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Oh, yeah, I forgot–I DID use that picture and then deleted it from my Hard Drive

7:00 am in Uncategorized by GregoriusU

The Celebrated Obama HOPE Poster by Shepard FaireyThe not-so-celebrated Shepard Fairey parody by Greg Uchrin
AN INTERVIEW WITH D. LeTANTE, DESIGNER OF THE MONA LISA

I recently had the opportunity of visiting the studio of M. D. LeTante, the celebrated graphics artist and music sampler. While I was there, he unveiled for me his latest work, The Mona Lisa, a poster of Leonardo’s Mona Lisa in situ at the Louvre, in a limited graphics palette, underlined in big letters with the word, “REPRODUCE.” I took the opportunity of interviewing him for this journal.

The Mona Lisa is your boldest work yet.
Thank you.

May I ask if the word “Reproduce” is a reference to the copy of the Mona Lisa in your work?
Oh heavens no–in the first place, this is not a copy of the Mona Lisa–that would take HOURS–no, this is a photograph I took when I was in Paris for my senior year of high school.

I didn’t think they allowed photographs.
No, they kicked me out (laughs).

You worked from a photograph, then?
Yes, I scanned it into Photoshop and posterized it and smoothed it. With the addition of the word REPRODUCE it took less than 10 minutes. I never do anything that takes longer because I want to maintain the spontaneity of creation.

I understand, nothing kills spontaneity like disciplined concentration.
Yes, discipline kills inspiration. But to go on with your question: nor is it a copy in an artistic or philosophical sense. My poster is more of a re-contextulization and re-conceptualization of Leonardo’s Mona Lisa. Have you ever read Borges’ Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote? Pierre Menard has decided to write Cervantes’ Don Quixote. He buries himself in studying Cervantes’ sources and his period so that he can compose the Quixote, matching Cervantes’ work word for word. It is an amazing work, so much richer than the original. Cervantes’ work was superficial, grounded in his own time, but Menard’s had so much more depth because it was written in the 20th century. Similarly, my version of the Mona Lisa is grounded in the 21st century, looking back at the Renaissance. It makes a completely different statement in a Foucaultian context. One is forced to ask, what is this woman smiling at? And why is she smiling at all, while we are at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the world is being destroyed by global warming?

Then what is the meaning of the word REPRODUCE?
Exactly what it says–a command to be fruitful and multiply so we may satisfy the maw of our corporate overlords, like the humans in John Carpenter’s THEY LIVE satisfied the needs of the aliens who ruled the world. I’m thinking of doing a series on the concept.

Oh? What would you call it?
I think, “REPRODUCTIONS”.

Shepard Fairey was impressed with THEY LIVE as well–he did a series of works on the command OBEY as used in the movie.
Yes, we used to skateboard together. As a matter of fact, he’s the reason I decided to concentrate on re-sampling public domain works…that bad business with the Obama HOPE poster. But Shepard was always a bit lax about attributions and things like that.

Yes. As a friend of Shepard Fairey, do you have any insights into that?
I think so. I have no doubt that Shepard was using the larger photo of Obama with George Clooney. After all, taking only a portion of that photograph would put him well within the restrictions of fair use. When he cropped it, like Pierre Menard and the Quixote, he managed to reproduce the precise cropping that AP used to release a second version of that photograph. Naturally, when he found that other photograph on his hard drive, he realized that in this cynical world, no one would believe that he independently made the same judgement as some anonymous AP editor, so he had no choice but to erase it from his computer.

He did say that he lied and deliberately destroyed the evidence by erasing it.
See what I mean? He had to confess since no one would believe otherwise.

But you do agree that AP is behaving like a stultifying corporate giant in insisting on its intellectual property? After all, the photographer said he couldn’t imagine anything better than his photograph being used to help Obama’s election.
Oh, of course! But I do have a little quibble from the point of view of an artist. Supposing someone comes along and sees my masterpiece, The Mona Lisa. What’s to stop him from appropriating it and using it in his own artwork. That is so inappropriate. I mean, what are MY rights with regard to my own work? Mannie Garcia can be noble because his work was used in a noble cause, but I’m planning on selling my limited edition on eBay at 500 dollars a print. I need to have that protected. Shep would agree–look how he jumps on people who copy HIS work.

Joe Wilson–Reloaded (hey, maybe he was loaded the first time around :) )

6:32 am in Uncategorized by GregoriusU

Can't we just put this whole thing behind us?

Despite treating this earlier this week (and breaking my self-imposed schedule change in the process), I’ve decided that Joe Wilson’s outburst requires one more cartoon. The House, voting mostly along party lines, voted yesterday to give Joe a stern "wag of the finger." Naughty, naughty Joe. For those of you who have been lost at sea for the last week, Joe, whose name, by the way, isn’t really Joe, but Addison Graves Wilson–and with a moniker like that, I’d tell everyone my name was Joe–interrupted President Obama’s healthcare speech with a shout of "You Lie!"–ummm, what was your name again, Joe?–claiming he was so upset by the prospect that, under the still-in-proposal health care plan, illegal aliens might get free treatment in emergency rooms without being deported, that he burst out with his now famous cry, gaining some truly terrifying looks from Nancy Pelosi and over a million bucks in new campaign contributions. I’d believe him more if he’d said that he was confused and thought he was at a town hall meeting, what with all the protest signs other Republican congressmen were carrying. Of course, he should have known he wasn’t, because no one seemed to be packing heat. I have already said (as did Chris Matthews) that perhaps this wasn’t as spontaneous an eruption of emotion as Addison Graves said it was. But let’s set my misgivings on that point aside for the moment. Joe, when he realized he had not gotten a standing ovation, called the White House after the speech and immediately apologized to Rahm Emanuel. When Rahm relayed the apology to President Obama, that sweet darling nitwit accepted it without a single caveat.

Now if I’d been Obama, I’d have said one thing to Joe. "Public insult–Public apology." I mean, really, even Kanye West knows THAT one. And for those who have been at sea, when young Taylor Swift won an award for best female video at some awards show that I’d never even heard of before, Kanye leaped onto the stage, grabbed the mike from her and dissed her and the entire awards show by claiming that this award had been stolen from Beyoncé, without considering that Beyoncé might be getting the Best Video of the Year honor. To his credit, Kanye not only apologized to Swift, but also apologized publicly on his blog and on Jay Leno’s new ratings bomb show. And POTUS called HIM a jackass. But obviously , only one private apology is necessary to the President of the United States–he doesn’t have the commercial clout of the young country singer. Joe knows full well that any kind of public apology would totally negate whatever political advantage the incident has gained him. Perhaps he’s seen "She Wore A Yellow Ribbon" once too many times and John Wayne’s "Never apologize, it’s a sign of weakness," has stuck to him tighter than a vending machine condom during an overdose of Viagra. Because we all know, only total rudeness is seen as strength by the kind of person who tries to drown out the speaker at a public gathering. And that’s the kind of person Joe Wilson wanted to impress

And unfortunately for Joe Wilson, that’s the kind of person he’s become.

Greg Uchrin is the cartoonist and writer of Intravenous Caffeine, his post-Bush Administration successor to Hail Dubyus.