Oh Noir You Didn’t!

273 / 365 Project 2022

Oh, yes I did! I willfully and purposefully included somebody else’s artwork into a photograph of mine…

Specifically, I incorporated a framed photogravure of Man Ray’s cinematic, Dadaesque photograph “Larmes” or “Les Larmes” or “Larmes de Verre” (French) a.k.a. “Tears” or “The Tears” or “Tears of Glass” (1932), into the shadowy, noir-style photographic composition I posted today. Obviously, I didn’t create and don’t own anything other than a physical copy of a great image, but now it’s part of “my” photograph. His art is now part of mine?

It’s kind of like sampling in music, right? It’s not copying or stealing so much as making something old into something new, something borrowed, something blue, etc. It’s not like a remake or cover version of a song, but a new song that has a line, verse, chorus, or just a few sounds from another song. You’ve got to add something to the original art — a new idea or interpretation, use an unusual POV or angle, explore emotions and feelings, go deeper into the message, riff on the reality, bring your own style and vision — to take it somewhere else. Basically you have to add value, or it’s just that you ran out of your own ideas!

There’s no guarantee that incorporating someone else’s art into yours will result in anything worthwhile. Think about how many BAD cover tunes you’ve heard, after which you shook your head, rolled your eyes, and said something like, “That was awful! Did they think they could improve on the original?” Then again, there are some cover tunes which improve on the original; a few even transcend the original to become their own standalone works of art.

Example: Sinead O’Connor had a powerful megahit with “Nothing Compares To You” and Bonnie Raitt sang her heart out in the deeply sad “I Can’t Make You Love me.” As you may know, both songs were originally written (words and music) by Prince, one of the most talented, gifted artists and performers ever! But whenever the original versions by Prince come up in my shuffle-play, or when I’m binge-listening to his music, I am struck by how much better those two songs were, performed by Sinead and Bonnie!

Enough musical metaphors… What was my idea for this photograph? Well, I often look at Man Ray’s iconic image and think about the distress and longing in it. Her distress, which drove her to leave him, and his longing for her after being scorned, which turned into vengeful creativity from 1930-to-1933. My idea was simple, almost banal by comparison.

Today, as late afternoon sun cast the shadow of a crooked, ladderback chair on the wall, I thought of making hand-shadows in the space below Tears of Glass. Then, as light shifted and moved across the wall, a cinematic noir composition came into my mind. The shadow of my hand could reach toward her and be interpreted either as Man Ray’s longing, or a friend of hers reaching out to comfort her…

The initial color version was boring, even with that yellow wall. The monochrome version was much better, but I felt it should go darker and moodier. So I made the “noir” edit and I was happy… Hope you like it!

Camera: iPhone 13 Pro Max
Editing: Hipstamatic app
Photographer: Russ Murray aka “remages
Location: somewhere in Stamford, CT

See you tomorrow… 

// russ murray [remages]

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