Photomanipulation in Media
Focus Group Topic 3: 1-7 November 1996
This topic was presented by Margaret. For our discussion we read four
articles .... [names here -ed.]
This discussion focused on the changing perception of photography as
art and news, and ways in which the media is being affected by
photographic manipulation. Some points:
- Benjamin contested that photography and film is propoganda, not
- Art in World War II Germany was art for reproduction, not for
- How do you define the aura of an infinitely reproducible piece?
Mass dissemnination seems to create simulacra, rather than art
- How does music fit into this art/aura schema established by
Benjamin? There is no real greater value in a symphony that works
from Mozart's original manuscript than in one using a modern version.
If the context of the original object gives it the aura or value, this
doesn't seem to apply. This may extend to other performance media as
well, but seems different from sculpture or other visual arts.
- What is the value in seeing an original? You may feel cheated
when you find that a deception has taken place ... finding out that a
museum's Rembrandts were actually fakes. But the impact of the fake
at the time was the same as the impact of an original on you.
- This de-attribution of works is becoming common -- Rembrandt as an
- What about art being honestly taken for reality?
- War of the Worlds - art accepted as truth.
- We want to be deceived at some level.
- We should question everything we read by checking other sources,
but how many people do this?
- What about when the images really matter? In the Gulf War, we
received images which may have had no basis in reality, with no way to
- We talked briefly about a Star Trek episode where a society
existed and staged battles between two countries without ever fighting
the battles... they would pre-decide how many people would die, then
herd them off without a battle. No one else knew.
- The perception of the gulf war was different on the ground ... the
people involved had different incomplete information than people in
- In journalism, how does photographic manipulation affect society?
Small changes have always been accepted (color/balance/etc) ... what
is the dividing line?
- Specific examples: Time magazine cover of OJ, Newsday cover of
Nancy Kerrighan and Tonya Harding skating together. The first is an
example of a photograph that was change to give a different
impression, the second to construct a fictional scene.
- The Internet is completely un-fettered. No check on materials.
- How would you implement a system to validate information?
- Tagging information
- Peer review/rating