Posts Tagged ‘digital editing’

15th Century Masterpieces Revamped: Photoshopping Famous Nudes

April 12, 2012
art
The Sleeping Venus by Artemisia Gentilischi

We have all seen the paintings. In museums or art history books, magazines or as prints on people’s walls. The famous nude Venuses, painted by revered artists such as Botticelli, Ingres, and Velazquez. They are infamous beauties of their time and are still studied by people hundreds of years later. But looking at the original works we can see that these Renaissance women would not likely be cover models in today’s modern world. Cultural ideals have changed drastically throughout time, and at one time, it was considered ‘chic’ to have the sensual round curves of a woman. It represented prosperity as well as fertility. The goddess Venus in each painting depicts a woman with a rounded stomach and hips, and womanly thighs. These are real women.

Anna Utopia Giordano, an artist, model and actress decided to explore how cultural ideals have changed since these paintings were created using modern digital technology. She says on her website: “I was retouching some photographs from a shoot for a friend’s book and while I was playing with the skin tones and using corrective brush strokes, I was reflecting on society, social networks and the need to be accepted”. As a result, she decided to use the same tool that media outlets use to digitally alter advertisements and magazine stories for print in order to transform the buxom portrait goddesses into modern waifs. Photoshop. She drastically slimmed down their figures to the types of unrealistic proportions we would see in today’s media images. She also increased their breast sizes.

The result is a series of 10 revamped paintings which is now on display on her website:

http://www.annautopiagiordano.it/venus-ita.html

Says Giordano “Art is always in search of the perfect physical form – it has evolved through history, from the classical proportions of ancient Greece, to the prosperous beauty of the Renaissance, to the spindly look of models like Twiggy and the athletic look of our own time.” From her web site: “Apart from highlighting once again the amazing possibilities of digital technologies applied to art, this job from Anna Giordano is indeed a good cue to reconsider both the subjectivity of cultural standards (in facts, ours are so different from the past ones) and the inclination of modern society and advertising companies to edit most images of  feminine body in order to reach a fake perfection, corresponding to an unreachable reality.”

What an interesting experiment. This offers us yet another perspective from which to view just how much our vision of female beauty has been skewed. When these these paintings came to be, there were no cameras to capture images. Images came only from the minds eye, and their accuracy was dependent on the viewpoint or artistic judgment of the artist. The women in these paintings represented the pinnacle of beauty at that time. Similarly today, every image can altered and edited until it is almost unrecognizable from the original. In that way, photographs in the media are not really realistic representations, but really a rendering of what the ‘artist’ wants the subject to look like. We classify everything today as art: fashion, hair, makeup, jewelry etc. But it is how the people who showcase these things wear them and carry them that make them stand out. Our bodies really are an art form, and we need to reevaluate why the new modern classic is a size 00.

CAN YOU SPOT THE DIFFERENCE??

March 29, 2012

I had intended to blog about something entirely different today, but while researching the topic I came across something that disturbed me so much I had to rant about it. Take a close look at the picture above. What strikes you about it? You might notice that all the girls look similar. You may notice that they are similar in shape and that their poses are very alike. But look very, very closely.  You will realize that in fact their bodies are all EXACTLY same. This is an H&M ad campaign. Each of these girl’s faces has been pasted onto an identical body. This alone would be disturbing. But there is more. This is not just the usual photoshopping that is commonplace today in advertising. The body that you see does not belong to a real woman. It is a computer generated image.  According to a Swedish press spokesman for the company, photographers “take pictures of the clothes on a doll that stands in the shop, and then create the human appearance with a program on a computer.”  The company feels that by doing this, the focus is kept on the clothes and not on the models.  H&M’s US spokesperson Nicole Christie said “This technique can be found in use throughout the industry. This is not to be seen as conveying a specific ideal or body type, but merely a technique to show our garments. It is regrettable if we have led anyone to believe that the virtual mannequins should be real bodies. This is incorrect and has never been our intention.” These images are shown throughout their website and print ads. It is unclear how customers would be expected to believe they are anything but real women, except for the fact that they are absolutely flawless and their bodies are essentially humanly unattainable.

The controversy surrounding the altering of digital images in advertising is old news. Whether to sell clothes, to sell magazines, to promote music or to further an image it seems that beauty is essential and that the reality is never as good as the fantasy that can be generated with a few strokes of the keyboard. The computer can do as little as fix a blemish or a shadow or completely change a woman’s body. In 2009 Ralph Lauren released an ad featuring model Philippa Hamilton which was altered to the extent that her waist was smaller than her head. She looked so out of proportion that it drew outrage and mockery from several media outlets and blogs. In fact, the real model was a healthy and normal looking young woman. She was subsequently fired from the brand, she claims for being too “fat”. Below is this example as well as other notable examples of digital alterations.

Phillippa Hamilton photoshopped (left) and natural (right)

Katie Couric

Jessica Alba

There does seem to be some hope on the horizon, as people seem to be speaking out about this type of media deception. As discussed in my last entry, certain countries are establishing or trying to establish guidelines which would require advertisers to disclose when images have been photoshopped or altered.  It seems magazines may be listening too. Glamour magazine recently polled its readers and found that 60 percent don’t want ads to mislead them, and that  78 percent were opposed to slimming a body to look even five pounds lighter. As a result , the magazine has decided to limit it’s retouching. It has vowed “A pimple or wrinkle may be removed, but making a celebrity impossibly thin or otherwise altering the face or physique of its models will no longer be tolerated at Glamour, even if the celebrity asks for it.” Bravo. Now maybe if magazines start hiring models that are the size of normal women, we might get somewhere.