Student Name: Edward Lerpiniere
Student Number: 506079
As ever you continue to delve into the interesting aspects of the assignment. Fake vs Real certainly brings up many interesting strands, and in a way, is part of the very nature of photography whether anything has been ‘tampered’ with or not. You have engaged well and in-depth about many of these strands and I followed your writing with interest.
Your technical skills were notably good too!
I understand your aim is to go for the Photography Degree and that you plan to submit your work for assessment at the end of this course. From the work you have shown in this assignment, and providing you commit yourself to the course, I suggest that you are likely to be successful in the assessment.
It was interesting to read your points of view on ethics and manipulation. I would have liked to hear you define more, for you, what the boundaries are. The things that are important to YOU not just society and the hypothetical individual. You did cover some interesting points which showed your engagement but try to make up your own mind and consider where you would draw the line in these matters and for what reasons. Why do you say some are “unacceptable, definitely.” And others “maybe acceptable”?
I don’t want to define what my boundaries are because it changes with respect to each image I see, as I think it should. If my position remained fixed then that means I’ve got a blinkered view and a subject like this is much more dynamic needing to be reviewed constantly.
When I say some are definitely unacceptable I mean that where manipulation is done deliberately to gain advantage then this cannot be acceptable in any moral sense, some may be acceptable depending upon the society you live in. For instance, a true case; a visiting head of state to the USA was following President Obama along a White House entrance room, along with some other dignitaries. This image was altered in his own country to show the visiting head of state leading, a minor and stupid change of protocol, but never-the-less a large change in the perceived dynamic of the participants, especially to the visiting head of state’s population. That sort of thing may be acceptable in the society where it was perpetrated, but did it harm anyone, I don’t think so, and anyone outside the country would recognize it for what it is?
I suppose the ethics are concerning the intention of the image maker and how that is to the benefit / detriment of society (misleading fashion leading to increased anorexia, false advertising leading to profit gain etc). Another area is the artistic use of adaptation like with the Cottingley fairies and Wendy McMurdo’s work to enhance the concept behind the work. What do you think about ‘fake’ if it is clever?! Or are you a purist through and through?
As you draw on the history of photography for many of your exercises this stands you in good stead for research purposes. Great to see.
Where possible please try to include your source notes (ie where did you get the information of the housing advert removing the big factory from the picture?!)
I’ve attended to this point and inserted them.
Feedback on assignment
Considering you are very aware of the interesting strands that arise from this question of real vs fake I found it a shame not to see them tackled in your image construction. However, it’s a bit of a curve ball when we were just moving on so nicely with the obsolete theme so lets not worry and get back to the main task at hand!
I appreciate that you intended to make the image as realistic as possible which I think you have succeeded in doing. I would have liked to see some of the concepts of what is real and fake further explored here. Like in the past, getting those things of interest into the work is the challenge – leaving the technical aspects to the back seat and letting the ideas drive!
Saying that the techniques you employed were relevant and executed to a very good standard. Challenging yourself to try new things is also good.
I think at this point it’s a good idea to insert some extracts from the resulting e-mail discussion to clear up this point.
You seem disappointed that the final assignment image doesn’t seem to incorporate more of the learning I gained from this project, but I felt that something simple and not obviously faked is the best interpretation of how to mislead via altered imagery. I’m more than a bit confused as to what you might expect to be in there, “Like in the past, getting those things of interest into the work is the challenge – leaving the technical aspects to the back seat and letting the ideas drive!”. My first love with photography, prior to taking this OCA course, was wildlife imagery, and in a way this is something of a throwback to that, with the technical aspect being a very small part of the process.
Yes I appreciate what you say about the most effective way of misleading through imagery is to make a seamless montage – which you have done well. I am suggesting that a more nuanced view of fake vs real could make for a more conceptually interesting piece. For example, when something looks real but confuses the viewer (or adds a dimension of ‘that can’t surely be right, but it looks like it is’) it can really pull the viewer in and provoke further interest. Have you seen the Dior advert with Charlize Theron? It (arguably) seamlessly incorporates famous models and actresses from different eras who couldn’t possibly appear in the same advert but they have done it in a believable way. In a sense it is a digital version of the same old question that photography has always encroached upon – is that real? Did that really happen? This is what I mean by pushing the ideas slightly – by making something beyond an image that doesn’t look like it’s been faked.
I’ve seen the advert you mention of Charlize Theron, and whilst it’s clever it immediately screamed fake to me and whilst I appreciate the skill I don’t see the point unless it’s for an advert such as that. What impresses me is when someone makes a fake that’s so good it takes in the experts and they pronounce it genuine, that is very clever, I don’t condone it, but the skill and attention to artistic detail needed to do that is incredible.
I see what you’re getting at with regard to a more nuanced view of fakery, and I think that in this case I’ve done a fairly good job on you, if you don’t mind my saying, because I think you’re saying somewhat ‘so what, it’s an otter!’ It’s a question of which viewer base you’re aiming at I think, and this image is a very nuanced fake, to those in the know, for a couple of reasons: Otters don’t, and can’t really, live in ponds, they’re a top predator and they’d very quickly exhaust their food supply in a pond, they’re riverine animals needing a huge range to prevent prey diminution, but they just MIGHT pass through a pond. In England they wouldn’t normally be seen during daylight, perhaps in Scotland, but even there it tends to be dusk at the earliest, but it’s not unheard of to be seen during daylight. They don’t range over an area without natural cover on both banks and they also avoid contact with other animals, whereas in mine there are cows and swans, however they might have to in certain circumstances, so it’s not impossible. They definitely wouldn’t be near a stretch of water that’s so heavily visited by humans, as the water safety ring indicates this stretch is, they definitely are too shy of human smell, and that’s the biggest error in this image. BUT, it would make anyone think twice as it COULD happen for a short period of time.
Haha! Touché! I promise you this did cross my mind when I was writing back to you but wasn’t 100% sure and didn’t want to reveal my ignorance!! (I’m a city girl!)
Wendy McMurdo – Her use of digital manipulation to make a point.
Alison Jacson – using manipulation (of different sorts) for humour.
Cindy Sherman and the whole setting up of the image to exaggerate the vision of themselves that many people have.
Pointers for the next assignment
Let the ideas drive. Work out the techniques later to complement the ideas.
Lets get back to the obsolete – unwanted – unkempt theme. Let me know if you would like any feedback on what you are planning to do for the final assignment and I’d be happy to give you my thoughts.