Sunday, April 4

PROJECT 4 :: reading

an e-reserve is available on the library website under the course reserves section on the lower-right area of the page. search by instructor name, find the image course and it's the only reading in there. you'll have to enter your student i.d. and campus code, and use the not-so-secret password "image". the reading is called "Pathways of Fulfillment: Photography and Celebrity" by stuart ewen. it's good.

reading responses and discussion should go here in the comments. argue away!


Bethany Ediger said...

"I create the image that people want to see. It's up to me to fake people out...Basically you lie to people."

"One becomes, by definition, increasingly uncomfortable in one's own skin. The constant availability of alternative styles to "adapt to," to purchase, thrives on this discomfort."

Pathways of Fulfillment discussed the relationship between reality and fantasy as they relate to modern advertising and photography. I thought the article uncovered the human emotion of discontentment and brought the worldwide attempt at perfection into the light. The overview of the common perception of "photogenic" was especially interesting because it added, not only the use of idealized human body or features, but also how it relates to the perception of the home as a living space. "Cameraland" is a land where dreams come true. However, just because a certain look or alteration is possible doesn't mean that it is necessary or beneficial to viewer, creator, or model. As the article cites, this "correction" can actually be harmful.

(I mis-read that we were supposed to pots it in the comments)

Taylor Pruitt said...

It's funny how this article really brought to life how critical our world today is, and how long it ago it started. I found it really interesting how the comments made about the models, or the houses within the subject were just torn to shreds, and basically had to be fixed to meet the standards of the editor. This also brought to life how important imagery is in the world today. Everyone relies on a beautiful image, either to buy something, or just to be attracted to something else. It really emphasizes how important a good image is. Therefore the contents inside have to be perfect, and have to hold their own when it comes to the competition.

Karen said...

in the reading it talked about the reality of our world. The emphasis of body image first impression sand selling oneself. It was interesting to me that this article brought examples from the past yet today in modern days is the same portrayal and the same approach to image. Through fashion and magazines catalogs, they offer a vision of perfection with the flawless skin, the perfect hair, and the perfect expression to reflect the idealize woman. In the article it also mades references to the how models show now lifeless or individuality that they shouldn't be call by names, rather they should just be numbered.
Photographers plan under carefully plan conditions and art directors and touch artist create the effect of immaculate conception.
Something that was really interesting was on the side note where they depict the before and after of the advertisement of Max. Seen the before the after it makes evident the remove all of all flaws. Not only with body image, but in environments the images are so ideal that they portray of devoid of evidence that people have been there and uncluttered. This portrayal affects people on daily basis and makes people seek plastic and surgery and stylized the homes by the way they see it on magazines because that is the portrayal that they see and feel they need to imitate. As the article mentions " human subject is in jeopardy, destined only to be defined as a consumer."

Vi Pham said...

This was a depressing reading. It really showed what we define "beauty" as, even if it means lying to the people. I feel like the point of image making is to capture THE picture in one shot and just slightly manipulate the color or something, not to tear the things apart and make it "non-realistic". Of course, to the viewers, they have no idea, but the pride in a one shot photo should be enough to not let manipulation take over. I want to see non manipulated ads more. Dove does a really good campaign with their natural women and I would like to see other companies go down that path. Fashion magazines would never do that since the thought of "beauty" is already embedded into people's mind but it'd be nice to see them change course.

Julie Sikonski said...

I'm glad we had to read this passage. It makes me upset how "real" these photos are when they're completely fabricated to form the things that we want so we buy them.

Yes, perfection is appealing but it is not realistic.

Keaton said...

I thought it was interesting how the reading related our perfect perception of a human to a machine.

I think that modern culture's need for the ideal beautiful human seems similar to what people wanted from classical painting. Before photography, an artist would create an image and visualize it as they pleased, their technique or aesthetic changing the perception of reality within the piece. As soon as the camera competed with a painter's ability to represent reality, painters started to use their medium in more expressive and abstract ways. With current technology, we have the potential to take a photograph and then alter it, much as a painter does, to fit his or her perception of what reality should be.

I agree with Vi, I would like to see more ads that are true to reality. With the onset of HD tv and whatnot in motion media, I wonder if technology will filter reality in moving photographs as well, if people really can't deal with the real human body unless it has been make-uped and changed.

I found it ridiculous that most ads are composites of two people together. I liked the comment "maybe the average Hollywood glamour girl should be numbered instead of named." It's so damn strange how in an advertisement, two people's body parts can represent one hybrid human in an image, yet they are really nameless, a number in a pool of top-choice body parts.

Kelsey said...

That was a really sobering article, but at the same time not all that surprising. Like Keaton said, art has always taken reality and altered it to make a more ideal image. This is just the newest way of producing that image.

Invented environments and invented people are presented to persuade/guilt us into continuing the push toward perfection, even though it's unobtainable. As amazing as it would be to live in a culture without a glamoured-up fake reality, I don't see it ever happening. Looking at history, if anything, we've only gotten more and more unrealistic as time has past.

If the trend to fabricate reality is going to continue, then the best way to counter-act it is to just be educated on the unnatural images that we see. Going against an established system such as these image-alterers must be tough; they're probably not to keen on revealing their secrets. Vi mentioned the Dove campaign, which is a great example, although I question wether or not it had any effective. Seems like it was rather short-lived, and only reached a limited number of people.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

As documented through the entirety of art history, humans have never accepted a realistic depiction of the human figure. The very first documented piece of human creation is an idealization of the female figure, Woman of Willendorf, with her emphasized breasts and hips. Egyptions became obsessed with ideal proportions and had a specific set of rules for how to depict the human body. Not until the Greeks did any civilization strive towards strict reality. If I remember correctly, the Riace Bronzes are considered the Greek's most perfect representation of the human figure, and, once again, if I remember correctly, the Greeks became quickly bored with accurately representing the human figure and went back to exaggerating important features. It is how we have always and possibly will always depict the human figure. I don't know for certain if it's natural for us to idealize ourselves, but we do have a very consistent track record of doing it. I think that the problem lies not within our idealization, but with our almost complete faith in photography as a depiction of reality.

Instead of thinking of photography as simply another medium for creating images we have allowed ourselves to develop a blind faith in the deceptive god that is photography. Photography has, of course, never been a true representation of reality. It is really more like an enhanced reality, allowing us to view things in ways that we would never be able to within the limitations of our physical selves. In that sense, every photograph, even a completely straight photograph, is an idealization, regardless of subject matter. Photography also has a long history of manipulation since its conception. The manipulation of photo based images had been going on since the mid 19th century and has never exactly been a secret. Nothing about a photo shoot is real; from the make-up, to the lighting, and even things as minimal as how the camera is focused and the f-stop used. Then, with the integration of the computer and digital media it is a wonder that anyone could accept any photograph as a depiction of reality. John Everard is quoted in the writing talking about this, "There seems little doubt that the old fallacy that the camera cannot lie greatly strengthens it's appeal… It can emphasize qualities of delicacy, elegance of line, mystery and glamour and yet retain the persistent atmosphere of reality."

This faith in the photograph as a truth teller results in the problems as described by Lanie Kazan.

Alternately, I think that this is also part of the problem that photography has with it's placement in the fine arts. Because of the trust people give to the photograph and the assumption that what they're seeing is reality it cannot be fully accepted as what it really is, just another medium for the creation of image.

Anonymous said...

EDIT: The reason our idealizations do not look like the Woman of Willendorf today is because those characteristics are not important to survival anymore. What is important is becoming successful in society and being able to support oneself. Society has not allowed women to build careers for themselves until relatively recently, thus resulting in a dependency on the male. How do you capture a male? Physical attractiveness. Being sexually attractive sets off EMOTIONAL TRIGGERS, resulting in a positive reaction. Females have been utilizing a form of design for survival far before "commercial art" was conceived.

i'd be happy for someone to respond to this

Anonymous said...

EMOTIONAL TRIGGERS, just like we trigger with our design work. Is the work we create so different than the photo-chopped cover image of angelina jolie? DESIGN TO SELL!