Faking It: The Matrix

Commentary

Friday, November 16, 2012

(Casey De Pont/WNYC)

Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop is a singular and surprising exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. It contains hundreds of strange and fascinating pictures from the first century and a half of photography, all of them altered in different ways. High art, amateur tinkering, satire, and purposeful deception mingle in the galleries.

The idea, not a new one, is that picture-taking has never been a purely documentary medium.  From the beginning, photographers have messed around with images with lots of different techniques, for different reasons. They made multiple exposures in the camera, overlaid negatives in the darkroom, retouched prints, and more. But never before this exhibition have so many great examples, famous and unknown, been assembled together.

Wandering through the show, Kurt Andersen realized that each image could be plotted along two axes: “One axis is whether the manipulation makes the image look Real or Unreal; the other, Romantic vs. Cynical. With those two axes, I started putting every image I saw into one of four quadrants. For instance, a famous picture of Lenin and Stalin sitting together in 1922 was retouched in 1949 to make Stalin look bigger (and better) than Lenin: very Realistic and totally Cynical.”

And what about today’s digital manipulations? The Photoshopped images all around us in style magazines and advertising tend to be realistic, and often cynical, designed to prettify reality. The antiquing filters we play with on Instagram, on the other hand, acknowledge fakery and have fun with nostalgia.

    Music Playlist
  1. Pictures at an Exhibition
    Artist: Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
    Album: The Old Castle
    Label: EMI Classics
    Purchase: Amazon
  2. Come and Play in the Milky Night
    Artist: Stereolab
    Album: Cobra and Phases Group Play Voltage in the Milky Night
    Label: Rhino/Elektra
    Purchase: Amazon

Produced by:

Kurt Andersen

Comments [3]

George Le May from Las Vegas NV

I think a good song for the US ice skaters in Sochi would be ABBA's
"Winner Takes It All" or " Dancing Queen "

Feb. 14 2014 04:45 AM
Karen Simons from Montana

Re: GUNS
Throughout history,removing citizens' guns was the first step in removing their rights. It closely follows that the Hitlers of the world begin to clamp down and make morally reprehensible, heart-breaking, very dark decisions as to what people will and will not be allowed to do.

In addition, the US government already works within the 8 main rules of Fascism. This is not some frantic,crazy person saying this. You do the research. Do you really think that Americans will want to go QUIETLY to their fate?

One more thing: The shootings are more of a symptom of our economy and the fearmongers ability to keep up the pressure. Without jobs, people tend to get crazy and run amok.

I live and grew up in Montana. As a kid, I took hunter's safety and have always treated firarms with repect. Have been around for a long time, and have seen that criminals ALWAYS can get a gun.

I hope you will follow up on what I have said and then stop helping them take away everyone's rights, privileges and freedoms away from us.

Mar. 20 2013 09:48 PM
William Storrer from Up North Michigan

My Life-Changing Moment

It occurred in NYC.
I was a graduate student in the theatre department of Boston University. I and a handful of other student, all of whom had been active in Edward Albee’s one-acts, went to New York over the Christmas break to see his first full-length play, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
It leveled us. We couldn’t even talk until we got back to our hotel. That was how powerful it was, the original production with Uta Hagen and George Hill. 1962. I was 4 years a grad of Harvard.
Four years later, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton starred in the movie version, directed by Mike Nichols , for whom I’d served as stage manger when he and Elaine May gave a duo performance in Boston.
Later I would enter a Ph.D. program at Ohio University. My Ph.D. was in Comparative Arts, a comparison of the stage play with the movie and how each related to the other. I had to go to Mount Vernon, Kentucky, to view the movie in these days before videotape. How ironic. One level of WAVW is that of George (Washington) and Martha, the founders of America.
Since, I directed WAVW at Southampton College of Long Island University where I was director of theatre.

William Allin Storrer
Currently directing “Over the River and Through the Woods” by Joe DiPietro at the Old Town Theatre in Traverse City, MI.

Jan. 10 2013 10:22 PM

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