Why I Use the Head of Leda Everywhere
I use the Head of Leda as my profile picture because I like it. It's simple, public domain, and associated with DaVinci who is an inspiration to me. The sketch has a peaceful and emotional effect on me. There are risks with using a drawn picture instead of a real one, but I mitigate these risks by keeping my official channels limited and treating online relationships differently than physical ones.
Short answer: I like it.
Why do I use this picture…everywhere? Am I insane? Am I a weeb/fanboy? A NFT convert? All of the above? None of the above?
There are probably innumerable reasons I could use as potential justification or head canon, but here are a few that recur in my reasoning:
- Keep it simple, stupid
- It's public domain, not an NFT
- DaVinci is an inspiration of mine
- Peace, Equanimity, Distance
Keep it Simple, Stupid
I like having a image that I can use as a default, an image that I can quickly drop as a flag in a new territory. The simpler the better in my opinion. It also has the added benefit for an audience to be able recognize you and your work.
People age. People change hair styles. People have good days and days when they're sick. Having a pseudonymous image serve "as you" mitigates, if not eliminates, concerns about aging and taking professional headshots once every ~3 years to update all your social handles.
It is also nice to have a choice about your representation to strangers across time and space.
It's Public Domain, Not an NFT
When a piece of creative work is no longer protected by copyright, it’s considered “public domain” art. Artists can lose copyright protection or the right to profit from a piece of art by surrendering or transferring it. Alternatively, copyright owners can “dedicate” or deliberately place work in the public domain. Copyright can also expire or be taken away due to ineligibility. In the US and in countries of the European Union, copyright protection lasts the lifetime of the artist plus 70 years after their death. So once artwork no longer has copyright protection and is “in the public domain,” those who access it can use it freely without having to seek permission from the artist or last owner.
What is Public Domain Art? – ARTDEX
I'm not a fan of the NFT movement. In fact, I think NFTs are quite stupid in general. I empathize with the need to make money for one's work, but I do not empathize with the need to hide money from regulation in a monkey jpeg.
In 2022, everyone has a monkey profile picture, a picture that shows you spent money to be in an ingroup of other people who spent money too.
Head of Leda is public domain, much like a much more famous work done by the same artist.
The Mona Lisa (or La Joconde, La Gioconda). This work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 100 years or fewer.
DaVinci is an Inspiration of Mine
Speaking of DaVinci, I'm utterly fascinated by the man. I try to be a student of reality and to consciously breed my curiosity, and DaVinci is an excellent teacher of this type of life.
I'll leave it to Giorgio Vasari, who encapsulated the marvel of DaVinci to his contemporaries:
In the normal course of events many men and women are born with remarkable talents; but occasionally, in a way that transcends nature, a single person is marvellously endowed by Heaven with beauty, grace and talent in such abundance that he leaves other men far behind, all his actions seem inspired and indeed everything he does clearly comes from God rather than from human skill. Everyone acknowledged that this was true of Leonardo da Vinci, an artist of outstanding physical beauty, who displayed infinite grace in everything that he did and who cultivated his genius so brilliantly that all problems he studied he solved with ease.
Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects - Wikipedia
Peace, Equanimity, Distance
Finally, I'd like to describe the first time I stumbled across Leda.
I was reading Walter Issacson's biography of Leonardo DaVinci and took a break around the Milan section to look at Da Vinci's body of work in totality. When I stumbled upon the Head of Leda sketch, I froze.
The artwork had a visceral, emotional effect on me. She just looked so…at peace. There is an emptiness in her eyes and facial expression that is counterbalanced by the intricate nature of her hair which must have took hours of work to set into that particular style.
The way she looks over her shoulder shows shyness or a quiet strength, depending on the angle you look at it. The dark lines of the sketch are forceful and intentional, yet rushed, as if you can feel the attention DaVinci paid to Leda while also yearning to get back to his other projects (DaVinci was a known procrastinator). Finally, you can almost feel the gentle breeze blowing against her hair (open this song in a new tab and return to see what I mean)
here is the sketch again, for reference
Having a not real picture of me as my "calling card" does pose risks.
People could obviously take it and masquerade as me. This is mitigated by keeping my official channel list short. This website is built to be the star that my online presence orbits. My other official channel is my GitHub. If Leda ain't here or there, it probably ain't me (unless explicitly stated here on the site).
There's also the issue of trust. A human face -- even a drawn one, is just…more trustworthy, even if it is AI generated.
But personally, I think that this is a boon, since online relationships != physical relationships, and they shouldn't be treated as such.