Child with toy hand grenade street art
Street art
Image by Max Eremine

Street art by unknown artist

Why take a photo of someone else’s artwork? Because of context really. I think the context transforms this into something more than just a plain derivative.

This photograph is a copy of someone else’s street art. The street art is a copy of Diane Arbus’ famous photograph. Diane Arbus’ famous photograph is a "copy" of a living breathing boy. Only the boy is real… all the artwork that his minute facial expression has inspired were just copies and copies of copies…

To me – the wooden fence is also a copy. It’s a copy of the brick wall behind it. There is no real purpose for the wooden fence to exist, but it’s there. Which in my opinion ties this whole thing together…

This is certainly a very subjective way of seeing this. You might see something completely different or nothing at all.

The signature on the fence to my knowledge is neither related to the boy, nor to Diane Arbus’ original photograph, nor the street art, nor this photograph.

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70 thoughts on Child with toy hand grenade street art


    So here’s a completely mindnumbing crap-shot of someone else’s mindnumbing crap-art .. and mister Thom complains about a "sliver of sidewalk"??


  2. Max Eremine

    Sbes McGuffin it is indeed someone else’s artwork, however I see it as more than that – to me it’s all about repetition and copying.

    The photo is a copy of someone else’s street art, the street art is is a copy of Diane Arbus’ famous photograph. With the signature not related to neither the original photograph, nor the copy street art, nor the photograph.

    The wooden fence can be also seen as a copy of the brick wall behind it… which makes the former absolutely useless to boot.


  3. Max Eremine

    Alright then… The photo has been modified. I cropped it a tad (2%) to get rid of the sidewalk bit there and upped contrast a bit to lose some of the flatness… I like it better now. Thanks you.

  4. stephanie.keating

    I like the composition well enough, and I don’t mind "other people’s art" at all, but this feels flat and grey to me. Especially when you view on black.


  5. Max Eremine

    stephanie.keating Appreciate the feedback… Part of the reason it looks more flat on black is because BigHugeLabs that hosts the large version displayed the earlier version of this shot – before some tweaking of levels – I have fixed that now, so the correct version will display now.

  6. boscbo

    Interesting. I don’t like the large amount of brick wall in the shot, but it definetly doesn’t kill it for me. Pretty cool shot.

    -Voted ‘save’ in DMU.

  7. Jakes_World

    wasn’t there a rule that you could delete a *no comment* vote? I DO think there was.. at one time.
    Hi Korim.
    I’m not voting DMU, already saved this anyway. and there are enough voters.

  8. O.L.E.G

    it’s interesting (from the standpoint of irony) that a person who often questions others’ photos of OPA takes a shot like this. i believe, if you yourself were to assess this image, you’d say: "what is the photographer’s contribution to this street art?"

  9. Max Eremine

    O.L.E.G and I believe I answered this question in detail in my comments right under the picture. I often do shots of OPA (living in urban are and surrounded by graffiti), but I believe and argue that this work is transformative as opposed to derivative.
    I took several close-up shots of this graffiti too, but I would never post them in my stream because it would add nothing to the artwork.
    I often criticize derivative works, but would never question artist’s right to transform OPA into something else.

  10. O.L.E.G

    i understand all that and can only reiterate: "… i believe, if you yourself were to assess this image, you’d say: ‘what is the photographer’s contribution to this street art?’" that’s not MY question to you, it’s yours.

  11. Max Eremine

    O.L.E.G I know that you think that this is a "gotcha" moment, but I don’t see it that way. When I see pictures featuring OPA, I am always looking for photographer’s input. If I don’t find it – I cry foul. It is usually true with straightforward close-ups of graffiti, neon signs, etc, that are often posted here and sometimes don’t include any other elements…

    Would I be able to read into the transformative meaning of this shot if it wasn’t mine? I’ll be honest with you – I don’t know. Which is exactly why I have included my explanation…

  12. O.L.E.G

    if you were to spend even 1/10th of time in a given photographer’s inner world as you do in your own, you wouldn’t ask that question as often as you do – it’s a legitimate question but not when posed glibly – and that’s my ONLY point.

  13. Max Eremine

    O.L.E.G And my point is that when posting pictures of someone else’s art in a group that concentrates on harsh critique, be ready to hear that question. I (as you can see) am. And I was courteous enough to provide an explanation ahead of time. You may agree with my explanation or not, but it is there.

    I found your picture that I have criticized. If I offended you with my comments – I apologize. But am yet to hear your answer to my "legitimate question" as to what was your contribution as a photographer to that window display.

  14. O.L.E.G

    you miss my point and precisely for the reason i am pointing out: "if you were to spend even 1/10th of time in a given photographer’s inner world as you do in your own, you wouldn’t ask that question as often as you do – it’s a legitimate question but not when posed glibly – and that’s my ONLY point."

    that is to say: there is no need to apologize for anything on your part. you are always courteous and there were no "harsh" words from you on my or others’ images that i think of – just lackadaisical, unreflective dismissal occasioned by lack of attentiveness to others vis-a-vis the self -which also is venial and common to us all but nevertheless worthy of reminder now and again.

    as to your last question if you are sincerely interested: display and titled image, which happens to be relevant to this discussion too.

  15. Max Eremine

    O.L.E.G Although I somewhat agree with you, please understand that this is a nature of the internet in general and DeleteMe groups in particular… I am expected to vote on almost every single picture in the pool. If a picture does not grab me within the first 10 seconds, I am not going to spent even more of my time reflecting on it. Trust me – I’d rather not say anything about many of them, but that would kill the point of participating in these groups.

    Of course the photographer sees his work differently than the viewers (especially casual DMU viewers), but it is refreshing to hear all the comments. Good, bad, cruel, and even "lackadaisical, unreflective dismissal." Because that’s how real world reacts to it. Not friends and family, not interestingness hunters and comment fishers, but real live people. And many of them will dismiss it. And I find even that reaction to be extremely helpful in my learning process.

    As to your answer to my question – I still see your work as derivative. It’s not the whole display, but it is still easily recognizable and unmodified in any way. You did not include anything that wasn’t a part of the display nor did you even modify the lighting in any way. All you have done is cropping it.

    I highly encourage you to read Legal Handbook for Photographers: The Rights and Liabilities of Making Images" by Bert P. Krages. Especially page 48 which discusses transformative and derivative works.

    I believe my photograph above is on the border line… an argument can be made for and against this. In my opinion your photograph – is clearly derivative. I am open for an argument of course.

  16. O.L.E.G

    hmm… let that window display photo be your meditative k?an – when you start seeing yourself rather than someone or some "thing" else in it, you’ll be on your way….

    have you heard of paradigm shifts?

    this is not to suggest that you need that k?an more than i or others do.

  17. Max Eremine

    O.L.E.G Huh? I am not quite sure I follow you. Could you please be so kind as to actually answer that legitimate question: What is the photographer’s contribution to this window display?

    I see the display designer contribution all over it – the pose, the clothes, the light, the furniture, the setting, the mood, setting, everything. What’s you part? Other than shooting only one figure instead of all three.

    Or do you mean that you transformed it by cropping a shadow from the omitted part of the display? Is that the transformation?

  18. O.L.E.G

    a paradigm shift which sometimes can be achieved by perspectival angle, cropping, and title.

    t. kuhn’s the structure of scientific revolutions is a really good read in this regard for understanding how perception and interpretation works.

  19. Max Eremine

    RyanMacLean I am glad you find this fence as interesting as I do.

    And this is not bitching 😉
    Just two Russians calmly figuring out the differences between derivative and transformative art…

  20. Max Eremine

    O.L.E.G Fine, fine. I can somewhat, more a less see what you are trying to do here… Please note that if you are sued for copyright violation – I seriously doubt that your argument would work in court…

  21. Max Eremine

    "…the. demon… dig.s …gum"

    Yeah, yeah, yeah, fuck making anything original we’ll just shift paradigm back and forth and copyright it.

  22. O.L.E.G

    all forms of knowledge, inquiry, and communication are paradigm shifts in some sense – every "original" work always draws on and engages someone else’s work (its interpretive framework) as it seeks to transform it.

  23. Max Eremine

    O.L.E.G I don’t disagree with that on a philosophical level.

    P.S. Considering your philosophical stance I find it highly ironic that your images are fully copyrighted.

  24. Max Eremine

    O.L.E.G You say "every "original" work always draws on and engages someone else’s work (its interpretive framework) as it seeks to transform it" I see this as a philosophical justification for utilizing work of others in some of your own work. And yet – by putting copyright symbol on your photos (as opposed to copyleft for example) you legally prevent others from doing so to your images… Creative Commons license just seems a lot more logical in my opinion.

  25. Manny Flores

    Way to beat a dead horse. This is OPA. Get over it. I have tons of this shit I never post to DMU because it’s not my work. Just because I capture somebody’s art, from any angle, doesn’t make it mine. What you have here is a snapshot of graffiti nothing more. Nothing more. Now please erase this and any other comment I made if you two ladies want to continue this OPA discussion any further.

  26. O.L.E.G

    i don’t take myself and my photos seriously to even worry about copyright, as you seem to do, i.e. take yourself seriously. :^)~ but if someone somehow somewhere decides that they want to "utilize" my photos, they are more than welcome to write and ask me.

    i put "all rights reserved" as default simply as a matter of convenience: i want to be in control of how i display my images in large – on black or white, or just in medium. i did have cc license first but then opted against it upon seeing that it makes large and original sizes automatically available. when i joined dmu, via others’ examples, i learned of further advantages to hiding huge original sizes: some people love the excuse to nitpick and carp at trivial minutia which they would disregard in regular large size.

    as you see once again, logic and reasoned opinion involve more nuances and less presumptions unless one thrives on self-referential irony, if unwittingly. 🙂

    holla! 🙂

  27. Max Eremine

    NukinFuts You, sir, are incorrect to assume that this question is as simple as you are trying to present it, and incorrect to assume that you don’t take "snapshots" of OPA. You say "Just because I capture somebody’s art, from any angle, doesn’t make it mine," and yet your stream is filled with architectural and design works that belong to other people. Do you really think that just because you don’t post pictures of graffiti you are creating 100% original artwork? Is architecture not art? Is industrial design not art? And did you really you come up with the rules of the composition yourself or did you steal them from someone else?

    I too usually avoid and often criticize pure derivative works (straightforward unmodified copying), but trans-formative artwork imho is perfectly acceptable, and as O.L.E.G pointed out one could even argue that ALL artwork is ALWAYS trans-formative (he prefers calling this "paradigm shift").

    You may not like this picture. And you may see it as nothing more than a straightforward copy. But I don’t see it that way. And this is certainly not as clear cut as you present it.