It should come as no surprise that the Hiroshi Sugimoto photo U2 chose for the cover of No Line On The Horizon was already used. Popular artists work is often appropriated for various reasons, just ask Shepard Fairey. But we're guessing that Sugimoto "forgot" to tell U2 that his image of a gray sky meeting the horizon was already used for a record cover a mere two years ago.
As Unreality Music points out, this is totally a storm in a teacup, but we definitely think it deserves mentioning that U2 is artistically plagiarizing one Taylor Dupree.
A quick look at Dupree's MySpace will point this fact out, along with the tid bit of info that Sugimoto is listed as his primary influence. The ambient minimalist (whose music is actually quite beautiful) made a post in his blog about the coincidence, noting that his album, specification.fifteen was recorded back in 2006 with Richard Chartier and uses the same Sugimoto photograph as U2 are using on their new album cover.
He goes on to point out that since the use of the image was sanctioned by Sugimoto, perhaps the Japanese photographer could have informed U2 that the image had been used before. Or maybe he did and they decided to press on. Regardless, he passively aggressively denounces the use and then announces his inevitable defeat in any sort of legal battle. But hey, at least he's going to get some residual listens, right? And Bono, if you're listening, being the humanitarian that you are, why not make something special out of this, like recording a track with Taylor? Remember, you heard it here first when it happens!
From Taylor Dupree: Perhaps Sugimoto himself, being aware of our cover, or U2’s designer could (maybe) have suggested a different photograph or perhaps a different layout direction. at least, that’s my opinion, coming as a graphic designer myself. I try not to design things that are too close to something else out there (if that’s possible).
This minor ordeal has become more a question of a project that was small, intimate and experimental (and the chance of a lifetime for a small artist) vs. the massive pop culture machine. In the end we all know who wins.