by Furry Girl

07.28.11

Unlike some other people in the sex blogger world, I am totally appalled by No Man's Land, a self-published book of photos of supposed sex workers taken from Google's Street View.  The seller of this self-published book has no way of knowing whether or not the women in the photos are actual sex workers or not, although some of them do look more "hooker-y" than others.  The point is, none of the subjects of this photo book gave their permission to have photos of them appear in a book of "women soliciting sex."  If these women are not sex workers, they would probably be horribly offended at having their photos in a book about rural and urban prostitutes.  If these women are sex workers, they probably don't want to be outed as such by a British hipster artist who wants to make money off of them.

Violet Blue is one of the people defending and promoting this book, and rather than rehash what I already posted in her comments, I'll just repost both sides of our disagreement, and you can decide for yourself whether No Man's Land is in the right for selling these images.

Furry Girl:

I hope that if any of the women unwillingly appearing in this book find out about it, they sue the shit out of the guy selling it. While some of the images do look more “hookery” than others, I imagine that many of the women in these photos merely happen to be outdoors when the Google car was passing. This is no different than when police publish mugshots of sex workers against their will. Both involve outsiders sensationalizing and preying upon vulnerable and unwilling photo subjects. There’s nothing hip or arty about some dude selling an expensive collection of photos (which he didn’t even take) where he accuses the subjects (whom he has never met) of being sex workers. It’s a collection of stolen material where the author tries to out women as whores. Barf.

Violet Blue:

I see it very differently, but thanks for your constructive criticism. I find all the cultural dilemmas interesting – in addition to seeing it as raising awareness, however you slice it. I’m sure Google isn’t pleased. I think it’s very different than mug shot publishing for a lot of reasons – Smoking Gun, for example. But were they unwilling? I don’t feel comfortable in assuming how these women would feel about anything, let alone their blurred images in this book – fwiw Google did not ask them, either, and these images are globally publicly available. I don’t see labeling someone as a sex worker as being an ‘accusation’ but I am not a sex worker, nor do I see it as a bad thing. I do agree it’s expensive.

Furry Girl:

I personally know no sex workers from Eastern Europe, where these images originated. You are right in that I cannot know for certain that these women would not want their images put in a hipster art book about rural prostitutes. But is it better to assume that all women *would* want to be featured in the book, whether or not they are prostitutes? When faced with a decision about how to err when you don’t know a person’s wishes, I think it’s best to err on the side of not exploiting them or labeling them as prostitutes. It’s an issue of consent. Lack of saying “no” does not mean “yes.” While Google Streetview also did not ask these women for their permission to photograph them, Google isn’t the one saying that they are probably hookers, either.

What do you think?  Is it best to err on the side of collecting photos of women you find online, labeling them as hookers, and selling those photos in an "art" book?  Or am I the one being paternalistic and oppressing the women in this book by assuming that they don't want some strange guy calling them hookers and profiting off of their images?

Since no real book publisher is going to publish a book of images lifted from Google's copyrighted Street View collection, No Man's Land is for sale on a print-on-demand web site called Blurb.com.  I've already sent a complaint, but I hope more people will join me.  Please email Blurb here and ask for them to cease production and hosting of No Man's Land.  (The "book" is also hosted by Blurb and available for free online in its entirety.)  I imagine Blurb cares more about someone publishing copyrighted images that belong to Google than they do about sex workers' right to privacy or civilian women's right to not be called hookers by some hipster "artist," so take which argument angle you think works best.  Here's an update, an email from Blurb:

Thank you for your message and for raising your concern about potential copyright issues with the book titled 'No Man's Land".  As you know, Blurb takes copyright issues very seriously. Being in the business of user-generated content, we rely on our community to spot potential copyright violations (we do not edit, monitor or review the content of our authors, as we are not a publisher). 

We have initiated an investigation as to whether the book you reference violates Blurb's End User License Agreement. Since the copyright in question is not yours, we will not follow up with you with regard to the outcome of the investigation -- but we do sincerely appreciate you flagging the potential issue.

Also, there's a hosting platform called Issuu that is providing free hosting for this photo collection as well.  Since they have a convoluted help ticket system, the easiest way to reach them might be on Twitter.  Tweet @issuu and ask them why they're hosting a collection of stolen photos that could be considered libel.

We can't stop people from creating offensive and exploitative representations of sex workers, or of women in general.  But we can make complaints to companies that provide free hosting services for such materials.

Update: I am no longer going to be publishing comments from people who want to smugly pontificate about whether this counts as "art."  That's utterly irrelevant, and I'm tired of men telling me that the issue here is that I "just don't understand art."





69 Comments

  1. Blurb's offices are actually right upstairs from me and my company has done business with theirs in the past.
    Please let me know if there are any complaint letters you would like me to hand deliver to them.

    Comment by Shannon W. — July 28, 2011 @ 1:10 pm

  2. Hi Shannon: I don't have an official complaint letter. I encourage people to ask Blurb to not carry the book, so if you wanted to drop them an email or visit them in person, that would be appreciated. Maybe complaints mean more when coming from an existing customer?

    Comment by Furry Girl — July 28, 2011 @ 1:12 pm

  3. I just previewed the book and really, all I see are people standing around. As a sex worker myself, I'm tired of stereotypes attached to our work. How does this guy KNOW these women are prostitutes? Stereotypes. They're women (cuz men don't prostitute themselves, and if they do they're totally bad ass!), some are in "skimpy" clothing, they're standing near roads (cuz sex workers are always road-side tramps). This man based an entire book on stereotypes about sex workers, about people he doesn't even KNOW to be sex workers. And by doing that he's perpetuating those stereotypes, saying, "This is what sex workers look like." We don't all hang out on a corner in mini skirts, ya know. I'd love to see a photography book about real sex workers and their lives and experiences. But this book isn't it. Does the book have any context or information about sex work? Or is it just pictures of people he assumes to be sex workers? The whole thing is rubbing me the wrong way.

    Comment by Jade — July 28, 2011 @ 1:37 pm

  4. just sent all this information and Blurb's address to Google's legal department. They love to sue folks.

    Comment by Darren Mckeeman — July 28, 2011 @ 1:47 pm

  5. Quite apart from how I feel about the book (crap idea, exploitative, didn't this kind of so-called publishing pretty much play itself out in 2006?) there are some troubling legal angles that have perhaps not been considered either by the 'author' or the publisher.

    The first is that identifying someone as a sex worker who is not is one of the strongest types of defamation according to UK law. Since the author is British, and the book is available in the UK, this leaves the publisher open - and I mean WIDE open - to having to pay out a huge settlement if one of the women is not a sex worker and decides to take it to the famously libel-happy British courts.

    The second is the title being identical to the recent memoir by Ruth Fowler, No Man's Land (also published as Girl, Undressed). While hers is a nonfiction book about her experiences as a stripper in NY, nevertheless, there is potential scope for confusion. While 'No Man's Land' the phrase is not copyrightable in the most general sense she could very easily demand payment if there is any chance they could be viewed as trading on her reputation. I know this, after all, because I was threatened several times by the estate of Joseph Kessel for appropriating 'Belle de Jour'. Only I kind of doubt the publisher have the legals and backing to fight it like I did.

    I sent them a complaint that also pointed out both these issues but have not, as yet, had a reply.

    Comment by Belle de Jour — July 28, 2011 @ 2:09 pm

  6. Thanks for the complaints, everyone! And thanks for pointing out the British libel angle, B.

    I don't like the UK's libel tourism, nor do I like DMCA laws, but if they can be used to prevent exploitative men preying on (women accused of being) sex workers, then I'm all for their use in cases like these.

    Comment by Furry Girl — July 28, 2011 @ 2:14 pm

  7. This is in extremely poor taste and it's pretty unethical to publish a book of pictures of working woman...when you haven't even checked to make sure they actually are or asked for their consent. A lady standing on the side of the road in skimpy clothing does not equal prostitute.
    I understand art is about breaking boundaries and shocking people but this book is just lazy.
    I hope google and blurb squash this shit soon.

    Comment by Sinead — July 28, 2011 @ 2:19 pm

  8. Not to defend the book or its "author", but traveling throughout rural Italy a decade ago, I saw these pictures over and over. Scantily clad women (mostly of color) on rural roadsides in Italy. I finally asked someone about them and they replied (with no embarrassment or evasion) "Those are the prostitutes".

    Comment by Toby — July 28, 2011 @ 2:40 pm

  9. Looking at this guy's website, it looks like his whole schtick is images taken from Google Earth, or from elsewhere on the web:

    http://mishka.lockandhenner.com/blog/?cat=33
    http://mishka.lockandhenner.com/blog/?cat=34

    Pathetic.

    Comment by Iamcuriousblue — July 28, 2011 @ 3:34 pm

  10. I think someone should wiggle their boobs in Darren's face for his comment, then anyone reading this article should do the same thing he did and contact Google.

    Comment by Telia — July 28, 2011 @ 6:40 pm

  11. i just previewed the book several minutes ago. a lot of the photos are just of women standing around outside. like you said, some did look a little more ''hookery'' but that doesn't really prove anything. what right he have to accuse them of being prostitutes? ''wow, a women standing on a roadside, she must be whore!''. that's so fucking stupid.

    Comment by mistreat — July 28, 2011 @ 7:22 pm

  12. There is no copyright in a title.

    A professional photographer would get all the people he photographs to read, understand and sign a "model release", allowing him/her to use the images for the stated purposes. It's a courtesy to give the models a copy of the pictures. Even amateurs, wishing to publish pictures of people should use model releases.

    To take someone else's images and publish them without permission is theft.

    Comment by Korhomme — July 28, 2011 @ 11:56 pm

  13. Nah trust me, Korhomme, while there is no copyright in a title as such, authors can, will, and do get legal on your ass for publishing a book in even a similar-ish vein with an identical title. I am simply pointing this out because it happened to me. You know, Belle de Jour having also been a film and a book. I try not to talk out of my ass on this stuff.

    Comment by Belle de Jour — July 29, 2011 @ 12:05 am

  14. I'm just surprised, Belle, that people would try this on. I must live in a very naive world.

    Comment by Korhomme — July 29, 2011 @ 12:35 am

  15. yuck. this project is not cool. essentially these are pictures of women and girls almost all of them standing alone and they are being branded as prostitutes. obviously, i don't think being a prostitute is bad but i can't ignore that it's a stigmatized position that these women should have the choice to accept or deny.
    and further, doesn't it kind of give you the impression that some dummy who loves this book is going to start looking down every side street and every single woman standing alone will be assumed to be a sex worker? (because obviously sex workers are always alone?)
    and finally, it kind of irritated me how obsessed with the "desolate" and "scary" landscapes in these shots. when did the rural become scary? and are rural prostitutes somehow more eerie and lonesome? the whole thing makes me feel icky.

    Comment by story — July 29, 2011 @ 1:00 am

  16. To take someone else's images and publish them without permission is theft. Korhomme

    Did you mean that as in I taking someones elses image as in a photo. Or as in I taking photos of others and claiming them as my own?

    The orst is not illegal, trueif you arte going to publish you should at least try to get a a release of some sort, but in the US at least there is no right to privacy in public to prevent others from taking your phots

    Comment by lujlp — July 29, 2011 @ 3:52 am

  17. I meant taking pictures that others have taken, and using them for your own ends.

    Comment by Korhomme — July 29, 2011 @ 4:23 am

  18. Yeah that is theft

    Comment by lujlp — July 29, 2011 @ 5:47 am

  19. Slightly stunned by the reactions here and by the false assumptions many of you are making. Instead of trying to ban a book, why don't you put some of your own accusations and questions to me which I can try to answer.

    Comment by Mishka Henner — July 29, 2011 @ 9:45 am

  20. I think f*ck this guy. We ought to stereotype people like him and make a photo collection called "douchebags". My two cents.

    Comment by Miss C — July 29, 2011 @ 9:57 am

  21. I've never really felt too motivated to post a comment before, but this did the trick. As someone who has had their image taken and used commercially without consent before, I can tell you just how completely immoral this is. I had a picture of me tied up in bondage used to promote a rope workshop. This flyer was used at The Everything To Do With Sex Show, a public event in Toronto. This entire situation forced me to tell my parents all about my sex life in case I had to take legal action. There is absolutely no valid reason to use someone's image without consent for profit. If I was in public in the background of a family photo, fine. But unless you want to pay me a hefty compensation fee, don't make money off of my body! Really, what this man has done is sold a bunch of women's sexuality for money without consent, and accused them of being whores (not that that is a bad thing, but it's still a lie based on dress). He is very similar to the worst kind of pimp.

    Comment by Azura Rose — July 29, 2011 @ 11:12 am

  22. To add something I said on Twitter, think of it with another stigmatized minority that experience violence. What if somone published a collection of images stolen from Google Street View called "Chicks who are probably trannies." The sex blogger scene would be outraged in that case, and rightly so. Women who are not trans wouldn't appreciate being labeled as a such, and women who are trans wouldn't want to be gawked at and have their images used by an outsider for profit. Why is it okay to have a book of out-of-context stolen photos of supposed sex workers, but not supposed trans people?

    Mishka: I have no questions for you, other than to ask which sex workers' rights organization you are donating all the profits towards.

    Comment by Furry Girl — July 29, 2011 @ 12:35 pm

  23. OK, Mishka Henner, here's a few of my "assumptions":

    1. You have an agreement with Google to allow you to publish their (Google's) images.

    2. You know for certain that all the women are prostitutes. (By direct contact with them.)

    3. You have "model releases" for all of them.

    4. All of them know that you are publishing them in a book.

    But I don't know why you would want to publish this.

    Comment by Korhomme — July 29, 2011 @ 12:42 pm

  24. Am I the only one seeing a strong aesthetic similarity between these images and those done for companies like Urban Outfitters?

    http://thatgirlstylellp.com/2011/07/the-aesthetics-of-isolated-women/

    Comment by ThatGril — July 29, 2011 @ 6:38 pm

  25. The knee-jerkery displayed in this article and the gaggle of commentators is just silly.

    Axe grinding is such an ugly thing.

    Comment by Whitey Hackle — July 29, 2011 @ 8:06 pm

  26. If by "knee-jerkery", Whitey Hackie*, you mean "actual members of actual marginalised group that experiences increased rates of abuse and violence at least partly attributable to the stereotyping of them as useable and/or disposable by people who have zero firsthand experience of either being or being an ally to them", then yeah, I am all up in your shit jerking my knee. Fucking deal.

    * Jesus, don't even get me started on that shit-ass handle.

    Comment by Belle de Jour — July 30, 2011 @ 2:27 am

  27. While I find this sort of "published" material the lowest form of all things considered "art", the one technical issue I see in a lot of the comments is the notion of requiring a model release. While the people in the images may be loosely recognizable by their location, attire, and stature; being that they are Google Streetview images, their faces are blurred because Google doesn't want to be sued. A photographer, publisher, or director doesn't require a model release (contract) if the person's face is obscured (in this case blurred).

    For my own personal opinion, this type of collection of images is nothing more than an opportunistic way to make a few bucks and drive some sort of personal desire to be controversial. One look at his other collections more than strongly implies that he simply wants to be a known entity on the web. This is the worst sort of "hackery" around. Another point is that this guy is publishing images of prostitutes working in countries where it's safe to assume there are people (pimps?) who can and will look this guy up and express their displeasure in person...

    Comment by Vince — July 30, 2011 @ 8:04 am

  28. Thanks for all the questions and where possible, keeping threats of violence out of it (not mentioning any names, Vince).

    Korhomme -
    1. No - neither do they have an agreement with me to publish my images in their search results. It works both ways. I acknowledge the work was made with Street View without claiming ownership.
    2. No, but locations and for the most part, actual sightings were sourced from sites used by men to find sex workers (often through local knowledge, personal experience, etc.).
    3. No, read Vince's first paragraph. He explains the reason better than I could.
    4. Of course not, that would be absurd. Does Google need to contact everyone that appears on Street View to tell them they're on there?

    ThatGrill - thanks for the link. I'm not interested in fashion but it's an interesting comparison.

    Azura Rose - Am I really as bad as the worst kind of pimp? Think about it.

    FurryGirl - There are no proceeds!

    Comment by Mishka Henner — July 30, 2011 @ 12:11 pm

  29. Mishka: So, you prefer exploiting, stereotyping, and shaming women you've never met merely for fun, not for profit? Whether you claim you've made profit on this or not, you are still using stolen copyrighted materials to make libelous claims about women you've judged to be hookers based on their manner of dress and they they are alone in public. Whether they are actually sex workers or not, I'd bet that any woman unwillingly featuring in your collection would be irate at you for what you are doing to her. You are in the wrong, and I would love it if you get sued by any of these women, or by Google.

    Comment by Furry Girl — July 30, 2011 @ 12:25 pm

  30. Furry Girl, How can the work be libelous if the identities are concealed in the first place? I don't wish harm on anyone and despite yours and your readers' passionate arguments, I'm yet to be convinced this work does that. There's lots of interesting art work being made with Google and Google Street View right now. I'm afraid I'm not alone in thinking it's a fascinating subject to work with.

    Comment by Mishka Henner — July 30, 2011 @ 12:47 pm

  31. Mishka: You are right in that you are not alone. Lazy artists throughout the centuries have long relied on copying other people's works. Google Streetview is just a new medium for untalented "photographers" to pull from.

    Since an appeal to the idea of not exploiting people is obviously too much for you to grasp as a detached and privileged white dude, I'll make another argument that probably appeals to your obtuse and self-centric nature. What if someone else made a "book" like this, and your mother, sister, or girlfriend was in the photo? You obviously don't give a rat's ass about exploiting unknown women, but how would you feel if women in your own life were exploited and judged in the same manner?

    Comment by Furry Girl — July 30, 2011 @ 12:50 pm

  32. Sorry, Furry - may I call you Furry? ;-) I wasn't "threatening" violence, simply implying that there are people I'd rather anger than some Romanian pimp who could track me down with a few mouse clicks!

    Regarding your fourth point (or rather your response to point 4) - yes, Google would be required to contact and obtain a model release (and in some cases a property release) if the person is easily identifiable. There have been several locales would have sued Google in response to them collectively wanting to preserve their privacy forcing Google to remove the majority of Streetview information from their mapping service. Theses
    Regarding this vary per country, and Google initially proceeded as though all nations had laws mirroring ours here in the US. There were wrong, and have had to adjust accordingly. As far as people go, as far as I know - all people who have been photographed by the Streetview fleet have had their faces obscured. As an interesting side note, Google also blurs automobile license plates, and even contact information on billboards and signage (all have been blurred that I've seen).

    As a working (mostly trying to work) photographer, I find the use of anyone's images without consent completely inexcusable and have a mini orgasm every time I read about an instance where a fellow photographer wins a lawsuit when their rights are infringed upon (Google is really only peripherally included, but the principle is the same - though I suspect that they probably classify their images public domain. I bet this guy's work would already have been pulled off the net if they had a problem with it).

    Meanwhile - having stumbled on your blog via an article on the subject of this self-proclaimed "artist", it's been a fun read. I'll certainly be back! There's nothing more appealing than the combination of brains and beauty :-)

    Comment by Vince — July 30, 2011 @ 1:12 pm

  33. Blanket apology for the syntax of my previous post - damn iPhone is great at most things. Formatting text is NOT one of them!

    Comment by Vince — July 30, 2011 @ 1:14 pm

  34. Also: there is nothing "original" or "artistic" about throwing together a bunch of tired old stereotypes about a minority group. Great art is usually controversial, but just because something generates controversy, it doesn't mean it's great art. And there's tons of excellent and controversial art that doesn't rely on exploiting unwilling participants, which is really the last resort of the lazy. The book's concept is about as avant-garde as one titled "Look at the funny outfits retarded kids wear" or "Look at how badly Asians drive."

    Comment by Furry Girl — July 30, 2011 @ 1:14 pm

  35. @Mishka

    Why didn't you entitle your book "Women Standing Near Roads, Alone"? That's certainly what I see when I look at the images.

    Could it be because you know it wouldn't sell, or attract one whit of attention? Yes?

    *You don't know* who those women are, so the entire premise of your book is a sham.

    Also: Would you like it if someone captured an image of you with the face blurred and included it in a book about men soliciting sex?

    Comment by aag — July 30, 2011 @ 1:20 pm

  36. One more thing: It's admittedly become a distractionary issue to have people keep asking me why I referred to this guy as a "hipster," and some commenters elsewhere seem to think the focus of this issue is what constitutes hipsterism. Since Mishka believes in judging people based on the way they look, then people shouldn't have a problem with me judging him as a hipster based on his ironic flat-top mullet in his profile image. here.

    Comment by Furry Girl — July 30, 2011 @ 1:29 pm

  37. Whilst I admire your fire, I'm no match for your ferocity. If you ever need more portraits of me to tear into and make fun of, feel free to take what you want from here: http://mishka.lockandhenner.com/blog/?cat=7. These should keep you going for some time ;)

    Comment by Mishka Henner — July 30, 2011 @ 3:21 pm

  38. From looking at the pictures I think I can see his definition of a hooker: "A lone woman beside a road". Many seem to be just walking along. Heaven forbid that a woman should be allowed outside without a man accompanying her.

    Comment by fecnde — July 30, 2011 @ 10:31 pm

  39. I'm considering creating my own book of pics of men who are gay, because they are standing in areas where gay men have been alleged to have stood.

    Comment by FeministWhore — July 31, 2011 @ 5:30 am

  40. my biggest concern, and a few previous comments have hinted at this, is the eroticization of the "exotic". Here, I'm using the word exotic to imply anything that is different from a person's (in this case, the book creator's) experience, and therefore exciting, fascinating, and arousing. Whatever the reason for these women standing near roadsides, I imagine that it's fairly mundaine. Yes, even if some of them are sex workers, it's their work, their job. There's privilege and power in this eroticization of the exotic that hurts people and benefits no one.

    Comment by Robin — July 31, 2011 @ 6:02 am

  41. "... he accuses the subjects ..." Does he? Looking at the book I don't see any accusations. I don't see any judgement either.
    Reading the post and comments it became obvious that many contributors take their assumptions for facts.

    Comment by JF — July 31, 2011 @ 6:10 am

  42. Wow, this sure is enlightening, perhaps you should check out issues regarding 'fair use' and appropriation within the art world.

    Also is it not entirely valid that some issues attempting to be discussed within the work are the exact issues that you guys are reacting to?

    On a side note, how do you guys react to the work of people like Larry Clark, Philip Lorca DiCorcia or Masato Seto?

    Comment by Andrew — July 31, 2011 @ 12:35 pm

  43. I find this of particular interest as a person who has also published a book about sex workers on blurb (http://www.blurb.com/my/book/detail/2324566) my subjects all knew they were being photographed, loved the book and passed it around the dressing room. The two big differences are that I too am a sex worker, and I did not photograph anyone who did not want to be photographed. It is for that reason that I agree that this is in poor taste, though I can understand the struggle behind that thought as both a photographer and sex worker.

    Comment by Wren — July 31, 2011 @ 12:53 pm

  44. JF: The book's sales text says that is a collection of, "what appear to be women soliciting sex, all captured by Google Street View cameras. Sourcing locations from online where men share local knowledge on the whereabouts of sex workers, these areas were then visited online and re-framed using the Street View cameras." Please read the thing being discussed before you assume that all the uppity womenfolk are just projecting some imaginary idea that the author labels the women as roadside sex workers.

    Comment by Furry Girl — July 31, 2011 @ 2:05 pm

  45. Andrew: I have a pretty liberal definition of fair use. I don't think that most people (or *any* court of law) would consider it "fair use" to go and download dozens of images that belong to a company, compile them into a "book," and sell them. It's not creating a new work, it's just stealing from Google. The only thing the seller of the "book" adds to these images is to label the women as roadside hookers.

    Comment by Furry Girl — July 31, 2011 @ 2:09 pm

  46. You do realise the project isn't really about sex workers, or italy? Look at the rest of his work, its all about appropriation, and google street view or google earth etc.

    Its about technology. These photographs were already taken, for no other purpose than to map a route. He has then added the male predatory gaze into the equation, yet from a safe and sterile environment. That doesn't mean he himself is a predator, or has ever paid for sex.

    Not wanting to sound rude, but i think everyone is looking at it too objectively. If you disagree, i welcome your feedback. But please think to yourself and tell me; Is Andy Warhols' 'Brillo Soap Pads Boxes' really anything to do with the company 'brillo', soap pads, and boxes?

    Comment by dee — July 31, 2011 @ 2:48 pm

  47. Is any use of imagery created by a company not fair use or just google street view? It would be interesting to be aware of how Mishka re-appropriated the imagery as I'm guessing there was probably a bit more to it than just downloading a few dozen images. What if his process was to re-photograph a carefully selected segment of the screen, and if so, would this be any different to re-photographing an advertisement and placing it in a new context to create an artistic statement?

    It's this selection process and application of a different concept (to that of the original source) that I feel means that Mishka has created a new work, and it's this which also makes it fair use.

    As an aside, what is the purpose of placing book in speech marks? Whether you like it not the work exists as a book, not a mere notion of a book.

    Comment by Andrew — July 31, 2011 @ 2:53 pm

  48. It's interesting to me how the feedback from men has been to debate the artistic merits of the "book," and compare it to Kubric, Warhol, and Larry Clark. Men seem to view this as a totally de-personified means by which they can tut-tut about what it means to product great art, or how fair use should be applied. I don't even like Jezebel.com, but the commenters there, mostly women, who are mostly anti-prostitution, are appalled. I suppose for men, everything can be discussed as art theory, whereas for women, we can relate to the idea of not wanting strange men putting photos of us in their collection of people they think look like hookers. I'm not the type to make many declarations about "men are like this, women are like this," but you can't deny the stark gender contrast with this topic. Most women are horrified, most men think it's art.

    And, I put "book" in quotation marks because it's not a real book. It's for sale from a print-on-demand website. It requires no effort or talent to upload a bunch of stolen content to a print-on-demand publisher. Calling it real book is like saying that your photos has been appeared in an art gallery because you uploaded them to Flickr.

    Comment by Furry Girl — July 31, 2011 @ 2:59 pm

  49. Interesting to read a discussion where two worlds collide, each not knowing the other exists before the encounter. The dialogue about the appropriateness of appropriation and image capture in the public realm have been going on in the art world for the past 50 years. To the artist's point, Google Street view work, as well as other work that appropriates images from CCC's, is kind of the rage right now. The Museum of Modern Art is about to launch it's latest New Photography exhibition that features the work of Doug Rickard. Doug uses Google Street View images to document people in poor areas of the US. Also check out the work of Michael Wolf. I can see raising stink about the potential libeling of women who may be identifiable in the images or the implications of suggesting all the women present are sex workers, but the other claims of copyright infringement and such are not informed.

    Comment by Rita — July 31, 2011 @ 3:04 pm

  50. Rita: It is copyright infringement, plain and simple. Just because other people have done similar things, it doesn't mean it's not violating Google's copyright. If "other people are doing it, too!" was a legal defense for piracy, then there would be no such things as people getting sued and arrested for piracy.

    Comment by Furry Girl — July 31, 2011 @ 3:13 pm

  51. "we can relate to the idea of not wanting strange men putting photos of us in their collection of people they think look like hookers"
    But in the top of your website bio', it says "
    I oppose the modern feminist idea that women are inherently victims"

    The project really is depersonalised. The faces are blurred. The artist would find it very hard to really put a figure to a real person.

    Its a project about re-appopriation. The questions being raised here should really be about image use and availability, the power and ubiquity of photographs etc.

    Really misinterpreting the work. Im discussing it as art, as i saw them as framed photographs where i saw them. It would be a totally different conversation if the photographs were posted on a male sex forum for prostitutes - i totally agree that in that kind of context the photographs serve a malicious purpose. But these photographs are intended for art galleries etc. There really is no direct purpose. It would be just as appropriate to do a project about drug dealing areas. The people in the areas may or may not be drug dealers. But they are there at that time. Your not viewing it to decide whether they are a prostitute or not.

    Comment by dee — July 31, 2011 @ 3:13 pm

  52. Dee: *Yawn* I don't care to debate what is and is not art with you.

    Comment by Furry Girl — July 31, 2011 @ 3:16 pm

  53. @Furry Girl If these images represent copyright infringement, Google has been strangely silent for the past few years as a number of high profile artists have used Street View in their work. It's in a show at MOMA for goodness sakes. I would love for you to point me to the language from Google that says artists are not allowed to use their Street View images in their work.

    Comment by Rita — July 31, 2011 @ 3:21 pm

  54. Your refusal to question the works context within art highlights the main point of the argument. If you did a bit of research into artists or photographers, or just people (yep, photographers and artists are people too) you should hopefully start to recognise the motifs and intentions behind the work.

    Comment by dee — July 31, 2011 @ 3:24 pm

  55. Rita: Just because Google hasn't sued anyone that you're aware of, that doesn't mean it's not a copyright violation. That's an absurd argument, like saying that offline theft must not be illegal because you know people who get away with shoplifting. The burden is not on me to prove that Google doesn't want "artists" stealing their copyrighted materials.

    Dee: Your comments are irrelevant to the matter at hand.

    Comment by Furry Girl — July 31, 2011 @ 3:26 pm

  56. furry girl:

    okay okay, i shall stop, when you can tell me why my comments are irrelevant?

    Comment by dee — July 31, 2011 @ 3:30 pm

  57. @Furry Girl ...and you are done. Shut it down. No dialogue. No engagement. Good luck with your world view.

    Comment by Rita — July 31, 2011 @ 3:30 pm

  58. What Dee and Rita can't comprehend is that even if you agree with them (that this collection counts as "art" and that other people have used Street View images before), that has NOTHING to do with whether or not it's exploitative, potentially libelous, and in violation of copyright laws. Therefor, since you to want to keep trolling about things that have nothing to do with the actual issue, I'm not going to waste any more of my time feeding you.

    Comment by Furry Girl — July 31, 2011 @ 3:34 pm

  59. I am no longer approving comments from pretentious trolls who are trying to debate the meaning of art with me.

    My comment "policy," for all you new readers from Gizmodo and Jezebel: I engage in very little moderation, but I don't approve comments that are call me an ugly whore or whatnot, and trolls who refuse to stay on topic. I can and do exercise my right refuse to engage in pointless conversations with people with poor reading comprehension skills and/or wanting to debate in the "true" meanings of abstractions like "art," "creation," or "exploitation." If my comment policy bothers you, go start your own blog and see if anyone cares to read it. The internet's attention economy is an amazing meritocracy!

    Comment by Furry Girl — July 31, 2011 @ 4:21 pm

  60. After I stopped publishing comments from pretentious trolls who want to debate the "true meanings" of abstract concepts like "art" and "creation," I've kept getting them, and then angry emails. Mishka, for example, emailed: "Oh well, I guess freedom of expression in the US isn't as developed as I thought it was." Likewise, other people (whom I'm guessing came to my blog mostly from Gizmodo) who will never read anything else I write, have accused me of being a meanie and a censor.

    It's my fucking blog, people.

    I don't have an obligation to continue publishing off-topic comments that have NOTHING to do with the original topic. I let that go on long enough. I'd also shut down the distraction if people tried to make the conversation about, "What does the color green REALLY look like?" or "What if we're actually living in the Matrix and none of this is really happening?" It's bullshit navel-gazing that goes nowhere and ignores the topic at hand: the exploitation and misrepresentation of sex workers and other women for the profit and amusement of outsiders.

    I love debate and discussion, but nothing bores me to tears like the idea of spending the next week jousting with random internet users about what "art" means, or if this collection of photos counts as art, because neither of those issues matter in the least.

    Comment by Furry Girl — August 1, 2011 @ 12:52 pm

  61. I've been off in my own corner of the world and have been absent from this debate until now.

    Freedom of expression is not the same thing as stealing images from someone else, using models without their consent, and slapping a label on them without doing any research whatsoever. It's a lazy and exploitative project, full stop. It relies on the trope that the bodies of women are something to be mined by others with impunity. It is not expression, it is theft.

    Furry Girl is under no obligation to post anyone's comments. Crying foul on that is akin to walking into a bookshop and demanding that they carry your book because you wrote it. It's a childish idea born out of a sense of contrived entitlement.

    Mishka: you have neither the right to use the work of others for your own profit nor the right to promote yourself on a platform that someone else built from the ground up.

    Comment by Maggie Mayhem — August 1, 2011 @ 1:12 pm

  62. Furry Girl - Do I get to defend my work or are you just publishing comments made by those you agree with along with snippets of my private emails to you?

    To Maggie Mayhem and anyone else who keeps rehashing the same old copyright arguments: There are many precedents to working with Street View - This book isn't the first and won't be the last. Whether it's right or wrong isn't for you or me to decide.

    Re: Identity - To protect themselves from legal challenges regarding data protection, Google developed an algorithm that blurs out faces so people can't be identified. Stop, look and think for a minute and you might notice that faces are blurred throughout the book and identities are concealed.

    As far as 'profiting' from the representation of women goes, believe it or not, making artists' book doesn't generally attract capitalists. It's not really something people get into to make money. But I guess we're not allowed to talk about art here so let's move on.

    Finally, I've been careful to suggest the possibility that given the research underpinning this work, these women appear to be sex workers working in isolated, liminal spaces in certain parts of Europe (not hookers or whores as so many of you here seem to revel in calling them). If you stopped to think about the content of this work for one second instead of spitting venom about your skewed understanding of my intentions, you might think about the bigger social issues touched on by this work and hell, you might even gain insight into a world beyond America.

    This is the last thing I'll say on the subject here - I'm starting to repeat myself. I guess that's what happens when diversity of opinion is denied.

    Comment by Mishka Henner — August 1, 2011 @ 2:29 pm

  63. Mishka: I'm glad to keep publishing your comments. It's like the saying goes, "give someone enough rope and they'll hang themselves with it."

    Comment by Furry Girl — August 1, 2011 @ 2:32 pm

  64. You know, when that picture of me was used without my consent, it was from behind, no face at all. Didn't stop people from recognizing me based on body shape, stance, clothes, hair, this one mole I have, etc. And Mishka, whether it is legal or not, I don't know. But I do know it is immoral. About being like a pimp, you are giving women no choice as to whether (images of) their bodies are sold, and you profit off of their sexuality. The only thing you do not share with them is physical violence. There is no precedent for this? And that makes it right? That is a lazy excuse, and any fool would see that.

    Comment by Azura Rose — August 2, 2011 @ 3:38 pm

  65. Henner is a virtual kerb crawler who presupposes that any women in these places is game.

    Comment by Space Cat — August 3, 2011 @ 10:28 am

  66. Comment by Trackbacks — October 20, 2014 @ 6:01 am

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