Tuesday, 8 November 2011

On Digital Image Manipulation

In researching the cultural implications of digital image manipulation for one of my art classes, I found there was an overwhelmingly negative tone present in peoples' response in images and writing. It seems most people equate the use of photoshop in the media with lying and/or the proliferation of false or impossible standards. This is exemplified in fashion, celebrity and pop culture, where there are few variations on the proposed model of beauty, desirability or marketability. Many condemn the use of digital manipulation because the most popular and saleable images are those of unachievable beauty standards. This of course presents a problem when people equate their own value with how well they can match these standards, a problem most commonly found in teens. Of course this is a legitimate issue, and it has become widely addressed in many women's and girls' magazines which now try to feature much bigger variety to represent beauty (in shape, size, color, age, etc.).

However, I find this negative view of digital image manipulation to be one sided or limited at best. As is the case with almost every other form of technology, it can be used in multiple ways, to positive or negative effect. And as a form of art- like any other art- it has the power to send whatever message its author so chooses. It just so happens that we (the consumers) buy these images, compelling the media (the producers) to produce them.

Standards of physical beauty change all the time. We buy the standard, whether it be produced through paint, charcoal, photography or digital imaging. This image series is curated to reflect a spectrum of beauty, and the viewer is elected judge of which images are beautiful, which are fake, which repel them, and which attract them.