Call for Applications Rijksakademie Residency 2022 / 2023

‘Copyleft Production’ is creating something from license free materials, stolen footage, clips or previews, images that Hito Steyerl has termed “poor images.” Twenty years ago, Mark Getty, the grandson of “the greediest millionaire” Paul Getty, founded a stock photo and video agency, Gettyimages, a bank of images to be used as a universal language for visualization. Before purchasing a video, users can download for free a watermarked preview in low resolution and with an ID stamp in the corner. Each such clip comes with keyword tags to describe its contents and has a limited length, usually somewhere around 5–30 seconds. These technical limitations define the narrative framework: short scenes, heightened emotions and stereotypical, depersonalized locations. Stock video sexualizes business, which is only logical since most of the video content is used in commercial presentations, website headers and startup promos. This representation of the power of capital takes on the traits of office masculinity, and is set in executive boardrooms, private jets and financial district streets. A standard-issue moneymaker in the Gettyimages world is a person packaged as a dummy image of a white male businessman. This dummy may be regarded as a concept encompassing gender and race variations: a woman or an Asian person is governed by the general social architecture—the same dress code, the same corporate choreography. As any other preset provider, Gettyimages offers out-of-the-box solutions for business. Producing a proper shoot staged with actors, cars and professionally executed dolly shots along glass walls is expensive, whereas the royalty-free license allows one and the same image to be sold an indefinite number of times. Amid the crisis of overproduction of digital images and pirating of paid content through torrenting or off-brand sites, the policy of Copyleft Production is based on free content, free license and legal loopholes.

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