Carnegie Mellon University / Introduction to the Electronic Media Studio (60110-A)

Unit 20

by Golan @ 2:14 am 31 August 2009

This unit is concerned with image manipulation from several perspectives, including: photojournalistic standards of truthtelling; the construction of idealized beauty in vernacular advertising; and the early history of 19th-century photocollages as an extension of narrative romantic painting.

Unit Learning Outcomes: To demonstrate development of skills in the use of techniques for pixel-based (bitmap) image acquisition, editing, compositing, and output. To demonstrate an awareness of the issues surrounding photographic “truth” and verifiability in the digital era.

Exercises and Reading PDFs are at the “Readings” page.

Images: Examples of historic photographs, artworks and hoax images produced in various ways through photomanipulation.



  • Roth, Evan (fi5e). Detouch. Interactive Processing applet. (+blog post). An interactive applet which allows the viewer to see exactly which pixels have been modified in a before/after retouching comparison.

Assignments 2x. All are DUE Wednesday, SEPTEMBER 9.

Assignment 20. Reading and Writing.

  1. Scan through Hany Farid’s “Photo Tampering Throughout History” web site. Select an example which you find interesting, and (in a blog post) write a few sentences to describe why you found it interesting.
  2. Browse through the short list of “Readings about Fashion Retouching” (see the Readings page), and select one to read. Write a few sentences about something which interested you from the article.
  3. Read Christiane Paul’s “Digital Technologies as a Tool” (See the Readings page) and browse the digital artworks listed above. From these materials, identify an artwork (image) which was clearly produced through digital manipulations of photographic source materials. Work to find one that you admire. In a blog post, write a response to the question: In your opinion, what makes that image effective as an artwork?

Assignment 21. Glamourization. This is the minor (lesser) assignment. Don’t spend too much time on it.

  • Photograph yourself in a front-on close up view using a digital camera.
  • Retouch the image to look as “beautiful” or “handsome” as possible according to the glossy magazine standards of beauty.
  • Upload the image to a blog post.
  • In 100-200 words, discuss your project, and write a response to the following question: Suppose an interview article about you is being written for a major magazine, and the editors intend to print an accompanying full-page photograph of you. Would you prefer that the magazine professionally (that is, undetectably) retouch your image? If yes, to what extent — is there a limit?

Assignment 22. A Fiction or A Forgery This is the major part of the assignment. Put most of your effort here.

  • Create your choice of (A) a fiction or (B) a forgery. Be clear about which of these you have chosen. (There is no requirement for your subject to relate to the artwork you discussed earlier.) For reasons that will become clear later, try to work with an aspect ratio of 5:4 or 4:5.
  • For the purposes of this assignment:
    • A fiction is a depiction of something derived from your imagination. It depicts something we all would agree is not true, but for which we nonetheless happily suspend our disbelief, because the “reality” it portrays is so interesting or provocative. A fiction asks the question: “What if….?”
    • A forgery is an image which tells a lie. It depicts something which could indeed be true, and it attempts to hide or conceal any evidence or artifacts that would give away the lie. A viewer may doubt the truthfulness of the forgery, but would need to build an argument using external evidence to disprove it. A forgery asks the question: “Did you know….?”
  • The most important challenge of this assignment is to tell a story with an image you’re constructing. Whether that story is from your imagination (a fiction) or is a lie (a forgery) is less critical — especially since some images could be both a fiction and a forgery. To do well on this assignment, you’ll just need to make a provocative fiction or a convincing forgery.
  • Consider the following strategies for how you might create your fiction/forgery:
    • Adding an element
    • Removing an element
    • Moving or dislocating an element
    • Duplicating an element
    • Modifying an element
    • Exchanging an element with something else
  • When you’re done, export your image as a high-quality JPG and post your fiction/forgery to your blog. Don’t forget to add a few sentences discussing your thoughts about your process.
  • Additional Recommendations:
    • Please use images from photographic sources. These could come from sources like: the web, your camera, a scanner, etc.
    • I recommend that you use images from at least two different photographs to create your fiction/forgery. However, if your concept is very strong, it is conceivable that you could create your fiction/forgery by rearranging elements within a single source image.
    • Develop your image at the highest resolution possible. A recommended final image size is at least 2000×1600. To be on the safe side, keep all of your original source files, as well as your Photoshop .PSD project file, until after the assignment has been submitted. Keep these somewhere safe, such as your hard drive or Andrew directory!

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
(c) 2016 Golan's EMS1 Fall 2009 | powered by WordPress with Barecity