Society of Copy


Society of Copy is a Tumblr-account. It originates from a habit of taking pictures as a way of cataloguing inspiration. What started out as a mood board eventually turned into something that has a value in its own right. The images on the Tumbrl are not represented as photographs, but rather as ‘photographical images’. A camera renders the world around us into a two-dimensional pictures. The images on Society of Copy are an extension of this idea; “by framing, I appropriate a certain part of reality and present it digitally.” The images are never printed out, they never become ‘real’ or tangible objects. The title of the project does not only literally refer to the resharing- and reblogging-process intrinsic to the Tumblr-medium, but also to the fact that we all make images we’ve seen before—in a way, we are all copycats.

This ‘concept of copying’ is of course beautifully illustrated by the very nature of Tumblr, which is to collect and present images with very little to no conceptual or explanatory context, in a very public way. On Tumbrl, images are curated rather then created. Society of Copy is an ongoing project—it is never finished or done. Moreover, the tumblr is a collection of multitudes; a non-exclusive way of representing the world, continually shifting with every image that is added. By showing the images online, they become, in a way, public property. They are up for grabs, available to be copied and redistributed, or reblogged, by everyone with an internet connection. In the process of reblogging, authors’ rights and original meaning become of secondary importance and the image becomes public property. In this way, what was a very personal rendering of the world becomes part of something larger—of the vast library of online images and by extension of our collective memory. The intrinsic qualities of Tumblr—fading of authorship, extreme public accessibility, a culture of copying, of sharing, a rapid way of reading images— is of course characteristic to our time and the way we deal with images.

Society of Copy is a reflection of two distinct curatorial moments; with this project, reality becomes curated, not once but twice. The first curatorial moment happens upon encountering an image in daily life. With a small, portable camera, the ‘readymade’ of reality is captured and becomes image. These images are everywhere, ready to be picked up and registered, pocketed as it were. “I don’t go looking for them, but when they capture my eye I capture them for my own.” Once a specific part of reality is digitized into an image, it is often altered digitally; framing, color balance, sharpness, contrast and size are altered in Photoshop. In this postproduction, the essence of the reality that made the image stand out in the first place is highlighted. Once the image is uploaded unto Tumblr, it becomes part of a new referential network, relating not only to the other images on Society of Copy, but to the entire online universe. This act of online publishing, of ‘sharing’, constitutes the second curatorial moment. In this way, Society of Copy can be experienced as an never-ending online exposition.

However, this ‘online exposition’ offers interesting possibilities for taking it offline. To preserve the immaterial aspect of the Tumblr (and not turn the images into photographs by printing them), the images would be projected. Visitors would be able to scroll trough the images by means of trackpads placed in front of the projection. In this way, the online experience is magnified, and with it the specific, fleeting way we deal with online imagery, going from one to the other, almost scrolling our life away. Because the Tumblr is constantly being updated, the possibility exists that the exhibition space itself becomes part of the website, becomes image and thus exposed.