Bahareh Mehdiyar used the world “Protest” to create a miniature diorama of tiny cut-out figures holding signs demanding to “free the images.” Behind the tiny picketers, thumbnail images of participants in various international protest movements were affixed to the walls of the box surrounding them, which, quite intentionally, featured the Corbis watermark splayed across the image.
Mehdiyar directly questions the implications of marketing images of our shared cultural heritage, while underscoring the irony involved in licensing images of people who critiqued such forms of hegemony.
Works from a design-based exhibition demonstrate how individual Library resources can provide thematic material for our exhibition projects. Design faculty instructor Sameer Farooq provided his second year GDES students with an exhibition opportunity based on an article concerning the image database Corbis, its owner Bill Gates, and the high security fortress in Iron Mountain, Pennsylvania where the images are stored “far from the reach of historians.”[i] Key words were pulled from the article’s text that became the thematic basis for individual students’ installations.
Despite the diversity of terms assigned, virtually all works explored the ethics of licensed information resources not only for our library collections, but for our broader cultural sphere
Maha Khan’s work, titled “Chief,” featured black and white photographs of prominent North American First Nations’ leaders printed from the database’s collection. From a distance, the portraits seemed to emphasize the comprehensive scope of the historical collection; however, on closer inspection, viewers noticed that barcodes and price tags were affixed to the reproductions. Even closer analysis reveals that some images featured striated backgrounds that replicated the barcode motif; in others, the eyes and mouths of those portrayed were blocked out with black bars.
Hyun Chul Kim, in “Festival,” provided a playful explosion of helium-filled balloons to which were affixed images printed from Corbis. The medium immediately elicits a humorous reaction; however, the fragility of the helium filled balloons that could at any moment explode or drift off into the ether, provides a chilling warning of how libraries, more and more, have ephemeral information resources that are not held in an on-site, physical collection.