Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Photoshop Effect

Suppose I was examining two beautiful photographs. I would admire their color, use of space, detail, focus, etc. However, if I discovered that one of the photos had been photoshopped (Excuse me, I meant "had been enhanced using Adobe Photoshop software."), I would scrutinize that photo differently, probably more harshly, than the untouched photo. Even if I found the modified photo more beautiful, I might not find it as appealing as its unmodified cousin. This is the "photoshop effect."

The same holds true for judging other things: Athletes who use performance enhancing drugs, movies that utilize computer generated special effects, people who receive cosmetic surgery, etc. All of these I judge more harshly because of the photoshop effect.

For me, part of an subject's (art, performance, sport) value is not only it's aesthetic, but also the process by which this aesthetic was achieved. I suspect this does not hold true for everyone; some people seem impressed by anything pretty or shiny, regardless of how it was produced. This is not to say that I don't appreciate pretty, shiny things. I enjoy cool CG fight scenes in movies, and boy do I appreciate a nice set of fake boobs. But knowing that the aesthetic that these present could not be achieved without aid reduces the holistic value of them in my mind.


  1. this post begs the extension, i believe, of the question of eugenics. are designer genes desirable or even ethical? what about correcting for disorders and diseases? where is the border between genuine and synthetic and does it matter?

  2. Actually, I don't think this post begs anything close to this...

    When I was referring to aesthetic, I was referring more to how "cool" something was artistically and less to how fit something is for survival.

    "Designer genes" do alter an objects genuineness, but it's not simply "for art's sake." It's for survival's sake or better quality of life or for a better utility, in the case of genetically enhanced/modified/selected plants and animals.

    But, despite the fact that your comment was barely tangential, it has gotten me thinking about eugenics -- an interesting topic.

    Hmm, more to come.

  3. To quote Linda Roberts with her elf like visage, "I don't even know what you're talking about!"

  4. yes, i failed to fully connect to the point of aesthetics, but that is what i intended. you know, sinister agendas to create master races through selective breeding and now through genetic engineering. is making designer babies beautiful right? i think that is more what my head was getting at even if it didn't tell my fingers to type that ... wonder if that can be corrected for


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