Face Making

Artist Gwenn Seemel’s bilingual blog about art, portraiture, free culture, and feminism.

Self-control / Une maîtrise de soi

2012 . 10 . 22 - Comments / Commentaires (4)

Copyright is about trying to control others; free culture is about controlling yourself.

Le droit d’auteur essaie de contrôler les autres; la culture libre représente le choix de chercher la maîtrise de soi.

During the summer and fall when orcas congregate to feed on salmon runs, males leave their groups to engage in homosexual behavior, playing with many other males in hour-long sessions.

To learn more about the series which this painting is a part of, Crime Against Nature, visit the articles in this section of my blog.

Pendant l’été et l’automne, lorsque les orques se rassemblent pour se nourrir de la migration des saumons, les mâles quittent leurs groupes pour prendre part à des échanges homosexuels et jouer avec d’autres mâles dans des séances qui peuvent durer une heure.

Pour en savoir plus sur la série dont ce tableau fait partie, Le crime contre nature, regardez les vidéos dans cette section de mon blog.

Paul Cezanne The Bathers 1891

Paul Cézanne The Bathers / Les baigneurs 1891

Although it may not seem so, Cézanne’s painting and the bathers of countless other artists pointed the way for my image of orcas frolicking. Once I thought of these works, it wasn’t difficult to compose a painting to represent the erotic playfulness of the killer whales: I knew I needed only show them from many different angles and the sense of joy and warmth would be evident.

Même si ça ne se voit pas tout de suite, ce tableau de Cézanne et les baigneurs de nombreux autres artistes ont ouvert la voie pour mon image d’orques gambadants. Une fois que j’ai pensé à ces œuvres, il n’était pas difficile de composer un tableau pour représenter l’éroticisme enjoué des orques: je savais que je n’avais qu’à les montrer sous de nombreux angles différents et la vivacité serait évidente.

painting of killer whales

Gwenn Seemel
Boys’ night out (Orca) / Une soirée entre potes (L’orque)
acrylic on panel / acrylique sur bois
10 x 10 inches / 25 x 25 centimètres
(detail below / détail plus bas)

peinture d'orques

- Why copyright and creativity are not separate issues
- Learning from copying / Apprendre avec l’imitation
- Taking the “property” out of intellectual property

- Using other people’s images / Utiliser les images de quelqu’un d’autre
- Comment je protège mes œuvres d’art contre la copie sur l’Internet
- About competition / Sur la concurrence

CATEGORIES: - English - Français - Business of art - Crime - Featuring artists - Process images - Uncopyright - Video -

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(4) Comments / Commentaires: Self-control / Une maîtrise de soi

-- Kelly -- 2012 . 11 . 05 --

I believe copyright issues also involve fear or lack of self confidence.  Artists that are afraid they’re not all that unique are afraid someone else will be more successful (financially) with a similar idea. Fear, lack of self confidence and controlling others… sounds like a lot of fun to me!

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-- Gwenn -- 2012 . 11 . 06 --

I know, right?  Who would want to feel that way?!

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-- Juan -- 2013 . 09 . 27 --

Hello, ma’am.

First of all, allow me to say that I think it’s great that you rather say positive, open things that are conducive to good discussion when someone violates your copy rights. I agree with you; raging about copyright violation, though it MAY get your point across, will more than likely not reflect all that well on you.

I think, however, that you may be a bit too lenient. Copyright may be about controlling both your property and about controlling people, sure, but the part about controlling people does not have to necessarily mean something negative. I’ve come across artists who’ve had there art stolen, printed unto t-shirts, cups, playing cards, etc. without either attributing the artwork to the respectful artist, or without even alerting them of the use of their art for monetary gain. When this happens, I think it’d be ridiculous for the artist to not take legal action. That kind of controlling people is only reasonable, no?

Furthermore, I see perhaps the slight similarity between your work of the orcas and that of Cézanne, but only because you pointed it out. Otherwise I never would have guessed (the compositions aren’t THAT similar, and your art styles obviously differ considerably). Do you mean to say that this is copyright infringement? If it is ( I am not entirely privy to every detail of how copyright works), then obviously conducive discussion would be the reasonable response from the artist.

Sorry for my long-winded comment. I just had stuff to say on this post. I love your art, and though I may not always agree with all of your views, I enjoy considerably following your posts. You give great advice, and you always make me think.

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-- Gwenn -- 2013 . 09 . 29 --

@Juan: To my mind, the problems with using the legal system to pursue your copyrights are:

1) most of us don’t actually have the money for a lawsuit, especially when we’re pitted against companies who have gaggles of lawyers on staff just in case.

2) the whole concept of copyright is wrong.

That second point deserves a bit more explanation. smile  Imitation (not innovation) is the main mechanism for the evolution of culture (more on that here), and copyright interrupts imitation.  It does so by actually shutting down imitation when it happens, as with “cease and desist” letters and lawsuits, but it also does so conceptually.  By that I mean that sometime art doesn’t even get made because artists are afraid that it would be considered sampling and that they’d become embroiled in a lawsuit.

But what does this have to do with the artists you know who’ve been ripped off?  Everything.  To my mind, if you use the broken copyright system to take care of any of your problems, you’re saying that bad system is logical and should continue to exist.  But it shouldn’t.  Copyright is damaging to creativity.  That’s why artists who feel they have a genuine complaint should instead focus on leveraging their social currency.

As for my Cézanne example, it wasn’t the strongest visual I could use, I agree.  I was trying to illustrate where copyright goes in our minds, though I didn’t verbalize about it well.  As I said above, copyright as a concept becomes this thing that paralyzes many of us.  We don’t fully understand copyright, so we won’t even try a things because we wouldn’t want to maybe violate a law that we don’t totally get even though we maybe really ought to since it’s ostensibly meant to protect us artists.

There. I wrote a big one back. smile

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