Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Digitial Manipulation: To eat or not to eat?
With today's presentation of Digital Manipulation by the group in class, I was really surprised at the degree of some publications make in changing their images to make it look "perfect." When Thomas said something to the extent of "publications will change images solely on the basis of the expectation of perfection," I couldn't help but see that mere sentence resonating throughout our entire society. So much of our society expects perfection that we even take our day to day life images to the extreme by manipulating them to appear perfect. Considering that digital manipulation is characterized by color correction, lighting, and red eye correction, it seems evident that we are talking mainly about images of real human beings that are somewhat distorted from their own selves to make these people look more "perfect" to be presented to the public.
The pro-manipulation side of things essentially sites the main idea that if digital manipulation was institutionalized or restricted, it would be a breach of the first amendment under the free expression clause. This seems to be a legitimate argument from a clearly artistic standpoint obviously (as it this fact still upholds digital manipulation age we see today) but lets be serious---many of these photographers are using these images to distort reality to present the public with a product or image that is not a good representation of what reality is. The fact that children are so profoundly affected by the images that are so readily available on the internet and even riding around in mommy's Town and Country clearly is a problem. I believe the presenters said that something like 80% of elementary school aged children actively diet? That is just absurd. Sure, some people are inevitably going to be overweight and will need some dieting and change of lifestyle to be healthy, but the overwhelming numbers of girls (and boys for that matter) in middle school and high school that have body image disorders is incredibly disturbing. We as a society are always going to gawk at famous people (I mean i'm not gonna lie, looking like David Beckham wouldn't be so shabby) but the physical message sent through the media of images of these people is clearly distorted- so much to the point that they look like they have no problems at all. This is widely known to be untrue as we all know that no one is perfect, but the perpetuation of this idea of perfection time and again overshadows our perception of these people to the point that we begin to believe (even if subconciously) against our intuitions.
So, what I took away from what I learned today about digital manipulation is a disdain and disgust for the byproducts of it in our society. The effect on children, our overall mood, the swaying of public opinion, and the loss of public trust are all factors that I can identify with in thinking about digital manipulation of images. I'm not all negative towards it as some photos that are clearly not meant to influence our body image I can see as art and cool ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:SqueezeSponge.jpg ). I do think that we need some sort of governing body that justifies photography, especially in relation to body image, doesn't need to be perfect to be sold or used in publications.
What do yall think? Is digital manipulation a good way to access the media presented to us? Do you think that digital manipulation is to blame for all of those staaggering statistics or are thier other factors? If it's restricted, would that be a major breach of our free speech or would it be "for the greater good of the common people"? This is a big deal in American society I believe and I think its a great topic to further discuss as we move forward in this ever-evolving technological age.