Required Reading

Writing for the New Yorker, Eren Orbey asks who owns the photograph of Mike Disfarmer, a photographer whose images of rural Arkansas are widely celebrated:

In practice, though, photographs remain highly susceptible to copyright infringement—especially in the digital age, when images can be captured and circulated with just a few clicks. “The general public feels much more comfortable taking liberties with the copyrights of photographs, as opposed to the copyrights of songs or sculptures or paintings,” Deal told me recently, from his law office in Charlottesville, Virginia. “It’s very easy to say, ‘Oh, it’s just a photo—I found it online.’ ” Fifty-one years old, with a shaved head and an athletic build, Deal began his career as a professional photographer. He made the switch to copyright law, a decade ago, because he’d seen his own work reproduced without his permission, including once on a highway billboard. Up to a certain point, he acknowledged, the loose standards can benefit artists. Both Vivian Maier’s and Mike Disfarmer’s work first attracted attention because collectors took it upon themselves to make and publish prints. The problem is that, when their art gained worldwide acclaim, the wrong parties profited from it. “Until recently, there was almost no pushback against people who just kind of declared themselves the curators and administrators of found work,” Deal said.

The LA Review of Books, which continues to be on a roll, published 12 essays about antiracism in the contemporary university. Since the Space Barons (the 21st-century version of Robber Barons) want to head into outer space, I would like to suggest they listen to this classic track by Gil Scott-Heron:

And Paris Marx, writing for Jacobin, adds the following about the Space Barons:

Over the past few years, as the billionaire space race has escalated, the public has become increasingly familiar with its grand visions for our future. SpaceX’s Elon Musk wants us to colonize Mars and claims the mission of his space company is to lay the infrastructure to do just that. He wants humanity to be a “multiplanetary” species, and he claims a Martian colony would be a backup plan in case Earth becomes uninhabitable.

Meanwhile, Bezos doesn’t have much time for Mars colonization. Instead, he believes we should build large structures in Earth’s orbit where the human population can grow to a trillion people without further harming the planet’s environment. As we live out our lives in O’Neill cylinders, as they’re called, we’ll take occasional vacations down to the surface to experience the wonder of the world we once called home.

Edin Hajdarpašić writes that the Nobel Prize for Literature given to genocide denier Peter Handke is a disgrace:

The Swedish Academy’s embrace of Handke comes at a time when far-right movements worldwide have also seized elements of 1990s Serbian nationalism as fuel for violent fantasies from Utøya, Norway, to Christchurch, New Zealand. The consequences of this literary-political entanglement will surely be far reaching, and not just for the history of the Yugoslav wars.

In the 1960s, psychologist Israel Charny began to study genocide denial, compiling various strategies used by denialists of the Armenian genocide. Denial was not, as the commonplace notion goes, just a statement, “I deny X happened.” Instead, Charny found that templates of denial mostly begin with a recognition of some deaths and then proceed to create uncertainty about the factual record and replace it with other stories. Most frequent are claims that deaths took place chaotically, implying that they were not organized, and declarations that the victims were actually powerful while perpetrators acted in self-defense or in some other justifiable way.

Crucially, denialists sometimes acknowledge violence in order to appear reasonable only to use that appearance to promote other narratives as plausible alternatives (“now we need to debate this”). It is that pivot that historian Deborah Lipstadt called the “Yes, but …” strategy, one of the most common denialist tropes.

The creator of Dogecoin calls cryptocurrency a scam to get rich:

Far from being a decentralized, libertarian alternative to traditional monetary systems, crypto “is controlled by a powerful cartel of wealthy figures,” he said, who have “evolved to incorporate many of the same institutions tied to the existing centralized financial system they supposedly set out to replace.”

Meanwhile the rich get richer and the most vulnerable investors are exposed to the most risk, he said.

And this tweet by the Dogecoin co-founder says a lot:

After years of studying it, I believe that cryptocurrency is an inherently right-wing, hyper-capitalistic technology built primarily to amplify the wealth of its proponents through a combination of tax avoidance, diminished regulatory oversight and artificially enforced scarcity.

— Jackson Palmer (@ummjackson) July 14, 2021

Some climate change news … first, from NASA:

Scientists have long predicted that human-driven climate change causes part of Earth’s upper atmosphere to cool and contract, but it has been difficult to observe. Data from three NASA satellites has produced a long-term record that confirms this effect.

— NASA Sun & Space (@NASASun) July 15, 2021

And then Motherboard looks at a MIT study in 1972 that society will collapse in the 21st century and it seems (gulp) we’re on schedule:

While focusing on the pursuit of continued economic growth for its own sake will be futile, the study finds that technological progress and increased investments in public services could not just avoid the risk of collapse, but lead to a new stable and prosperous civilization operating safely within planetary boundaries. But we really have only the next decade to change course.

More evidence that Black and White people are treated differently by US police:

Scientists who analyzed the body camera footage from more than 100 police officers have found a subtle but clear pattern: During traffic stops, officers spoke to Black men in a less respectful and less friendly tone than they did to white men.

This disparity in treatment is not only real, but may help to fuel a cycle of mistrust between police and the Black community, the researchers reported this week in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Pornhub is one of the biggest websites in the world yet people know nothing about the owner, Bernd Bergmair. This Vice news report tracks him down (you have to watch in on YouTube):


thinking a lot about something @jomc has pointed out on the reg, which is that nobody would trust an environmental activist working at ExxonMobil to “green the system from inside” and yet the worse the corporation a tech ethicist comes from, the more respected they are

— Ingrid Burrington (@lifewinning) July 15, 2021

Journalist Aleksandre Lashkarava was killed in the country of Georgia while covering an anti-LGBTQ+ protest in the capital. There is a spike in anti-queer violence in the country and Lashkarava is the latest victim. Journalists joined forces to protest the death at a governmental press conference:

Journalists interrupt Government press briefing with protest

Journalists demand PM Irakli #Garibashvili‘s resignation over the death of journalist Aleksandre #Lashkarava and mass violence of July 5 which they say he incited with the morning statement on that day#TbilisiPogrom

— Formula NEWS | English (@FormulaGe) July 13, 2021

Just no:

Allow me to ruin your day

— Natalia Antonova (@NataliaAntonova) July 15, 2021

Required Reading is published every Saturday, and it is comprised of a short list of art-related links to long-form articles, videos, blog posts, or photo essays worth a second look.

This week, Everyday for 21 years, Mike Disfarmer’s photographs, antiracism in the contemporary university, creator of Dogecoin has a warning, Pornhub’s owner, and more.Read MoreArt, Required Reading, WeekendHyperallergicRead More

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