the future for a number of reasons, primary amongst them the realization of the extreme vanity of public arrest. More on that later, if need be. All of this is to say that I don’t think that anything will happen and I’m not even sure if I care that it does. Perhaps, if it did, I might become a cause celebre, n’est ce pas?
3. In my artistic work I am almost always dealing with corporate entities in an explicit manner – Kodak, numerous television stations (CBS, ANC, MNBC, CBC, etc..), the Heart Castle (and by extension, the Hearst Corporation), Riverview Hospital, the oil industry, and footage from well known Hollywood films. Logos, tags, readily identifiable symbols of these entities are purposely incorporated to avow a connection between the corporation and their actions or offerings. The work that I do is politically motivated so it makes sense to include the very creatures whose political/economic/social ascendancy is very much of this moment. Yes?
In the March to May piece, the inclusion of the channel identifiers was only natural as they are ever present in the broadcasts. Advertising, thumbprint, ghostly avowal of depiction. Making historical referent to the very first televisual event in Vietnam, forefronting these media (in the middle) houses in the societally conceived perception of their “in the middleness” or dispassionate reportage when in fact this is clearly not the case any longer, if it ever was (CBS’s Bill Paley as an example).
Q: Has copyright ever affected your work?
A: Of course copyright has affected my work. When working on my MFA at SFU I had to get corporate clearance for the two projects that I had to create to complete my degree.
1. First year (Ad)dress; a sculptural installation of a wedding dress made from peeled photographs of a wedding dress emblazoned with the Kodak copyright. (See attachment)
Was compelled by the Institution to get permission from the Kodak Institution to create and show this piece. You are unable to see the Kodak copyright in the documenting photograph that I have attached because (and this is interesting) the Kodak logo that is shown in a repeated motif on the back of every image ever printed using Kodak technology is in a very specific shade of grey at a very specific density (it is called something and right now I can’t remember what the official name of this is) so that it is un-reproducable. Try it. Try scanning the back of a Kodak picture and you won’t be able to get an image at all. So when creating this piece I had to get a designer to basically just copy it (not digitally, but by looking at it and creating it anew in photoshop). The success of my piece is that when you are in the space you can see the copyright, but any reproduction that I attempted (including close-up) the Kodak watermark completely disappeared. Okay enough of that.
2. Second year, the impossible task to get permission from numerous television stations to use explicit footage about the Iraq War in a piece condemning the Iraq War. There were two levels of copyright involved in the creation of this piece.
a. The use of footage shot by the camera persons who were employed by the various television agencies to shoot said footage. My understanding is that when these freelance video camera persons come under contract, that the resultant footage belonged to the corporate entity which paid for their services. A quick perusal of some document somewhere assured someone at SFU that my use of the footage in an abstracted way had changed the image enough (50%??) so that my use of the footage as starting point for the work would not come under legal scrutiny.
b. The station identifiers being seen was a problem that could not go away for SFU. I either needed permission from these television channels or I had to excise them. They were excised.
I have to say here that I was not happy with this sudden shift as it involved having to reprint all of the work again at my own expense and hire someone to remove them in a more professional manner than I was able to do. (you will note the levels of information in the images – the designer who removed the logos had to do so to maintain not just the general tone/colour/density of the area being fixed, but also the moire pattern that came from shooting off an older model television and the actual very minuscule screen pattern that was evident in the television screen itself. It also shifted the meaning of the work significantly. However, I did come to love the final piece without the channel referents. It was a different piece altogether I think but it lent itself to more obfuscation, which was one of the original undercurrents in the work in the first place.
3. The work that I am currently undertaking with Deanne Achong, is a public art piece for the City of Richmond, and we are running into copyright issues there as well. But I think that is a story for another time and place.