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Author Topic: Ignacio Palacio - Image Manipulation  (Read 75943 times)

elliot_n

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Re: Ignacio Palacio - Image Manipulation
« Reply #80 on: June 29, 2015, 05:50:15 am »

'All the arts are based on the presence of man, only photography derives an advantage from his absence.'

- Andre Bazin, The Ontology of the Photographic Image, 1960
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David Sutton

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Re: Ignacio Palacio - Image Manipulation
« Reply #81 on: June 29, 2015, 06:00:16 am »

The world has has made this discussion somewhat arcane. Which is not to say it is pointless, just that technology has left it behind. The smartphone is not only destroying the sales of stand alone cameras, but has pushed us into a new time with the level of manipulation that is possible now in under a minute (including uploading). Like it or not, most of us who use "serious" cameras are going the way of the daguerreotype. Curiously, the most original and interesting work I see around is now also done on smartphones.

When a painter paints a portrait of somebody he knows to a certain degree, he has in his mind all of the different expressions of that person's face, as well as the way the person talks, his sense of humor, and so on. All that is taken into account in the process of painting. A camera simply makes an image -- the sitter may have hairs sticking out of his nose, may be haggard from a restless night, may have a pimple on his forehead, and the camera just doesn't care.

I don't think this is a good example, though I can't think of one that works better. To the question of whether to express inner or outer reality, most artists or even hobbiests will probably want to go for both. In photography,  the portraitist wants something of the personality there, so will select camera with a sensor or film they like, choose an appropriate lens, focal length, shutter speed and aperture, stage the sitter, maybe use makeup, arrange lighting and then jolly them along until they get the expression and posture they are after. Nowadays if we are unlucky they may then use a plug-in to photoshop the hell out of them. We live in hope that there are pores left. No worse than vaseline on the lens I suppose. Yes, at the click of the shutter the sensor doesn't care, but it's rather too late by then.
If I'm to man any barricades I'll go for photojournalism. Unfortunately photojournalists have mostly been fired by the penny-pinching scoundrels that run our newspapers, whose version of truth in reporting has always made the photographs of people like Johansson and Karcz look straight by comparison.
David
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Ray

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Re: Ignacio Palacio - Image Manipulation
« Reply #82 on: June 29, 2015, 09:10:59 am »

No, not really. From a very early time -- the early Egyptians -- it was recognized that art almost always contained a variety of manipulations that removed it from reality.

That's an interesting concept, 'art removed from reality'. How does anyone find any meaning in something that is removed from reality? If a painting or sculpture is not based on reality, or what one understands as reality or what one recognises as reality, how does one understand what it is or what it represents?

Hieroglyphics and Chinese Pictographs that sometimes have a slight resemblance to the object they denote in a language, are in a different category. They have been deliberately distorted, reduced in size and vastly simplified for good practical reasons. Any artistic origins relating to reality have been jettisoned to make the language usable.

However, if you wish to include ancient languages of a pictographic nature in the same general category as paintings and sculpture, then for the sake of clarity I will amend my statement that you quoted, as follows.
"Haven't all paintings and sculptures throughout history derived at least some of their strength and often much of their strength, if not all of their strength, from an intimate connection with reality, as perceived by the viewer?" Is that better?  ;)

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The thing that gave photography its power, right from the start, is that it in some way *removed* psychological and cultural manipulations. Artists of wildly different styles and temperaments could set up a camera in front of a landscape, and shooting one-after-another, take essentially identical photographs. They couldn't do that in their painting, nor would they want to.

That's a gross oversimplification, John. Hundreds of books have been written since the invention of the camera on how to get correct exposures to retain detail in the sky, for example, or manipulate artificial lighting to make a portrait more appealing, or raise shadows during the development stage, whether in Darkroom or Lightroom. It's very unlikely that artists of wildly different styles and temperaments would take essentially identical photographs of the same scene, unless of course you are referring to a specific camera that has been preset on a tripod and all that the artist is required to do is press the shutter button, as a monkey could do.

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So why go to photography at all? Because when it came to the most difficult images -- portraits -- the painter simply couldn't match them for flat, uninflected realism. This is the essential element that gives photography its power: the camera doesn't fix anything, doesn't look away, doesn't react to the cultural or psychological state of the artist. The camera simply takes an image.

You're writing as though the camera is a robot. It has no volition. The photographer takes the image using the camera as a tool. The camera and lens usually offer lots of choices of different settings, and some cameras do a lot of electronic 'fixing' to get a particular effect in the resulting jpeg.

However, I agree that any person with relatively little training, can produce, using a camera, a very detailed and life-like portrait or landscape which would takes years of prior training and days of painstaking work for a painter to replicate with a reasonable degree of accuracy. I can understand why Picasso at some stage in his early career became very despondent about this fact. Why try to compete with the photographer! And he didn't.

What I don't agree with is this notion that simply because the photographer is capable of producing a realistically accurate, forensic, documentary or journalistic image using the camera, and usually a more accurate image than the most skilful painter, that he should therefore be confined to such restrictions and not allowed to be freely creative using Photoshop. That would be ridiculous. As long as the photo is correctly classified as 'photographic art', that's fine by me.
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amolitor

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Re: Ignacio Palacio - Image Manipulation
« Reply #83 on: June 29, 2015, 09:35:21 am »

Sure, Ray. Photography, painting, sculpture, bulldozers, Eggs Benedict, it's all pretty much the same stuff. No point in trying to distinguish between them.
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Isaac

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Re: Ignacio Palacio - Image Manipulation
« Reply #84 on: June 29, 2015, 12:30:31 pm »

If a photo (portrait) needs to push as close to objective reality as possible, then removing colour would be an immediate disqualification. I don't agree with that.

What if color is subjective?

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color is not something out there in the world, separate from us.

"The agreed-upon technical definition of color," says Fairchild, "is that it's a visual perception."
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elliot_n

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Re: Ignacio Palacio - Image Manipulation
« Reply #85 on: June 29, 2015, 12:55:42 pm »

Did you perhaps intend to post this quotation down in User Critiques or Discussing Photographic Styles to provoke Russ Lewis? :-)

Where does it fit into this discussion? (Question not criticism).

I was quoting Andre Bazin to echo John Camp's post. Photography's strength is that it bypasses human manipulation.
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Ray

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Re: Ignacio Palacio - Image Manipulation
« Reply #86 on: June 29, 2015, 06:26:30 pm »

Sure, Ray. Photography, painting, sculpture, bulldozers, Eggs Benedict, it's all pretty much the same stuff. No point in trying to distinguish between them.


Just out of curiosity, Andrew, I wonder what I've written specifically that implies that I think there is no point in trying to distinguish between a painting and a bulldozer. I always like to be clear in my writing.  ;)

The evolution and survival of the human species has been, and will presumably continue to be dependent upon our capacity to distinguish between such obvious differences that you mention, and much subtler differences as well.

You should know if you've read a few of my posts dealing with the technical side of photography that I'm very fussy about dynamic range. The lack of dynamic range capacity of certain cameras can result in some parts of photographic images of certain scenes, specifically the deep shadows, being far less accurate than such shadows would be, or could be, in a painting of the same scene.
Likewise, there are probably countless millions of photos that have been taken since the camera became popular, that depict totally unrealistic skies; far less realistic in fact than any painter could produce. I'm talking about totally white skies devoid of detail, ie. blown skies.

That the camera, generally, and in the right hands, can be a very efficient tool for capturing a moment in time with great ease, accuracy and detail, is not under dispute, and this is obviously the great attraction of the camera.
I just find it very odd that some folks seem to disapprove of photographic manipulation but seem okay with the manipulations employed by painters and sculptors throughout the ages.
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amolitor

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Re: Ignacio Palacio - Image Manipulation
« Reply #87 on: June 29, 2015, 06:54:19 pm »

Sure, Ray:

In response to my remarks about where photographs specifically get their strength, you started out with:

Haven't all paintings and sculptures throughout history derived much of their strength, if not all of their strength, from an intimate connection with reality, as perceived by the viewer?

Which pretty much seems to be an effort to smash photos, paintings, and sculpture all together, because, after all, their strength derives from the same place. And then you go in the same vein for several posts. This is to willfully miss the point of photography which I was reiterating, and which John quite clearly laid out in a later post. Photography is different from painting in interesting ways, with certain consequences, and so on. And they you cheerfully reply with 'eh, nah, I feel like it's pretty much the same as painting and stuff, and I am going to ignore your point'.

Actually, it's pretty clear that you're playing debate club games of just trying to knock over whatever the other fellow is saying, without any sort of thesis or idea of your own. But that is, I admit, a bit of extrapolation.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2015, 06:55:53 pm by amolitor »
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Ray

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Re: Ignacio Palacio - Image Manipulation
« Reply #88 on: June 29, 2015, 09:21:35 pm »

Sure, Ray:

In response to my remarks about where photographs specifically get their strength, you started out with:

Which pretty much seems to be an effort to smash photos, paintings, and sculpture all together, because, after all, their strength derives from the same place. And then you go in the same vein for several posts. This is to willfully miss the point of photography which I was reiterating, and which John quite clearly laid out in a later post. Photography is different from painting in interesting ways, with certain consequences, and so on. And they you cheerfully reply with 'eh, nah, I feel like it's pretty much the same as painting and stuff, and I am going to ignore your point'.

Actually, it's pretty clear that you're playing debate club games of just trying to knock over whatever the other fellow is saying, without any sort of thesis or idea of your own. But that is, I admit, a bit of extrapolation.


Not at all. I always try to be factual and logical. I would never be so silly as to argue that a camera is not a different type of tool to a paint brush.

My thesis is that most artists, until the invention and development of the camera, have probably tried to represent reality in paintings and sculptures to the best of their ability, given the primitive tools available at the time and within the context, traditions, understanding of perspective, and general limitations of the times they lived in.

We live in modern times and now have the benefit of amazing and fantastic tools, such as digital cameras and Photoshop. My thesis also makes the point that just because we now have the ability to produce a more accurate representation of most scenes using a camera rather than a paintbrush, and can certainly represent such scenes with greater ease and speed, it does not follow that artistic manipulation of the photographic image should be out of bounds or off limits.

Just as an artist with a paintbrush might deliberately enhance and distort a person's appearance when painting a portrait, in order to flatter the client, or perhaps reveal a hidden character trait; and just as the artist with a paintbrush might create an exaggerated dramatic effect when painting a landscape, or introduce some symbolic significance, the photographer should be allowed to achieve similar effects using his tools.

What's your problem!  ;)
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amolitor

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Re: Ignacio Palacio - Image Manipulation
« Reply #89 on: June 29, 2015, 10:49:44 pm »

And so you persist, Ray. The camera, you will generously allow, is a completely different tool for doing pretty much the same thing.

Again, you dismiss, this time without even mentioning it, the idea that photographs are different. You deny a hundred years of scholarship. You deny a broad history of geopolitical impact made by photos which would have been impossible with etchings or paintings or whatever. In your universe, the USA is still fighting in Vietnam.

By denying that photos have been essentially different objects, you make a silly statement. By doing so dismissively, airily, even a little snootily, you manage to not only be wrong but insulting.
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John Camp

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Re: Ignacio Palacio - Image Manipulation
« Reply #90 on: June 29, 2015, 11:43:12 pm »

Conceding that we have a number of honest differences in viewpoint represented here, I'd like to suggest that people who are interested in this subject either take a look at James Nachtwey's book "Inferno," or simply Google "James Nachtwey" and then go to "Images." The thing that happens with Nachtwey's best work is that he captures the most brutal images of war, and yet, coming through many of them you see an aesthetic, you see the hand of an artist. The point I'm making here is that some of the most powerful art being made right now is being made by photographers, in certain small niches. (In my mind, painting and sculpture somewhat have lost their way in the past forty years or so.) So -- Nachtwey's work is both powerful, and it's art. Not simply photojournalism, but a step far beyond that. In that work, I think you see the real crystalized potential of photography, and why manipulation tends to weaken a photo, rather than strengthen it. I would like to see a landscape, portrait, or street photography as aesthetically powerful as Nachtwey's war photography. Can it be done? I don't know, but I don't think we're finding out, because I don't think many photographers (that I know of) are really trying to do that, really have aspirations that high, are willing to take those aesthetic risks. Changing a pink sky to lavender really doesn't get there.

Mike Johnston over at The Online Photographer recently had a print sale of a landscape photographer from England, named Kate Kirkwood, who is doing the kind of stretching I find quite rare. Some of her images are here:
http://www.katekirkwood.com
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tnargs

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Re: Ignacio Palacio - Image Manipulation
« Reply #91 on: July 01, 2015, 03:04:39 am »

Conceding that we have a number of honest differences in viewpoint represented here, I'd like to suggest that people who are interested in this subject either take a look at James Nachtwey's book "Inferno," or simply Google "James Nachtwey" and then go to "Images." The thing that happens with Nachtwey's best work is that he captures the most brutal images of war, and yet, coming through many of them you see an aesthetic, you see the hand of an artist. The point I'm making here is that some of the most powerful art being made right now is being made by photographers, in certain small niches. (In my mind, painting and sculpture somewhat have lost their way in the past forty years or so.) So -- Nachtwey's work is both powerful, and it's art. Not simply photojournalism, but a step far beyond that. In that work, I think you see the real crystalized potential of photography, and why manipulation tends to weaken a photo, rather than strengthen it. I would like to see a landscape, portrait, or street photography as aesthetically powerful as Nachtwey's war photography. Can it be done? I don't know, but I don't think we're finding out, because I don't think many photographers (that I know of) are really trying to do that, really have aspirations that high, are willing to take those aesthetic risks. Changing a pink sky to lavender really doesn't get there.

Mike Johnston over at The Online Photographer recently had a print sale of a landscape photographer from England, named Kate Kirkwood, who is doing the kind of stretching I find quite rare. Some of her images are here:
http://www.katekirkwood.com

I don't even consider the debate "Is photography art?" any more. It is.

But, just like paintings, it can be great, powerful, etc or it can be trivial, boring etc, or anywhere in between.

So, I don't think that your question, of how good/effective it is, is relevant to the question of whether it is art or not; more relevant to the question of is it good art or crap. And it's really drifting off the topic of whether manipulated, photo-based images are photographic (art) or are they graphic art.
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ndevlin

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Re: Ignacio Palacio - Image Manipulation
« Reply #92 on: July 01, 2015, 09:18:54 am »

And so you persist, Ray. The camera, you will generously allow, is a completely different tool for doing pretty much the same thing.

Again, you dismiss, this time without even mentioning it, the idea that photographs are different. You deny a hundred years of scholarship. You deny a broad history of geopolitical impact made by photos which would have been impossible with etchings or paintings or whatever. In your universe, the USA is still fighting in Vietnam.

By denying that photos have been essentially different objects, you make a silly statement. By doing so dismissively, airily, even a little snootily, you manage to not only be wrong but insulting.

Lighten up on the ad hominem Andrew.  It establishes only that your own view is hardly comprehensive or convincing.  Your conception of what photography "is" happens to be more personal and subjective than you seem willing to accept.  Yes, photography has unique characteristics which permit it to render images with exceptional levels of realism, if one so chooses.  That is but one facet of the medium.

There exists a class of individuals for whom the notion of the existence of an objective truth is of super-ordinate importance (to the extent they often lose perspective on the fact that their attachment to such is hardly universal). My sense is that it is this sub-group for whom 'veracity' in photography takes on the neo-religious level of importance that underlies the vitriolic expression found in this discussion. 

Photography is no truer than religion.

- N.
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Nick Devlin   @onelittlecamera        ww

amolitor

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Re: Ignacio Palacio - Image Manipulation
« Reply #93 on: July 01, 2015, 10:06:33 am »

Pointing out that someone is wrong and insulting is not ad hominem.

If it is not the uniquely photographic connection to reality that has made photography especially powerful and important (in the ways that it has been powerful and important), then what did? What is the mechanism by which photography sways public opinion in ways that no other medium does?

That's all falling by the wayside nowadays, which is both inevitable and unfortunate.

Arguably, telling someone that their carefully researched, thought out, and argued positions are really just cultist blather is ad hominem. You're failing to address the substance and instead dismissing the idea out of hand, and making accusations about the other chap. Hmm. Yup.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2015, 02:19:47 pm by amolitor »
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Otto Phocus

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Re: Ignacio Palacio - Image Manipulation
« Reply #94 on: July 01, 2015, 11:29:51 am »

It is fun watching people argue on the Internets Tubes.  ;D
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amolitor

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Re: Ignacio Palacio - Image Manipulation
« Reply #95 on: July 01, 2015, 12:51:45 pm »

I suspect that I'm getting a certain amount of blowback because people think I am telling them they shouldn't photoshop their pictures.

I'm not.

I'm saying that photoshopping your pictures has consequences, and implying rather broadly that, as with most actions with consequences, it behooves one to think about it a little before charging ahead. And, since I find those consequences interesting, I'm talking about them a bit.

But by all means, photoshop away. Stretch the mountains out, remove telephone wires, add in trees, paste in a sky from someplace else. I don't mind a bit.
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Isaac

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Re: Ignacio Palacio - Image Manipulation
« Reply #96 on: July 01, 2015, 01:54:24 pm »

Yes, photography has unique characteristics which permit it to render images with exceptional levels of realism, if one so chooses.  That is but one facet of the medium.

This would be a good place to list other facets of the medium and suggest why you consider them to be more important.

(Ignacio presented landscapes, so please provide examples from landscape photography.)


It would be nice to stop treating it as a debate at all, and simply move to a paradigm in which the aesthetic and communicational value/success of images are considered, free of nonsense about what is 'real'.

Within the aesthetic of landscape photography does a fake light shaft demonstrate expressive authenticity ?
« Last Edit: July 01, 2015, 03:13:28 pm by Isaac »
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Isaac

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Re: Ignacio Palacio - Image Manipulation
« Reply #97 on: July 01, 2015, 02:08:29 pm »

I was quoting Andre Bazin to echo John Camp's post. Photography's strength is that it bypasses human manipulation.

In context, and what about photography's [pdf] "capacity to engage with both the process and experience of time" ?
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amolitor

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Re: Ignacio Palacio - Image Manipulation
« Reply #98 on: July 01, 2015, 08:02:52 pm »

I've written in a fair bit of detail on this subject elsewhere. Here's a mildly abridged version of that material:

---

It’s undeniable is that a photograph's power as a photograph derives from some sort of deep connection with reality. If photographs are to be a thing in their own right, that connection with reality has to count for something -- because there isn't anything else.  If you truly think photographs are really just quick paintings, I suppose you can stop reading here.

We, the viewer, tend to make two mistakes. The big one is that we confuse the 1/30th of a second of reality with something larger and longer. How often have you heard someone exclaim, about a photograph of someone they do not know, "Oh, you really captured her personality" when, of course, there's not a shred of evidence that is true?  A successful portrait feels like a picture that captures personality. We assume that, from a look at the picture, we understand in a useful way what was going on there and then.

The second mistake we make is to assume that what we see is, at least, the truth of that 1/30th of a second. We assume that what we see in the frame was, at least, what was literally there at that moment. This is also untrue, of course. There's stuff outside the frame, there's manipulation within the frame, and so on.

The first mistake is built upon the second. We trust the truth of the captured instant, and extrapolate from that. When we find the frame itself to be untrue, the whole charade collapses. Which is why people get SO MAD about doctored news photos.

Thus, in the past, we had a situation in which the reality of a photograph was assumed. If it looked real, the assumption was "it looked pretty much like that", that's pretty much what most people thought when they saw the picture. This is why a photo of a little girl running down a road, naked and on fire, had such an impact on the Vietnam war. A painting of that same scene, a drawing, a verbal description, would have had far less impact simply because the viewer would automatically assume that it could never have really looked like that. That's utter madness, nothing is that terrible. And yet, it was just that terrible, the child's terror and pain was just that great.

There is a reason that the US military is controlling the photographic narrative from their current wars so tightly. They'd really prefer not to have their lovely lovely wars messed with, thankyouverymuch, and they have learned some painful lessons in what happens when you let accurate visual depictions of war escape into the public eye.

That was then, this is now.

The generation after mine is, to a large degree, distrustful of the contents of the frame. They assume all photos are 'shopped, are manipulated, and edited. Half erasures and half composite, all untruth. They don't seem to mind this, but the result is that we as a culture are starting to view photographs as quickly made drawings, with no more truth or reality in them than the maker chose to put in. The deep connection with reality is being, I think, broken.

Nobody makes the second mistake much any more, we’re mostly too clever. The first mistake can’t be far behind.

If people no longer believe in the content of the frame, then they no longer believe that there’s anything special about a photograph. It’s just a fast way of drawing, and might contain anything the photographer wants it to. The little girl running down the road on fire? That’s probably just a still from the latest Mad Max film, isn’t it? And anyways it can’t have been that bad, the photographer probably ‘shopped it to pep it up a bit. Whatever.

Where is Vietnam, anyways, and what do you want to do tonight?

Does this mean that it’s bad to photoshop some mountains? Nope. You’re just part of an inevitable sea change in the way people look at photos. There’s no stopping it, and there’s no moral victory in putting the computer away.

Wouldn’t hurt you any to think about these things a bit, though.
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John Camp

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Re: Ignacio Palacio - Image Manipulation
« Reply #99 on: July 02, 2015, 12:11:14 am »

An excellent post. I agree with everything you said, except with reservations when you say, "The deep connection with reality is being, I think, broken."

I initially thought the Internet was revolutionary, but it just turned out to be another form of television which makes it easier to look at programs (i.e. websites) that you like, and you have a million channels, instead of 13 channels of shit on the TV to choose from. In other words, I think that the skepticism (not necessarily cynicism) about the net has finally set in, and that's a good thing.

The same is true with photography. I think the digital revolution in photography (as expressed most comprehensively in Photoshop) has damaged the medium's reputation for veracity, but only for now. Eventually, I think, the boat will right itself; it just might take a few more years, and "manipulated" photographs, and especially manipulated "art," will be seriously devalued. An optimistic view, I admit, and it may not happen...but I think it will.

 
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