Marisa Olson, Free Gift Economy, 2007, screengrab AFC
Last Thursday I posted a link to Marisa Olson’s Free Gift Economy under the Fresh Links section of this blog, with a short description explaining that that she had compiled a collection of free gifts for Facebook (and where ever else you might use these images.) and that I liked the literalization of the idea that iconography is a gift to the viewer. Unfortunately, word count limitations of Fresh Links (and admittedly my own occasional short comings) sometimes do a disservice to the work meant to be highlighted. What I did not have space to highlight about this work is that it addresses the issue of having to pay a buck for what amounts to stalk imagery on Facebook. I also rather enjoy that the banality of the technique used to “free” these images up –simply posting carved out screengrabs to flickr — matches the banality of the images themselves. Marisa Olson wisely expanded upon her work in the comments section of the fresh link. I’ve reposted her thoughts below, since I think they aid the understanding of the work.
…I'm definitely interested in the context of these being lifted.' I posted a link to one on a friend's Facebook page (a link because, unlike Myspace, FB doesn't allow the embedding of images, which is one of the major losses that concerned me here), and his response was “Nice. A dollar for a JPEG? What are they smoking?” Though I kind of agree that it's absurd, I don't want to begrudge anyone the making of a buck. However, it's worth pointing out that these images don't circulate like JPGs or GIFs. I had to pull all of these in carefully-carved screen-grabs because Facebook doesn't allow one to see and copy the code for these images. So they are not hotlinkable. Until now! And I love the idea of them having a life on MySpace, or other sites. Or even offline! Sharing and exchange are such a huge part of the way that I and the members of my personal “social network” (p.k.a. friends) experience the net. The economy for Facebook's gifts didn't reflect that, so I thought I'd facilitate it.