Altering Reality

On Thursday July 10th Leona M Seufert did a wonderful artist talk on how she achieved the effects in the artwork on display in our current gallery exhibit. “Reflections – From Real to Surreal” uses a variety of techniques to alter original unaltered photographs. She used old-fashioned cut and paste collage, drawing with markers on the ink jet printout, and a variety of Photoshop special effects. 15 of the pieces used only the camera and trick positions of herself or her hand to get eerie reflections in the final image. 

Before the advent of digital cameras, there were limited ways in which a photograph could be altered. Most photographers relied on the camera itself to attain strange effects or in the printing process in a physical darkroom. Today, not only Photoshop but a variety of other computer programs can assist the photographer in attaining altered realities. And of course we are very aware of the misuse of this software to alter images for a variety of devious reasons. So much so that the word “Photoshopped” has become part of our everyday vocabulary.

Look at any fashion magazine cover and you can see how this software helps the person achieve better quality skin, eliminate wrinkles, and even look thinner! Devious? Well, fashion was always about illusion whether it be manipulating makeup on a model’s face or manipulating pixels! Devious is when someone uses this technology to post an altered image of themselves on a dating website. On the positive side, Photoshop has helped restore old and damaged photographs in a way that never could be achieved by hand.

However, there is a dark side to the use of Photoshop. It is easy to scan in a document and change information on it, for instance dollar amounts or paste in a completely different signature. It has also been used to “erase” elements from a photograph or place things in a picture that didn’t exist. More common in the early days of Photoshop you can still find it happening today. Visit this website listing the biggest Photoshop scandals of our time to find examples of just what has been done using photoshop. These range from darkening OJ’s skin to slimming down newscaster Katie Couric.

Unaltered photograph

Unaltered photograph

Altered in Photoshop

Altered in Photoshop

But for an artist, Photoshop is just another tool to assist in realizing a creative goal. Leona did that very well with many of the pieces in this exhibit. She’s been using this program for over 10 years to achieve her creative visions. She states “I am a digital artist who uses Photoshop to transform reality. In a dialog between my eyes, my soul, and technology, and using Photoshop to manipulate the images, I aim to unlock the story within the image. Each artwork is the result of many experiments, the process is an artistic delight for me and hopefully the result is enchanting to the viewer.” Altering reality to create these unique images is what her art is all about.

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