"Subliminal" Messaging

Well, the author of this post uses the term incorrectly (since subliminal messaging has to register subliminally, while this invisible ink won’t at all, I presume), but that’s okay, because it’s still a really funky concept that he introduces!

The graphic contained in the post is a little beyond me (anyone explain it?), but the commentary underneath it where the author suggests this as a preventative measure against piracy is intriguing. The battle between pirates and producers (the new cowboys and Indians?) has raged furiously for more than a decade, during which pirates have generally speaking won. While that doesn’t mean that this invisible coloring will single-handedly wipe out piracy, it could be a step towards it.

One of the loopholes in such a prevention is mentioned below, by one of the commenters who remarked that the picture is taken by a camera — so why is it that it only shows up on the iPhone, not the whole photograph. Another person later responds:

digital SLRs have pretty efficient hotmirrors in front of them, but the cheaper P/S cameras dont*. so the larger picture would have been taken by your garden variety dSLR while the iphone was taking the picture of the babe.

*this is easily tested: take any remote control you have and point it into your digicam lens while pressing buttons. usually you can see the IR LED light up on the live preview itself.

for this reason, almost any cheap P/S can be used for digital IR photography, provided you can access aperture and shutter manually. just stick a big piece of unexposed, but developed slide film and bam! an IR taking machine

With this in mind, it’s pretty easy to see that this would not serve as the sole piracy prevention required. Nonetheless, to sneak a hefty digital SLR into the theater is a lot tougher than carrying in your phone, so combined with regular security measures, this “Kameraflage” could contribute a lot to the cause of the producer!

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Vita [Photoshop]

My Digg notification came through today with an interesting piece entitled “Unphotoshopped.” It caught my attention because pictures can often be interesting, and the fact that it’s un-doctored (or that is what the title would suggest) then theoretically it should be an awesome shot of reality.

What I got was far, far better.

The Digg linked to a site called Jezebel, whose byline makes pretty clear the purpose of the article:

CELEBRITY, SEX, FASHION.
WITHOUT AIRBRUSHING.

Now, the basics of the first line are things which I rarely if ever mess with (at least on a public level.) I think celebrities are overrated (and over-worshiped), sex is abused, and fashion is simply bland. Obviously they all affect us to a certain extent… don’t think I am suggesting I ignore them all completely. But I think that celebrity should be worshipless (even for all the hockey talk I do, I keep in mind what horrible people they frequently are); sex should be personal; and fashion should be subjective, not universal.

It’s the second line that grabs me on a personal level. I think that if we’re going to follow these things, let’s keep it real. Celebrities have real lives. Yes, Britney Spears bobbles her child — so do most mothers at one point or another. And they look human, too, for the most part. Or at least they would, if they could go without surgically altering their bodies. To me, the “without airbrushing” immediately suggests that they are supporting this realistic notion. And I was bang-on.

The article that was Digged is found here. The issue itself isn’t one that I was immediately familiar with, but it’s made pretty clear in the short piece. Singer Faith Hill’s photograph has been subjected to horrible skewing for the cover of what is, in essence, a “reality” magazine. The real bone that’s being picked at, however, is the entire issue of photoshopping — and even further altering — photos of celebrities.

Side note: don’t get me wrong when I say the magazine is a “reality” magazine. I will keep my hands as clean of this issue as possible by passing you on to the people over there. I am by no means the fan of the magazine that the author of this post (and authors of this blog?) seems to be. As far as I am concerned, these things are all gimmicks to get you to buy products directly/feel less confident so you buy products. But from the author’s comments I get the impression that the magazine’s mantra is that real life is good.

Back to the summation. The article itself seems pretty standard (and tangenty) until one happens upon the graphic at the bottom. It strikes you pretty hard. In fact, so hard that I didn’t realize just what was in it until I followed their subsequent link explaining the different alterations contained within. It feels like they took the photo and turned it slightly, and discoloured it, and… oh wait. It’s her they change.

And that’s just it. The entire photo has been altered. Yes, I suppose technically they retained more of her than they could’ve. The dress didn’t change. Her hair colour’s the same. But still, it’s pretty scary just how much the person is altered with what is likely a fairly simple process.

Once again, there are criticisms I can throw out at the author, but really they’re pretty frivolous. The whole “reverse-sexist” thing is a bit annoying. But the thesis is pretty blunt — and pretty hard to refute. Women aren’t going to be encouraged by comparing themselves to computer-made perfection — or, for that matter, by being transformed into that perfection. Faith Hill is human! How must she feel that the editors would push this on her, suggesting so blatantly that she is… dissatisfactory.

And that’s really what it all comes down to. The bloggers continued with their point by stating it more directly in their next post. I don’t think you can sum it up any better than they did in their last bit:

Some would say yes, the half-truths of women’s magazine covers and cover-lines are necessary (these people usually work on the business sides of such magazines). Others would say yes because they know no other way, or are too afraid to say no (these people often toil on the editorial sides of such magazines). But as necessary as retouching may seem in order to fill the coffers of corporate behemoths like Procter & Gamble, Revlon or Warner Brothers Records it is not okay for the rest of us — the readers, that is — that this goes on. In a world where lying, deception, and the fudging of facts has become endemic in everything, all the way up to the highest levels of government, this is yet another example of a fraud being perpetrated on the public… and the public, for the most part, is not yet in on the joke. Magazine-retouching may not be a lie on par with, you know, “Iraq has weapons of mass destruction,” but in a world where girls as young as eight are going on the South Beach Diet, teenagers are getting breast implants as graduation gifts, professional women are almost required to fetishize handbags, and everyone is spending way too much goddamn time figuring out how to pose in a way that will look as good as that friend with the really popular MySpace profile, it’s fucking wrong. And we’re glad you agreed.

A bit melodramatic? Perhaps. But very, very true.

Here’s hoping for Vita [Without Airbrushing] sometime soon (not that I expect it)!

Pretty Sweet Table

Watch the movie here to see one of the neatest toys ever!

Oh wait, sorry… pieces of technology. Not toys. Bad Knotwurth!

Wedding Stuff… a week late!

So, I’ve been slogging away at improving my hockey blog blog throughout the week, but that’s not to say that life does not go on! A full week ago now (Wow! Time really flies!!!) my father and his long-time partner finally decided to tie the knot. The ceremony took place in Patty’s Pub on Bank street, and the environment was surprisingly suitable to the level of ceremony that they had.

That’s not to say it wasn’t classy, however. It’s just that there was a lack of “uptightness”, which was nice! The casual air of the pub along with the dressy suits was kind of comical at first, but the more everyone settled into their natural roles, and the more it became clear that this truly suited the bride and groom and their entourage!

Below is a Picasa slideshow… it’s a new feature offered by Picasa that lets you embed the actual show instead of just the individual pictures. It’s experimental, and I’m not sure how I’ll like it. It’s certainly different, so let me know your thoughts on whether I should continue using it!

March’s End

March had one brief little stint where it decided to fight back against the warmth, but compared to many other years, the “in like a lion, out like a lamb” adage simply does not seem applicable. As we come to the end of the month, days of 10+ degrees Celsius are the norm. I am now biking in a t-shirt, and would love to break out the shorts if it weren’t for fear that a cold spurt will arrive on that one day that I remove my pants’ legs. Some interesting pictures of the transition of the campus, though… I do love the Trent campus! It is definitely the greatest asset of the university, even beating out its small class-sizes in my mind.

Ole Bata Library, just before winter. You can see the build-up of ice around the sides of the river, and the lower sun-angle allowed for a nice shot of it shining through the upper windows.

The library again, this time nearing the end of the winter season. The sun has climbed some, and the ice is beginning to melt (as is evidenced by the water on top of the ice, not just around it.)

BL just this week. Even the light has shifted incredibly to reflect the time of year! Something about the colouration is just warmer than the first picture (the second is, unfortunately, slightly overcast.)

My favorite little rock along the path. It’s not really that little. Winter, clearly.

Early March meltdown has left the rock bare.

Once again we can see a slight difference in the lighting despite the shots being taken on the same day of the week, at the same hour approximately.

Here’s the rock’s inscription… hard to read because of the slight rust in certain letters.

A series of metal poles which I had to think about before I could figure out its use. Any guesses as to what normally sits there?

Canoes! While no one has been out on the water yet, as far as I know, they’re there and ready for the renting! And even the water is bracing itself for the season!

Here’s the water in the winter, glossed-over with a thin layer of ice (which got thicker, naturally!)

Meanwhile here’s the (almost) ice-free stream of water that runs through our campus, looking primed for those avid fans of water sports. That includes swimming — I’m sure some people have done it already! — but the fact that we are downstream from a sewage plant deters most people.

Of course, I personally also prefer to refrain from hypothermia-inducing activities, but hey, it’s a university! Just cause we’re all faceless numbers doesn’t mean that some of us aren’t slightly wonky!

Trent

DON’T Look at this Photograph

Look right on through it. Because that is Photography. I show you a photograph of a person

You see a person. And a stove. And a plate with Omelette on it. You do not see a photograph so much as a situation that is eternally captured (or at least as long as the picture exists.)

This sets photography apart from other artforms and media. With Art, one witnesses an actual scene, insofar as our minds reflexively tell. If I throw you a painting of a person.

you first engage the art, then the subject. We look at the Mona Lisa and we see PAINTING. The reaction is altogether different than it is with photography. Upon our recognition of the painting being a representation of something real, we engage with it twofold: first as a representation, then as reality. We know that there is a person present at the time of painting, but the overriding premonition is that this photograph is certainly biased. Why is she smiling? Why are the tones darker than a normal painting? Why is the background slightly unbalanced? Famous questions as to the artist’s intent — despite the fact that this portrait is nothing more than a representation of a person sitting in a chair with a scene behind her — are rampant in our society.

With a photograph, Roland Barthes points out in Camera Lucida, there is something far more concrete and absolute in the way we engage with the subject. Our inital reaction is that this photo contains a person. Not a representation of a person, although that is in fact the case, but a living, breathing person who has simply been captured at a certain point in time.

It makes sense when you think of it in terms of poor photographs. How often is it that a person who “isn’t photogenic” complains about the picture not being good? Erase it! they scream with vigour, because for another person to see them with bad hair or slightly chubby cheeks would be horrible. Why? Because we assume that other people will think that that photograph is really us, and for that person that particular photograph suggests that they are ugly. Forget the fact that the photographer and all the people who are liable to see the picture are most likely people who know the unphotogenic individual, and know that the person is in fact quite attractive. That picture is reality, and as it stands that reality must be destroyed for fear of people seeing it.

There is, of course, an automatic denial that surfaces in our minds when we read the words I have just layed down. “I know that the photograph is not imperical”, we tell ourselves, “I know that the photograph is as much a representation as a painting.” That was my immediate reaction, as well. But the truth is, when I look at a photograph, I still do not interpret it as a medium through which we see the subject. Rather, I see the subject apart from the medium. It is the nature of the Photograph to disappear in this manner. The Photograph is the sneakiest of media, the escape artist of the family of Arts.


“I am not a photograph”, a Photograph screams. “I am you.”

Photograph

The photograph.

Destroyer of Aura.

Original piece? No matter.

The power of mass-produced art.

Disembodied. Distanced. Destroyed?

I think not.

Trent