Richard Prince
[Artist, b. 1949, Panama Canal Zone, lives in New York.]

 Is passion what we are? Is that what we are in pictures? Is what we are in pictures almost real? Maybe it’s become the “most” real thing. 
 I got a job in the tear-sheets department, ripping up magazines like People, Fortune, Sports Illustrated, and Time, and delivering the editorial pages.... So I began to use a camera to make fake photographs of the ads. By re-photographing a magazine page and then developing the film in a cheap lab, the photos came out very strange. 
 A lot of it’s experimental, spontaneous. It’s about knocking about in the studio and bumping into things. 
 If a picture was once worth a thousand words, one square inch of an image is now worth 360,000 bytes of computer storage space. 
 My limitations or mistakes become a kind of freedom. Like when I photographed black-and-white pictures with color film, as I did in Three Women Looking in the Same Direction. Or when I inadvertently overexposed the film and got a bleached-out look, which happened in a recent “gang” called Live Free or Die. These mistakes always happen because I’m not a photographer. Practicing without a license is the way it’s been referred to. 
 It would be strange for me to think I’m being ripped off, because that’s what I do! In those days, it was called “pirating.” Now they call it “sampling.” 
 The other day, I saw a set of photographs I took of fountain pens in 1978 — what the hell was I thinking? It’s so precise. It looks as if I was in control. I wasn’t in control. I didn’t know what I was doing. I was so young. 
 I don’t see any difference now between what I collect and what I make. It’s become the same. What I’m collecting will, a lot of times, end up in my work. 
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