Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Why I don't like Tumblr: mystery cephalopod islands

While preparing the latest Scumble round-up of science-art, I wanted to include this amazing image:

© an unidentified artist - who is it?

It was "liked" and shared via Google Reader from someone I follow.  Note, there's no visible signature on the image. It was shared from here, a Tumblr blog, and it looks like it originally was posted here.

My purpose here is not to single out this specific Tumblr blogger. Tumblr makes it easy to reblog an image, even one that has no attribution to its original creator. And this very cool surreal image of an island town built on an octopus has been reblogged and liked 535 times. Without the artist getting any credit at all.

The problem is not the Tumblr software, it's the culture of re-posting without respect to the image creators that has developed on Tumblr. It's so quick, most people posting images don't write anything at all, no title for their post, no comments on why they liked it, nothing.

There is some hope that this disrespect is recognized in the Tumblr community: Reblogged To Give Credit seem sto care. (Check out the url.)  There are others too.

As readers of The Flying Trilobite know, I sometimes advocate for better image attribution on blogs. It's a problem. Images are treated as important and noteworthy, but their creators are often treated as unimportant and worthless.

I realize I am being a hypocrite for re-posting this image yet again - indeed, in the past I've parted ways with my Art Evolved peeps on whether or not it's a good idea to post unattributed images in the hopes of repatriating their ownership.  But I thought I would try to re-post it the same way Art Evolved does on occasion: in the hopes of finding out from my readership if anyone knows who the talented artist is behind it. So far, my Google-fu fails me. I've tried "octopus island", "cephalopod fantasy painting" and about 10 other combinations, and no luck.

One of the Tumblr blogs had an interesting link I hadn't seen before: to a site called TinEye which searches for images and tells you where their being used. I put Darwin Took Steps into it, and TinEye matched the image to me as the most likely source.
Unfortunately, no joy for the Octopus Island.

Anyone recognize the artist behind this?
Any other artists find more trouble with Tumblr than other platforms?

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow


davor said...

Yes. It's a big problem. Since I started highlighting a Tumblr post in my weekly digest, I've come across many issues.

It's not hard to do: it takes another 30 seconds of effort. I started my own tumblr recently (nostalgiathief.tumblr.com), and using the "share with tumblr" bookmark applet, citation is automatic.

It's laziness and carelessness. Not a big surprise considering that Tumblr is the most juvenile of platforms.

biopunk said...

Hey Glendon,

My Google-fu, in combination with a decent Italian translator, and insomnia have paid off!

The name of the artist is:
Paolo De Francesco.

Apparently, it was originally the rejected artwork for the album cover of 'Arrivederci, Mostro', by the Italian singer-songwriter Luciano Ligabue.

It was based on Swedish photo-manipulator Erik Johansson's 'Fishy Island' (2009).

Arrivederci, mostro!

Glendon Mellow said...

Amazing Google-fu! Thanks biopunk!


Sharon said...

I started a Tumblr account maybe a year or so ago and quickly decided not to actively use it, mainly because of the issues you're talking about. It's hard for me to even enjoy looking at most Tumblr blogs because, as you mentioned, people tend to just re-post with no explanation whatsoever. Even when some appear to be posting their own original images, there's often no description, so I'm still left wondering what exactly is going on. I find it extremely irritating to have to constantly try to decipher the mess. Maybe eventually I'll get into it, but right now I tend to avoid Tumblr as much as I can.

Glendon Mellow said...

I've never had an account of my own, and I do follow a few that are really excellent blogs.

I agree with you though, SLW-L. In general there's something about the culture that has arisen from the Tumblr interface that is just throwing images and memes around with very little new content.

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