Photo: Molotov Man and the Ecstasy of Influence
—Appropriating Joy Garnett, Susan Meiselas, and
Jonathan Lethem with your photo search
SEO Series no. 3
Photo: Molotov Man and an exploding ecstasy
of contextual influence and perhaps today a photo
framing my page will savor your search and,
downloaded to your ambitious hard drive, live a new,
ecstatic life of influence. But I doubt it. My photo: perhaps
you will appropriate my photo, use the photo
for a holiday photo card, increase your or my influence
anxiety while my holiday-photo-card appropriated photo
dances upon family occasion. My photo. You appropriate a photo,
my photo, I appropriate your search for a photo to give you my photo.
Originality and appropriations are as one. You want a holiday
photo card, digital photo printing, or just photo printing or just a
digital photo. I want you to see snippets of other writers’ texts
in this work, an action my teachers would have called plagiarism.
Visual, sound, and text collage, explosively central to a series of
movements in the 20th century. Collage, the art form
of the twentieth century, never mind the digital
search of the 21st. See: my photo, its life, its use—
even as a holiday stock photo card. This picture,
this moment I saw, appropriated, manipulated, selected
an angle for and lighting and perspective for
and framed, this photo framing a picture of my sensibility,
placed here to attract your attention, to appropriate your search.
Enframing Heidegger’s technological orientation toward the task
he identified: to find ways to resituate ourselves vis-à-vis object,
things pulled into relief against the ground of their functionality.
Appropriating your photo, nude photo, holiday photo card search
pulling out from the ground of the search engine an optimized photo
album poem against the ground of naked-picture backs. Central
to my work, respect the individuality of the people who search
for photographs. If I find my photo later, disguised as a Britney
Spears picture or sex picture, a tattoo picture to capture
your ink-mind word-splattered photo-appropriation imagination,
creating found photo art from my photo, so what? I am a photographer.
Perhaps my name could ride with the photo, for a while,
this obscure and unknown photographer offering a small gift:
the appropriation of your search for image, for photo, for photographer,
for Britney Spears picture, for photo print, for sex picture, for PhotoShop,
for a Jennifer Lopez picture, for a funny picture, for a Joumana Kidd picture
(who is Joumana Kidd?), a tattoo picture. Ah. A tattoo picture I have.
What joy, this practice of decontextualizing searches in my own hope
as a photographer to contextualize the photographer’s photography,
an image of self: there is no denying in this digital age
that images are increasingly dislocated and far more easily
decontextualized. Technology allows us. As a photographer
photography is my grasping at the world, a shout of my consciousness,
a demand for a picture framing me. The photo album is my mind.
My ego. My self. I don’t have a Saddam Hussein picture to offer you,
no free sex pic here, although death and sex are on my mind.
It is a poetry of witness photo, this picture frame,
the photographer’s photography, influenced by ecstasy.
My mind poem witness to an adult picture photographer,
not the free sex pic, sex picture frame Yahoo! Photo graphic
kind, a graph of body, mind and creation and eye and experience and
against interpretation, appropriated to appropriate your photographer
photography photo search so that, for a moment, you might see
as or what I see. Even though you won’t. Because you are
searching for a photo, not my photo, a photo you will take
out into the world or view privately alone, hands busy
not looking, on keyboard or body. I cannot appropriate
your eyes, hands, desire, your perspective always outside
my picture frame. You searchers of photos look for the photo,
private or public, the photo in your mind: the holiday photo card,
the Saddam Hussein picture, Saddam Hussein being executed,
saving the most promising images in folders on your computer,
Osama bin Laden dead, on your computer, wardrobe malfunction photo,
computer photo, digital image, a photo album mirror reflects
your eyes, your mind, and you forget where you found the photo.
Assembling each photo you find based on
aesthetic, psychological, cultural, social, religious
criteria more than that, on your emotional attachment
to their narratives as self-constructed, into your photo-album
self, the mirror of culture, the constructed dance of influence, past,
present, philosophy of digital photo printing
a newly released Adobe PhotoShop self, photo
printing picture, the public-persona photo album.
The private-alone-at-night photo album seeks
Britney Spears pictures, a Lindsay Lohan photo,
an adult picture in the picture frame of lonely bodies.
An Aishwarya Rai picture highlights the diversity
of the search as you seek a free porn pic,
the sex photo you want to create in your Adobe Photo Shop mind
of a photo: a Beyonce picture, a sexy picture, you in it
with whomever, a Shakira picture, a porn picture with Britney Spears,
car, Paris Hilton picture you in the nudist photo, part of the celebrity photo,
the digital photo, the passport photo that takes you to the porn sex nudist
panty-less Britney excited photo of your cultural and personal despair,
alone in the Elisha Cuthbert photo. No porn picture when
spent, you return to looking for the holiday card photo
you sought to appropriate before the dance of loneliness
left you looking for a Victoria Beckham picture, your superiority
sought the execution of Saddam Hussein picture,
your free nude pic reminded you that you need a haircut,
and quickly you appropriate a picture of hair style that will end
your loneliness you are sure, or a dog picture, so cute,
to cleanse your inappropriate searching for a Shilpa Shetty picture.
(Who is Shilpa Shetty? Why do you want that picture?)
I know that you want a Britney Spears panty-less photo uncensored,
a pussy pic to go with the dog picture, but not that kind of pussy cat picture.
Despite this, I appropriate your search. I am not a wedding photographer,
but perhaps you will hire me to take a baby picture. I have no Paris Hilton
private photo, but no photo in this digital world remains private long.
I have no free nude pic, no sex photo,
no sex pictures, no 2006 Miss World Photo.
This poem anxiously appropriates your searches for photo,
for photograph, for photography, for photographer. This
poem steals words and language from writers
and Googlers and Yahooers and Bing bangers and searchers for photo.
This poem is a photo gallery of the digital cultural mind searching,
searching, seeking, not hiding, not finding. This digital picture frame
strings Joumana Kidd photo gay pic with Cameron Diaz picture
with Britney Spears photo with Ivanka (Ivana?) Trump picture
with xxx pic and girl pic and naked picture, nude photo, sex photo, right
after naked picture comes horse picture,
perhaps adolescent girls sublimating photos.
The seekers look for a flower picture, a free gay pic, a Ciara picture.
They look for Miss USA photo, b h photos (what are b h photos?),
herpes pictures, and then a Serena Williams hot photo. From our space
we want a satellite photo, stock photo of earth or moon or where we live;
we want stock photos to appropriate in our digital art world,
a cat picture, an animal picture. No bank photos. I’ve got those, cat pictures,
a dog picture, animal pictures. Not sex pictures,
nor am I hanging Saddam Hussein pictures
on my living room wall. I’ve stolen your searches for this poem.
But you were not searching for this poem. Who has a dragon picture?
Today, we all have a MySpace picture. A WordPress picture. A FaceBook picture.
An Avitar and a childhood photo. A senior picture. A developing photo fetish
for photo fetishes. A two-dimensional representation of culture,
an appropriation. A Jessica Simpson picture and a Serena Williams picture,
sandwiched between them: your photo shop tutorial. Beyonce Knowles’ picture
hangs next to a dragon picture on Saddam Hussein’s
hanging-wall photo album of hell. At least some of us
would like to see an angel picture. Or a dragon picture.
Or simply to find the photo for our photo-album selves
that would be the holiday photo card photo of our persona,
imago, projected appropriation of cultural masks of self,
of whom we could and might well be. I’ve stolen your searches,
plagiarized your phrases, put together this pastiche
with my feeble scribbling, contextualizing sensibility,
picture-framing, selecting, digital photo making something
of a lot of nothing, words that might bring you to me.
You may well appropriate my photos. But if you have
found this poem, I may well have appropriated your search
for photos, your quest for a free sex picture. Your desire to see
for my desire to be seen. A new project having to do
with the human in extremis. Will you include a credit line?
In this swirl of appropriated search, creative agitprop and
commentary, several questions come to the fore.
Does the author—whose mission is to provide a public with—
control the content of the readers’ mind?
Searchers of photo, did you find
what you’re looking for?
1] See “Portfolio” and “Criticism” in Harper’s Magazine 314:1881, Feb. 2007. Several phrases and a sentence or two in this poem come from these essays on appropriation and influence.
An earlier version of this poem originally appeared five years ago on March 17, 2007, in my MySpace blog, Jerusalem Imagined, Recalled, and Revisited. The image, titled Appropriations, appeared with it. It is a photo montage rendered in Adobe PhotoShop, and includes in its layers a tattoo based on an Egon Schiele painting and other possible appropriations.