9780262132862 / 0262132869

The Reconfigured Eye: Visual Truth in the Post-photographic Era


Publisher:MIT Press



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About the book:

Today the very idea of photographic veracity is being challenged by the emerging technology of digital image manipulation and synthesis: photographs can now be altered at will in ways that are virtually undetectable, and photorealistic synthesized images are increasingly difficult to distinguish from actual photographs. Continuing William Mitchell's investigations of how we understand, reason about, and use images, "The Reconfigured Eye" provides an analysis of the digital imaging revolution. It describes the technology of the digital image in detail and looks at how it is changing the way we explore ideas, at its aesthetic potential, and at the ethical questions it raises. In chapters on electronic brushstrokes, virtual cameras, synthetic shading, and computer collage, Mitchell describes the basic principles of digital image capture, transformation, and synthesis. He compares the properties of digital images with photographs, drawings, and paintings and explores the new forms of visual communication and artistic practice made possible by computer graphics and image processing. But he goes beyond showing what can be done and how it is done to consider the profound implications of this technology for a society, a legal system, and a journalistic tradition that have long regarded the photograph as the ultimate "proof". "The Reconfigured Eye" is both an analysis and a demonstration of the end of traditional film-based photography and a preview of the new filmless, electronic "photography" that allows computers to synthesize entire scenes from digital geometric models, to people actual scenes with actors who were not there, and to erase people or objects who were. Mitchell discusses the consequent breakdown of accepted ways of making distinctions between original image and replica, between visual fact and fiction, and between captured and constructed images, and shows why photojournalists and others who rely on the acceptance of photographs as objective records are justly nervous.

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