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Making Beauty Artificially

Recently France has been playing with the idea of  having a warning placed on images that have been photoshopped or retouched.

Beauty is different to everyone, it changes with the decade and with the time. It morphs from person to person and with every nationality.

Those of us in the AVT program are both designers and artists. However we are also doing a job. I wrestle constantly with this idea of beauty and digital manipulation. If we are trained as artists to see the beauty in everything, we can appreciate almost anything for itself. We are inclined to an opinion obviously, but we are taught to see colors, the graceful curve of a neck, the subtle lines of a wrinkle, the gentle angle of an elbow. However, we clash constantly with popular culture, who asks us to erase these things, to change real life into what they want it to be.

On the other hand, we seem to appreciate the “beauty” of other times and of other cultures, however we fall back onto what culture tells us. Before designers, painters were required to do the same things that we are doing now. When they painted a client they had to make them better than reality. Photos from all eras have been manipulated in some way or fashion. Heads grafted onto different bodies, etc.

There have been trends in art and movements towards unflinching realism in the past, and an ever-rising movement towards “natural” art recently with models, recording artists, or actors appearing without airbrushing or photoshopping.

It seems strange to me that with this craze and trend towards natural foods, natural products… that we still expect models to be airbrushed to “perfection”. We all have acne days, we all have little lumps or bumps, moles or scars. It seems strange to be expected to both appreciate these little things that make us human and yet be asked to Photoshop them out for a paycheck. It is a huge phobia to be “normal”.

In the end, it’s always up to the individual artists. I just wonder where our artists’ minds and our designer’s minds meet. And where the paycheck lands.

France floats law requiring photoshopped images carry a warning

France Considers Warning Labels on Airbrushed Images

One Comment

  1. Sarah Yarbrough wrote:

    I was going to write about this same issue. I think the problem with manipulating photographs for magazine covers and advertisements is that the manipulated image is being marketed and being percieved as reality, when in fact it is not. People are being told this is what you should look like, this is what these models/celebrities look like, when they don’t at all. It’s completely an unachievable look. So how are the images that designers, editors, ad execs, put out there effecting our culture and how are they altering our perceptions of beauty? Who is responsible for the aftermath that occurs from these images? Is it wrong? Is it ok even when people know it’s an airbrushed image? I don’t really think a disclaimer will alter people’s perceptions. Even when being told an image has been touched up, the artists behind the image are still insinuating this is real beauty, this is what we should want to be.

    Side Note: This year, model Gisele Bundchen did a photoshoot for a british coat company, London Fog, while pregnant, and they airbrushed her “baby bump” out of all the images!They said it was to protect her privacy (odd statement since she was photographed naked wearing only an open trench coat). Anyway, I just think it’s odd that the company hired a pregnant model to begin with and even more odd that they openly admitted to airbrushing her. Regardless, I think it is an interesting story relative to this topic. Thoughts anyone?

    Monday, November 9, 2009 at 12:52 pm | Permalink