Using Images

The illustrations in the Digital Humanities Manifesto 2.0 seem important. I didn’t pay much attention to them while reading (I remember there being an umbrella included in the middle of a sentence and thinking “there is an umbrella in the middle of this sentence”). The series of images on the last page function as a kind of border or decoration but also as a way to represent the manifesto’s last words, “In the meantime, let’s get our hands dirty”. I thought that the hand was intriguing but also unsettling and created quite a different visual argument than the creative, pioneering spirit of the document itself. The credited image was taken from a poster made in 1928 by the artist John Heartfield. The poster, created for the German communist party, included the caption “5 fingers has a hand! With these 5 grab the enemy!” The photographed hand is a factory worker’s.

I think it’s interesting to think of image use outside of the constraints of copyright law. It seems strange that a poster with this kind of historical weight and significance could be so easily repurposed in a much different context. What does it mean that an image is “iconic”? I suppose there is a difference between crediting an image appropriately and using it in a way that is appropriate. Both of these manifestos stress the blurring of lines between disciplines, but this also means blurring lines between mediums. Digital Humanities might also open a line of inquiry into what constitutes ethical use of public information (particularly the repurposing of visual art and design) and how fair use is evaluated.

http://www.johnheartfield.com/John-Heartfield-Exhibition/john-heartfield-art/political-posters-sale/heartfield-poster-open-hand.

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