Appropriation to Abstraction

In the example below I have used a digitized version of famous Leonardo da Vinci painting, The Mona Lisa. The painting is dated somewhere between 1503 and 1506. “The Mona Lisa is one of the most recognizable artistic paintings in the Western world.” [1]

Upon digitization the work of art becomes a series of numerical values represented in a two dimensional matrix of picture elements, also known as pixels. This structural element seems rigid, because of it’s absolute values, but it is more malleable than we might think. Each pixel of the 12,159,315 (x: 2835px / y: 4289px) consisting the “original copy” [2] can become autonomous within the matrix, and break away of it’s traditional boundaries, the photographic frame.

Kim Asendorf has written and published code in the programming language, Processing that interprets  an image file as a series of pixels on the x and y axis and provides three different functions to sort the pixels in different order than the original. Pixels are sorted by brightness, black, and white values.

The results can be seen here, where by further experimentation with his code, and a few iterations later, The Mona Lisa, becomes an abstract visual form.

At this point, where the “original” has been deprived of its initial form, and the indexical nature of the photograph becomes ambiguous, I seek to provoke discussion on the concept of copyright.

The particular file belongs in the public domain, and all derivatives produced I do not wish to copyright.

The subject that interests me is the concept of ownership, authorship and intellectual property.

For bandwidth purposes I have re-sampled the “original copies” to smaller, hence “lighter” in byte size, versions. Each of these versions consist of 165,000 pixels. (x: 330px / y: 500px) I encourage you to make more copies of these and remix them in ways you prefer. To make it easier I have compiled the high resolution files into a zip archive available for download.

Download Collection (ZIP 135MB)

[1] Wikipedia: The Arts
[2] Wikimedia Commons, The Mona Lisa