Fat, fiction and fauxtography

Posted by Bel. The time is 11:12pm here in Wellington, NZ.

The adage 'Don't always believe what you read in the papers' is becoming more true, and more adaptable, as time goes on and media develops.

The article "Sorting inbox fact from fiction" has a great slideshow with it, where the captions reveal which pictures are genuine and which are internet hoaxes, forwarded by overexcited office workers on boring Friday afternoons. A couple of the photos declared to be 'false' are works by artists (such as Li Wei's gravity-defying self portraits and Ron Mueck's hyperreal disproportionate sculptures).

In the art world, we can appreciate the craft that goes into creating something that deceives the eye. But what about when this done solely from a commercial perspective?

Check out this interview with someone you never would have heard of. But chances are you have seen his work somewhere. In last year's March issue of Vogue, Pascal Dangin tweaked 144 images: 107 ads (Estée Lauder, Gucci, Dior, etc.), 36 fashion pictures, and the cover, featuring Drew Barrymore. Because, you know, she needs work.

Dangin is the man who turned Annie Leibovitz's series of portraits of "The Sopranos" cast into this tableaux:

You mean they didn't all get up at dawn for a moody photoshoot on the Jersey Shore, schlumping around in the mud? Dang indeed.

This video from the NY Times "Sex, Lies and Photoshop" suggests that magazines credit the retouchers, as well as photographers, in order to draw attention to the extent of manipulation of images.

Speaking with those in the industry, it shows how four different images were used to create a composite for an advertisment photo. The photoshopper himself muses on the impact this might have on a model's self esteem - let alone the rest of us, in a world where we are bombarded by these falsely constructed images of perfection.

Jezebel's Photoshop of Horrors has done a wonderful job of drawing attention to the butchering of the human form which takes place, generally in print advertising. It is usually up to alternative media to be the watchdogs, as everyone else is dependent on the revenue brought in by these warped images. If you want a quick scroll through of just what other bullshit is attempted to be passed off as acceptable for general consumption, pay a visit to the blog Photoshop Disaster for some LOLs/heartache.

[Click on the image for large version and play spot the difference! 3 different eye colours! Nose shapes! Chins! She's an Oscar-winning Mr Potato Head!]

As rampant and blatant use of retouching becomes so commonplace (whether it be a fantastical glossy fashion mag, or a supposedly reputable news source), the impetus falls upon the reader. It is up to us to treat these images as fiction and not as representations of real life or of achieveable ideals. And to question if a cat could if really get to that size.

2 thoughts on “Fat, fiction and fauxtography”

  1. There was a fucken genius piece on Jon Stewart last night with the Kristen Schaal from FotC - lemme see if I can find it... nah, can't find it... showed a photo of her foot with 2 toes cut off so that she can fit stiletto heels, talking about how she vomits up all her food to stop being such a fat bitch, etc... best satire of the pressures on women in Hollywood I have ever seen and I hope that one day you too will get to enjoy it.

  2. Totes watched that already! Jezebel had it - I have only been on that site like twice in the last month, classic...!