Scientific American has published a short guide listing five methods that researchers use to spot altered or retouched photographs.
For example, in the image above, some of the soldiers in the background have been “cloned” to make it appear that the crowd was more dense than it actually was.
While the guide details the mostly algorithmic methods used by Hany Farid and his fellow researchers, it also has some practical tips which can be used to identify altered photographs with the naked eye.
To infer the light-source direction, you must know the local orientation of the surface. At most places on an object in an image, it is difficult to determine the orientation. The one exception is along a surface contour, where the orientation is perpendicular to the contour (red arrows right). By measuring the brightness and orientation along several points on a contour, our algorithm estimates the light-source direction.
For the image above, the light-source direction for the police does not match that for the ducks (arrows). We would have to analyze other items to be sure it was the ducks that were added.
The New Yorker recently published this profile of Pascal Dangin, the most sought-after photo retoucher in the world of high-fashion. Author Lauren Collins notes that retouchers are often forced to work in secret:
[R]etouchers tend to practice semi-clandestinely. “It is known that everybody does it, but they protest,” Dangin said recently. “The people who complain about retouching are the first to say, ‘Get this thing off my arm.’ ” I mentioned the Dove ad campaign that proudly featured lumpier-than-usual “real women” in their undergarments. It turned out that it was a Dangin job. “Do you know how much retouching was on that?” he asked. “But it was great to do, a challenge, to keep everyone’s skin and faces showing the mileage but not looking unattractive.”
Retouchers, subjected to endless epistemological debates—are they simple conduits for social expectations of beauty, or shapers of such?—often resort to a don’t-shoot-the-messenger defense of their craft, familiar to repo guys and bail bondsmen. When I asked Dangin if the steroidal advantage that retouching gives to celebrities was unfair to ordinary people, he admitted that he was complicit in perpetuating unrealistic images of the human body, but said, “I’m just giving the supply to the demand.” (Fashion advertisements are not public-service announcements.)
The article should be great fodder for studying the rhetoric of the body and the use of photography in our society.
CNET reports MIT has a new project that provides information about videos that have been removed from YouTube. From the article:
The site, an effort by the MIT Free Culture group, scans the most popular YouTube videos for the metadata Google inserts after a video has been taken down. YouTomb shows a list of recently removed videos (which you can’t actually view), who requested their removal, when they were taken down, and how long they were up beforehand.
This site should be a helpful resource for online video researchers, particularly those interested in copyright issues.
How does the space in which protest art appears affect the ways in which people respond to it? Or, even, if they see it as a protest at all?
In my class the other day, we talked about protest art. Among other things (Shepard Fairey), we looked at anti-war peace protester Brian Haw. Haw has lived in a peace camp in Parliament Square in Britain since June 2, 2001, remaining at the site full time, leaving only for court appearances.
Last night while watching Barack Obama give his speech after the Pennsylvania primary, I got all excited about posting something on viz. for general amusement. But then when I read some otherblogs, I realized I was not the only person to see what I saw. I forgot that in this Golden Age of the Internets, Original Ideas do not stay that way for long. But behold, anyway:Notice the three dudes in Abercrombie and Fitch t-shirts right behind the Senator. Supposedly the campaigns choose the people in those seats pretty carefully; one has to wonder, if in fact that's true, what was going through the head of the person who made this decision. Not that there's anything wrong with Abercrombie (well, Jezebel says it's "the epitome of everything about the America that is not 'ready' for" a President Obama), but still, it seems like a weird choice, no?
Tim Turner has posted a new pedagogical article, “Visual Rhetoric and Propaganda,” in viz.’s assignments section. The article explains why rhetoric instructors should teach their students about the methods of propagandists, and outlines a course unit based on the topic. In the article, he argues that conversations about the use of visuals in propaganda
are useful because they illuminate for students a range of rhetorical possibilities, including the fact that “bad” arguments can be quite influential and that modes of persuasion cannot (and should not) be divorced from ethical considerations. From this perspective, discussions of propaganda may also be useful in that they help illuminate discussions of the fallacies of argument (in which case, “bad” is taken to mean specious, illogical, or poorly reasoned). But discussions of propaganda may also lead to discussions of the ethical dimensions of persuasion (in which case “bad” is taken to mean ethically or morally suspect).
A couple of t-shirt designs have ignited discussion in the interwebosphere of late, and since they represent the extremes of feminism (i.e., radical feminist to decidedly NOT feminist), I thought it would be interesting to put them in conversation with each other, especially under the rubric of what constitutes "free speech" and "visual rhetoric."
First is the "I was raped" t-shirt masterminded by Jennifer Baumgardner, the poster woman for radical third-wave feminism:
Submitted by LaurenMitchell on Mon, 2008-04-14 10:25
I don’t know what to make of these new ads for Marc Jacobs featuring Victoria Beckham. This New York Times article covering the ads asks “When is a Fashion Ad not a Fashion Ad?” And I’m not sure what the answer is. Jacobs has a history of using images that don’t feature his clothes but are touted as being “interesting” and “provocative.”