In contemporary culture, existing audiovisual recordings are constantly reused and repurposed for various ends, raising questions regarding the ethics of such appropriations, particularly when the recording depicts actual people and events. Every reuse of a preexisting recording is, on some level, a misuse in that it was not intended or at least anticipated by the original maker, but not all misuses are necessarily unethical. In fact, there are many instances of productive misuse that seem justified. At the same time, there are other instances in which the misuse shades into abuse. Documentary scholars have long engaged with the question of the ethical responsibility of documentary makers in relation to their subjects. But what happens when this responsibility is set at a remove, when the recording already exists for the taking and repurposing? Reuse, Misuse and Abuse surveys a range of contemporary films and videos that appropriate preexisting footage and attempts to theorize their ethical implications.
About the Author
JAIMIE BARON is an associate professor of film studies at the University of Alberta. She is the author of The Archive Effect: Found Footage and the Audiovisual Experience of History and numerous journal articles and book chapters. She is the director of the Festival of (In)appropriation and co-editor of Docalogue.
"While much has been written on the legal, economic and aesthetic aspects of the uses of archival and appropriated audiovisual media, Reuse, Misuse, Abuse is the first in-depth study of the ethical dimension of these practices. In the age of fake news, remix and the limitless manipulability of digital imagery, Reuse, Misuse, Abuse brings together major questions and current debates around the ethical boundaries between revelation, distortion, and exploitation when original images and sounds are reworked and repurposed to create a 'layered gaze' of new meanings. Reuse, Misuse, Abuse is clearly written, well-argued and Baron’s astute readings of a wide range of recent film and media works show the complexities of the ethical and political stakes involved. This book will be of value to working filmmakers, artists and journalists and is essential reading in avant-garde, documentary film, and media studies, art history and journalism." — Jeffrey Skoller