Washes over …

BY DOMINIQUE JAMES

On the Internet, I recently came across a statement: “Art washes away the dust of every day life.”

This sounded cool and new to me, and so I was immediately interested. This snippet of text was made all the more interesting because it was superimposed on a very nice and seemingly relevant and appropriate photographic image. And the layout was also tastefully done—including the choice of font. As far as I can tell, and though not intended as a commercial announcement, it had a couple of great things going for it that made it easy to take notice and hard to ignore: intellectual impact and visual impact.

I thought this aphorism was worth sharing, and so, without thinking much, I typed it directly into my Facebook status, as I usually do, for all and sundry to see. As expected, I earned a number of appreciative “Likes” from like-minded FB friends. All is well then.

But wait, a few minutes after posting it, I felt a certain remorse. It was the kind of remorse where something more had to be done. Something was missing. It is not enough and it isn’t appropriate to post an idea or float a thought on the Internet just like that—without proper attribution. I realized that credit must be rightfully given. In my excitement to share, I forgot to properly attribute the quote. I did not mention its author. And many of us forget all the time.

I have always been a very strong proponent of giving credit where credit is due, and so, to mend my erroneous way, I googled it. Lo, and behold, the name of person to whom this quote is commonly attributed was revealed: Pablo Picasso. Of course, there’s more to it than that. The common answer is Pablo Picasso,According to the site, AnswerBag, “he may well have said it, but he was quoting from Berthold Auerbach, a German novelist (1812-1882), who (originally) said ‘Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.’ long before Picasso was born (Picasso was born in 1881).” Now that was interesting—contextually. My understanding and appreciation of the statement just became deeper, richer, and so much more satisfying.

Actually, tt wasn’t surprising at all, but good to know nonetheless to whom the quote is properly attributed and how it came about. And, it didn’t take too long to find out or too much effort. Knowing who said it or who wrote, or from where it came from or how it originated, gave the quote a much more meaningful dimension, for me at least, and hopefully, for others as well.

Online, there are two kinds of attributions. The first, and inherently essential, one that should always be done, is the kind that’s the one above—acknowledging the author of the statement (or the work). And second, also important but perhaps not equally, is acknowledging the source from where the statement (or the work) was seen or found. The first is primarily content, and the second is the medium.

Acknowledging both the message and the medium is what gives anything and everything on the Internet its context. We should make a habit of doing so—all the time.

Now, here’s where it becomes a tad more complicated: the beautiful photo image where I saw the uncredited text artfully superimposed on wasn’t credited as well. I’m sure that the picture didn’t just shoot itself. The question now is, how can I google the picture the way I googled the text?

[So, do you want to see pictures that are actually properly attributed? Click here.]

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