Last night on TMC they were showing Antonioni’s Blow Up — one of the brilliant films I watched in 2012. This was while I was working / living with Jim Groom, and we enjoyed a mini 1970s Conspiracy Movie fest.

Blow Up left a lens shaped impression, the questions of what does a photograph mean, what meaning do we put into it, are we removed from what we see through the lens, or not, etc. I was listening in the background, but the scene where Jane (such a gorgeous Vanessa Redgrave) confronts the mod aloof photographer Thomas in the park:

These lines jumped out at me (finding the lines from an online copy of the script):

Jane: What are you doing? Stop it! Stop it! Give me those. You can’t photograph people like that.

Thomas: Who says I can’t? I’m only doing my job. Some people are bullfighters…some people are politicians. I’m a photographer.

Jane: This is a public place. Everyone has the right to be left in peace.

Thomas: It’s not my fault if there’s no peace.

Jane has an expectation of privacy in a public place (any parallels?)

Thomas shrugs it off, he is above that. He is detached. And he is blameless for the lack of peace (or privacy). He just photographs.

Very interesting…

Also of interest is this find in YouTube where someone revisited the setting of the film scenes in Maryon Park

It’s worth a closer watch again, and again. Actually I still need to follow De Palma’s somewhat recasting of the plot as Blow Out. Or just go visit Jim and ask to watch more movies.

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. What is it about that scene in particular that drew your attention? Was it her false assumption that she couldn’t be photographed in public, when legally she can? Was it his assumption that there is no public peace? How do you locate yourself in that scene?

    1. It connected with modern views about expectation of networked publics (danah boyd “It’s complicated”). Just because she has legal ground to make that assertion it begs the question of where the act is morally ok. I’m taking back by his aloof attitude, his emotional distance from the moral question. Again while he has a right to take photos of strangers in the park, should he? It hits my own caution of taking photos of strangers

  2. Hi Alan. I have been wondering about the attribution/copyrights question. So here a few questions

    What are your thoughts/guidelines as regards
    1) Use of excerpts from a film on Youtube
    2) Use of excerpts from a film which are remixed (Scary Mary etc)
    3) Use of images from film or other existing artefact remixed or memed or giffed
    4) Fanfiction – adaptation of existing pieces of art.
    5) Encapsulation of blogs or other on site
    6) Remixing/sampling of music on Soundcloud or other



    1. I care a ton about attribution, way more than copyright.

      All I like to see is “I used ______________ from ________________ found at this link ________________” in whatever form they see fit. It gets tricky to cite a remix like Scary Mary; I guess is the element something that is definitely the work of that remix, or is the clip so small its the reference is the original? If everyone cites their sources, when I got to SimonsRemix, I find his references, and I go back and back (inception like).

      I don’t make rigid requirements on how students list their sources, just that they try. They should develop something that makes sense to them.

      I’m asked as well how I deal with copyright. I don’t talk about it explicitly with messages of THIS IS WRONG, ITS A CRIME, IF YOU DO THIS BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN. That seems a rather backwards way to encourage the acknowledgement message of attribution (to me it is saying, “thanks”). This is how I “deal” with copyright– I want my students to come face to face with it. I want them to get take down notices.

      This happens as we go into video and eventually remix. They will use clips from movies or pop songs, and then are astonished to get a notice. So I talk about options- replace the song (ok). They can movie it to vimeo (which solves the assignment problem but not the issue). They can appeal. But mostly I want them to think about- is this right? Should we not have rights to remix, for non commercial purposes of creation, bits of popular culture? I want them to wrestle with the big problem, not just seek my Answer — here are my references on this situation

      The context on which copyright law was erected is not the same ground we stand on now.

  3. Thanks Alan that is really useful. I like the approach of developîng personal reflection on what are complex issues. I am enjoying this learning seam. It is rich.

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