Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Roll up! Roll up! Quiet little voices play dead in Southsea

My Dog Sighs umbrella design, 
photo by Andrew White, 
shown on The Times website, 
image saved from My Dog Sighs Facebook page 

This post is mostly about My Dog Sighs' exhibition opening this Friday but I want to start with a word about copyright and protecting intellectual property.  Who owns the rights to the image above?  Who can give permission for it to be used?  Facebook? The Times? the photographer? I'm guessing the photographer was commissioned (paid) by the artist who was trying to promote his work/flog some product.  I could be breaching copyright four times.  Or (I would argue) I am furthering the aim of the artist in promoting his work.  I mean, look at that brolly, nip over to and buy one. Only £45 and worth every penny.

The great thing about the internet is that it is like a cross between the world's greatest circus (all human life is there) and the Wild West (anything goes).

The worst thing about the internet is that it is turning into a series of walled gardens.  The gardens are owned by big korporations which exist to make money.  They make money by mining your information, much of it while you're not looking.  While you're admiring the flowers they're picking your pockets.

What does that have to do with this?  Nothing, except that I nicked all the pictures and the words from My Dog Sighs' F*c*b**k page.  I intended to contact My Dog and ask him to answer three original questions.  Three questions he hadn't been asked a hundred times.  I tried to frame three original questions. It didn't work. I was also going to ask permission to use the pictures. Haven't done that yet. Hope he doesn't mind. 

So my revised plan is to just pinch the photos and, indeed, some words from off the internet.  This is of course the way that most internet news stories are sourced, I feel that it's a bit of a cheat to do this but my intentions are good:  I just want people to know about My Dog sighs' exhibition. 

It may be a wrong way of thinking but it seems to me that if anyone, anyone, anywhere in the world, can google and find a certain image then copyright laws are pretty redundant.  I know that the hundreds (thousands?) of photos that I have taken and used on The Corn Poppy are in the public domain and are fair game.  There was one photo I took that ended up on a right wing American news website.  If they had asked me I would have said no (because I didn't like their politics).  

On the other hand, on another occasion I found some music that essentially belonged to me for sale on a dodgy eastern European file downloading site.  While I was a bit upset that they were taking our royalties I was more pleased that someone saw fit to pirate our product.

So what's this all about? Gather round, let me tell you.

My Dog Sighs has a new exhibition opening this week.  At Play Dead, Highland Road, Southsea, starts Friday 13th, opposite the cemetery.  MDS wrote "a couple of lines" for the local Evening News.  Here he is, in his own words:

Quiet Little Voices seemed to come about in a moment of serendipity.

It's a been a manic year for me, working on walls, commissions and shows all over the world and I hadn't really had chance to stop and take stock until the latter part of the summer when Samo and Dan began setting up Play Dead [tattoo studio].

Both Samo and Dan are good friends of mine but their style and approach to the creative scene are very different so I was fascinated to see how the space would come together. Dan's strong colourful graphic design led background and Samo's fascination with all things dark and her painterly approach to ink seems to have merged to create a strong visual aesthetic in the space. The tattoo and the street art scene aren't often associated together but they share so much in traditionally being on the fringes of society but more recently becoming more accepted and embraced in today's grey corporate world.

The gallery is on the studio's doorstep so while they were setting up I'd pop over for a coffee, help out, pick up some paint, chat and bring my sketchbook over and sit on the sofa drawing alongside the tattooists.

I've been filling my sketchbook up recently. Taking the visual elements I use in my work and rearranging them to create a new visual language.  Instead of the very simple perfectly executed eye or face, I began to repeat and jumble them in a loose, less ordered way.  They seemed to keep the melancholy I'm known for and use new visual elements to develop a sort of lonely freakish ethereal quality.

With the gallery opening on my doorstep and a new series of drawings and prints developing it seemed the perfect opportunity to put together a small exhibition.  I even embraced the world of tattooing and have designed a few flash pages of small affordable designs which Samo is offering to tattoo over the weekend of the opening.

Of course my fascination with the found material continues and there are a small collections of cans, both completely crushed but also more sculptural free standing cans nestled into corners and spaces; Captured in moments of melancholy. Some have embraced the nod to a gallery called Play Dead, opposite a grave yard and are slightly darker, but not all.

It's just so happened that the show opening coincides with the release of a new project for me. Over the years I've always painted an umbrella to take to festivals. Just a bit of fun. They've always gone down well visually but the paint peels off pretty quickly so they were never anything other than a flag to stop me getting lost and to keep the rain/sun off. But I've been working with an umbrella company over the last couple of years and am really excited to announce the release of an exclusive run of specially printed mds golf umbrellas. Expect colour and fun in these. Some will be available at the opening and the rest via my website later in November.

The official opening to the exhibition is 7pm on Friday 13th November at Play Dead gallery, Highland Road, Southsea but with the response to the opening so overwhelming, we have decided to have a second 'opening' during the day on Saturday 14th from 10am til 5pm.

umbrella photos by Andrew White at
other photos My Dog Sighs

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